Welcome Flame, Castilleja’s middle school literary magazine, features the creative writing, art, and photography of students from grades 6-‐8. Members of Flame have been meeting since September to write poems and short stories, give each other constructive feedback, gather and evaluate submissions, and lay out the magazine. We hope you enjoy this year’s collection of creative work! Katie Sauvain and Jole Seroﬀ, faculty advisors
Flame Members 2011-‐2012 Megan Andersen Mitra Assaderaghi Natasha Balogh Riya Berry Kiana Borjian Lexi Burdon Emily Burnette Niki Flamen Karina Fonstad Pooja Goel Ericka Goodman Nicole Goodman Heejin Hahn Isabella Henig Greer Hoﬀmann Fia Jones Indigo Jones Jessie Karan Annie Kim Grace Lee Kathleen Mhatre Chloe Middler Katie Mishra Karly Quadros Robin Sandell Zoe Sarrazin Katja Teichmann Kavya Tewari Claire Traum Alex Volpi Vanessa Woo
front and back cover by Nancy Lopez
Advice It's good to write late at night when your lonely hands are cold You may type the wrong letter but your thoughts will be better for choosing the words that you yourself mold. While you're building an arc alone in dark Reading your writing aloud The others are sleeping And there's no way of keeping the raindrops inside of the clouds.
photo by Emma Glickman
The sun will soon rise and you'll shut tight your eyes and your stories will dance in your dreams Until that alarm or that poke in the arm comes to burst your balloon at its seams. And through the next day while you're slogging away you'll remember that evening as fateful for you passed three o'clock and you beat writer’s block and your journal will always be grateful. -‐-‐Kiana Borjian
Imagination the spills of rain linger upon my chin to soon end their journey to collect at the tip peering down from the edge amidst the battered wind the ﬁnal gaze the content sigh the melancholy smile of what awaits beneath their hearts that hides from time to time their holding grasp not letting go they cannot trust what is beneath for if they do the betrayed will rise and eat those underneath -‐-‐Mitra Assaderaghi
art by Arushi Gupta
Meaning Imagine perfection. The grayness of the word, a clear glass surface. Dulled by its boundaries, a tasteless place. Imagine happiness. The innocence of the thought, a careful cover. Lasts only for a moment, then an empty feeling. Imagine paradise. The brightness of a dream, no imperfections. A world so cliché, a sugared reality.
photo by Kiana Borjian
Imagine love. The warmness of the concept, a grand feeling. When broken, nothing can repair it. -‐-‐Nancy Lopez
Pink All boys love pink they have that feeling deep down how it brings them bliss they deny it, but never tell it’s the secret of a lifetime
art by Lucy Carlson
All therapists love pink how just one simple color can cause a sensational feeling a feeling of happiness, warmth, and comfort though one is proud or ashamed of their undeniable true love for the color it brings peace, love, and laughter wherever it hides or even covers All grown men love pink ﬂashes back to the time when they and their ﬁrst partner met the times and feelings when with loved ones Oddly, yet truthfully... All girls hate pink since it is associated with girls and makeup it ruins them from ever loving pink prejudiced thoughts make it even unthinkable teasing and laughter is what they hide from some like to show their feminine side, but just a single like for it can get smashed into billions of pieces or purely and truly pink
photo by Katie Jo Shuman
Pink is not just a color it is much more you need to discover your identity of pink -‐-‐Jordan Jackson
art by Katie Mishra
Mail on Sunday Last night I sat under your window sill I ignored the wet grass that was slowly soaking the seat of my pants the wind biting me down to the bone the knotted ﬂoorboards pressing into my spine All I could feel was the pounding in my head and the dizziness of your perfume The faintest scent was wafting outside of your room the clock was ticking softly then loudly then softly again tik tok tik tok tik tok each second was the eternity of an unbearable silence you hesitated and I waited you declined and I waited still he told you he loved you with abbreviations powered by battery it was 10:11 pm when I told you I loved you I took you to the back parking lot of the Tuesday evening old post oﬃce it was quiet there and the road was cracked I thought about all the people sending love letters and you thought about all the second hand smoke and garbage cans after you left you didn’t let me drive you home the engine was too loud on Valentine’s day he gave you a bracelet chocolates and ﬂowers to him it meant money and to you it meant a gift
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
on Valentine’s day I gave you the stump of my ﬁrst Christmas tree, the earring backing of my deceased mother, the ticket stump of my ﬁrst Green Day concert, to me it meant when I felt joy for the ﬁrst time, felt pain for the ﬁrst time, felt inﬁnite for the ﬁrst time. who else could I give it to but to my ﬁrst love the person where I felt all three at the same time to you it meant nothing I found it in your trash pick-‐up the next day ﬁrst I wanted to take them back but I couldn’t they were ruined now because the day when you will have the courage to love me back is when people will dance in the rain when families will all come home when the Caltrain will take me at 3am when everyone would stay in the theatre to see the credits when I go the ballot next Wednesday this November it’s when in my world, you’ll send me love letters back in the mail on Sunday -‐-‐Heejin Hahn
art by Kat Lyseggen
The Countdown She has lived in an underground cave Forbidden to the mere eyes of mortals Gone, Secret, New. She has shined in the sun Nuclear fusion lighting the ﬁres of her soul Burning down the walls of the forgotten. Dining with everyone in the last feast before the date of the end of the world Then causing demise to the meteorite 12 seconds too late. She has conquered death. Straining chemicals, boiling life until she, the last human alive, brought them all back from the dead. A last spark of life and love, A seamstress she has been. Weaving the threads of life into the ragdoll of humanity. At the last moment, I must devise a list of accomplishments. A chemist, a mother. An eclipse, a daughter of the sun. The savior of the forgotten earth And the lifebringer of lost souls. She is us. The human race. We run towards death. -‐-‐Emily Burnette Mirrors You Look And See Universe A diﬀerent one Look and see a new universe -‐-‐Maggie Gray
photo by Maddie Goldberg
A New Way of Thinking As I walk down the street with my mom and sister, I start to feel a bit hungry. I start to tug on her jacket and say, “Mommy I want some food!” My mom bends down and says to me in a calm tone, “We are two blocks from the store, you can get something there.” Content with her decision, I wait till we get to the store. She lets me get a piece of fruit. I say to her, “No, I want a cookie!” My mom says, “How about you and our sister share a cookie and an apple.” I say okay to that because I know that is the only way she will let me get a cookie. A few months later we were on a plane. On a plane to South Africa! I had just turned six and was really excited. On the plane ride we got a choice of dinner. I chose mac and cheese. My sister, who was eight years old, got pasta with pesto sauce. I had eaten about half the mac and cheese when I started to get full, so the ﬂight attendants took away my plate and threw the other half away. When we landed in Johannesburg, we took a taxi to our hotel. On the drive there I noticed that there were lots of little kids that looked about my age. I can make a new friend! Maybe they have some cool dolls we can play with! When we got to the hotel, I noticed that a lot of the kids had followed the car all the way to the hotel. When the car stopped, all the kids started to crowd around us and kept asking for some food or money. I saw that some of these kids were my age or younger. They looked at my parents with hungry and pleading eyes. My parents gave one little girl a banana that they had had in their bag. The little girl’s face lit up like a lightbulb when she saw the yellow fruit in her hand. She ran away yelling and screaming with happiness. After that we walked into our hotel and were escorted to our room. In the room I asked my mom why all those kids were following us. She said that because the kids were hungry they came to see if we had any extra food that we could give them. I said, “Why can’t they just go to the store?” My mom said that they couldn’t just go to the store because they were poor and lived in small houses made of reeds and mud. If they lived like that, they wouldn’t be able to aﬀord a snack at the store, let alone ingredients for a meal at the store. The next day at breakfast, after I had eaten, I secretly made a breakfast sandwich. Later in the day when we were walking around a local market I saw a little boy of about ﬁve asking for food. While my mom was talking with a vendor, I ran over to the boy and gave him the sandwich I had made. I had made this sandwich for this very purpose! The next day I made the same thing and gave it to a girl about nine years old. She was standing in a dark alleyway. We stayed for about one more week and every day I would do the same thing. It gave me a great feeling inside to know that I was helping these kids get a small bit of food in the day to keep them going. Sadly, it was the day I had wished would never come. The day I would cry to leave this place. Yes, today we were packing up to go back to California. Our ﬂight left at 5:00 PM. That morning I had made a sandwich just like usual, but today I included a mufﬁn because it was my last day and I needed to make it count. We went out on one last walk. On the walk I saw a girl of about four with her mom and her baby brother. They were sitting under a battered overhang with about 10-‐12 giant holes in it. I thought that this would be the perfect family to give this small meal to. I quickly walked over to them and handed them the package. The little girl smiled at the smell of the fresh mufﬁn. I smiled at the thought of her eating it! That moment made me feel like the happiest person on earth. On the plane, we got to order dinner again. My sister and I both ordered grilled cheese. As we ate them I was thinking about how on the last ﬂight; the ﬂight attendants just threw our food that we didn’t eat away. That made me feel strange because I was throwing food away when there are kids 10,244 miles away that don’t even have food to throw away. I suddenly made sure that my sister, mom and I ate all of our food so that none of it went to waste. The ﬁrst day back at school was really fun! I got to see my friends and learn new things. At lunchtime my friend had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She ate half and was about to throw the other half away when I stopped her. She couldn’t just throw half of a good sandwich away! I said to her, “You shouldn’t just throw that away because there are kids in South Africa that don’t even have food to throw away!” Then I said, “If you don’t want to eat it, give it to someone who will and will not waste it!” Then she stood up and gave it to a girl who was ﬁve tables away. Then she came back and said to me, “Thanks for what you just did, it makes me want to be more careful and caring!” That was the best thing that anyone could have said to me at that very moment.
Raolonian Faith The church was crowded with hundreds of Falstristhans, all with unique abilities, like ﬂight, loud voices, or even hair that could change color. Cantre’s was invisibility. “Never walk on top of a building. Never go anywhere near a high place. Never go on a plane. Never ﬂy on a spaceship. AND NEVER GO AWAY FROM FALSTRISTHA, OR EVEN WORSE, RAOLONIA!!!!!” Why were Raolonian faith-‐keepers, or priests, so strict? Cantre longed to go on a vacation, just maybe somewhere near, like the capital city of Raolonia, Rennen. Every time he asked the Falstristhan elders to leave, faking that his family member was there, or he had an appointment with the governer, they said no. Cantre walked to his friend Rina’s house. He looked at her and sighed. The laws were so strict! If someone was found using their abilities against the government, they would be sentenced to jail. Rina was built like an eagle. She had sharp talons on her feet, and large wings that could ﬂy the two easily out of Falstristha, but again, the law was there. He saw her mouth twist into a mischievous smile, and then, she laid out her plan. She would ﬂy so high that nobody could distinguish between her and an eagle, and Cantre would disguise himself and become invisible, so that when he arrived at Rennen, no one would know he was Falstristhan. Cantre was walking home as Rina picked him up in her talons and ﬂew him the rest of the way. She had that grin on her face that told Cantre he was going to Rennen. “We might make it to Cantonia if we tried; but meanwhile, you get a good night’s sleep and ﬁnd a way to say goodbye to Falstristha without telling the authorities or your parents about our plan.” The two friends turned on their heels with a new hope on their minds. They both knew that they could never return, and that all of their friends and family would miss them for eternity, but their obsession with travel drew them to follow their plan. The next day, Cantre told his mother, “Mom, I know you won’t like what I will do... but I won’t... be back from this trip... away.” Rina said pretty much the same thing, but with boldness and without the stuttering. After their diﬃcult goodbyes, Cantre snuck onto the plane, and Rina took ﬂight. Using her eagle-‐sharp eyes, she kept watch over the plane. When they arrived in their disguise, the Rennenians eyed the two children suspiciously, but Rina saved the day. She smiled at them and said in a Cantonian accent, “We’re tourists from Cantonia’s earth. We are planning to immigrate. Cantonians, as you know, appear younger and smaller.” The guards let the friends in, and they were free. They could take the Rennenian portal to Cantonia, or Brantonia. Cantre held Rina’s hand. Their choice was one of freedom and independence. Their parents, were it not for their strict beliefs in the Raolonian faith, would have been proud.
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
photo by Katherine Greatwood
Shining in the summer light, Its sweetness as yet untold, Anticipating the ﬁrst bite, For its secrets to unfold. Encased in armor of shining red, Enclosing the pink inside, Fronds top its crimson head, Seeds dot its smooth outside. Its scarlet casing shows the days, It spent dozing among the leaves, Watching the brown cows mill and graze, Hearing sparrows in the eaves. -‐-‐Maddie Goldberg
Spring i looked out my window in the morning the sky was blue there were no clouds in sight i heard birds chirping and saw bunnies hopping the trees swayed in the morning breeze i walked outside i felt the warm air rushing against me the wind blew my hair back ﬁnally after months of rain and snow it was spring -‐-‐Kenzie Macdonald
art by Ellen Howard
Time Time is everything it goes by it surrounds you it engulfs you it’s irrepressible and mysterious the essence of the world -‐-‐Kathleen Mhatre
photo by Rosie Crisman Ice Monster: The cold water seeps through the raft, as my metal angel sinks into the cold unforgiving sea, as the monster of ice stands over me. Fear and hate run through my veins for ice. My tears seem as cold as the heart of the earth. As I ﬂoat along getting farther and farther away from my horror, that once used to be my heaven. Before it turned into an icy cold nightmare. Ice Monster 2: The ice monster, the ice monster, the ice monster is coming. Its scaly cold skin haunting your soul. You hide, jump, sink but it will get you. Run you think, but it runs faster. You wake up from screams and you know that its coming. Save my soul, you plead for your life but the ice monster has no sympathy, it is earth’s bane. The ice monster you will remember forever. -‐-‐Fia Jones
Fireﬂies Dance, Dance with the ﬁreﬂies, roll down the hill with their lights, grab some in a box and let them go by the lake, swim, swim with them, you ﬂoat in water, they ﬂoat in the air. -‐-‐Serena Rivera-‐K0rver
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
Perfection Candles on the water A silence Not a ripple, not a wave, not a ﬂicker All is calm All is quiet All is beautiful But nothing is perfect -‐-‐Natalie Barch
That Place I Call Home You close your eyes Standing Your hand shoots forward to touch the familiar fabric Velvet. The hot light Illuminates you You smooth your dress. You are home. -‐-‐Freya Forstall
photo by Nayanika Kapoor
art by Robin Sandell
Fireﬂies So many stars up in the sky, they shine and gleam up there so high making shapes and images to my naked eye their beauty is so rare and cannot say goodbye as I lay on this grassy meadow and stare up these stars start to move before me like a kaleidoscope with its graceful moves as they ﬂy through the air and surround me like caressing me through their warm and glimmering eyes I hugged back and before me they touched my very skin I was like a God observing nature through my immortal soul My naked eye was envisioning wonders of hope and joy just think what one spark in the sky can do... -‐-‐Jordan Jackson
photo by Aditi Satyavrath photo by Grace Stephenson
In the Zoo well here come the people again now it is time for me to just do trick after trick to please them i wish they would just stop tapping on the glass oh well here we go i guess i will start with a double front ﬂip like every day and yes the little bratty kids go wild great for them how do they think i feel here doing the same thing day after day behind glass you know i have never even been to antarctica i was born in captivity it is so boring here behind the glass if only something would happen... -‐-‐Maggie Gray
The Flute, the Heart, and the Necklace I was walking down two paths at once whistling my father's heart playing my mother's ﬂute. A man walked up to me and cried, "Your mother is gone, you see, she has died!" I stared back and whispered "She has not gone, she is here, standing next to me.” And oﬀ the man went, weeping tears of silver. I continued down my paths, holding my mother's ﬂute, whistling my father's heart, When a woman holding her young children cried, "Your father is gone, you see, he has died." I stared back and whispered "He has not gone, he is here, standing next to me." And oﬀ the woman and her child went, weeping tears of silver. I continued down my paths, Holding my father's heart Holding my mother's ﬂute Singing my child's song. When my child walked up and cried, "Mama, you are fading, you see, you have died." I stared back and whispered "I have not gone, I am here, standing next to you." And I stood, stopping my walk To play my own ﬂute To whistle my own heart To sing my own song. And after I had ﬁnished, my child took my mother's ﬂute, he took my father's heart And ﬁnally, I gave him my necklace, before walking into the sun's warm arms. -‐-‐Natalie Barch
How I long to be loved! To be admired, to be gazed at, to be worshipped! To be needed by people To be revered To be wanted! How I long to be loved! My fame evident in all places Myself on people’s wrists On the walls of their houses Or even simply sitting on their desks! -‐-‐Greer Hoﬀmann
The Little Red Wallet
photo by Adele Bloch, Nicole Goodman, Sam Jensen, Tova Korman & Molly Ledwith
I was born in a little factory then, they moved me to a little shop I was bought on my very ﬁrst day by a little girl she loved me so much but only for a while then she forgot about me she put me in a drawer and in that drawer I stayed I waited for my little girl to return to her little red wallet All I could see was darkness and all the other objects in the drawer they were all dead.
I felt close to my death I am so old now I wonder what my little girl had grown up to look like I wonder where my drawer is I wonder whether I am mad I wonder how much longer I will be in the darkness one day my little girl came back she wasn’t so little anymore in fact she could put her whole hand around me but I was so old she didn’t love me anymore
she opened that drawer twice I couldn’t see her but I longed for her to dig me up and ﬁnd me again
I went into a black plastic bag where I stayed for the rest of my life which didn’t last very long.
but she didn’t.
The Box Lights Up the box lights up the mechanics whirr the fortune teller blinks its eyes the lights go red the coin is in and soon your fortune shall begin the card spits out you pick it up now realizing one crucial thing the box was never plugged in -‐-‐Noor Hanaﬁ
art by Zoe Sarrazin
The Little Bird for Anne Frank Out for little birds
the tigers darkness the storm eight little birds diﬀerent shapes and sizes feel the storm frightened by danger into a tree never to be seen two years the storm never left one more special than the rest the smallest a girl with a talent for singing the little bird sang a song a beautiful song a song of her life many verses every day it seemed never to stop the little bird from behind a leaf saw other birds all doomed birds just like her just like the eight in the tree eight little birds were safe unlike others or so it seemed
art by Katie Look patience fear happiness sadness as the little bird grew so did her song she loved her song then the storm came to the eight little birds goodbye little bird there is nothing to be done all was gone all for nothing only one thing remains of the little bird: her song. -‐-‐Isabella Wang
The Vibrants Imagine that the day you turned 14, you might be picked to be an evil villain’s minion. What if you were sucked of all emotion and were only kept around to do the dirty work, disposable and replaceable? What if you could never see your family and friends ever again, only blank and emotionless people? It was a dark, damp, rainy Wednesday morning and all the children were at school and the adults were at work. Natalia Smith, or Ally, was at home, sitting on the windowsill and staring out the window at the rain. Today was her 14th birthday and she was about to undergo the surgery that only a select few 14‐year‐olds go through. Her appearance and mind would be changed forever. She was to become a Vibrant. A Vibrant. The name itself was a misnomer, implying that the person would become full of energy and emotion, but in fact, the transformation would make you the complete opposite. Your emotions would be gone, sucked in to the black vortex of the woman called Dr. Brightstar. You would become her minion, her pawn, disposable and replaceable. The beauty you got from this operation was a sort of payment for your emotions, but even your payment was used at Dr. Brightstar’s advantage. People tend to trust beautiful people rather than people who look ugly. Not many people had ever heard about this information, but Ally knew everything. She knew the teachers spread lies and did their best to smother the truth. Little children sit on their beds dreaming of a chance to become one of the Vibrants.
A few hours later, Ally was shaken from her idle daydreaming by a booming echo only she could hear. It was time. Ally reluctantly slid oﬀ the windowsill and pulled her backpack of necessities on her shoulders. Eventually, Ally would dispose of the necessities. She would not need it anymore when she was a Vibrant. The items were from the Averages, too ordinary for her. She put on her old, worn out Converse and walked out the door, making sure to lock it one last time. She stood in the cold rain for a few seconds before taking a deep breath and walking to the car. Her entire body was wet and she was miserable. All of the 14‐year‐olds that had received this call should have been honored, but Ally was dreading the operation. She would never see her family or friends again after this. In fact, she would probably never see her Average town ever again. Ally would be a Vibrant, too special to be tainted by the ordinariness of the Averages. The long, dark limousine was cold. Ally shivered and sighed, closing her eyes and drifted oﬀ in to a deep sleep. Soon, the car pulled up to a huge building, polished in glass and metal. The silent oﬃcers that escorted Ally to the mansion woke her up. As soon as she was awake, Ally’s face was unreadable and showed no emotion. The powerful aura around her stunned the oﬃcers and they were shocked, chills going down their spines. Ally stepped out of the car, taking everything in. Her poker face remained on her young features, but the oﬃcers could detect a hint of awe. Then, Dr. Brightstar walked out of the central building, heels clacking along the ground. Her face turned up in to a cruel smile as soon as she saw Ally. “Ah good, you’re here,” she said, throwing her hands in the air. “Bill and Tom, take Natalia here to the waiting room. Let’s get started.” The oﬃcers escorted her to the waiting room and closed the door behind them, their faces emotionless. Their emotions had been stolen from them a long time ago, so they felt nothing. Then, they heard Ella walking into the operating room with the receptionist. After that, Bill and Tom heard an ear‐splitting shriek that made them cringe from the sheer volume of it. Had they still felt emotion, they would have rallied to her cause, or simply felt sorry for the small girl.
Five hours later, Ally walked out of the operating room. She was intercepted by Bill and Tom, who were astonished by her cruelly pretty face. The only person they knew who looked exactly like that was Dr. Brightstar herself. They knew what she went through. After all, they had been through it also, when they were
fourteen. After endless corridors, they stepped in to Dr. Brightstar’s oﬃce. “Natalia, dear, how do you feel?” she addressed the expressionless girl. Ally didn’t answer. “Natalia?” She remained silent. Ally could feel the power radiating from Dr. Brightstar, but she didn’t waver. She could also feel Dr. Brightstar getting more annoyed. Ally glared at her and didn’t ﬂinch from Dr. Brightstar’s obvious inﬂuence. “Ally, sweetie. Please answer me,” Dr. Brightstar said in a deadly calm voice. The two oﬃcers squirmed uneasily from the authority oozing from her voice, but Ally stood strong. Ally didn’t say a word. The two oﬃcers were now sensing the tiny girl was a new threat. She didn’t respond to Dr. Brightstar. She didn’t immediately follow her orders. She was actually defying the master herself! “Well, as you know, your body has been changed. Your bones are light as a bird’s but harder than diamonds. You have better reﬂexes. Your senses have been heightened. And, you have been cured of the disease,” Dr. Brightstar started, after composing herself. Ally cocked an eyebrow. “Disease?” she said for the ﬁrst time. Dr. Brightstar laughed nervously. “Yes, of course. The disease is emotion.” “Oh really?” Ally said, a cruel smirk on her face. “You took away all of my emotion.” “Yes, dear,” Dr. Brightstar said, a little bit irritated. “I just said that.” “Alright,” Ally replied, playing along. Her smirk disappeared and her face cleared, leaving a calm expression. Dr. Brightstar looked at Ally, satisﬁed that the girl wasn’t about to defy her again. “What do you want me to do?” Ally asked. “First, you should go to your room. There you will ﬁnd a wristwatch. Put that on and you will receive your ﬁrst order through the mind chip we implanted in your head. The watch has all of the materials you need for that mission,” Dr. Brightstar explained. “Okay, but where is my room?” Ally asked. “It’s up the front stairs to the left,” Dr. Brightstar said. “Room Number 58.” Ally walked up the stairs, making sure to hide her disgust with a mask of serenity and innocence, as if she didn’t know what she was walking into. The room key she had received from Dr. Brightstar burned in her hand, a reminder of what she had to do. A few years ago, Ally had read the Book of Myths that she had gotten from the secret archives of the library. The book had stated that the person with the mark of a star on the back of their neck would be the one to end all of this cruelty. She had believed it was a myth until she had reached back to scratch her neck the following day in the bathroom and felt a slightly raised patch of skin in the shape of a star. Afraid now, she ran back to her room and pulled the book from under her carpet. She read on, and the book went on to say that she was the daughter of Dr. Brightstar and would overthrow her to end all of the operations. Soon, Ally put two and two together and ﬁgured out that the book was not, in fact, a book of myths, but a book of truth. The people who had made the book named it The Book of Myths so that whoever read it would not believe it. Ally was shaken from her daydream to ﬁnd that she was in front of her room. Quivering slightly, she unlocked the door and stepped inside. After searching for the watch, she found it and put it on. Since Dr. Brightstar didn’t specify what to do afterward, she started plotting her escape. It was near the end of the day when Ally was ﬁnally able to come up with a plan. All she needed was an ally, and she would be out of here.
A year later, Ally ﬁnally had her chance. After the past 12 months of waiting, watching, and planning, her chance had ﬁnally come. There was a 15‐year‐old who was about to undergo an operation. Supposedly, he was a genius and a great athlete. He was almost 16 and didn’t go through the operation when he was 14 because Dr. Brightstar didn’t need more minions. Now, there was a shortage of reproduction and she needed more pawns. Ally herself had just turned 15 a week ago, and she knew she was ready. As one of Dr. Brightstar’s most trusted minions, she had access to all of the archives and rooms. Though Dr. Brightstar kept close tabs
on her, she knew she could pull oﬀ her genius scheme. All she needed to do was to grab the boy just after the operation and explain the plan. He would not get a choice in whether he wanted to participate or not. Through her year with Dr. Brightstar, Ally had learned that she needed to be ruthless and demanding sometimes. A few hours later, Ally was all ready to go. She had her watch ready, which was all she needed. Ally had learned that the boy’s name was Aiden. He would be done with the operation at precisely 6:00 PM, which was perfect because she would have the advantage of the darkness. At 5:55, Ally was outside of the operation room window, ready to sneak Aiden out. At 6:01, he walked out the doors. When he set foot inside of the waiting room, Ally gasped. She had recognized Aiden from when they were little kids. At the time, she was bullied and made fun of because of her weight and appearance. She considered turning back and waiting for someone else, but decided that she had waited too long. She would have to put aside all personal issues for the greater good of society. And there was also the chance that Aiden wouldn’t recognize her. She activated the watch and used the invisible rope to pull him out the window and towards her. He, luckily, decided not to scream as he was being yanked away by some unseen force. As soon as he regained his footing, he whipped around to face her. “I recognize you from somewhere,” Aiden said, his eyes narrowing. “Wait, you have emotion too?” Ally asked. “They didn’t take it away?” “Yeah,” Aiden replied. “Can you feel emotion also?” “Yup,” Ally said back. “We need to escape. This operation... is wrong. Trust me. I’ve been on the ﬁeld before. They don’t care about you, no matter what you’ve heard. We need to stop Dr. Brightstar.” “How do you know Dr. Brightstar?” Aiden asked. “I’ve only met her once and she seems like a nice lady.” “Well, have you ever read The Book of Myths?” Ally asked. “Yeah, I stole it from the library,” he answered. “Okay, so, long story short, I’m the girl in the prophecy, Dr. Brightstar’s daughter. I can show you the mark at a later time. Dr. Brightstar doesn’t know that I’m the girl, so I’m still one of her most trusted minions,” Ally explained. Aiden let out a low whistle. “Wow, and how old are you?” “I’m ﬁfteen,” Ally said, now ﬁddling with her watch to let out the grappling hook. After releasing it, she pulled out a spare watch from her pocket and gave it to Aiden. “Here, take this,” Ally said. “It can do pretty much anything, and you’ll need it.” Aiden put on the watch. “Wait, what’s your name?” “Natalia. And I already know that you’re Aiden, so let’s go.” They pulled to the top of the control center, and Ally drew a hole in the roof with the laser in her watch. “Wait, Natalia,” Aiden said. “I remember you now. You were the fat, ugly kid with the sparkly purple glasses at The Preparatory School.” Ally sighed. “Yeah, that was me. You weren’t the nicest to me, but I don’t care anymore,” she said, ﬂicking her light brown hair over her black sweater. It was dark and form‐ﬁtting, showing oﬀ her thin, athletic body. Ally again pressed a button on her watch and a tool that emerged from it pulled the piece of roof oﬀ and set it lightly on the side. She peered down and found that she was looking right at the Emotion Keeper. Perfect. Squinting slightly, she calculated her chances and made her watch produce a match. She lit it against the rough texture of the roof and threw it oﬀ in to the trees to create a distraction. Then, she jumped in to the
dark abyss of the hole in the roof. After hearing nothing, she looked up to see Aiden still on the roof, emotions ﬂicking across his features. “Come on!” she whisper‐yelled. “We have to hurry!” She then darted to the Emotion Keeper and motioned him over. He leaped into the hole, landing on the balls of his feet. “Hit the lock with this hammer and then open the door. I need to go do something really quick,” she said, tossing him the hammer, about to turn around. “Wait!” Aiden said. “What?!” Ally said, irritated. “I know I haven’t been the nicest to you, but I want to apologize for what I did back then and what I am about to do now,” he said. “That’s it.” “What?” Ally asked as he threw the hammer at her head. She caught it just before it hit her head and narrowed her eyes at him. “What did you do that for? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Do not forget I am much more experienced than you are.” Aiden’s eyes opened widely as Ally lunged toward him. Instead of killing him in a ﬁt of rage, she hit the door of the Emotion Keeper. “Guards!” Aiden yelled loudly. “Guards!” “Shut up!” Ally said, but it was too late. She had already been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. The guards burst in and shot her in the leg, then in the stomach. With her last ounce of strength, she pulled open the door of the Emotion Keeper and let all of the emotion free. The guards gasped as the emotion ﬁlled them again. They fell to the ﬂoor, weeping for what they did to the innocent girl who was trying to help them. Aiden’s eyes widened as Ally’s eyes dimmed. She was about to die. He ran to her side after grabbing the gun and tried desperately to staunch the ﬂow of blood, but it was too late. Ally’s breath grew shorter and shorter as he whispered sorry over and over again. Before she died, she whispered, “I forgive you.” Then, her eyes closed and she slipped away.
Meanwhile, Dr. Brightstar watched all of this from the door, a smirk on her cruel, twisted face. After Ally died, she walked over to pat Aiden on his head. “Well done, my son,” she said. “You did exactly as we had planned. You did listen to me after all.” “S‐son?” he whispered, more to himself than to his mother. “How could Ally be so wrong?” “We put that mark on her neck to make her think she was the One, but in truth it was you. Feel the back of your neck. Back when she was 13 and you were 14, we did a scan over the whole city to see who was powerful, and who wasn’t. Natalia was... very strong. I needed that power, so instead of killing her immediately and letting her power go to waste, I turned her in to an assistant. But, all along I was going to kill her anyway, when the time came,” she explained. “We made you think you had emotion but you didn’t, it was me controlling you.” As he reached back, he could feel the star mark pulsing against his ﬁngertips. His eyes widened in horror. Aiden picked up the gun from its spot on the ﬂoor and stood up. Dr. Brightstar smiled, unaware of what he was about to do. Instead of following her, a smirk took over his features. He raised the gun and brought it down on Dr. Brightstar’s head, instantly killing her. Dr. Brightstar’s eyes widened before she slumped to the ﬂoor. “Goodbye, mother,” Aiden said, smiling sadly. Then, he walked out of the room, out of the building, and out of the world of the Vibrants.
If a roller coaster could feel, it would feel the roughness of denim as hundreds of jeans shuﬄe on and oﬀ, and on again. It would feel the bored vibrations of ignored calls. If a roller coaster had lungs, its breath would be constantly blown away, wind whipping at its throat, too much wispy air to withhold. If this roller coaster had a voice, it would groan and yell about the weight it carries. It would complain about its boredom. But doing the same track every day, every three minutes, same loops and twirls and backwards parts, who can blame it? If that roller coaster could hear, it would just laugh at the repetition we humans bring to it. Screams and laughs and hugs and yells. Oh, oh so boring. If this roller coaster was alive, breathing heart beating it would stop. And stand. And say, “I’m sorry. This is fun for you, but not for me. That’s not the way my life should be.” -‐-‐Indigo Jones
photo by Jenna Kotcher
Ms. Eyre’s Simile Our little black tree has broken Like yesterday’s corset laced up high Tethering at the ends extremities ﬂuttering down silently Fraying at the seams burnt ends crushed They will never weave themselves together as close or as tight but together they will be -‐-‐Heejin Hahn
photo by Noor Hanaﬁ
starting with a line from “Why Poetry Cannot Be Skimmed” by Jessica Jopp the spills of rain linger upon my chin to soon end their journey to collect at the tip peering down from the edge amidst the battered wind the ﬁnal gaze the content sigh the melancholy smile of what awaits beneath their hearts that hides from time to time their holding grasp not letting go they cannot trust what is beneath for if they do the betrayed will rise and eat those underneath photo by Riya Berry
Outer Space The Dark, twisting, seemingly endless nothing stretching all around vast, and empty. Cold. So cold. Freezing, shuddering, biting, scratching. Cold. And then-‐-‐ Hot. sweltering, ﬁery, unimaginable. Lights, like fairies, but get too close, and they’ll bite. Such a pretty thing, so helpful, so hopeful, like a soul gone. Such a beautiful being in such a cold, empty space. -‐-‐Noel Peng
photo by Katja Teichmann
Always Love Abby
“The cycle of birth and death is called life,” says Ms. Hendrick. She swirls her black chair around to face me. What a coincidence; the same color as her heart. “We live and then we die. Sometimes our loved ones die, like Abby. The best things you can do are to have hope, and keep on going. There’s always tragedy, but soon the sun will come out.” She places a manicured hand on me. “I’m here for you”. “Don’t TOUCH me.” My words crunch into her like ice. She narrows her eyes, and then takes a deep breath. She wants to say something, she wants to take her pudgy ﬁnger and wring it around me, but she can’t. No one has ever spoken to her like this; they wouldn’t dare stand up to the world‐renowned child psychiatrist who gets paid thousands of bucks by their parents. I did. Because what does Bianca Hendrick know about Abigail Columbus Trulong? Nothing. °°°
I loved her. I loved Abigail so much. I loved the way she loved porcupines so much, I loved the way she hated Justin Bieber, I loved the way she had a phobia of Cheerleaders (Cheerlaphobia). I loved the way she snuck out on every full moon with a bag of sour gummy chews, how we both sat and spread our arms under the sky and watched the stars, our Sunday trip to Roosevelt’s. I loved the way she smiled, and the way she lived. She made me believe that life was something worth living for. She made me believe that even though my Mother had cancer and my Dad never wanted a girl, that I photo by Katherine Greatwood was special. She meant the whole world to me. The only thing Abby ever did wrong was love light. I hate it. It’s too bright, too full of sunshine. I hate the way it streams down showing oﬀ its tan, the way people fuss over it like it’s Aphrodite’s last gift. The way it struts around, demanding attention, like one of those high‐class snobby brats who spend an Ivy‐League tuition payment on facials. Its brightness kills my eyes. And it killed Abby. But then I remember. Abby loved sunshine, even though she died from it. It all started that Sunday morning.
°°° I glance at my watch. 8 A.M. I look outside the window and smile. Today feels like one of those beautiful, feel‐good summer days that I love so much. I hear a knock on my door, a smack, and then another knock. Of course. Typical Abby. Pulling on my purple pajama robe, I jump up and open the door. “Hey girl!” Abby comes in, and I wrap my tired arms around her. We do our handshake; two high ﬁves and two low ﬁves, a clap, a twirl, then snap our hands and end with a ﬁst bump. “Ready for the park, sweet heart?” Abby drawls in a fake posh southern accent. “You bet, cow girl!” I fake lasso her, and grab a pillow. I pretend‐walk to the bathroom, then do a U‐turn when Abby’s not looking and shove the pillow in her face. She screams and then pays me back with a good tickle right under my knees. I giggle violently, which turns into hiccups, and jump on her. Soon it becomes a full‐ﬂedged pillow ﬁght and we both end up laughing so hard we fall oﬀ the bed. She shoves me into the bathroom, still laughing, and says to meet her in the garage. In the bathroom while changing, I play “The One That Got Away” on my phone and dance, the thought never crossing my mind that I would lose something precious of my own someday. °°°
“Ahhhh. Feel the nice breeze.” Abby sighs. I nod. Pressing my hands carefully around the tree, I climb some feet higher and spread my arms out, admiring the sun. “Well done, Roosevelt.” Abby looks up at the sun. “It looks so golden and beautiful. Imagine what it would be like to touch it, Bailey. Just imagine. THAT is what true beauty is.” I squeeze her hand. “Abby, that’s lightyears away. And don’t look. You can get blinded. Then how will you see porcupines?” Abby shakes her head and smiles sadly. She stares out, looking under the fur of the sycamore tree. Suddenly her eyes twinkle brightly. “Omigod! It’s a tree house!!! The view from there would be amazing.” The next thing I know, Abby is grabbing my hand and pulling me towards the tree house. She covers her hand from the sunlight and looks up, then looks at me in perfect harmony and nods. I shake my head. “This is really dangerous, Abby. I don’t think we should do this”. “Oh come on, you worry wart! We’ll be ﬁne. And it will be an experience you’ll NEVER forget.” I frown, still unconvinced. She squeezes my hand and pulls me towards the ladder. “Do it for me, Bailey. Do it because you love me”. I sigh, and climb up, holding on so tightly my knuckles turn white. I hoist myself onto the platform and give her hand. She smiles at me and wipes dirt oﬀ her shirt. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” I smile, and take her hand and mine; looking up at the beauty her eyes see. Streaks of watermelon‐red and ﬁre‐lit marmalade orange criss‐cross the sky, falling like snowﬂakes against the Hawaiian sea. It looks like Van Gogh had taken his paintbrush and painted the sky. Abby steps forward. Then she takes another step. The ﬂoorboards creak, and my heart races. Abby reaches forward for the sun, and then steps too far. She falls and falls, and for one second I think this is all a dream. I hear a thud, and that’s when I know. She’s gone. °°°
Today the sun is shining. But my heart’s not. Some things never change. Except for one thing: I will always love Abby.
Gone My vague, indeﬁnite images of maturity, wisdom, and beauty had been bludgeoned, Cut down with a club and beaten senseless. The glimmering images I had conjured up and made appear Had faded into the background. With marvelous delicacy my soul was ripped open and torn away For the entire world to see. My heart lay brittle and damaged in my chest, playing discordant hymns of comfort That were hopeless and useless. My impromptu soliloquy and elocution of my thoughts had been showed to the world, My façade had ripped, and my illusions had been torn away to reveal the truth. My frivolous thoughts showed that I was but a child, Flitting from one idea to the next, like a butterﬂy on a ﬂower. This ﬁasco, this mistake. Had ostracized me, removed me, and taken me away from a society That I had never really belonged to. A trammel, a hindrance, had been placed upon me and stopped me in my tracks. I was now an outcast. A farce of my life, Ha! A light play, to make spectators laugh, using my mistake as entertainment. I laugh bitterly, for I now know, I am an outcast, gone forever. -‐-‐Grace Stephenson
photo by Jenna Kotcher
words from Phyllis Levin’s “End of April”
art by Gwen Cusing
Riddle Poem A swish, a rustle, a movement. The paper is plopped down on a table old and cracked. But then the paper comes to life. I push, and shove, myself onto the paper. My silky hair being torn up in the musings of my master. His thoughts, deep and dark, swirling in the current. A current of colors, Purple, blue, black, and brown. But I am just the vessel, so who dares oppose me? It is the mastermind behind my subtle movements Who is the puppeteer to my strings, Who you can dare to criticize. For I can create, and compose the meditation of a madman. And bring to life both good and bad. You may dissect me To ﬁnd meanings, but I am just A tool, an instrument, used at will, Used without my will, my silky hair torn out and dead. -‐-‐Grace Stephenson
art by Chloe Middler
You see in front of you is one of your kittens, silvery white with gorgeous yellow-‐green eyes. She slithers like a serpent, while being graceful and maintaining a watchful stance. Behind you is your bulkier smoky gray kitten. He is leaping after a butterﬂy, and then falls to the ground, his watery blue eyes shining with pleasure. You quickly swivel your head around to realize that your proud kitten has vanished. But with a glimpse of your narrow and exquisite blue eyes you catch her on the other side of the six-‐foot fence, leaping aimlessly as a large, ﬂuﬀy Siamese cat is trying to rip at her with his menacing razor claws. You leap, knowing in a matter of seconds you will have only one kitten to call your own. You slash at this terrible tomcat, he has no right to hurt your kitten. You hiss at your kit, and she swiftly understands you, scrambling back over the fence to her brother, and they go to hide. You turn back to the tom, and you see him screech over his shoulder. Blood trickles into your eye. You lash your tail, and after knocking the cat to the ground, you try to race away. But the giant dog he signaled to has you in a grip, with its powerful jaw poised around your neck. You bite at her leg, only to realize that you’d felt no pain when the dog broke through your spine. The dog and cat retreat into the house. You lie on the ground, not able to move. You call for your kittens. They never come. You’re swept up by large, meaty human hands and all the sudden you’re in the car, moving. The last things you see are the teary brown eyes of your human, as she kisses you goodnight.
photo by Maddie Goldberg
A Wish Gone Wrong
Blue water calmly sitting between my ﬁngers. i needed one wish to change everything so i wished to own the sky Peaceful. Tranquil. but nothing changed at all Undisturbed and aﬂoat. I open my eyes, I see the boat -‐-‐Kiana Borjian where my family looks at me in awe. Me, the brave child. Me, willing to jump in, cold but happy. I close my eyes. The serenity returns. Then, a thump. photo by Isabella Wang A thump knocking me out of my zone and out of my senses. I turn, see nothing. Again, nothing. The Beach I make my way to the boat, startled and frightened, moving slowly from shock. When I’m standing on the highway But too slowly. Across from the beach Another, less powerful bump. I’m at a crossroads. I turn. There’s sweet salt and motor oil in the air I see grey. And the sound of waves and world beneath tires I realize, and shoot myself forward towards safety, I contemplate the sand and then the roaming road so close yet so far. And somehow I still cannot decide Too late. If I want to stay or go. Consumed by the fear, confused by this disturbance, --Karly Quadros I am devoured. The next thing I know, nothing. I cannot think, I cannot breathe, I do not live. The last thing I see, red. Flashes of grey zoom by. Screams of my family disappear with me into the darkness. -‐-‐Valerie Hammer photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
don’t tell me that you know how it feels you don’t know how it feels because i’m always there for you
would it hurt you to care about someone someone who cares about you always there to ask what’s wrong and waiting for you to ask her that
sometimes i wonder should i keep wiping your tears away but when you love someone you can’t help it
ﬁne, it’ll stay the way it is i’ll stay by your side just one thing don’t ever say you know how it feels
because you don’t art by Megan Carter
photo by Isabella Wang
Like Colored Glass
They rushed past her, like colored glass in a sea of clear water. No one stopped to look at her, the unimportant little girl, dirty and on the sidewalk; they swept past her without a second glance. Whoever did spot the unfortunate minor shook their head, either in disgust or pity, and continued on their journey. Their colorful journey, with the future like an iridescent shimmering beacon of hope, rising out of the surface of the Earth to claim its destiny. With the twists and turns in between each journey, each one ending, and the other starting with a burst of life, and a spark of imagination. It was heart-‐achingly beautiful. Their lives, so full of wonder and amazement, while the only joy she ever found was in the people's faces as they discovered something miraculous. Something wonderful and grand. It was like watching a rainbow misting into the sky after an interminable storm, its arcs of color peeking out slowly at ﬁrst, as if in caution. Then coming out and out, until the whole is shown in its immense beauty, as it shines down onto the well-‐watered Earth as if saying “we've won.” Yes, it was just like that. The joy etched so clearly on their faces it almost hurt her to look at. Their lives were so full of color, so full of radiance. But then their world turned colorless. Invisible. A place just to inhabit the lives of those who would always take, but never give. Their world had disappeared to them, lost in the places where people stopped caring, and stopped watching. Tick Tock. Like a stopwatch, their attention stopped from that beautiful place, and shifted elsewhere. And they indulged in it. Feeding oﬀ its deceiving words like lions to its prey. Eventually, their world faded from importance, retreating to the back of their minds like a vulnerable child cowers in dark corners. And inside their mind, it grew, it grew and it grew and it grew until no one could stop it. And it kept coming. They were tricked, manipulated into believing it, and it took over their minds. Flowing over their consciousness like water over rocks and pebbles. Filling every dark corner. But she still saw, and her world was beautiful. Like the sun that shone onto the water, causing light into even the darkest places, her world was light. And her life was dark. The others ran, ran from everything around them, not once looking. Looking. Day by day, she wanted to cry out, see? The world is beautiful, don't you see? But they turned their deaf ears towards her, and refused to see. They didn't want to see. But they continued to run, faster and faster and faster, until they were merely blurs of color, streaking through their colorless world, but it remained uncolored. They were restless, searching, searching, searching. Waiting for the answer to everything. They wanted to know about it, they wanted to see it.
But how could they see without seeing? She walked, but they told her to run. She slept, but they told her to wake up. She saw everything, and feared for her world. High up above, the world began to stop spinning, shooting stars fell across the land, water shot up in arcs. Still, no one looked. Leaves danced and spun in the air, causing a rain of red, brown, and orange. A cry pierced the night air. A new life. The girl stared at the stars and saw the stories and legends of the people who never faded from existence. Still, no one looked. The girl became desperate. She wanted someone to care. She needed someone to care. But no one had ever really cared about her. Her mind sickened with grief, and she began to run. Run, run, run, forget, forget, forget. Run. Forget. She ran and ran. She ran across the world and through the valleys. Up the mountains and down the hills. She sped through the meadows, and swept across the grassy ﬁelds. Everywhere she went, she brought her grief. She carried the burden with her. And for the longest time, the world was on her shoulders. Slowly, she began to slip away from existence. And the last thread of color in the world disappeared. And still, they ran, they ran to forget and they ran because of the fear that it would interfere with everything they had. Everything they knew. They were fear, and they were ignorance. And they never knew. Then the world began to disappear. Slowly, its light faded ﬁrst. The brightness and cheerfulness gone. And then all its magniﬁcent beauty, all its sounds and its sights. And in its place stood a dead world. A world devoid of color. A world devoid of laughter, of imagination, or light. But the color was still there. It was always there. Waiting. They were the color, they were its light, but they kept on running and running, it blurred into a a mixed heap, a jumbled mess of color and more color. It kept spinning, and it couldn't stop, about to spin out of existence, about to turn muddled and muddy. It was losing its ﬁght against the darkness. It was seeping into the void of nothing. It was sinking, leaving, disappearing. And then, it happened all of a sudden. A boy stopped running, and looked. Click. A piece of colored glass fell into place. They stopped running. And looked. A million pieces of colored glass all clicked into place as one. And then, light burst forth across their world like a ﬂower opens up to the spring. It spilled over the trees and the ﬁelds, and exploded into a million pieces into the air. Shining specks of light glittered in the atmosphere like crystals, and it spread across the world like a tsunami, crashing down on everything and everyone. It ﬁlled the darkest spaces, and churned in the caves. It sang through the wind like knives, slicing through the darkness. Cutting away shards of sorrow, and fear. Then, the color sprang forth from the ground, and erupted, creating an arc of unimaginable glowing pigmentation. It spilled all over ground, crept up walls, ﬁlled holes, and danced through the world on light feet. They saw everything. And as their wonder-‐ﬁlled eyes gazed at the scene before them, their spirits rose with the light, singing and dancing in the air on wingless backs. High above the world, a creation of colored glass pieces stuck together created an image so beautiful, a girl smiled in pure joy.
Where I'm From I am from haggis with gravy and mushy peas I am from Toad-‐in-‐the-‐Hole with British bangers and carrots I am from Spotted Dick with custard I am from ﬁsh and chips crispy from a proper English pub I am from boxes and long airplane rides I am from SeaLife and the column of ﬁsh I am from the canal visiting Uncle Len on his long canal boat I am from Ruby chasing Sandy around the garden I am from mouse poop and cleaning it out of the cage I am from ﬁsh tanks growing with me I am from soccer balls playing with friends to playing with more I am from the park in the cement circle falling oﬀ my little blue bike I am from paint in my hair and on the ﬂoor I am from stationery a favorite time of year I am from books my family’s favorite store
I am from desert training if it is not good quality don’t waste your time I am from dog toys throwing them into the garden a squeak every step I am from walking to the park along the path at reserves I am from from jump roping a dangerous sport I am from Cadbury and complaining about the lack of good dessert I am from West Midlands Safari Park with giant giraﬀes licking your hand and closing your windows at the lions I am from Black Country Museum with tears when the light are turned oﬀ in that coal mine I am from Postman Pat and his many parcels with his black and white cat I am from the Teletubbies and assigning each one to my family I am from The Muppets and watching the VCRs The boxes under the bed the stuﬀ trying to get the lids to stay on a whirl of kindergarten a drop of the rest missing the days when I had time to look at everything in that box and remember -‐-‐Katherine Greatwood
Somewhere In-‐between Not the past nor the future the ﬁne line in mid-‐air where she stands between yesterday and tomorrow next to time and space Always there Everywhere -‐-‐Aimee An
photo by Katja Teichmann Sunday Afternoon Sitting with a mug of tea in my hand It’s relaxing, I suppose Catching up on my reading Perhaps watching a movie Basking in the sunlight. I think, in a previous life, I was a cat Because I love the feeling of warm sun How it heats you up almost to the point of discomfort But it never reaches. It’s the best feeling Sitting there, on the couch In the warm sun With a nice book And a mug of tea. Thinking that if I stay still long enough I’ll turn into a potato. -‐-‐Emily Burnette
photo by Grace Stephenson I am eating a sunset. I can taste the brightness in my mouth, soon shrouded by the darkness when the bite is gone, and the longing for more. The emptiness in my stomach, as if I couldn’t live without another bite. My tongue wraps around the piece of sun in my mouth, tasting ﬁrst the sweet and then the sour as I get to the skin. My ears hear the crunch of the ﬂesh while I have the ﬁrst bite of sunset, and keep on hearing it until only the skin and the darkness remain. The taste remains, lingering on my taste buds as my tongue licks the top of my mouth as a substitute for the piece of sun that is no longer there. I can remember the moon, shining brightly as I take a swallow of tea and wash down the ever present darkness, but the last taste of black still remains, sour in my mouth. The residue of juice remains on my teeth, and I can taste it, so strong. With my next bite, the sun remains brightly and the crickets chirp as my teeth crush the last full bite of apple. -‐-‐Emily Burnette
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
How I Feel About Wednesday I’m sure Wednesday has some nice qualities, but it is a navy blue day. The color of boredom, and well-‐worn polo shirts and the dog’s bed. All painfully familiar and close, and annoyingly loyal. -‐-‐Indigo Jones
I Wrote a Stupid Little Poem for You, I Hope You Like It Let’s hitch a ride to the ocean And paint the Golden Gate Bridge blue And sleep in parking lots And strangers’ lumpy couches Let’s live on banana splits Because they’re yummy and also a good source of potassium And probably a lot of other heath-‐related stuﬀ Neither of us really cares about And can we write secret love notes to each other On the butts of our pants? Oh, and start a collection of straw wrappers tied into knots And ridiculous ironic coﬀee mugs We could start a band if you want You can sing and I’ll tap my feet Or maybe we could write stories on napkins And sell them to lonely old ladies I’d do just about anything with you If you’re up for it, that is Except maybe sit still Because we’ve both got two legs and ten ﬁngers and ten toes and twenty-‐four teeth and two eyes and one mouth So let’s go out and use them Because there’s so much for us to do together. -‐-‐Karly Quadros
photo by Kiana Borjian
A swirling mist in the early morning ﬂoating above the mountains like islands of the sky dangling among the trees and ﬂowers hiding in the darkness and the shadows hints of the future but no more only until the tiniest glimmer of light the sliver of hope the golden, warm beam shines through before it rises and melts away -‐-‐Aimee An
photo by Katie Jo Shuman
A Flashlight Light, light illuminating the cracks. Cracks that hold unspeakable treasures, If only you could touch them. Touch, holding down your center, To watch your own sun come out. But, if only your sun could stay. Stay, and illuminate those hidden cracks, Maybe, I don’t know, you’d ﬁnd treasure! Or a lost love poem, Or maybe just that chewed-‐up old tennis ball that your dog lost. The dog who passed away years ago. Who knows? Not I, not she, not even you. For until your fragile self, Connected to life, through a battery, Opens up, Your light is lost to us, Lost to the world. -‐-‐Grace Stephenson
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
art and poem by Isabella Wang
Not just a silver key, but the wonders it awaits A silver key up its spine swivels, curves, and shapes connect to each other through seared metal Oh of the secrets that these mysterious spaces withhold the treasures that it may unlock the journeys of uncovering its hidden magical spell interlocked with curses or peace? does it unlock a heart, a crime, a treasure, artifact, or hidden passageways? oh the things you can discover about one single shining key will it guide me to its match? will I ever ﬁnd the x that will hopefully match the spot? years and years of searching and no luck comes instead of searching for it, I need to let it come to me unfortunately my ancestors only hold its secrets buried underground and their souls up in heaven it was my grandmother who treasured this item only at her death was it taken from her will she send me a clue forever in my lifetime? I guess I will wait in the dark mists of the sky until the sun rays hit me with a burst of happiness Please, I hope, I need to know, it is my destiny... -‐-‐Jordan Jackson
photo by Isabella Wang
Poetry Remix from Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to a Lemon” The world and its path, surrounded with blossoms Your waters gently rock with birds Blue daylight, Source of freshness
What am I? Simply a thing? Does life have meaning? Have you no heart As a human being? Splitting families apart The rights as a human Children and elderly No one to spare The right to live Family and friends Rewards and betrayal Blinded by power and greed -‐-‐Aimee An
The sun The orange planet, fanning out Born of electric ﬁre The perfect one of yellow hair, like gold -‐-‐Brenda Cachay
art by Camille Vais Ode to Pecan Pie I love you, pecan pie with your nutty outer shell your sweetness and sugar crystals that engulf my mouth with warmth like the light airy rays of sun that cast down below amidst an autumn afternoon the dewy grass that prickles the skin that cools the life around the soft checkered blanket a patch of cloud to let me lie upon you are like a warm hazelnut-‐hued throw the velvety touch that cuddles the skin when it is cold outside
you capture the warmth to hug the cold you taste so good and this is my ode to you my beloved pecan pie cannot be replaced by the apple or pumpkin a close tie yet no one can defeat you Monsieur Pecan Pie -‐-‐Mitra Assaderaghi
art by Brooke Weller
Mine Chapter 1 “Mom, I am not going to drop out of middle school two-‐thirds of the way through just to attend some stupid boarding school in Nebraska!” I said for about the one-‐millionth time. “Sweetie, when I was researching schools for next year I came across this one. It seems perfect for you! It has advanced classes, no boys, great facilities…” And that was the way it went. For some reason my mom thought I should not ﬁnish 8th grade at the local public school. I mean, except for the fact that the classes were super easy and I aced them all, it was a good school, and I didn’t see why I shouldn’t go back to it for 8th grade. All my friends were there (more like my sort-‐of friends) and I couldn’t just leave. Actually, they might not be that upset about my not being there…but I pushed that thought out of my mind. “Mom,” I whined, “I do not want to go to this dumb boarding school out in the boonies of Nebraska! We won’t see each other except on breaks! I’ll miss all my friends! I won’t-‐“ “Is that true Miss Amanda Rose Jones? Just last night you were complaining about how easy classes were for you. And how all your friends deserted you at lunch.” My mom can be very convincing sometimes. But I was clever too. I decided to make her happy now and gave her a non-‐promising answer. “I’ll think about it, mom. I need time some time to think.” Luckily for me, my mom understands that a 12-‐year-‐ old who is almost a 13-‐year-‐old does need some time to consider her options and let the issue drop for now. “Well Amanda, that’s ﬁne, I’m letting you oﬀ the hook temporarily. But you will need to start thinking about what you’re going to write on the application. They only accept one out of every ten girls who apply, you know. And-‐” Then the phone rang and she ran to go get it. I sighed, and walked slowly towards my room. How weird, I thought to myself, that this school starts in the middle of November. Do they just expect girls to drop out of school one day and say they’re never coming back? I collapsed on my bed and grimly thought of how I could be the laughingstock of the 8th grade, the girl who ditches school in the middle of the year. It’s not like anyone would notice though, I realized, I’m that unpopular. Why is that I of all people have to be the most ignored, most weird and most smart girl at Francis Rivers Middle School? I just wanted to be normal, to ﬁt in like anyone else. Would this boarding school give me a second chance at a better reputation? I had no clue. If I applied and got in, there was no going back. I had no idea what to do. All of a sudden my cell phone rang. I picked it up. Looked like my dad was calling. My father was always traveling, on business he said. Well, apart from one week during the summer and another during the winter, he was never home. I can’t exactly say I miss him though. I guess I barely know him is more like it. “Hi Dad,” I said emotionlessly into the phone. “Hi honey!” he said, always trying to sound as upbeat and as excited to talk to me as possible. “How was your ﬁrst day of school?” “My school started a month ago, Dad,” I said trying not to sound amused. “Oh sorry sweet pea. Guess I got it confused with…” He trailed oﬀ, not knowing what to say. This was how our conversations were, plain awkward. He was always trying to say something nice and fatherly while I listened dumbly. I’ve always wondered why mom hasn’t divorced him or anything. While she works from home and supposedly gets paid somehow, I’m pretty sure she’s waiting to give him an ultimatum until I hopefully get into this boarding school and he pays the tuition for me. Then he cut through my thoughts: “So honey, are you excited for my annual winter visit? I can’t wait! We could go ﬁshing, eat out… um, you know, spend some time together?” “Yeah Dad, I can’t wait,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic about it all. “Uh, Dad” I lied, because all this weirdness couldn’t go on for much longer, “Mom’s calling me. I need to ﬁnish my homework too…” “It’s okay sweetie. Just remember, I’ll always be here for you. Call whenever.” Yeah right. When I was eight I actually fell for it and tried calling him every day. He never answered or called back when I left a message. By the way, this call was the ﬁrst he had made since his visit in summer. “Sure Dad. Whatever you say. Bye.” And I hung up and tucked my phone away. As I sat down at my desk all I could think was WHY IS MY LIFE SO MESSED UP??? Chapter 2 I woke up the next morning feeling as sick as a dog. No details are necessary, but let’s just say I felt miserable. Mom made it a point to wait on me hand and foot. I think it was probably because she wanted me to feel obliged to apply to that dumb school on account of how nice and helpful she had been to me. Guess I was somewhat right, as Mom spent the day showing me ﬂyers and clips of the application for the boarding school while I lay in bed sucking a lollipop.
“Look Amanda! How great! It has two pools, one for doing laps and the swim team and one for recreation that even has a slide! Wouldn’t that be so much fun! Oh and also, no boys or any added distractions! You know what, the ﬁne young ladies have such high GPAs that they even top records! Amanda, this is perfect for you!” “Sure Mom,” I said, hacking after the word mom. “It’s sounds okay.” “Okay?” My mom demanded. “This place has everything. Would you like me to sign you up for a visit there? It’s only a two-‐and-‐a-‐half-‐hour plane ride from San Francisco to the closest airport to the school. I could go with you-‐ oh how fun! We can have stay an extra night and hang out! I’ll go book the ﬂights right now! It will be the best trip ever!” With that she ran out of the room to her oﬃce without taking the ﬂyers or application with her. I stared down at the ﬂyer. The perfect school, it read, for girls with a magic touch! It showed a picture of a fairy next to the motto. I snorted at the thought of the mascot being a fairy. Laughable! What were they called, the Fluttering Fairies? It was a girl’s school, so it could be a girly environment. But something about the school seemed appealing, so I searched NFS on the computer in my room (I assumed it stood for Nebraska Female School), and their website came up. It was lit up with fairies and their motto. It had pictures of girls in their uniforms smiling, eating, playing and sleeping. Interesting enough. I clicked on the Applying to NFS button and I read about why it was such a great school etc, etc. At the bottom it explained how to apply. I was surprised that only an interview and answering two essay questions were required to apply. (I wasn’t really listening when my mom told me about this.) Usually you need to take a test or do a lot more to get in, I thought. I searched the site and didn’t ﬁnd a lot more information. They didn’t give a sample schedule or anything like that. There was nothing about the teachers except for how they were only the best at what they teach and all that stuﬀ. I wondered if these people actually knew how to make a website and put information on it, the site was so empty of information. Guess you just wait until your visit, I thought. It seemed cool though. I sort of wanted to apply there. I needed to know more about it before I made up my mind though. I truly hoped NFS would give me a chance to ﬁt in. Chapter 3 I opened my eyes and let out a huge yawn. Ah, I thought, I love Saturdays. Suddenly my mother burst into my room with a thermometer in her hand. “Time to take your temperature,” she said. I groaned as she stuck the piece of plastic in my mouth. “Ouch, be careful!” I winced. After my mother took my temperature she decided I was well enough to go get a manicure and pedicure with her. “Uh Mom?” I asked as she pulled on her jacket and got out her keys, “I’m sick remember? Shouldn’t I be in bed, resting?” “Honey,” she replied, “your fever has gone away and you look ﬁne. So come on, let’s go to the salon.” I sighed. I had to agree, I felt ﬁne. As I pulled open the door to the passenger seat of the car I made a mental observation on how I never am sick for more than a day. I beamed and could help given myself an imaginary pat on the back; wow, that’s one strong immune system you have Amanda. “Puh-‐lease Mom, why are even going to get our nails done anyway? You know how long it takes.” “I know dear, I just thought we should look our best for your on-‐campus visit at NFS. I mean you do want to impress them, don’t you? You’ve got to look your best for the interview too, honey.” “What?” I practically yelled as the car took a sharp left at an intersection all of a sudden. “What do you mean the interview takes place during the visit? I thought that it would be later…” I trailed oﬀ, realizing I had no clue when the interview would take place. My mother sighed as we pulled into the salon parking lot. “You are ready for it, right?” she said, ignoring my disbelief. “What are they even going to ask me?” I screeched. A few people who were leaving the salon stared at me. I blushed and turned my head away from them. My mother gave them an I’m-‐sorry-‐about-‐her smile and pulled open the door. A chime rung as it swung open. “Hi Mary!” the woman behind the front desk greeted my mother. “Hi Faith!” My mother replied, “How are you these days?” “Fine Mary, really I’ve never been better. Can you believe that Julie just went oﬀ to high school?” “Really? She’s grown up so fast, your little Julie. I remember her just as a baby still,” my mom said. Faith smiled fondly, probably remembering the good old days of early parenthood as her eyes ﬂicked to me. “Oh Mary!” She exclaimed. “Is this Amanda? She’s so big! I can’t believe it! Come here and give Faith a hug, dear.” I walked behind the front desk and gave the woman I supposedly knew well a hug just to be polite. I semi-‐smiled at her and scurried back to my mother’s side after our brief reunion was done. “Well Mary,” Faith said, her tone more business-‐like, “What will you be wanting today?” “Both Amanda and I are getting manicures and pedicures. How much will that be?” My mother opened her wallet and gave Faith the money as two fairly young women emerged from the back room. “Alright ladies,” Faith said, “These are Donna and Sally. They will be working on you today.” I quickly grabbed a random magazine as we were whisked from the lobby into the back room. It was more than a room, I realized as soon as
I stepped through the entryway. It was painted silky yellow and had various paintings along it, each one unique. Soothing music played as we were lead to two cotton candy colored salon chairs. I couldn’t help but let out a little sigh of tension as I sat down. Donna, who would be tending to me, let me pick from a selection of nail polish colors. After I chose, she let me pick what ﬂower design to put on top. As she started, I pulled out the magazine I got in the lobby. Ugh, Teen Vogue. It would have to do, though. Then another stylist, who looked a bit older than Donna and Sally, came in with the person she was tending to. “Hey girls!” she said as she sat down. “Hey Claire!” Donna said as she looked up from my nails. “What’s up?” “Oh, nothing much,” she replied. For a forty-‐year-‐old, she sure knew how to talk like she was twenty. “I was just having lunch with my daughter. She only visits on weekends and I cherish the little time I have with her.” “Oh, is she in college? Which one? I would love to know!” Sally said eagerly. “No, she’s only in 9th grade. She attends boarding school, NFS to be speciﬁc.” At that moment both my mother and I perked up. I didn’t want to be rude, so I pretended I was reading my magazine while I was really listening. “How is it there? I’ve heard of NFS but nothing more than that,” Donna gushed earnestly. “She loves it there. Funny thing is, I can’t tell you more than that. It’s weird; she never talks about her day or life there to me. All I’ve ever seen from that school is one of her new friends who stayed at our place for the weekend.” Claire looked awfully perplexed and I felt sorry for her. “Oh.” Sally said. “I heard it’s really exclusive, like only one out of every ten girls get in. Is that true?” Claire still looked confused, like she had just realized the truth of what she had just said. “What? Oh yeah, it’s exclusive, very hard to get into,” Claire said, regaining her cool again. “This was my daughter’s third visit since the start of school. Because the school is located in Nebraska, it would be hard and expensive for her to ﬂy here every weekend, even though they have permission to leave then.” Sally and Donna must have suddenly become uninterested in the conversation, because they turned back to the nails they were painting and didn’t say a word. Claire did the same, and once again the salon was peaceful and quiet. But inside my head things were the opposite; it was hammering with questions. What was NFS really?
photo by Karina Fonstad
photo by Katja Teichmann
Where I Am From I am from the smell of sunscreen from the wet towels and bathing suits thrown on the ﬂoor. From the gurgling window air conditioner blasting frosty air during humid nights and the outdoor showers. I am from the white burning sand and the salt warm water I am from the Jersey tomatoes the cheese steaks and the ice cream I am from the gooey messy s’more on a starry summer night to the dinner at 8:30 I am from the bathing suits under your clothes no matter what the occasion
I am from the Ed’s and the Mary’s from the yellers and the talkers from the “Put your sunscreen on!” and “Bugs and Bears!” From the long family talks to the warm embrace I am from the sight of Wawa and the thought of memory to the taste of a TastyKake and the thought of Papa I am from the Skypes and the phone calls and the long summer days just spent together. -‐-‐Molly Ledwith
Just Wish for It “Just wish for it, Haily,” my best friend Jane said. But I didn’t want to; I wanted to become the best soccer player ever by working hard and earning it myself. At the same time I wanted to wish for it because everyone could wish for anything, and there were so many people who had wished to become great soccer players that their was no way I could get that good without wishing for it. “I can’t,” I told her. “I need to work hard to achieve my goal, not just wish for it.” “That’s what everyone does,” she replied. “Why do you want to be diﬀerent?” I didn’t want to be diﬀerent. I just wanted life to have some meaning and if I just wished for everything and got whatever I wanted without having to work for it, what would be the point of wishing for anything? No one seemed to understand this, especially not Jane. She was always talking about how she could not imagine what people had done a bazillion years ago before we all had three wishes. “Never mind,” I said, “I’ve got to get going. See you tomorrow.” “Yeah, okay,” Jane said exasperatedly. I picked up my bag and started walking home. I just didn’t understand why no one could see where I was coming from. They don’t get why I don’t just want to wish for things and have them happen like everyone else on the planet. Sometimes I wish that everyone didn’t have three wishes. One time I told my mom that one thing I wanted to wish for was that no one had any wishes. When I said that though she started to freak out and said that if I ever repeated that, I would never see the light of day again. Once I got home, I changed into my soccer stuﬀ and went into my backyard. My backyard was nothing like you have ever seen before; it is a huge luscious forest with meadows and daisies and all those sorts of things, and of course my Mom had wished for it. I did love my backyard but I would have loved it more if my mom hadn’t wished for it. I walked to my favorite meadow, about a 15 minute walk (yes I had literally a whole forest in my backyard) and started juggling with my soccer ball. Juggling always calmed me down. Something about kicking the ball and having it come back to my feet over and over again was really relaxing. My juggling record was 132. It wasn’t that great, but I was getting better. After about an hour I went back to my house, showered, and got ready for dinner. Everyone who eats my mom’s cooking can never stop talking about it, because she wished to be an excellent cook. Most people think that I am going to wish to be on the woman's national soccer team, but I don’t see how I can. Everyone acts like this wishing thing is normal, but I ﬁnd it weird and unsettling that anyone can have whatever they want. After eating dinner, I went to soccer practice. My team is a class one premier bracket team, which means that it is in the best division in our age group for CYSA. About half the people on my team wished their way on, but me and a few other girls didn’t. We have to work extra hard because for everyone else the new things we learn come naturally to them and they rarely have to practice. Even though we lose some of our games, I still really love my team and think it is a great group of girls. At practice we worked on controlling the ball oﬀ of throw-‐ins. Most people got it immediately, but it took Tashi and me longer to pick up on it. Tashi is another girl who didn’t wish to be on the team, not because she believes the same things I do, but because she is a little paranoid about her wishes and is too freaked out to wish for anything. After soccer practice I went home, and ﬁnished my homework. All I had left was science homework, which was not that hard. It was just a review for a test we were taking tomorrow. Science is by far my favorite class because I sit right next to Nick. Nick is the sweetest, cutest, and funniest guy you will ever meet. He has the most inviting brown eyes, and when they lock onto you, you just can’t look away. His chestnut brown hair has just the slightest wave to it, and he is super buﬀ. Oh, and did I mention I might have just the tiniest crush on him? Jane said that I should stop being a wimp and just ask him out, but to tell you the truth, the thought of putting myself out there like that really scares me. When I was done with my homework, I got into my pajamas, watched a little of my favorite TV show “Modern Family,” then went to bed.
At 6:30 in the morning, my alarm went oﬀ. I slowly opened my eyes and pulled myself out of bed. I quickly got ready but didn’t end up leaving the house till 7:30. I walked to school, and when I got there Jane was waiting by my locker. “Guess what?” she said enthusiastically. “What?” I replied, still half asleep (I am so not a morning person). “Nick Anderson just got switched to our ﬁrst period history class.” It took me a minute to process that, but when I ﬁnally did I was so excited I started packing my bag so I could get to class early and get a seat next to him. Me getting to class early never happened; I usually walked in right as the bell rang, which was why I wasn’t surprised when Jane said, “You’re going to class now? I left my bag by my locker because I never thought that you would go to class early!” Jane’s locker is on the other side of the school. “I’ll race you,” I said, and we took oﬀ sprinting down the hallways as fast as we could. Just as I was running around a corner I ran right into Ms. Ames, the principal. Ms. Ames already didn’t like me, probably because I spent a lot of time in her oﬃce, but running into her didn’t make her like me any more.
“Sorry,” I called back, but I kept on sprinting. Jane ended up beating me to her locker because of the little run-‐in with Ms. Ames. She quickly grabbed her bag and we ran to class. I got to class just in time to get a seat next to Nick. I was in class for about ﬁve minutes before my name came out of the loud speaker. “Haily Foster, please come to the principal’s oﬃce immediately.” Ms. Ames must want to give me detention for running into her, I thought as I trudged over to the principal’s oﬃce. When I got to the oﬃce, I knocked on Ms. Ames’ door. “Come in,” she said. She sounded mad, but not as mad as I thought she would be. I walked into the oﬃce. “Sit down,” Ms. Ames said. I did. Ms. Ames gave me one of those scary disapproving looks that only a teacher can give and then said, “I’m sorry Haily, but running through school and pushing me over is the last straw. I have threatened you with suspension over and over, but you don’t listen. You have been nothing but trouble since the start of this year, and you have over 20 detentions. I have no other option but to suspend you for two weeks. I have called your mother, and she will be here to pick you up any minute.” My mom drove me home, the whole time lecturing me about how being suspended was not okay and that there were going to be major consequences, but all I could think was: I got suspended, I really got suspended, Ms. Ames actually suspended me. Once I got home, I spent all day in my room. (According to my mother I was supposed to be thinking about what I had done.) At 7:30 pm, I left the house to go to soccer practice. When I got to soccer practice my whole team was waiting for me, and my soccer coach said, “Haily, we need to talk.” She took me oﬀ to the side and said, “I heard you got suspended from school, is that true?” “Yes it is,” I replied, scarcely saying the words above a whisper. “I’m sorry, then,” my soccer coach said, “but if you are or have been suspended you are not allowed to be on this team. You are a great asset to this team, but I can no longer allow you to play for this team.” “I understand,” I replied, barely able to control my tears. I ran back to my house, crying all the way. Once I got home, I went straight up to my room and locked the door. I sat on my bed, crying as I watched my life fall apart around me. To top it all oﬀ, my 16th birthday was tomorrow. Normally, a birthday would be a happy thing and cause for celebration. I don’t know why, but on the morning of your 16th birthday, you are supposed to make one of your wishes. I had always promised myself that on my 16th birthday, even though I wasn’t supposed to, I would wish that nobody had any wishes. I know it seems cruel, but that’s what I thought would beneﬁt our world. But now that my life was falling apart, I wanted to wish for me to have never been suspended, to have Nick as my boyfriend, to have my place back on my soccer team, and to be the best soccer player ever. I knew I shouldn’t wish for those things, but I really wanted to. I fell asleep that night thinking about what I should do in the morning. In the morning, my mom and dad came in holding a cake and singing happy birthday. When they were done singing, they told me to blow out the candles and then make my wish. I closed my eyes and blew out the candles one by one. I still hadn’t decided what to do. Apparently, sleeping on it doesn’t always give you the answer. All my diﬀerent options were ﬂoating around my head when I got to the last candle. I looked into my parents’ eyes, and then I did it. Something I never thought I would be able to do, but I did it.
-‐-‐Kathleen Mhatre art by Nancy Lopez
Roses and Thorns Why does a rose have thorns? They seem frustrating, Especially when you’re digging In the soft soil, And receive a jolt. It seems that your ﬁnger, Upon further examination, Has gotten scratched, And a single drop of blood Oozes from the cut. Soon you can easily become Disgruntled, determined to Figure out just which thorn Pricked you. You focus so much on the thorns, That you don’t look up To see the ﬂower. You don’t see the petals, Splashed with color, Fluttering in the summer breeze. You don’t even see the leaves, Emerald and shining, Although they’re right Above your gaze. You can’t think of the fact That these thorns actually Protect the rose. You only know that they Pricked you. But you have to tear your eyes From the thorns. You have to pay attention to the Sunlit rose, stretching To the sky. It’s true for many things... You’ll never see the beauty If you can’t look past the thorns. -‐-‐Maddie Goldberg
photo by Jordan Jackson
Letters from the Sky The ship plunged into the swells of the night furiously, intent on breaking through the harsh sea like a horse through a starting gate. Waves around the vessel crashed down on the hull in raw tonnage, bringing a fury that could only be compared to a raging bull. But the ship was large, the beating waves having no eﬀect on the iron structure. It continued, rising and falling with the ocean, the propellers trying fruitlessly to push the ship onward. The Atlantic Ocean had almost been conquered; only mere miles stood between the ship and the New York harbor. Two abrupt gunshots pierced into the night air, scaring the unlucky passengers awake on the deck for a night stroll. A man came bursting out of the door onto the deck, pausing for only a brief moment to clutch the rail, the other hand grasping his stomach. He started oﬀ towards the stern, holding the rail for support, still clutching his abdomen. The other man was not even close to as frenzied as the ﬁrst. He knew that he had not missed, just like he had been trained. All he had left to do was to ﬁnish the job that had been started, and he was not in the least bit worried about failing. The ﬁrst man gave him a pleading glance, as if asking the pursuer to ﬁnish what he had started while he trudged on. Those, however, were not his orders. Kill him, Lovejoy, and make it as painful as possible. He smiled wickedly at the man. Slowly, monotonously, he moved closer to the unlucky victim, never once ﬂinching or lowering his gun. He wasn’t going to shoot. Not yet. Nor would he make the ﬁnal shot immediately fatal. Satisﬁed with the pain the man had endured moments later, he ﬁred again. art by Megan Andersen And again, making sure his bullet wounds wouldn’t kill. The ship lurched once more, the waves becoming even larger than before. It was like they matched the moods on the ship: anger and fear. The shooter was forced back into the cabin’s door with the full onslaught of force coming from the rocking motion, another shot ﬁring wildly into the distance. He lost his balance, and fell to the ﬂoor, gun wrenched from his grasp. The wounded man screamed, having lost his grip on the railing. Blood and the salty sea air blinded him as his arms ﬂashed around, searching for something to hold onto. He found nothing, except the rail one last time, and made the instinctive decision to ﬂing him self into the vast abyss below him. ~~~ He wasn’t dead yet, as he felt cold rushing water envelop his skin. It tore him down into the depths, swirled him around, and propelled him to the surface. He gasped and took a short breath, only to be sucked below again. Still, he was a ﬁghter and not prone to give up quickly if there was but even a small hope of living. An odd heat burned through him in the coldness, the opposite sensation from the numbness that had taken over
him. One part of him just wanted to descend to the icy depths to be rid of the pain, but the other dominant part told him that he had to get out of this. He did not fail. At least he wasn’t supposed to. His feet clawed at the nothingness below him. He had to climb! Climb up! The quick breath that he took only a few seconds ago was wrenched from his lungs, making the need to break the surface even more urgent. For now, he had done it. After ﬁnally breaking the surface, the breath he gulped fueled him with enough energy to stay aﬂoat until he could breathe again. He was strong. He was trained to be strong. And yet the inevitable blackout came, right as something banged against his head. ~~~ The bright eastern sun broke through the clouds, the iridescent rays casting a gleam on the much calmer North Atlantic water. A light breeze ﬂowed through the air, reminiscing the lingering eﬀects of the harsh storm the night before. The waves had calmed considerably, to the great joy of the passengers on the small ﬁshing trawler. The skipper gazed into the endless distance, still trying to make sense of the events from the night before. They were lucky to still be alive; more than once the boat had threatened to capsize. Neither he nor his small, clumsy brother had yet to ﬁgure out why the storm had ensued. Weather reports from Trenton had promised bright skies for ample ﬁshing, and the storm had taken away their sanity for a night as well as the ﬁsh. He gripped the rope tighter, the raw rope burns forgotten. The fact that he was only one in the family who really had any experience sailing, and the storm had proven to be one conquered by only the best of sailors had made him weary. But who else could take his position with waters like the ones there had been? His bloodshot eyes closed brieﬂy, but he jerked himself awake before he could doze oﬀ. A snort sounded from behind him, meaning his idiot of a brother was ﬁnally awake, and causing trouble at that. The skipper glanced back precariously and almost in slow motion, dreading the excuse for the nonsense that he would hear. But the sight before him was not that of a stunned brother fearful of his brother’s punishments. He and his just as dumb Italian friend were toying with the throttle, jerking it forward and then back, causing waves to be left in the wake. The skipper had been so preoccupied with his thinking that he did not notice the methodical rocking of the boat. “Stop that, won’t you!” the skipper jabbed. The two boys pretended to ignore the warning yell and pushed the throttle forward even faster. He was about to yell something else, but he decided against it, his mouth hung open loosely. They were not worth the trouble, and he would think of a way to get back at them eventually. His eyes made their way back to the sea ahead. Why he watched the ocean was a mystery to him. The sea had always held a special part inside his soul, and he could just gaze at it endlessly, unlike the two drifters whom he had the unlucky chance of bringing along. “D’ya see that Tommy?” the other boy cried. “See what? There’s nothin to see! All this water just makes me want to be sick.” “No, over there!” The skipper sighed at the stupidity. They were only supposed to be out for a day, but the storm had kept the three out at sea overnight. His tiredness and just the presence of the two imbeciles was enough to make him go crazy, but he would not let the sea conquer him. “Fabri, you have barnacles in your brain. All I see is waves and the back of my brother’s ugly face.” That was enough to make the skipper jerk his head around angrily. His brother just snickered back. “No, you bozo!” Fabrizio tugged on Tommy’s arm. “To the left-‐erm, the starboard.” He glanced up at the skipper, who returned an annoyed glance. “I mean the port. Look to the port!” “I still don’t see anything,” Tommy interjected. His eyes were untrained, missing the obvious man in the water. The skipper’s eyes were well adjusted. “Port bow! There’s a man in the water, holding on to something. Looks to be a piece of driftwood, debris, or some kind of plank.” The two boys stood unmoving. “Well, get on with it! We can’t just leave him there.” ~~~
The man looked to be in a situation where any type of movement could send him tumbling down into
the depths which he had already narrowly avoided. His hands were white now not only from the cold, but also from the tightly clenched position they were in on the corners of the piece of driftwood. The rest of his body was limp, the heaving breaths having long left him along with his consciousness. The skipper had to make the quick decision about whether to trust his brother (after all, they really should trust each other) not to endanger the man’s life. The job of lifting him and prying him away from the water would not be an easy one. He glanced quietly at his brother, who now had a serious aura to him. “Loop the ropes!” The skipper yelled. “Around his feet, steady now.” Quickly becoming experts at the ship’s equipment, a feat which greatly amused the skipper, Tommy and Fabri did as they were told. “Pull up towards his waist, and be easy about it! That’s right.” “His hands won’t let go of the wood! Do I take the whole thing? I don’t know if I can lift that much!” Tommy said. “I’ll help you,” Fabrizio put in. With the combined strength of the two would-‐be sailors, the task of lifting the mystery man proved to not be too hard. Once poked at enough, his hands even let go of the death grip they had on the driftwood. “We can lift him by the shoulders now.” “Don’t drop him now,” the skipper warned. He was now genuinely curious as to who this man was and why he was left alone in the Atlantic Ocean with...bullet holes? “Mother of God!” Tommy cried. “Look at his head! He must’ve hit it hard on the wood or something; I think it knocked him unconscious too.” Eying the wound, and with the slight knowledge that he possessed, the skipper knew that it wasn’t a wound from hitting a piece of wood. He had seen it once before, on the corpse of his father who had been shot to death. “No, that’s not it,” he said, mostly to himself though. “Look! He has a bullet wound-‐no, two! Right on his back! He’s going to need some help. We’ll need to go back ashore and ﬁnd the doctor, that is if he hasn’t drunk himself to death.” Tommy gave Fabrizio a dumbstruck look. “Him? The Californian?” "Do we know anyone else who could do something? I'd be surprised if he's even still alive when we get back. I mean just look at him." A faint heartbeat ﬂowed through his body, but the loss of blood and frigid temperatures had brought him to a state of near death. His hair was encrusted with half-‐frozen water and his face had a gaunt look to it, like he was a pale zombie risen from the dead. If it wasn't for his tan complexion, then Fabrizio would have surely thought that he was one.
The endless hollering of seamen and the screeches from overhead gulls signiﬁed that without a doubt the harbor was near. Small children hurried by the stalls with fresh ﬁsh, overwhelmed by the smell and determined to be rid of it, while everyday shoppers looked on with pure bemusement at their antics. It was warm, for an April in New Jersey at least. The sun beat down through a cloudless sky, and people were out and about taking a stroll, making use of the heat that was sure to go away soon. They were all out except for one man, a man who had a problem on his hands ever since his trip back from Southampton. Sure, he was a doctor and a mighty ﬁne one at that, but the combination of his wife leaving him and his dismissal from one of London’s best hospitals had dulled his medical senses. He tried not to care. How could they kick out their top surgeon for accidentally killing two people who had close to no chance of living anyway? The one thing he was grateful for was the red-‐haired girl that had enough sense to bring him a bottle of scotch every Saturday night to drive away his demons. In fact, Thomas Andrews had met her on the ship; one of the only people who seemed to take a drunken doctor seriously. She was one of the richest people on-‐board, engaged to a rich English politician. But her heart was diﬀerent than the rest of them. After they had met and become close, they even struck a deal. Thomas would alert the ship that she had jumped overboard in order for her to get away from her locked-‐up life as long as she would help him ﬁnd his way back in New York. As it turned out, she had no place to stay after evading her ﬁancé, and he let her stay with him. She had an obvious secret she was hiding, but he didn’t mean to pester her. She had gotten a job at a boarding school, meaning she mostly didn’t stay with him anymore, which might have been for the better with the new patient that was giving the seasoned expert a run for his money.
The two full bottles sat on top of his mantelpiece. It really was a serious conundrum he faced, and the fact that he was in somewhat of a withdrawal did not help his case. The man had been dropped two weeks ago, and after a careful removal of the three bullets and the other stuﬀ he found inside of him, he was nowhere closer to leaving his coma than he was before he came. The three men, boys even, who dropped him oﬀ obviously knew nothing except for the obvious wounds that were killing the man through body and mind. He wasn’t sure how they knew that he was there and a doctor, a fact he deep down didn’t really want to know. At ﬁrst the wounds had seemed normal, well maybe not normal, but they were at least to Dr. Thomas Andrews. The doctor concluded that the man was lucky to still be alive. Whoever had shot him had either been a stunning marksman and not going for the kill, or the current of the salty ocean had cleansed the wounds enough to keep him alive. Millimeter by millimeter, he pried the four bullets from the man’s back. But that wasn’t the hard part. Andrews examined the cranial wound once more. The bullet was perfectly lodged, again, not for the kill. He was hesitant to try the most delicate procedure of his entire life, but not doing anything would just ensure the poor man’s death. And he had endured enough. With that, he picked up the needle, brush, clamp, and other instruments that he had long since forgotten the name of. At least the knowledge of how to use them came naturally. Why he cared about the life of the man was still one of the mysteries to him. He had pondered the thought for the past few weeks, and he couldn’t decide whether it was a genuine curiosity for the man’s identity and why he wasn’t dead, or just a matter of it being one of his hardest projects yet. He looked longingly at the bottles resting not ten feet from him. He had ﬁnished his job, so he had a right to treat himself. Right? He would be awake any day now. Any minute. Even any moment. ~~~
First came a question, piercing the musty cool morning air. “Who am I?” He did not know, nor would he ever know.
photo by Noor Hanaﬁ
Conscious Eating The chocolate is a sweet, slow, smooth melody humming in my mouth. The caramel is a bright, crisp song singing in my mouth. The nuts, the rough, rigid rocks tumbling in my mouth. And down the tunnel they go. Racing, racing. Who won, I’ll never know. Chocolate, caramel, and nuts a sweet, slow melody a bright, crisp, song and many rough, rigid rocks Racing down the tunnel Going down, down, down. Who won, I will never know. -‐-‐Greer Hoﬀmann
art by Grace Lee
Eating a Piece of Toﬀee The world is vast, a warm light brown yet crackly bottom layer, the crust of the planet. It is rough along the edges, sides jutting out, some dipping in. The bottom layer rests along the side of your mouth as you take a small bite in; small slivers crack oﬀ onto the tip of your tongue while the next layer, the surface which melts the moment it hits your mouth; tasting the bittersweet, rich decadence of chocolate. There are mountains of nuts; some small chunks, some larger, some half sunken into the surface, some laying right on top. They come in last, the ﬁnal chip and crunch.
Waiting for Darkness
photo by Pooja Goel
A cool wind swept through the hollow, a warning that there was but little time. Shivers continually crept throughout my body, shaking the precious cargo tucked inside the smooth lining of my purple jacket. I knew that this was not where I should be right now, but it was too late to run home. I waited. I waited for what I knew would soon be coming, but the anxiety built up inside of me made time move like molasses. The winter moon shone bright above me, but through the thick ﬁr trees I could see the clouds of a storm rolling in.
It seemed like forever before I ﬁnally just gave up and went to wait inside the little shack located at the edge of our place. From what I could tell, no one had been in there since summer; there was the distinct smell of rats and the crisp pine trees it was nestled between. I ﬂipped the light switch on the side wall, and waited a while watching it ﬂicker on and oﬀ. But then it stopped-‐-‐just my luck. Since the lightbulb was burned out, I carefully felt my way through the darkness to the small table in the middle of the room. I slipped the package out of my jacket and onto the table, mindful not to make a sound. And then I sat down next to the table set for one; and I waited. -‐-‐Katie Jo Shuman
photo by Maddie Goldberg
Tick, tick, tick, tick. The clock on the wall seemed to be moving twice as slow as it was supposed to. The noise echoed through the quiet room, competing with the scratching of pencils for resident obnoxious sound. Not a single student seemed bothered by its insistent ticking, though, except for one tall raven-haired girl in the back row. While the rest of the class was bent low over their papers, scribbling away, her chin was perched alertly on her hands, and her feet were tapping at the murky brown carpet. “Five minutes!” called her teacher uninterestedly from the front of the room. The girl jumped, knocking her pencil case off the desk. It clattered loudly to the floor, and several people looked around, glaring at her. “Caroline?” said her teacher wearily, squinting at her. “Sorry,” mouthed Caroline, scooping up her things and glancing down at her test. She had only answered six questions and didn’t think she would have time to respond to the remaining four. Not that she cared. There was a drum pounding where her heart should have been, and her stomach was clenched impatiently. She looked at the clock again. Three minutes. Three minutes until she would sprint out of here, three minutes until she would be happier than she had been in a year. Knowing that any hope of doing well on the test had evaporated twenty minutes ago, she carried it to the front of the room and dropped it on her teacher’s desk. She marched wordlessly back to her seat, staring at the clock. Two minutes. As the rest of the class began to finish off the test, Caroline crammed her books into her backpack and zipped it. Swinging it onto her back, she spun around and glared up at the slower-than-slow clock on the wall. Only thirty seconds left now. Caroline ignored the sound of her classmates packing their bags, and they ignored her just as easily. No one had a glance to spare for the impatient girl in the corner. 20 seconds…Caroline’s heart was pounding wildly, she thought everybody could see it…10 seconds…she half-rose from her chair, breathing quickly…5 seconds…a smile slipped onto her dark features…3 seconds…2…1! The bell rang loudly and Caroline threw herself towards the door. She was half-way out of it when–“Caroline!” came her teacher’s sharp voice from behind her. Slowly, she pivoted back around, clutching the doorframe. The sight of her teacher beckoning imperiously was bad on any day, but today? Today it was like the devil himself was pulling strings. Caroline slouched back into the room. “Yes?” she asked less-than-politely. She was painfully aware that the room was slowly emptying, that her class was exiting, the one thing she wanted to be doing. “Caroline, I think you must have missed a few pages on the test. Your answers are blank. Here, why don’t you just fill them out now? I won’t even take off points,” said her teacher, holding out the test to Caroline. “No, I–I can’t. Um, I really have to go, Mr. Bront. I…” “Do you know that if you don’t get at least a B+ on this test, your grade will drop even lower, Ms. Witte?” “Yes, Mr. Bront, but–” “Then, please. I can see that you’re impatient, but just take five minutes to finish the last few questions. I know your father would appreciate you taking the time to improve your grade.” Another five minutes in the stuffy classroom sounded like a nightmare to Caroline. “Please, Mr. Bront, can I please come in during lunch tomorrow and finish it? Please?” she begged. Something about the desperate look in her eye must have convinced him, because he stared calculatingly at her for a moment, but nodded. “Thank you!” she gasped, turning to run for the door, whipping out of it. And finally she was out. Free and so close. Caroline sprinted to the front of the school and veered right, dodging students on bikes and skateboards as she hurtled along the edge of the campus. Right at the edge of school, she took a sharp right turn onto her street, thanking her lucky stars that she lived so close to school. Her street had never seemed longer, though, as she careened along it. Caroline’s house was at the very end, almost on another street. About halfway down, her legs started to burn, but the thought of what was waiting for her at home filled her mind, and she barely slowed for a second before putting on another burst of speed. And now she could see her house! Caroline sped up the driveway and dashed towards the front door, flinging it open. Her backpack fell with a clunk as her eyes locked on the green-clad figure waiting for her. She let out a scream and flew at her mother, finally, after all this time, wrapping her arms around her. Her mom lifted her up and swung her around just like she had when she was little. Wrapped in her mom’s strong arms after more than a year, Caroline began to cry, her tears dripping down onto her mom’s camouflage army uniform. “I missed you so much, Mommy,” she whispered into the tough material. Her mom pulled away and held Caroline at arms length, smiling. “I missed you, too, sweetie.” And they embraced again. At that moment, the previous year’s struggles and problems seemed to vanish. Everything Caroline had tried to cope with on her own, like bad grades and the terrible loneliness she had felt without her mother, was gone. She could do anything now. Anything was possible–no, everything was possible.
An Ode to Water (inspired by Global Week 2012) Water Cool, clear, and shinning Like liquid glass You slide between my ﬁngers and slip away before I can catch you. One sliver of silver is left, reﬂecting the sunlight on my open palm. Slowly, it to trickles down the side of my hand. “Do not go,” I whisper, but it is too late. It is gone. “Come back,” I say, “I need you.” Water Plump, gentle drops fall from the grey sky, splotching the leaves. Slowly, you sink into the moist, brown soil. The next day the world is fresh and green. Luscious green leaves, still splotched in droplets, wave gently in the morning breeze. Little pale green sprouts have poked their heads from the soil, seeing daylight for the ﬁrst time. Misty green lichen curls around tree trunks and branches. Life follows you wherever you go. Water Slippery, soft, and soothing You trickle down my tongue. You swirl in my mouth, clean and refreshing. You slip down my throat, leaving my mouth damp and satisﬁed. Water is the breath of life. -‐-‐Robin Sandell
art by Robin Sandell
When the Road Slows It can be very strange how life breaks into pieces, but ﬁts together so snugly. As a great birthday present for your special someone, buy this gift set including a new bottle of Wow shampoo and conditioner. We’ll include a free sample of our hair tangling spray. We drove by in the old station wagon while orchards ran past us. Set up in their perfect rows they sat patiently in the ground, rooted into the earth. But if you go to Taco Bell today you will discover the new 99 cent Supreme Melt Burrito. Drop on in today! The road was ﬂat and the sun was hot. My mind was driven by torpid thoughts of why I was here. I was sweating through my tights and fanning my head with a magazine from 2007. At Sleep Train you have a wide selection of the best quality mattresses. Call the number 1-‐800-‐686-‐9837. That is 1-‐800-‐686-‐9837. Sleep train, your ticket to a better night’s sleep! Mama, sitting in the seat next to me, never lets us open the windows. She doesn’t have to tell us anymore because we all know. Whether she’s in the Arctic circle or Sahara desert, she is always cold. Perhaps it was because she had frozen inside herself long long ago. A long long time ago I can still remember how That music used to make me smile And I knew if I had my chance That I could make those people dance And maybe they'd be happy for a while. I always hated this song. But Michael was driving, which meant that he had dictatorship over the radio. It was a miracle that there was any music playing since ads had been going on for the past seven minutes. Music seems to be fading more and more everyday. Are you hungry? So hungry that the steering wheel looks like a giant pretzel? It sounds like you need to go to Subway! Try Subway’s new menu for meatballs, nachos, and munchies! Subway. Eat fresh. Michael, with his ﬁckle radio habits, had changed stations again. As he furrowed his brow and clicked buttons, I could see perspiration through the shirt of his suit. He looked like a monkey in tuxedo. It was the same idea really. Stuﬃng a wild animal into a human clothing. Right now we have a large selection of great vehicles on sale. We even have a line of ground-‐breaking hybrids. So stop by the Lexus 60-‐0 certiﬁed pre-‐owned sale. Where the one you want is the one on sale. See your California Lexus dealer. I pulled back a curtain of my damping hair. Wearing heavy black clothing in the middle of Southern California during the summer is not normal. Even if there’s a funeral. When it ﬁrst came out, the granola bar wasn’t a bad idea. But then when we started coating it in caramel, dousing it in chocolate, and sticking gummy bears on it, we realized something was wrong. What started out as a good idea went rogue. We can help. Partners in Health. My ﬁrst memory of a funeral wasn’t a funeral at all. It was when I was 7 and my Papa didn’t come home one night. I was so confused. Why didn’t Papa come to give me a goodnight kiss? Why wasn't Papa driving me to school in the morning? Why was Papa not sweeping me into the air as soon as he came home from work? These days, my dollar just doesn’t go as far. In my car and on my phone, it barely lasts. But at McDonalds, with the dollar menu, I get just where I want to be. Satisﬁed. Mama told me he was dead. That night I cried myself to sleep. But then, day after day, I realized something. “Mama why are we not having a funeral for Papa? Why doesn’t he get one?” It was Mama’s turn to cry. It wasn’t until two years later that Michael ﬁnally confessed to me that Papa wasn’t dead. He had left us all one night with no intention of ever coming back. And that he did not. Depression is a serious medical condition that can take so much out of you. I feel like I have to wind myself up, just to get out of bed. Then I have to keep winding myself up with the sadness and the loss of interest. Don’ let depression own you, though. Ask your doctor about Pristiq today. My legs were cramping from the three hours we had already spent in the car. There would still be another three if we wanted to make it to Orange County by night. Discounts right under my arm, get your better state, State Farm. This guys answers late and helps me to relax. Get your better state, State Farm. I don’t know why my great uncle George wanted to live, let alone die here. He had lived his whole life in the quiet reserves of Kansas. I never knew my great uncle George so I couldn’t care less. I know that makes me sound heartless, but it’s not because I’m mean or cruel. I just don’t know him like my mother does. She lived her entire childhood with him.
Only AT&T can let you record up to four shows on any TV. Switch your cable. Get almost $200 back with a promotion card. Click AT&T.com/TVdeals or visit an AT&T store today. Despite the weather and the mood, I will enjoy attending this family gathering. On holidays, birthdays, celebrations, and even days of mourning, the family always met. The healthy chocolate lifestyle invites you to experience luxuries all about. From cookies, brownies, and bars, you can get nutrients and anti-‐oxidants. All made with real dark chocolate. Go to healthylifestyle.com. When family meets everyone puts on a heavy mask. We’re getting along quite well, thank you. No, Michael won’t be attending college this fall because of the...incident. Darling, the new apartment is quite ﬁne, almost better than the last one. 1931 wasn’t the best time to start a business. But Allstate did. When you go back to basics, people start enjoying simple things in life. Home-‐cooked meals, time with loved ones, gratitude, all the things we can count on, and all the small things need to be protected. Put them in good hands. Allstate. On family occasions there are no problems. Everyone is happy. The money is not running out because everything is a lie. Coca-‐Cola. Open Happiness. We all know. But that’s what keeps us moving I suppose. We’ll stick together and pretend nothing happened. This is the traﬃc report. An accident on the interstate highway just occurred a few minutes ago. While authorities take care of the situation, avoid the interstate... There’s no way we’ll make it to Uncle George’s...well, I guess it’s Aunt Stella’s now. We’ll never make it there by nightfall. Thinking we can see what we can be if we press press forward, Just one more round and you’re down I know it, You don’t even care now I was unaware, Blame it on the... “Michael?” “What, Mom?” “Michael what is this?” “What’s what?” “This music.” “It’s just a song, Mom.” “It’s trash.” “Mom, I told you, it’s just a song.” “I suppose this is how you got mixed up with them.” It there’s one thing you cannot say to Michael, it’s about what happened last winter. “Mom, I told you, it wasn’t my fault.” His voice was rising. “Michael, don’t lie to me.” Her voice was rising. “I never...” He looked at me through the mirror. “I’ll change the station, OK, Mom? Let’s not ﬁght.” That was Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor. Don’t go away, after these commercials we’ll play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony next... “You’re just like your father.” “What did you say, Mom?” If there’s one thing you cannot say in the household, it is about my father. “Lying. Deceiving. Tricking.” “Mom, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “He lied to people. Now you lied to people!” She was crying now. “Ria, has she taken them yet today?” This time he was talking to me. “I told you to stop callling me Ria.” “So?” “So don’t!”
“OK, ﬁne, Jeez.” The last person who had called me Ria was... “She didn’t take them yet.” “Can you get them?” “They’re in the trunk.” “I’ll pull over.” “Forget it. She’ll freak out.” “I think she already did.” She was laying her head on the glass of the car window, choking her sobs silently. “Michael, turn the radio oﬀ.” “Why?” “Just do it.” Michael turned the radio oﬀ. She stopped. I didn’t know how we were going to face everyone this year. Mama was getting worse and worse. This year, I didn’t think about how we’d be able to pull it oﬀ. Great Aunt Frankie would ask and cousin Violet would stare. And what would we tell them? It was getting really stuﬀy now. I thought I could see condensation on the windows, but that may have just been the clouds. No, it wasn’t OK. Mama was ﬁred and her medical bills are just shooting up. Michael isn’t going to college because he has to work. No one would even take him because he was framed for robbery. I was skipping school because Mama wouldn’t get out of bed. The new place isn’t an apartment, it’s a box compared to our old house. Michael loosened his tie and pressed on the gas pedal. When I looked at Mama, she was sitting upright again, staring at the space between her knees, breathing softly. Papa wasn’t coming back. He never would have and he never will. No one was going to save us. But at the same time, no one was trying to hurt us either. We were drowning in our own minds. I should have admitted that long ago, when it would have hurt less. Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? There weren’t any more orchards now. It was just row after row of farmed ﬁelds. “Michael, what are we going to do?” “What do you mean?” “Well, in the ﬁrst place, we’re running out of gas.” “So what? We’ll just ﬁll up at the next station we see.” “Michael, there’s not enough. I checked.” “Oh, we’ll be ﬁne.” “We still have at least three more hours to go!” “It’ll be ok.” “It won’t be! It won’t be, Michael! Why can’t you get it?!” Mama was about at her wits’ end again. “Stop the car.” I was totally ﬂabbergasted by her. What was she thinking? “What?” “Stop the car right now, Michael. Hit the brakes.” “Mama, what’s wrong? Do you feel sick?” “Let me out. I’m going.” “Mama, are you crazy? What’s up with you?” “He’s over there, Andria, he’s over there.” photo by Natalie Barch Now I was worried. “Michael, this hasn’t happened before. What do we do?” “Well, you know what Andria? We keep going. We keep going until we run out of gas. And then we keep
driving until the car breaks down and we have to hitchhike to Uncle George’s. If no one takes us we’ll walk. We’ll walk until our feet fall oﬀ. We’ll go until we see Uncle George’s grave.” I was gawking at my brother. “The only way we’re going to make it is if we don’t give up.” That’s what he said. I thought I saw Mama’s cheeks wet. “Michael, stop the car.” Michael didn’t. “Did you hear me?” Michael didn’t. “Michael, just let me go.” Michael didn’t. “Let me get out of here.” Michael didn’t. Mama slouched back into her chair. She was breathing heavily now and heaving her chest. I thought she looked like she was about implode any minute, but then she stopped. She didn’t move. I was tempted to feel her pulse. The car was silent. “Thank you.” Mama, you did it. “Hey, Michael?” “Yeah, Ria?” This time I didn’t stop him. “Turn the radio back on.” Michael did.
photo by Katie Jo Shuman
photo by Pooja Goel
Five Questions The bomb-‐streaked sky, ﬁlled with the blood of the innocent A scream rings out, nobody hears anything How is this done? The stench of the killing gasses invades the air and everyone is suﬀering, even the oppressors From the shattered glass to the death marches, pain etched on their faces And who said this was meant to be done? The fear of the diﬀerent was the main igniting ﬁre And the desire for change starting from a single man Where do these murders happen? From the cold desolate basements to the overcrowded Auschwitz the answer would be everywhere Or just the streets, you never know where a bloodbath could occur When did these massacres take place? These hatreds had been buried deep, woven within the fabrics of self-‐belief It took a small push to pop the bottle and spill it out And the ﬁnal question, the one that no one could answer: Why? -‐-‐Megan Andersen
we can keep in touch and everything but we both know that those things usually don’t work out you taught me so much how to think how to listen how to laugh if i sometimes feel lonely now when you’re right there next to me what’s gonna happen? when you’re not around but please don’t forget me and always remember that you have something of mine you’re taking a piece of my heart as you leave -‐-‐Nayanika Kapoor
Cow Days The last days of summer are cow days The cows go into their shed and mourn the loss of the heat. The sun sits low on the horizon while the cows moo their sad songs. Moo, Moo, Moooooooo A gentle wind blows Soft as snow But there is no snow. It is still the last day of summer. -‐-‐Natalie Sands, Tara Thakurta, & Niki Flamen
photo by Rosie Crisman
well i’ve spent enough time with you to know that you’re not going to listen to me and you’re going to leave anyways
Rhymes Rhyming is a challenge, but it is one I will take, because nothing rhymes with orange, not now, not any day. When I think of a “poem”, I think of “deep stuﬀ that people think up”, and not so much a Dr. Seuss book. All you need is one look, to ﬁnd they will not meet your expectations. Some will fall ﬂat, others will exceed, but nothing will rhyme the way professionals did. A twist in time will seem to occur when someone will try to rhyme like her. She is the poet, the gifted one. To her we owe it, the few worthy ones. I’m afraid I have failed her, yet somewhere deep down, I have faith in my rhymes, that will surely be drowned. For I am speaking gibberish, partly in poem, but a very full dish, of quite silly sounds. Not impossible, but good rhymes surround me. We cannot understand, and neither can I, but as I type, the words just ﬂy by. It is uncontrolled, so I will not try to hold back my ﬁngers, and let them ﬂy to the sky. -‐-‐Valerie Hammer
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
One day I was in class waiting for school to start. We were all sitting there, just staring at that old math chart. But then I saw the new markers up on the teacher’s desk, so I decided to end this weariness, and make it into a wave of cheeriness. I gave a marker to everyone, and said, “Come on! Lets have some fun.” We all drew on the whiteboards; all diﬀerent designs. Mine was tree with thorns. Someone even drew a unicorn! They also drew a Justin Bieber (though his hair looked like a beaver). Then the teacher unlocked the door. She came in. Her face was shocked. “Girls...” Her voice gave us the memo. “Didn’t you notice?! Those are sharpies not Expo.” Sorry about my rhymes, I was running out of time. -‐-‐Zoe Jinishian
art by Isabella Wang
photo by Serena Rivera-‐Korver
We swam all day and got bathing suit marks and canoed and paddle boarded all around the lake and fell in at least ﬁve times and then explored islands with bare feet on the moss and pine needles and read books in the hammock with the birches tinkling with every burst of breeze and went on evening boat rides with wind that beat my face and slapped my hair back across my cheek and water exploded on both sides of us and the islands were blurred and when we slowed I could hear a loon call echoing across the water and see the sunset spilling colors across the sky that reﬂected on the lake and we all talked about the day’s adventures and ate chocolate under the rising moon with the boat rocking gentling beneath us and the rhythm made me relax as my horse walked calmly into a ﬁeld of golden grass and one by one we took oﬀ at a lope and I felt so free and happy and the sun beat down on my horse’s chestnut coat making it gleam and the mountains sped by me like someone waving a patched quilt of aspens and pines and rocky slopes and I felt like I was ﬂying and I landed as the audience cheered and I poised my arms above my head and gently looked down as the dance ended and the clapping resounded again and again in my ears and I felt so energized and graceful even though it was terribly late and I could not believe it was over and after the curtains closed I hugged my friends again and again and we laughed and we could not go to sleep like sleep overs with your friends always are and it did not help that we were sleeping in a tree house and that we had just had ice cream and homemade burgers and my sleeping bag was so warm and cozy and there were so may stars above us that were shinning through the branches and so many things to talk about on the crisp night and when I ﬁnally went to sleep I dreamed of the island that we visit every summer where we swim all day and explore the islands and at night we go on evening boat rides and watch the sun set and eat chocolate under the moon. photo by Kiana Borjian
Finding Papa Section 1 Maria looked at her little room in the attic, the tranquil and tidy place she called her own private get away. Her childhood house, which she lived in while her parents were in Florida, hadn’t changed since she left for college and returned an adult. Then she looked out of the paint-splattered window to the peaceful countryside. Since Papa had died a month ago Maria hadn’t felt the same, the connection between her and her grandfather was stronger than the connection between her and her parents. Papa was just special. She slowly took down all her pictures and put them in one of her bags. Maria lingered at the picture of her as a small child on Papa’s lap, when Jalen had “accidentally” pushed her off a chair and her parents weren’t home, so Papa was the only one who could comfort her. Maria put the photograph away, just the thought of all her special moments with Papa made her want to cry. ‘Ding dong ding dong screech scratch zing dong ding dong dong!’ the faulty doorbell shrieked. Jalen and Alex stood at Maria’s door in fake mustaches. “Uh, hello Ms. Cummings. Your dear brother Alex wishes you his best regards in New York City.” Alex mumbled. “Your handsome and modest brother would like to collect his puppy.” Jalen said. Maria had almost forgotten that Indigo (Jalen’s yellow lab) was there. “Well, hello kind sirs won’t you come in. May I take your fur coats, or anything else with fuzzy texture?” Maria asked. Jalen and Alex promptly took off their mustaches and gave Maria a hug. Indigo jumped on top of Jalen and gave him a big, sloppy, wet, kiss on the side of his cheek. Alex quickly sang a little tune to ‘Oh, Christmas Tree’: “Oh, Indigo! Oh, Indigo! You are so very pleasing! You give Jalen a giant kiss and make him look like a doo-fus!” Jalen then remarked, “If you want to become a famous country singer one day, you might not want to call your brother/manager who is a lawyer with an amazing sense of humor a doofus.” “You two never get old,” laughed Maria heartily. “Come on in.”
Maria made her brothers a cup of coffee and sat down with them. “How are you both?” “Same old, same old,” said Alex. “I am just fantastic! As you should know I was voted most handsome man on Earth,” said Jalen with a sarcastic tone. “How about you?” asked Alex. “I’m getting ready to move to the city.” “How’s that going for you?” asked Alex. Jalen didn’t seem to be paying attention as he was puppy-talking to Indigo. “It’s going to be hard. Papa just loved this place and I don’t want to let his memory go.” “Come on sis. Give me a hug.”
Maria gave Alex a hug. Later Jalen joined in on their conversation, until both of them had to leave. Maria waved good-bye and trudged up the stairs to finish packing. Maria sat on her bed wondering what she was going to do in New York City. It was such an unexpected move; she didn’t really know why she was going. Maria just had to do something for Papa, even if he wasn’t here, she just had to do something for him in his honor. Maria paced back and forth, up and down the stairs, all around the house, until she didn’t know where she was. It was a dark and dusty room, Maria felt her way around, until she found a lamp.
Section 2 Maria had only been in this room once before. It was Papa’s private study. She, Jalen, and Alex were playing hide and seek when they were little and Maria stumbled upon this room. Papa was in there working on something and he tried to tell Maria it was his little place, where he spent his quiet time. Maria didn’t understand, she was so little, and that was the only time Papa ever raised his voice, ever. Maria never dared to enter this room, it just gave her bad memories. Maria looked around the little workshop and found Papa’s leather-bound notebook. It was covered in spider webs and dust and had the most delicate rotting pages that were just beautiful. Maria skimmed Papa’s notebook until she found something that caught her eye. Taped in the book was an old black and white photo of a young Mama in the Bahamas. She wore a flowing dress and an orchid lei. She was on the beach and the wind was tossing her hair around, and Mama was just smiling with all the joy in the world. Maria knew Papa was a photographer. Papa was a well-known photographer; he took pictures of landscapes that people would have bidding wars over at auctions. Maria always thought his best picture was of the seagulls flying just above his head. She always thought Papa wanted to be photographer, but from the writing in the notebook and the canvas just a few feet away, Maria knew just what she was going to do for Papa. She was going to finish his portrait of Mama and have it hanging in a museum, just like it said in his special notebook. The first thing Maria did was cancel her plans to move to the city. She told Jalen and Alex that her little house in the country was where she belonged. Then she headed into town for some art supplies. When she returned home, Maria took a look at what Papa had already accomplished. Papa had almost finished his sketch of Mama, he just couldn’t get her eyes right. He’d tried perfectly round eyes, cat eyes, tiny eyes, large eyes, and the eyes of a dying fish. Maria sat there looking at the picture of Mama and studied her eyes. They were scrunched up and intense, but still loving. Maria tried to draw the eyes on a separate piece of paper but she just couldn’t get it. Maria was determined to do this; she sat down on a chair and just drew until she could no longer take it. It was nighttime and she decided that tomorrow she would try to draw the eyes again. Maria woke up that morning and ran down to Papa’s private study. She comprehended that Papa’s study was more of a studio. It had dark room in it, paint cans on the floor, dusty old tarps, and a little brown desk with a little brown chair just off in the corner. Papa must have loved this little room so much; this really was his own secret world. Section 3 Maria tried the eyes again after getting inspiration from Sandy, Luna, Apolline the 5th , Xander, Qwerty, Billy Collin-Bob Martens, and Joe (her canaries). They had such beady eyes and still so much joy that they partially resembled Mama. Mama’s eyes were more human than the canaries’ but they had the same aspects to them: the way their eyes twinkled with mystery and excitement. The way they seem to hold a secret and dangle it above your head. The way they seem to smile and laugh at everything that is good. Maria remembered her first canaries, Morgan and Apolline the 1st. Papa gave them to her. He smiled
when he handed over the golden cage with the little birds in it, saying to Mama “They sing the way you do.” Then he said to Maria’s mother, “They laugh the way you do.” Finally he said to Maria, “They smile like you do.” Later on he whispered in Maria’s ear “Do you see the way they act when they’re around you? The canaries think you are the most lovable and courageous. They don’t act that way around your mother or Mama--not anybody except you.” Maria seemed to find all the good in the world in her canaries so she channeled that into Mama’s eyes. Her eyes were soft but still piercing and full of energy. They were sharp but still curved with compassion. Maria saw Mama in a whole new light, actually through her eyes. Then she saw Jalen in a whole to light, then Alex, mother, father, and lastly Papa. His eyes were sensitive but not enough to keep him from being stern. His eyes were old and wise. He had seen much, and his eyes were tired and he wanted to close them and forget some of the things he had seen. His eyes were happy when the sun reached him and the little rays danced upon his eyelids, but his eyes were sad because he never became the Papa he wanted to be. Maria finished Mama’s eyes after 2 hours; this time they were perfect. She was so proud of herself, but Maria didn’t show it. She didn’t tell Jalen, she didn’t tell Alex, and she didn’t even tell her canaries! Maria was about to touch the tip of her brush to the canvas when she realized she didn’t know what she was about to paint. She didn’t even know what color was on the tip of her brush! Maria was very absentminded at that moment. She lazily walked up the stairs to the attic where she lay on her bed. Maria stared as the peeling ceiling trying to figure out what her problem was. Not the fact that she was so absentminded but her next predicament in finishing Papa’s painting. Maria just couldn’t concentrate. Her brain turned to mush and she fell asleep. Section 4 When Maria woke up from her nap it was nightfall and in her subconscious mind she figured out what was wrong. Not with her concentration but with the painting. The photo of Mama was in black and white! Maria raced to Mama’s nursing home to talk to her. Maria shivered as she walked through the creepy baby blue nursing home that had old nurses who should be in nursing homes themselves at every corner who yelled at you if you made the slightest noise, which was typically the sound of breathing or a creaking floor boards. Maria didn’t come here very often. Mama had cancer and was slowly going deaf. Although Maria loved Mama she just couldn’t stand to see her sad. Mama loved Papa even more than she did. “Mama?” “What?” “Mama?” “WHAT?” “Mama, it’s me Maria.” “Who’s there?” “It’s me, Maria. I want to…” “No! Go away I don’t want your car insurance!” “Mama!” “Oh, hello who is this?” “It’s Maria your grand daughter.” “Oh, come on in Maria. What were you saying?” “I found something Papa was working on.” “Probably one of his scenic photo collages wasn’t it?” “No, not this time.” “Was it the bird photo book he always wanted to finish?” “Not this time.” Mama remember he stopped that when he couldn’t find the falcon. “Was it one of those fancy high tech color cameras that don’t need film?” “Papa was a photographer not an engineer.” “Oh, what was it then?” “He took a picture a long time ago.” “So it is one of those…” “Mama please listen.” “Ok, I’ll try.” “A long time ago, you and Papa went to the Bahamas.” “Maria, there is no such place as the
Bananas.” “Bahamas, Mama.” “Oh yes! We did go to the Bahamas once!” “While you were there Papa took a picture of you.” “He did? I never thought I was one of his photography subjects. It was always the trees or the car or the birds.” “Well, one day you were on the beach and the wind was blowing hard, the he snapped his picture. Do you remember that day?” “I do. He had his camera with him and was taking pictures of the ocean, he said the wind made it more interesting.” “While you were there Papa took a picture of you.” “You already said that, dear.” “I know that Mama I’m just telling you again.” “Oh, thank you Maria. You’re so kind.” “What were you wearing on the beach?” “Well, I wore an orchid lei and the orchids were a purple-ish pink-ish color. I wore a white sundress and brown sandals. The sandals had sand all over them.” “I think that’s what they’re meant for, Mama.” “Oh, really? I never knew that.” Section 5 Maria said goodbye to Mama and started heading back home in her rusty old minty green pick up truck. It was Papa’s and Maria loved it when she was a little girl but now it was just a nuisance. When Maria arrived at her house she toiled down the stairs to Papa’s studio where she began to paint. Soon it was getting dark and Maria was getting tired. She walked back up the stairs, took care of the canaries, and then toppled on to her bed in the attic. Maria slowly opened her eyes to her ceiling, then little by little she turned her head to the alarm clock on her nightstand. Her vision was hazy and Maria was just so tired. She slowly rotated her head so it faced the sky. Just above her head Maria saw something. “Boo!” “Aaah! Who is it?!” “I’m the exotic princess from the 4th moon of Jupiter and I demand you take me to your leader! No, it’s me Rachel! Your best friend since like, uh, I don’t know, forever!” Rachel Letterman was indeed Maria’s best friend. She had been for a very long time. She was a bit crazy and a bit too spontaneous but she could always make someone laugh. “Rachel! Why did you scare me like that! Wait a minute! Why are you here?! You live in California!” “I was bored so I decided to take a road trip to New York and visit my most awesome friend. Is there anything wrong with that? Plus your door was unlocked.” “I’m your only awesome friend, and you should have figured that out by now.” “What? Sorry I wasn’t listing. I thought you were going to say I’m you’re most awesome friend too.” “Fine, you are my most awesome friend.” “Say it like you mean it.” “What more is there to say? You are my most awesome friend.” Then Rachel sing-songed, “Thank you.” Maria led Rachel down the 2 flights of stairs to Papa’s studio. “Don’t touch anything Rachel.” “Why not?” “You break everything.” “I do not!” Just as she said that Rachel pulled the doorknob off. “Oops. So explain to me again what you’re doing with your grandfather’s art studio?” “I told you, I stumbled upon this place a few days ago.” “Yup.” “Then I was skimming through Papa’s notebook and found this picture.” “Got it.” “I read through his notes and figured out he wanted to turn it into a painting. So I finished the sketch and I started painting so I’m going to…” “Wait, let me see if I understand. Your grandfather, Max Cummings the most well-known scenic photographer in Hudson Valley and a little bit of New York wanted to turn one of his black and white photos into a colored painting and have it in a museum?” “You forgot the most important part.” “What?” “Mama is the photo subject.” “Your grandmother?” “My grandmother was once a very beautiful lady.” “I know but it’s just your grandfather never took pictures of people.” “Or did he?”
Section 6 Maria took out the picture of Mama and showed it to Rachel. “Isn’t it pretty?” “Pretty? Maria this isn’t pretty this is the best photo your grandfather’s ever taken!” “Really?” “Totally! You’re turning it into a painting too! That is going to be beautiful!” “Why do you think so? I’m just fulfilling Papa’s dream.” “Your dream has always been his dream: whatever your grandfather wanted you set out to do. Because this is Papa’s dream it’s yours and I’m glad you actually enjoy it. Plus you are kind of an amazing artist.” “What makes you say that?” Maria was more than just a good artist, but she was very modest. She loved to sketch and the world was her canvas, literally. The walls of the house had many simple sketches on them. Most of the windows and window frames upstairs were covered with paint. The kitchen was always a mess whether just dirty in general or because there was an art project going on. “Rachel.” “Yea.” “I’m going to live out my dream.” “Do it.” Rachel left the next day and Maria was on her own again. Actually it was just Maria and the canaries but you couldn’t hold a conversation with them. Maria decided she would tell Alex and Jalen when she finished painting, so she could keep it a mystery until it was done. Maria woke up early that morning, took care of the canaries, and rapidly ate a small bowl of cereal. She ran down to Papa’s studio and began to paint. At lunchtime she didn’t come back up. At dinnertime she didn’t come back up. She didn’t come back up until 9 the next morning. She fed the canaries and ate a banana. She bolted back down stairs and didn’t come up until 2:15 for a drink of water. Maria was in love with that painting and it was coming together quite nicely. Maria slowly finished up the major pigments then added the shadows and details. She gave it depth too. It really was a masterpiece when she finished it. Maria spent a very short amount of time on Papa’s painting and it still turned out beautiful. It took 1 month and 4 days working on it. Even though she felt rushed Maria knew that it was worth it. She’d spent so much of her time painting and perfecting it. Papa would have been proud. Section 7
Maria was about to call Jalen when she looked out her window and saw Alex’s car pulling up. “Alex! Jalen! You’ll never believe what I did!” Maria ran outside and without a single pause told them everything. “Wow, Sis, we’re really happy for you, but something just happened.” Said Alex “What?” asked Maria. Jalen responded “Mama died.”
The Last Note The last note ends Breath ﬂows Bows drop The spell breaks A magician releasing its audience From a wondering trance The last note fades hovering poignantly in the air And drops A wavering sound Into nothingness The last note falls The ﬁnal drop in a sea of sound The ﬁnal testament to a composer's passion To a player's industry To an orchestra's will To music -‐-‐Kylie Holland
photo by Emma Glickman