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Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing A publication of FKCC creative writers, Middle Keys Center, Fall 2013.


Introduction Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing showcases the work of students in the Introduction to Creative Writing class at the FKCC Middle Keys Center, Fall, 2013. Our writers produced poetry, drama and short stories in a tight time frame. The result was creation of far-away worlds, intensely close moments and keen use of language. Students’ poetry captures lyric moments in space and time. Readers will recognize moments of Keys living, Caribbean travel, a frightening holiday, new love lost, new love found, time that turns pages before we are ready, mentors who matter and relationships that, fortunately, do not last. Our writers play in fields of popular genres in their screenplays and short stories. Solange Sanchez dramatizes a character’s disorientation in a new land in an excerpt of a fantasy adventure novel, “Lindessia.” Charity Noble creates a scene of contagion in the vein of sci-fi/horror in “Beware the Virus Grows.” Garrett Grant sets us out on a sea story in “Treasure Hunt.” John Malatesta uses Central Florida as the setting for a detective story in “Murder Mystery.” Cynthia Garcia puts a feisty young mother at the heart of a crime thriller in “Rush.” Yana Byazrova creates loss and a moral crossroad in “Hitman,” a revenge thriller. Our writers also evoke lives of psychological and social realism in characters who are oceans, eras and egos apart. Jessica Karikas plumbs the psyche of a madman in “I Didn’t Do It.” Ryan Wohlers takes us to New York in the gogo days of the 60s in “Twist Sally Twist.” In Heather Herd’s “Fatima,” we cross the Pacific with a young woman finding her past in a modern-day Bollywood Cinderella story. Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing is also a voyage in photography and art by FKCC students and alumni. We owe special thanks to Michael Underwood for illustrative photography and to publications designer Mary Martin for her belief in the talents of our students. The flight path of the Dragonfly is one of imagination. Take off. - Lois Wolfe Markham

Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing is a publication of creative writing students at the Middle Keys Center, Florida Keys Community College, Fall, 2013. Contributing writers: Yana Byazrova, Cynthia Garcia, Garrett Grant, Heather Herd, Jessica Karikas, John Malatesta, Charity Noble, Solange Sanchez, Ryan Wohlers Front and Back Cover Photography: Michael Underwood Art Design and Production: Mary Martin, Coordinator, Advertising and Publications, FKCC Creative Writing Instructor: Dr. Lois Wolfe Markham, Faculty, English, FKCC


Contents Yana Byazrova...........................................................................................................................................................................................................2 “Hitman,” short story “Diamond,” poem Photo: Michael Underwood Cynthia Garcia............................................................................................................................................................................................................8 “Rush,” screenplay “Jamaica Nights,” poem Photos: Michael Underwood and Cynthia Garcia Garrett Grant............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 26 “Treasure Hunt,” short story “Tonight’s Dinner,” poem Photos: Garrett Grant Heather Herd......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 30

“Fatima,” short story “The Florida Keys,” poem Photo collage: Heather Herd

Jessica Karikas.........................................................................................................................................................................................................36 “I Really Didn’t Do It,” short story “Miles,” poem Photos: Jessica Karikas and Jennifer Baugher John Malatesta........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 40 “Murder Mystery,” short story “Pops,” poem Photo: Michael Underwood Charity Noble........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 42 “Beware the Virus Grows,” screenplay “Halloween,” poem Art: Alaina Applegate Photo: Charity Noble Solange Sanchez....................................................................................................................................................................................................48

“Lindessia,” novel excerpt “Not Enough,” poem Photo art and photo: Michael Underwood

Ryan Wohlers......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 52 “Twist Sally Twist,” short story “K.M.,” poem Photo: Michael Underwood


Yana Byazrova I moved to the United States from Russia at the age of eight and have been living in the Florida Keys for the past 12 years. I am majoring in business and would like to pursue a career in the financial industry. Taking Creative Writing has helped me access a creative side that I don’t tend to use much in my other classes.


Hitman Yana Byazrova “So, who should I kill first, Fred?” asks Damiano in his heavy Italian accent. “This pretty little wife of yours, or one of the kids?” “P-P-Please don’t do this, Mr.Astorino,” Fred managed to blurt out despite the cold gun silencer being pressed to his lips. “Let’s try to work something out. Please! Just leave my family out of this. For Christ’s sake, they had nothing to do with any of this!” “Neither did mine! But guess what, they’re all dead! My wife, my son, my daughter, even the dog, all dead because you screwed up, damn it!” shouted Damiano slapping Fred’s jaw with the gun. “You should have known this would happen when you crossed me, so I ask again” He kneeled over Fred who was now bleeding on the ground. “Who do I kill first?” Fred frantically looked across the living room at his terrified family crying in the corner. It was hard for him to imagine that they used to have fun in this same exact room. This is where his daughter Hailey would have tea parties with her dolls, where his son Payton spent hours playing video games, and where Kathy would enjoy a cup of tea and read her books on gloomy days like this. Those memories seemed so far away to Fred now. “I don’t. I-I-I can’t. Please, please,” whispered Fred. He was realizing how hard it was to talk while being on the other end of a gun, especially since he had been the one behind the trigger for so many years. He tried to speak again, but nothing came out. “Time’s up Fred. I’ve had enough of this. Stand all three of them up against the wall.” Suddenly the three thugs that were holding Fred’s wife and kids took their guns out. Muffled screams and cries of sheer terror came from the corner. Fred stood up and tried darting for the corner but was hit in the face again with the gun. He helplessly fell to the floor and got kicked in the ribs repeatedly by Damiano. The thugs finally managed to stand the family up against the wall

and had their guns pointed at their foreheads. “Awe, come on now, Fred, we can’t have you missing the show.” said Damiano through a grin. He started pulling Fred’s limp body across the room and laid him down in front of where his family was now standing. “No, no, can’t have that at all. You, my friend, get a front row seat!” Fred’s vision started to become very blurry. He wasn’t sure if it was because all the blood that was dripping into his eyes from his forehead, or the tears that were now forming as he realized that this was it for his family. He tried to stand up but a rush of pain from his ribs prevented him from moving his body more than an inch. Suddenly the thugs cocked their guns and started to shoot. It wasn’t the sound of gunfire that Fred heard next though, but the sound of an alarm. Fred opened his eyes and slowly sat up on his bunk as the prison alarm rang through the speakers. He looked over to his left where his hand was still clenching the side of the paper thin mattress with a firm fist. It had been 22 years since his family got murdered, and ever since then he had dreamed of that day every night. Too often he woke up enraged with the thought of Damiano smiling as his family got murdered. On these mornings the other prisoners knew to stay clear of him as he made his way to the gym, hitting the bars in a rage and yelling along the way. He would spend hours in there lifting weights and thinking about all the families he tore up himself. He was also their topic of the day today. The inmates couldn’t believe that he was being released after only 22 years. Shortly after the murder of his family Fred got linked to 39 murders that took place in New York. When the cops finally arrested him in his Queen’s apartment he decided to tell them everything, in return for a shorter sentence. He told them all about his ties to the drug lord, Damiano Astorino. He told them how whenever there was someone that Damiano needed to take out, he’d call Fred and Fred would take care of it. He gave up the names of all of the guys in Damiano’s inner circle and had them all arrested. He gave up everybody, except his best friend, and partner in crime, Danny, and Damiano himself. The cops didn’t mind though

and were happy with what they got. They now had the biggest criminals in New York and were happy to offer Fred his 22 years. As Fred made his way down the hallway to the prison doors he realized something. He realized that today was his daughter’s 30th birthday. He stopped for a second, thinking about what she’d have looked like if she was still alive today, how his whole family would have looked like if they were still alive today. This thought only made him angrier and made him realize that what he was about to do was the right thing. He continued walking and stood in front of the massive doors until they automatically opened and let him out. As soon as he got out he could see his friend Danny waiting for him by a black Navigator. He looked around for a few seconds before walking over to him and noticed the now enormous London plane tree across the street. For 22 years he watched it grow from behind the bars in his cell and behind the fence when he was let outside. Now he was seeing it with nothing in the way and the fact that he was finally a free man had started to truly sink in. “Look at you. You’ve turned into an old man,” said Danny, laughing, as he went to hug Fred. Fred laughed and hugged him back. “You’re one to talk. You’ve turned old and fat.” Danny used to work for Damiano with Fred. He’d get rid of the bodies or make them look like accidents. They had worked together for five years and became best friends. He was also the only other person that Fred didn’t give up to the feds. Danny started getting into the Navigator. “So you sure you wanna do this? I mean you just got out.” “The bastard killed my whole family right in front of my eyes, Danny. I won’t have peace until I see him die. I’ve waited 22 years for this day.” “Alright. I’ve got a gun in the glove department and I’ll drop you off, but you’re on your own for the rest of it.” Danny reached into the glove department to grab the gun. “You never told me what happened between you two anyway. What did you do to piss him off so bad?” “It’s what I didn’t do that made him snap.” Fred inspected the first gun


that he had held in years. “He asked me to take out the new competitor that had moved into town. Chad was a younger guy in his early twenties. Damiano said that he was dangerous, ruthless, and knew how to play his cards a little too well. He smuggled twice the amount of drugs and was stealing all the overseas sellers. Said that if he didn’t get taken out now, he’d take over the empire Damiano built.” “But you didn’t do it, huh?” “No, I couldn’t,” replied Fred looking out the moving window. “I went over there the night that Damiano told me to and walked into his house. No one else but Chad was supposed to be there. So I went in, got my gun out and was about to shoot the person standing in the kitchen. I was about to pull the trigger. It wasn’t Chad though. It was his wife. She was holding a baby in the kitchen. I almost killed them both.” Fred often thought of that baby while he was in prison. The baby boy had a big brown birthmark that covered his whole left elbow. He remembered that day like it was yesterday. How the woman looked so terrified, and how he almost broke his own rule that day. “She was afraid. She started crying hysterically and I just ran out. I couldn’t believe what I was becoming. I’ve killed a lot of people, Danny, but I’d never hurt a baby or woman. You know me. You know that’s my only rule. After I got home I tried to call Damiano. He wouldn’t pick up. It wasn’t till later when he and his army came in that I realized what happened. Chad’s wife had called him and told him about the hit that didn‘t happen. Chad knew it was Damiano who called it. He got a couple of guys together and did a drive by, killing everyone inside. Damiano wasn’t home. He was enraged when he heard about his family.” “So he took it out on you, huh? Well, if it’s any consolation, I think you did the right thing.” Danny came to a stop in front of a big mansion. “Here we are buddy. Damiano’s place.” Fred looked out the window and started opening his door. As he was about to get out, though, he saw a little girl run out of the house and onto the grass. She was followed by a woman and a man that Fred assumed to be her parents, and then an older man that Fred


instantly recognized as Damiano. “Who is the kid?” asked Fred concerned. “It’s Damiano’s granddaughter, and the other one’s his daughter.” “I thought that everyone that was inside the house died.” “They did. He had another daughter. He started a new family. He’s practically a new man, Fred. When you went to jail and started giving all those names up he started to wonder why you didn’t give him up. He thought that not naming him was your way of forgiving him. He changed his whole life after that. He gave up the drug business completely, donated half his money to charities and remarried. He left his old life behind because he thought you forgave him. He thought that if a man like you could change after what he did to you, then he could, too.” Fred sat in the car watching Damiano and his daughter chase the little girl around the tree. In all his years of working for Damiano Fred had never seen him as happy as he was now. This made him even angrier though. Damiano has been living a happy life with his grandkids, something that he made Fred unable to ever have. Fred opened the car door and took one step out. He continued to watch the family play and saw something that stopped him dead in his tracks. The father was getting sweaty from chasing the little girl around and started to take off his sweater, revealing a birthmark on his elbow. Fred couldn’t believe it. The same baby boy that Damiano wanted to make fatherless was now part of his family. “You alright, Fred?” asked Danny after a few minutes of silence. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” Fred replied still with only one foot hanging out of the car. “You recognize the father?” Danny asked with a smile. “I do. That’s the little guy I almost took out, Chad’s little guy. How in the hell did that happen?” “Well, again, it goes back to when you gave everybody up,” replied Danny, turning the car off. “Everybody was being arrested so Chad fled the country in fear, didn’t even say bye to his wife and kid. It wasn’t until the kid was 17 when Damiano found out about how Chad left him and his mom with nothing. He felt bad so he hired him to

do yard work around the house and, well, to make a long story short he gave Damiano a granddaughter.” Fred didn’t say anything. He sat there watching the family play, wondering what to do. For 22 years he thought that the only “right thing” to do was to get even. As he watched Damiano laughing alongside the son of the man he wanted dead though, he realized that Damiano really did change. Danny could sense Fred’s confusion. “Listen, Fred. I know you thought that the only way to get even was to kill Damiano, but in a way you already did. Look at the man in front of you today. Does it look like the same guy that killed all those people and tore all those families apart?” Fred sat there, listening to Danny and knowing that what he said was true. For years he would look at himself in the mirror and couldn’t believe the person he used to be. He closed the car door and put the gun back in the glove department. “You know what, Danny? It’s my daughter’s 30th birthday today. How about we go pick up some flowers for her instead.”

Diamond You’re one in a million a diamond in the rough Whatever they call it Finding you was tough I searched high and low Under palm trees and over the ocean But when you came into class I saw everything in slow motion You sat next to me You were nervous and shy And when you walked me to my car We didn’t wanna say good-bye But it wasn’t good-bye Because we’ve laughed together ever since You treated me so well You’re like a Disney character prince Although I’ll admit That the future is unknown. I hope that we last bit longer Because no one wants to be alone. -Yana Byazrova


Cynthia Garcia In my life I have explored different areas in how to best express myself. I have discovered Creative Writing is one of those ways. I am currently studying to get a degree in Primary Education so that I can become an elementary teacher. Being creative and expressing that creativity in different ways is an amazing characteristic for a teacher to have. Once the pencil starts moving along the blank pages and the ideas flow freely, I learned, it is really hard to hold back your creativity and imagination. Your mind wanders places you never imagined it could go and reaches heights you once thought unattainable. When I started writing I didn’t believe that I would pass this course, but as I continued, I revealed a secret writer inside. Now I feel there is one inside of everyone. You just have to pick up the pencil and start. What to write about and where the story will go is all up to you. You just have to begin. 8

Rush Cynthia Garcia


It’s rainy, dark. One car speeds past the camera on a winding road.


JISSELLE is in the car, racing time. Panicking, she looks back at her CHILD to reassure herself that he is okay. She looks back to the road. JISELLE (nervously tries to calm the baby ) It’s okay. There’s nothing to worry about . You’re with mama now.

(glances at the clock; looks up to see lights heading right at her) EXT. RESIDENTIAL AREA - NIGHT A HORN blares. Jissele tries to swerve but the car swerves with her causing her to drive right into a nearby house. Jiselle’s life flashes before her eyes. Everything is a blur. She hears SIRENS and searches for her baby who is tucked gently in his car seat. She blacks out. INT. GYM – DAY (FLASHBACK) Jiselle and ANDRES go for rounds in a mixed martial arts match, to help better Jiselle’s selfdefense. Every Saturday tradition before lunch time. JISELLE

(laughing admingly at Andres)

I won! How many in a row? I kicked your butt today, old man! ANDRES I am not old and you out of all people know that. I’m not in my prime anymore but I still got a little kick left in me.

(swoops her off her feet and spins)

Jiselle and Andres laugh and then stare into each other’s eyes. Jiselle breaks eye contact. 9


I think we can try one more time. I know how much this means to you and I know you will be a wonderful mother. Vamos.

(carries her inside) INT. ROOM (PRESENT) Jiselle wakes up and she is tied to a chair. She soon realizes the accident was intentional.

JISELLE (tries to wriggle lose; yells with pain in her voice)

HELLO?! Is anyone here? Where’s my baby!? I need to see my baby. Where am I? Where the hell is my son?! HELLO!!

ROMAHLO (annoyed by all the hollering, enters the room)

Hello, good evening. It’s Jiselle, isn’t it?

(pauses, looks her way knowing he caught her attention, pulls up a stool in front of her and sits) JISELLE Wh...who are you? And what do you want from me?

(she yells angrily, confused)

Where’s my son? 10

(she whimpers) ROMAHLO My, my, my, You are way more beautiful than he used to say. Hmmm, I guess he didn’t know how lucky he was. JISELLE What do you want from me? Please bring me my son. ROMAHLO You will see your son when you do me a favor. I have a great idea. Would you want to take your husband’s place? JISELLE I don’t understand . What do you mean? How do you know my husband? ROMAHLO I am his boss. Here’s the thing, though, your husband, Andres, was a very good man. Until he had an episode and we had to kill him. Well, that was the plan at least . Last Tuesday I sent a truck to deliver our “goodies” to our exporter. The truck got ambushed and tried to take the export. Andres knowing how to handle situations like this, stepped in and saved the day. Unaware of exactly what he was delivering, he checked to see. That’s a big no-no my dear.

(He wags his finger and shakes his head disapprovingly.) 11

That is my number one rule. Never open the truck. My business is my business; no someone else’s. He found out my cartel was trafficking women and shipping them to foreign countries. He wasn’t in support of this kind of work. He drove them to a shelter and freed them all, then took my truck to an abandoned warehouse and dismantled it.He still didn’t feel that was enough so he blew up the building, which happened to be where a lot of my supplies were. He knew what he was doing. He isn’t one to just act; he plans. That truck was the last means of tracking -- err, I mean communication -- we’ve had with him until we ran you off the road thinking it was him and now we have a 2 for 1 deal. Looks like he left you and your child for the dogs huh?

JISELLE (spewing a mix of Spanish and English with a strong Spanish accent)

Don’t touch my son. I swear to God si tocas un pelo a mi hijo, I will come after you and you won’t survive.

ROMAHLO (scoffs)


Sooo anyway, my plan is for you to bring Andres to me or are we gonna have to use your precious baby to bring him to us? I can promise it won’t be pretty. JISELLE (out of breath and drenched in tears) Don’t hurt my baby. I will find you! You will be a dead man. ROMAHLO (binds her mouth with a bandana) So are you gonna tell me where the money is? (He studies the many tools laid out on a table to the side of him and smirks) ...or am I gonna have to get it out of you the hard way? JISELLE (mumbling and shrieking through the handkerchief around her mouth, jerking violently trying to free herself ) Mmm... Mmmm. ROMAHLO (scoffing in her direction) Hard way it is. You see, it’s Jiselle, isn’t it... (catching her attention, running his fingers along all the different sharpened torture tools on the table and finally selecting one, picking up the scalpel and eyeing it playfully.) I am a man who respects dedication and respect. So here’s what I will do. We can make a deal. Does that sound good to you?

(Jiselle, curious , glares at Romahlo) ROMAHLO 13

(waiting for an answer he decides to let her in on the deal anyway)

Here’s the plan... Are you listening?. Ha, ha. Well, of course you are. What else could you be doing? Being brilliant I devised a plan setting you up against you husband so either way I will get my money’s worth. I will let you go under one condition. You bring your husband to me . If you fail to do as I have asked I will take your child and raise him as my own in my lifestyle and you will have no communication with him. There is also the possibility that I could dispose of both you and your son which will draw your husband to avenge me . Either could work. What do you say are you in?

(He turns around to face her and see her reaction. Giving her a chance to respond he removes the handkerchief.) JISELLE (upset by the thought, spits at him and spews profanities from her mouth in Portuguese.) ROMAHLO (enraged by her decision) Well that was a poor decision because now you don’t have a choice. (He flicked his hand towards his goons and they react by grabbing a cloth drenched in chloroform.) 14



Jiselle wakes up in a darkened room with a flickering light in the corner there are chains around her ankles and wrists and they are bolted to the walls. She tries to pull one wrist out and the chains pull tighter leaving bruises. She realizes she is stripped down to her undergarments exposing a large incision on her hip. The stitching is professional work. She keeps examining wondering what had been taken out or put in, when she is interrupted by a booming VOICE outside the room.


It’s all taken care of boss. There’s no way she can get out of those chains. JISELLE (recognizing one voice carrying out over all the others) ROMAHLO (speaking to his goons) Gather her clothes and bring them in for me. I would like to say a few words before we release her. (Jiselle studies the door anticipating his arrival) ROMAHLO (enters the room with a sheepish grin) Are you ready? JISELLE (confused, only remembering their last conversation) Where am I and when will I see my baby? Send him home and I’ll do whatever you want me to . Leave


him out of this. Let him have a chance to live a real life. (One of his goons walks in and hands Romahlo her ROMAHLO (chucking the clothes at Jiselle) Put these on and then we will talk. I can’t stand to look at that hideous thing. (disgustedly gesturing towards the incision) JISELLE You did this to me! How do you think I feel? ROMAHLO (pleased with the job well done, jokingly) Well, of course I did it. Actually I didn’t personally do it. I just ordered for it to be done . You can still say thank you.

JISELLE (furious) THANK YOU? (mocking ROMAHLO) “ can still say thank you” . I don’t even know what this is for or why I’m here.

ROMAHLO Wow! I gotta give it to you. You are a fiesty one. I like you. It’s a shame this had to be done. JISELLE (nervous, scared to ask) Wh...What had to be done? ROMAHLO I mean we could’ve been good partners 16


with your attitude and your persistence. I feel we could’ve worked something out. What I had done to you is just a mini nip and tuck procedure. Nothing to be worried about. Well, unless you don’t do what I say. Here’s what happens; you don’t do as we planned then the capsule we implanted in you will dissolve and release neurotoxins into your bloodstream and your nerves and every artery, arteriole, capillary and such will stop working. Let’s just say once that happens you will have two hours to live and in those two hours you will feel each limb and appendage of your body paralyze, one at a time starting with your fingers and your toes going all the way to your mouth . You won’t be able to scream when the injection happens and burns you from inside out.


(her complexion becomes ghost white; she rambles through tears)

How could you do this? I have a family. I don’t even know what he does for you. I don’t see him when he goes to work for you. He doesn’t call, text, no letters, nothing. Do you have a conscience? Do you care about anyone else besides yourself? You’d think that everyone was born with a 17

little sympathy somewhere inside them. Nope. Not you. You’re just a pathetic, cold hearted, arse who will burn in hell alone all by yourself . ROMAHLO Ouuuch. You are getting mean. That last one hurt a little bit. Ha, what am I saying? Eh. I get that a lot. Nothing new. But for now you’re on your own. Find your own way of transportation, and your own means of communicating . You have one week . Tick tock. Get to stepping young lady. CUT TO: EXT. OPEN AREA – DAY Jiselle runs to the point where she feels she will pass out in the heat. The incision itches her and all she wants to do is rip it out. She tries to come up with a plan to figure out how to get it out and get in touch with her husband. All the while she still has yet to see her child. The only reason she is participating is because she hopes he’s alive still but has no clue what to say him. She remembers what Andres has taught her and people he introduces her to. She visits PABLO who is a computer engineer, and a part-time mob doctor. INT. OFFICE - DAY PABLO Jiselle!! How great to see you . You look wonderful. Muy linda. Where’s Andres? Is everything okay? JISELLE Everything is fine. Andres didn’t come with me, just me. I need a favor. PABLO What can I do for you? JISELLE Can you take a look at this and tell me what you think?


(Lifts up her shirt revealing a healing incision)

I understand there is probably no helping me but please see what you can do. PABLO What did you do ? JISELLE It’s a long story and a lot of mix up with some bad guys. I’m on a time limit and I need to know if there’s anyway to stop this. Please just cut it open and examine it. PABLO Let me numb it and we can take a look at it. JISELLE Just please, please be careful . It will kill me with the slightest adjustment PABLO Here take a shot to calm your nerves. JISELLE (knocks the glass out of his hands) I don’t mean to be rude but the longer we procrastinate the less time I have to live. PABLO (undoes stitching and makes a thin slender slice along the incision)

What is this? It’s like a network of cables


connected to your main vessels and veins. JISELLE It’s a neurotoxin that is set to kill me. Is there anyway to take it out? PABLO The thing is if I take it out the less chance you have to live. The chemicals will mix and what this thing is programmed to do will happen. But I can find a way to neutralize it by using nitrogen. I can freeze the substances and make them solid so they won’t mix. Then I can remove it but you will take a long time to heal, making mobility really hard for you. JISELLE Take it out please ? I need to get it out. I have to find Andres and my baby. Make me better Pablo. Please ?


After the removal procedure Jiselle’s mobility is only mildly affected. At home she loads up on weaponry and guides to places Andres would usually go on his business trips. As she rounds a corner in her house someone hits her on her shoulder, having aimed for her head to knock her out. She turns around with her gun drawn. Romahalo already has a gun cocked and aimed at her forehead. JISELLE I guess I ran into you quicker than expected. How’d you find me? ROMAHLO 20

I was never good with hitting girls. I always felt sympathetic and would slightly miss. I guess I haven’t lost my touch, but my guns, that’s a whole different level. I’m one of the sharpest shooters around and will take out anyone or anything in the blink of an eye. JISELLE (cocks her gun) What are you getting out of me? He hasn’t showed up yet. What makes you think he ever will? I’m nothing but bait to you, and your plan isn’t even working. ROMAHLO The thing about bait is you have to let it sit awhile, then the big catch will come. Sometimes it doesn’t work, then you throw that bait out and start with a new piece.

Before Jiselle can respond, Romahlo pulls the trigger and shoots her point blank.

Her limp, lifeless body hits the floor with a THUD.



Jiselle can hear and feel everything. She is full of pain and sorrow. The same thud that her body mAKES when she hit the floor is the same thud that wakes her up from her sleep. 21

JISELLE (waking up with a gasp) ANDRES (groggy) Honey, are you okay? JISELLE (breathing heavily) Can this please be the last time we watch an action movie before bed? You would not believe what I just dreamed. ANDRES (comforting her, pulls her into his arms) We can watch whatever you want. (Kisses her on her forehead)



Jamaica Nights Golden sun rays burst through your window Forcing their way through the slit of the curtains Cold, refreshing bath chills every inch of skin Fresh ginger tea from Ms. Ros Accompanied by coconut biscuits made by Aunt Vi Cheery vibes soar through the room Warm “Good mornings” and smiles every morning from Bartley and Dace What’s on our agenda today? Caribbean island life flows as it wants Each day is glorious and full of cheer I sit on the porch and take in my environment I feel at home as if I belong here I peer across the red dirt road That separates me from the luscious green mountain range Kissed by the baby blue sky with fluffy cotton clouds Turtle River Beach, Dunns River Falls, the river All places you must go when in Clapham District Neighbors and strangers both say “hello” as they pass by Women and girls in floral church dresses and frilly hats Men and young boys suited up for Sabbath School Everyone welcomes and greets each other as if we’re all family Embracing each other with hugs Long nights hanging out at Aunt G’s shop Enjoying the company of family Curt comes to visit and everyone is thrilled Traveling along windy roads and seeing the best views Pastor Heath stops to let me snap photos Visiting Mama G as she welcomes us with amazing hugs She doesn’t want to let us go


We tell her we love her as we head back home And prepare for trip back to the states I really don’t want to leave and it’s extremely saddening As I say good night, Dace, she gives me a bedtime hug and kiss As we embark on our journey back home “I don’t want you to leave, you’re my new sister,” Dace says to me I assure her I will be back soon enough Bartley assures me I always have an open invitation to come back As we hug tears are shed and faces look troubled We try not to look back at our gorgeous home overseas As we board the plane I look at him and frown “I don’t want to leave, two weeks went by too fast” As tears well up he puts his arm around me We sit in 10c and 10d and watch Gatsby on our way home The smell of the salty ocean air The feel of the brisk clear blue water The mess of sand throughout your hair The steel-drums playing in the background Having fun, dancing, partying, lounging around Friendly faces smiling and dreads sway Your safe haven, so much fun, want to stay His hand caresses yours and everything feels right This is what it is like to be in Jamaica at night

- Cynthia Garcia


Garrett Grant My name is Garrett Edward Grant. My home town was Gibsonton, near Tampa. I graduated from Riverview High School and studied business at Hillsborough Community College. I owned a small detail business for a few years in Tampa. I went on vacation to the Keys and ended up in Marathon. I’m now back in school at Florida Keys Community College seeking my AA. degree. I plan in the future to transfer to a Florida university. I enjoyed writing all the stories and having the feedback on each one. Great class.


Treasure Hunt Garrett Grant

It’s an early morning as I load the boat. Captain comes out and says, “Load extra tanks for today.” “Why?” “I’ve got new coordinates of a Spanish wreck, off the coast.” Excited, I do so. We haven’t had coordinates for weeks. We have just been doing drift dives in old shipping routes. “So, Captain, how did you get this location?” Captain smiles. “I was looking over old ship logs and this one was just mentioned briefly by another captain. It’s supposed to be full of gold and silver jewelry.” “So who are we taking on this one?” “Just you, Fish.” Knowing the captain doesn’t usually take a crew when he’s got a sure location, I get more excited. As I finish loading the boat, Captain does a few final checks and we shove off. I’m looking at the captain with such eagerness. He must realize it because he looks at me and says, “It’s not sure a thing.” I smile and say, “I know.” I’ve only been in the marine salvage business, or as I like to call it, treasure hunting, for a little over two years and I’ve spent every day with the captain. He used to be the biggest and the best in the business. In his younger years he ran three or four boats and has a few big named finds. He is more relaxed now in his older years, however, I don’t think he will ever get out of the business. It’s life for him. He is a true treasure hunter, too. It’s a few hours before the captain and I talk again. It’s him telling me to drop anchor. After we get the anchor set, I ask the captain how he wants to do this one. “We’re going to do a grid and then use the blowers.” We both get suited up and drop over the side. It’s not like most of our dives, just normal bottom. This dive we can actually see the outline of the ship. As soon as we get to the bottom

we start laying the outer lines of the grid. Before we can even finish the outer lines we’re losing light. Captain points to the top. As soon as we breach the surface, I’m already asking if we’re going to hook up the lights. Captain slows me down. “We’ve got plenty of time. We are here now!” We get back on the boat and fix a little meal. Captain decides we won’t drop back in until tomorrow morning. We enjoy some lobster we got off the bottom and it’s not long before he is snoozing on the back deck, which leaves me too excited to sleep in my bunk. I’m thinking about tomorrow’s find as I slowly drift off. “Rise and shine.” It’s the captain, not even light outside yet. I turnover. “What’s up?” “We need to get an early start. Seeing the grid we’re working with, it’s going to be an all day blow to clear the bottom.” We eat fast and the captain and I are back to suiting up. The sun is just breaking the horizon, as we drop in. It’s beautiful. The broken up ship is already a treasure in itself. We spend a little time finishing up the grid and it’s time for the blowers. We head for the top. When we reach the top, Captain says, “I’ve been having some trouble with the pump. Run the blower on the bottom this time.” It’s not my normal job but I don’t mind. I would rather be on the bottom anyways. “Okay.” He slides the tubing over the side of the boat. I head back for the bottom where the wreck is. I start in the back right of the grid and work to the front left. As I’m blowing I still can’t believe how well the ship has held up. I’ve only been blowing for about an hour when I see that beautiful yellow shine! I stop the blower, reach down and grab a four foot gold chain! Excited I want to shoot for the top and show the captain. However, I remember to take my time and mark off the spot on the grid where it was found. Then I head for the top. “Captain! Looks like we did it,” I say, holding up the gold chain The captain, excited, grabs the chain. “I’m suiting up to come check it out.” “Sounds good.” I head back down

to finish the grid and hopefully find more! However, before the Captain can even get suited up, he sees black smoke coming from the pump. He rushes over to shut it down, but before he can get there it burns up the belt. Meanwhile my blower on the bottom just shut down. I start back for the top again. When I reach the boat, I can tell the captain is annoyed. “It’s the belt,” he yells. “I knew something was going to go wrong. “ The only problem with heading back to shore is that we have to leave the site for the next eight or so hours. I can tell that is what the captain is worried about, too. Having found the gold already, the mother lode might be close. “What do you want to do?” Captain looks around and says, “Let’s pull in the top floats so hopefully it won’t be seen. That’s all we can do. We’ve got to go and get this belt if we are going to have any more luck. Make sure when we get to shore you don’t say anything though.” “Of course not.” But that is going to be hard. It’s been a while since we had a good find. However, with us coming back to shore so soon, nobody would think we had found anything. It takes a little longer getting back than it did getting out there. The sun is just going down when we dock. It doesn’t look like we are going to be able to get the belt till tomorrow. We decide to stay on the boat for the night. I think both of us know if we got on shore and in the bars, we might not have a private, good spot anymore. It’s early morning and it almost seems like we are sneaking around in town. The mechanic that carries the belt opens in about ten minutes, and we are waiting outside his door. The plan is to get the belt, put it on, and make sure everything is running well before we shove off. The door opens. “What do you guys need?” We give him the belt size with our fingers crossed. He has the belt. “Only two left,” he says. “Well, let us have them both,” says the captain.


Back at the boat, Captain puts on the belt, the pump starts right up, and we are back under way. “That went smooth. Hopefully everything keeps going this way. We will be back on the wreck, loading gold in no time.” “I think you spoke too soon.” I point down the docks and captain sees him, too. It’s Dead Anchor, one of Captain’s old crew members. He actually took over one of Captains boats when he downsized. He tries to stick pretty close to our areas, so it is the last person we want to see and he is heading straight for us. “Well, well, well. I heard you boys were moving around early.” “Just doing some repairs,” Captain is quick to answer. I chime in. “You think we’re going out today?” Both of us trying to throw him off. “I don’t know yet. What about you, Dead Anchor?” He looked at us both with squinty eyes. “I think I’m gonna head out with a few of the boys and do a few channel drifts. You two want to come?” “No, like I said, we need to get these repairs done.” As he is walking away Captain looks at mewith these big bug eyes. “He knows!” I let off a little laugh because of the way he looks, but his eyes get even bigger. “I’m telling you, he knows.” “Well, what should we do?” “We’ll let him head out first , and then I’ll take a different route to the site. So hopefully he won’t be able to follow us.” It’s not long and Dead Anchor is shoving off. As he passes I look at the captain, “I don’t think he knows.” “You might be right,” he says, laughing. On our way to the site, Captain still takes a longer route just to make sure we are alone. “I’m telling you, Fish. I hope we hit it big on this one. If we do I’m getting you a new boat. Well, I’m getting a new boat for me and you get this one.” “Really, you think I’m ready?” “You’re a fast learner, Fish, and an even harder worker.” I’m dreaming about being my own captain when we pull up to the site.


It’s empty just like we left it. Not a soul in sight. “Well, go suit up and get us some treasure.” “Yes, sir,” I say smiling. As I drop over the side it’s more beautiful than the first time. The visibility must be a good seventy-five feet clear blue. The sea fans waving in the current, the treasure calling my name. As the blower starts up, there is an explosion of sand. I take my time and start where I last found the gold. I continue to blow the whole grid, which now has the full ship exposed. I think I should have seen more by now. I head back to the top to let some of the sand settle. “I don’t know, Captain. Nothing else yet, but she sure looks good.” “Try working the very front. Some of those ships had their holds in the front rather than the back.” As I drop back down, I do just like the captain said and start in the front. I’m down under the first deck of the ship blowing out, when a whole wall blows off the side. I shut down the blower and swim to the outside of the ship and look in through the hole. When the sand settles, I can’t believe my eyes the whole room is full of gold, silver, and jewels glimmering out at me. I grab two handfuls and swim to the top. “You’re not going to believe this Captain!” “What?” I hold up my hands and show him the treasure. “It’s the whole front of the boat. The biggest find you and me have had together!” “Looks like you got your boat, Fish.” We both smile.

Tonight’s Dinner As the morning sun rises It shines light on the day’s surprises The boats ready The seas steady It’s time to get some fish For tonight’s dinner dish I grab my spear gun For some underwater fun Click, click, click, as I cock back each band I see a fish camouflaged in the sand I slowly take aim To give the fish his name His name is mine He is at the end of my line It’s a grouper I did super Good to eat How neat Into the ice chest You know the rest Dinner is served It is well-deserved - Garrett Grant


Heather Herd My name is Heather and I have lived in the Keys for the past eight years. I really enjoy the Keys and I enjoy going to school at FKCC. I am glad to call the Keys my home and I am blessed to be able to raise my daughter here. I hope you all enjoy the stories and poems in the publication.Â


Fatima Heather Herd To say the air inside the airplane was cold was an understatement. Bundled in a thick winter jacket Fatima sat idly messing with the TV screen in front of her seat, switching from channel to channel digging for something to entertain her for at least a second. She was three hours into a six-hour flight and was bored out of her mind. Situated in the middle seat between two dozing passengers, to her left was a grandmotherly lady who was also bundled in a jacket and to her right a wealthy looking man in a clean suit. She wished she could fall asleep as easily as they and let her thoughts go to voice mail as she dreamed carelessly. She partly wanted to sleep just to calm her nerves. This was only the second flight she had ever taken. With nothing to entertain her she couldn’t help but let her memories float back to that first flight. It surprised her how ironic it was. Both flights were one-way tickets and both were going to be the start to a new life. Tiny details in the plane’s appearance made Fatima flash back to her first time on a plane. She couldn’t believe it had already been 18 years. Back then Fatima was wide eyed and fascinated with the plane’s technology. The mere thought of lifting off the ground both mesmerized and scared Fatima. It was either that or the fact that she was overcome with the anxiety of starting a new life that caused her to be scared. The first time Fatima had been on a plane was not by her own will. She was old enough to comprehend at the time that she wouldn’t be coming back but what she didn’t know was how much she would miss what she left behind. Fatima’s first time on an airplane was with her adoptive parents. Parents who genuinely cared for her but had little success identifying with her. Parents who had good intentions and, though they were doing the right things, just didn’t match up with what Fatima needed. Fatima’s adoptive parents Roger and Elisa had adopted Fatima from India.

Fatima had been a child from a poor family. Her biological father worked tirelessly as a brick layer but even with all his effort his wages were only two dollars a day. Her loving mother was plagued with health problems and was bed ridden frequently. Fatima had been her parents’ blessing and joy. Memories darted through Fatima’s mind of her early years as the light of her parent’s life. Though they were poor her dad always managed to take her out for her favorite frozen smoothie made of delicious Indian fruits. When her mother was not a prisoner to her health she spent her time playing dolls with Fatima and doing Fatima’s hair. Her mother’s untimely surrender to the battle with her health caused Fatima’s happy life to crumble. Her dad had no way to care for her and no family to leave her with while he worked in the city. With no options of outside help Fatima’s dad had to turn to the last resort: putting Fatima up for adoption. Their neighbors had made a similar choice with their children and urged Fatima’s father that it was the right thing to do. “Don’t worry a very wealthy family will adopt her,” their neighbors said in hushed tones as they planted the seed in her father’s head. Fatima had been listening from the next room as she lay in the darkness pretending to be asleep. “You can’t be there for her.” The neighbors’ voices echoed in her memory. “Our son was adopted by an American family in an open adoption. And now that he is older he sends us money every month from his part time job. They make more over there in one hour than what we make in a week. Let her go. You are ruining her life if you keep her here. Don’t be selfish and let someone who can take care of her adopt her.” She knew this was hard for her dad. She didn’t want to make it any harder. When he confronted her about the adoption she held herself back and refused to whine or complain. She went along with it even though her heart ached and she prayed for her mother to watch over her and her dad and for God to some how intervene so she could stay with her dad. The prayers were not answered in the way that she had hoped for though. Weeks later her dad signed papers giving up his parental rights as

her new adoptive parents signed papers to take over. She remembered that day vividly. “We can still keep in contact, my Dēvadūta,” her dad said while hugging her good bye. It was the special name he called her that meant she was his angel. The adoptive couple Roger and Elisa observed them while they said their good byes. Roger was a high profile international businessman and could speak fragmented sentences in Hindi. “It’s time to go,” he said breaking up the sensitive moments of their good byes. Turbulence from the ongoing plane ride jolted Fatima straight out of her thoughts. The two passengers next to Fatima awoke suddenly from the jerking plane as did many others. “Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened,” chimed in the cheerful flight attendant’s voice over the loud speaker, first in English and then in Hindi. “We will start to descend into Mumbai in about two hours,” she updated them. Fatima smiled and felt triumphant as she understood what the flight attendant said in Hindi. “What are you smiling at?” said the man in the clean suit next to her, rubbing his eyes and stretching to recover from the nap he had been awoken from. He clearly looked like he was disappointed by being wakened. His face was creased with lines, not lines from age but most likely related to work stresses and years of tough business deals by the look of his expensive suit and luggage. “I’m just so relieved that I still understand Hindi,” Fatima said her smile growing wider despite the skeptical look from the man. “Hey, wait a second.” His eyes squinted as he looked closer at her face taking in every detail. His face broke into a smile of recognition. “Aren’t you the girl from that TV show? CSI: Australia? Fatima…Fatima Williams. That’s it!” he said, finally connecting the dots. Fatima smiled humbly. “Yes.” “Wow, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He extended his hand. “My name’s Devin Baxter, big fan of your acting.” Fatima extended her hand. “Pleasure to meet you,” she said. “I’m actually a producer for BBC United Kingdom.” he said. “We’re always looking for new talent like yourself,” he


hinted drawing out a business card. “I’m on my way to London. Had to take this connecting flight. If you are interested we can book a meeting anytime.” “Thanks, but I’m actually coming to India for an audition that I can’t refuse,” she said, politely accepting the card. “Ahh, entering the fast paced world of Bollywood are we?” “Mhm.” She smiled. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine.” “Australia wasn’t glamorous enough for you?” he jokingly asked. “Australia was awesome in its own way, but there is no place like home,” she said, looking down at her feet and alternately touching her toes and heels together as if she were Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Devin saw this and started laughing and she looked up at him surprised. Their eyes met and she noticed how tenderly they were locked on hers. His face was unrecognizable from the cranky man awoken from a nap that it was only minutes ago. It had a friendliness to it, something that made Fatima trust him. She looked down first to break the eye contact though the second she broke it she wanted it back. She looked up again and his eyes were just the way she had left them. “I’m not just going to India for an audition,” she started to explain. “I’m going to reunite with my father.” When Devin heard this news all he could do was nod. Interested he asked “Does he know you’re on your way?” “Not exactly…” Her voice trailed off. She was a little embarrassed. “That’s the thing. I thought it might be better as a surprise.” She studied his eyes to see if he was judging her. “If you ask me I think it’s a great idea.” He sat back with his hands behind his head. “Who doesn’t love surprises? And if you haven’t seen each other in a while it might be easier on you both if you surprise him instead of leaving him anxious wondering when you are going to arrive.” “I thought it would be too emotional if we planned it. I mean, I haven’t seen him in 18 years. We’ve only been able to communicate through letters.” She sighed nervously pushing her hair


behind her ears with her fingers. He smiled. “You’ll be fine.” “You think?” she said. “I don’t know.” “Oh, for sure. You look confident. You look like you have got this down,” he said winking. Fatima’s stomach started to get butterflies. She blamed it on the descending plane that was dropping faster than ever as they were finally in Mumbai. She didn’t want to admit it to herself that she was attracted to this guy. Even if it was true. The plane dropped for the final time as it skid onto the runway. “I’m going to be in India for two days before I head to London,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind taking you and your dad out to celebrate. It is after all going to be quite a dramatic reunion.” He pulled his suitcase out from under his seat. “Don’t hesitate to call. I want to hear the happy ending to this father-daughter reunion. I’m emotionally invested now don’t leave me hanging,” he said as he got out of his plane seat. “And, Fatima don’t worry. I’m sure your dad will be ecstatic to see you. Who wouldn’t like a surprise like that? I sure would.” He smiled and waved bye as he exited the plane. Fatima couldn’t help herself. She blushed as she waved bye. She felt inside her pocket for the business card. She would definitely call to give him an update on whatever happened. Navigating the Mumbai airport was a breeze. She was now in a taxi en route to her father’s address. It was surreal being back. She felt as if she was in a dream and she didn’t want to wake up from it. The city was as busy as ever and the streets were filled with small business vendors selling all sorts of goods just like Fatima remembered. She wondered if she and her dad could maybe go out for one of those delicious smoothies just like they used to. Except it was her turn to treat him. She pulled one of her father’s letters out of her pink suitcase and looked over the address once again. 116 Kharwest St., Mumbai, Maharashtra 4005, India. Hmm…That doesn’t sound familiar, she thought. She looked over the address again. She and her dad had communicated over the years. He was

the first one to send her a letter. That thought brought back sour memories. She remembered how her adoptive parents’ son, Patrick, would get the letters before she could get to them. He would tease her with them knowing that news from her dad was her weak spot. “You want it?” he would say. “Go get it.” And then he would throw the letter out of the window of their second story house, laughing as Fatima ran out to get it. The joke was on him though because now that she had long moved out of that house, he could no longer torment her in that way. Nowadays he spent his time accosting Fatima, leaving long voicemail messages begging her for money. There was a new excuse each time. He was jealous that Fatima had become successful despite his efforts to lower her confidence. She sometimes felt bad for her adoptive parents. They only had one son and he was a total jerk. She wondered if they felt like she was truly their daughter. She sympathized with Elisa but just never cared for Roger. They had clashed many times. Roger didn’t approve of her religion and insisted she drop it. She was taught to always pray before and after a meal and this frustrated him. “We don’t do that here,” he would tell her as if she were inferior to him. Little did he know she still prayed consistently to this day. Elisa was a different story. She was kind and supportive and let her adjust at her own pace to her new life in Australia. She still kept in contact with her frequently through video chat and they sometimes had lunch together at their favorite restaurant. She thought of her as her second mom. She was even supportive of her decision to leave Australia and try to go back to India. She was glad she had made this decision, too, she thought as the taxi driver drove through Mumbai. She couldn’t help but feel as if she belonged here. Something was weird though. Through the letters her dad had sent over the years he told her that he still lived in the same area. But as she got farther into her taxi ride, it didn’t match up. They were going farther to the west and the houses were only getting larger and larger. “Sir, are you sure you’re going the right way?” she asked alarmed.

“You said Kharwest Street, didn’t you, Ma’am?” He sounded annoyed that she was questioning his sense of direction. “We’re almost there.” Seconds later the car slowed to a stop in front of a beautiful house. She didn’t understand. Her father had left her under the impression that he was still struggling, still poor. In no letter did it ever say that he had upgraded to a house of this status. Surely this must just be where he works, she thought. He did mention he was a dish washer now instead of a brick layer, she thought, stepping out of the car. “Do you need me to wait here?” the taxi driver offered. She didn’t know what to decide. She looked from the address on the letter to the address on the house. It was the right address, no mistake there. She hoped for the best and told the taxi driver, thank you, but that it wouldn’t be necessary for him to wait. She walked slowly to the house taking in every detail. The house was an elaborate three- story house with a front garden pruned to perfection. Her luggage rolled behind her along the clean pathway to the door. The neighborhood looked equally nice and quiet. She felt nervous as she made her way to the door. She wondered how her dad would look after all these years. When she had left he had always kept his dark hair cut short and he wore longsleeved plain shirts like other Indian laborers. She pressed the door bell and got a rush of excitement as she heard it sound off through the house. Footsteps could be heard getting closer to the door and with a swift movement it opened. “Hello, can I help you?” said the slender woman who answered. “Umm… I’m looking for Mohammed Arav,” she said. “He’s not here at the moment, but I can take a message. I’m his wife. Have we met before?” His wife? She must have the wrong house. “What is your name, young lady?” she questioned. Fatima felt speechless. Did her dad re-marry and not even tell her? “My name is Fatima and I’m a relative of Mo-

hammed.” A small child came out from behind the open door and started to tug at the woman’s hand. “One second Mohammed Junior,” she said. Mohammed… Junior? “He’s never mentioned a Fatima before. He doesn’t have family,” she said suspiciously. “Are you sure you have the right house?” She jogged her mind trying to think of something that only someone who knew her dad would know so she could really see if they were indeed talking about the same Mohammed. “Does he call your son Dēvadūta?” she asked half hoping it wasn’t true and maybe, just maybe she had the wrong house and her dad hadn’t kept all these secrets from her. “Yes, how did you know that?” the woman asked even more confused. Shocked, her mind tried to come up with an answer. “I’m sorry, ma’am” she said. “I must have the wrong house. Sorry to bother you.” She exercised all of her acting skills and mustered up a smile. “Are you sure you’re okay?” the woman asked, picking up the child. “I’m fine,” she said, already making her way down the steps of the front porch as fast as she could. She heard the woman close the door as she raced to the road curb out of view from the house and collapsed to sit down. She fell victim to large sobs. Was it really true? Her dad would remarry, have another kid and not even mention it in their many letters? The child had to be at least four. And not even one letter mentioned any of this. Not only that but he even called this new child the same special name he had reserved for her? She sat there miserable and tried to get over this news. Where would she go now, she thought, wishing she had asked the taxi to wait. Flustered she grabbed her cell phone out of her pocket and a crisp business card fell to the ground. That’s who she would call, she thought. He did say he wouldn’t mind her surprising him, didn’t he? The Sai Palace Hotel Mumbai was the place to see and be seen. Celebrities frequented the lush joint because of its renowned roof top lounge. Plush white

modern booths were seated along the sides of the glass rooftop balcony. Anybody who was afraid of heights should steer clear. The rooftop lounge overlooked Mumbai 27 floors high. Dusk was setting in and the lights of the restaurant were just starting to be noticeable against the darkening skies. Fatima had to admit she was impressed. This restaurant was by far the coolest place she had ever been. Even as an actress she had never seen anything quite like this. Maybe she was biased but she thought that Mumbai was the prettiest city in the world and even though things had been turning less than pleasant with her plans to reunite with her father, she was glad to be back. The concrete jungle of Mumbai was visible for miles from that high up and it was hard to believe that there was actually a jungle out there after the city limits ended. “Have you ever been out there?” Devin asked as if he could read her mind. “Yeah, the jungle is amazing,” she said, remembering the time she saw a tiger with her dad when they went on a day visit to a friend who lived in the rural jungle right outside of Mumbai. “Do you think you will give it a second try… to reunite with your dad?” he ventured. As soon as they met up Fatima had told him the whole story from new wife to new child. He didn’t once make her feel as if she was burdening him with all of this drama. Instead he made her feel welcome, like she could come to him with anything. “I’m not sure what to do at this point.” She shook her head. “What was his gain from hiding all of this from me?” “Did you consider that maybe he was just trying to shield you from the news, to protect you in a way? Maybe he was worried on how you would receive the news,” Devin said. Having him around to give her a third person perspective on the situation really helped. Fatima couldn’t help but think from the irrational emotional point of view and Devin was there to balance out her feelings of heartbreak with sensible advice. “I mean, you have to cut the man some slack. You did come without warning him.” “You’re totally right, I mean,I


shouldn’t be complaining after I came unannounced.” Fatima buried her face into her hands. “I think you should give it a second try. Give him a chance to explain himself.” Fatima looked up into his eyes. His hazel eyes exuded kindness. She was so thankful for how kind he had been to her and she was glad she had someone to turn to at a time like this. People would often criticize her for doing things so impulsively but he was different. He was encouraging her to try it again. “I’m not even sure if it’s the right thing anymore. He’s obviously happy in this new life minus me.” “I’m sure he’s been missing you this whole time. You should consider his point of view. He had to give you up. He had to start a new life without your mom and without you, just like you were forced to start a new life without them. Don’t you think he would have gone to see you if he had the chance?” “He obviously could have come to visit me. He’s loaded now!” she said. “All I’m saying is that you should consider giving him a second chance.” “I’ll consider it,” she decided. The dinner with Devin totally washed her anxieties away. They had such a great time and she got to meet some influential Bollywood executives who were interested in helping her launch her Bollywood career. The thing was that she and Devin were really getting along. They both agreed that no matter what happened, whether it went well with her father or not, that they would get together again in three weeks when he was off from managing a big UK production. She lay on the beautiful red covers of the posh hotel bed smiling as she thought of the wonderful night. After dinner they went to Aksa beach. She mentioned she had gone there as a child. Even though the beach was busy with all kinds of night life and entertainment, it still felt like they were the only two there. They both had taken off their shoes and just walked in the sand eventually sitting down to enjoy the stars underneath the tall palm trees. Tomorrow, he said, he had a surprise for her. She was almost sure he was going to surprise her by taking her to


the Mahalakshmi Temple, a temple that she had told him she had always wanted to see. He wouldn’t tell her what it was only that it would be something that she would really enjoy and she fell asleep dreaming of what it could be. The Mahalakshmi temple it was. She shrieked with joy when she got his text asking her to meet him there. This time she would not take a taxi. The temple was within walking distance and she was craving the feel of the Mumbai streets again. The streets were so packed it was almost difficult to get through the massive crowds that were slowly moving along at a snail’s pace in every direction. Women young and old were dressed in colorful traditional Indian saris and Fatima just couldn’t resist. She had to buy one, too. After all, when in India right? The temple was so majestic and tall it could be seen from blocks away. It was right on the beach and it screamed old Indian architecture. The colors clashed bright orange and pink. Once inside she sat patiently in the back row looking around to see if she could see Devin. No sign of him, only tourists marveling at the grand sculptures and taking a hundred pictures a second. “Are you very spiritual?” came a man’s voice. He was totally butchering English and she could barely understand him through his Hindi accent. “Yes, I would suppose I am,” she said, paying no attention to the man who was now taking a seat next to her. She looked around nervously for Devin. Where was he? They were supposed to have met up 20 minutes ago already. “That’s good that you are religious. At least something that I have taught you stuck with you,” he said. Who does this man think he’s talking to? She was about to give him a polite smile before she high-tailed it out of there but when she looked over, her face transformed from a forced smile into utter disbelief. “Dad ?” she finally whispered after the seconds that felt like minutes for her to process who was sitting right next to her. She could barely believe her eyes. Her dad looked exactly the same. The years had been kind to him. He had grown his hair out though from the short

cut that it once was. It was now longer and slicked back. He was wearing formal clothes as if he was about to enter an office. “How have you been, my Dēvadūta? I have been waiting for a long time for the moment that we would be able to meet again.” That sweet name that once meant so much happiness to her now cut a fresh pain in her heart. “Don’t call me that.” She started to get out of the bench. “Let me explain,” he said. “Listen to what I have to say. After I had to give you up I felt extremely guilty. If it hurt for you it hurt in a whole different way for me. You are my child and if I had the resources to raise you I would not have made the decision that I made. Giving you up for adoption was a tough choice. I was giving up my responsibilities. I was giving up my right to know if you were okay or not and I was putting that precious responsibility into the hands of people I didn’t even know. I felt miserable for years because of that decision.” Tears were building up in her eyes as she stayed to listen. “Then I met Shiva and she helped give meaning to my life again. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you wouldn’t take it well. I was afraid you would feel like I was betraying your mom or that this would mean that we could be together again. But that couldn’t happen because you were already Roger and Elisa’s now. I couldn’t just go, ‘Here is my daughter. I can’t take care of her. Oh, now I can. Can I have her back? Thanks for your help.’ I didn’t want you to feel upset in any way. That’s why I kept this from you.” “I would have been so happy for you. Sure I would have loved to move back with you but I would have understood. I would have handled it.” She wiped her eyes with her hands. “You have a very nice friend ,you know that,” he said. “He is the one that told me to meet you here and warned me of what you already know.” So Devin was behind this? This was his “big surprise”? A forced emotional encounter with her dad in a highly public tourist attraction? “Yeah, well, he obviously cares about us meeting more than you do.”

She raised her voice in frustration. “I would have welcomed you with open arms and I still am. I am still your father and I still love you,” he said. “No matter how much you think that the way I have handled things was wrong, it doesn’t change the fact that I was only trying to do the best for you.” Fatima stared at him and tried to decide if she would make the best of this situation or just say have a nice life and get out of there never to send him another letter again. “My wife knows you’re here,” he said. “She would love to meet you. What do you say, Fatima? Will you forgive me and give her and your brother a chance?” The next four months went by in a blur. Fatima had never been so happy in her life. She chose to forgive her dad and pick up where they left off. Sure she had experienced what it was like to have a brother but this brother was kind and sweet and he enjoyed going out for smoothies with her. Shiva was very warm with her as well. She tried to bond with her over romantic Bollywood chic flicks that made Fatima more ambitious than

ever to land another movie role, although she wasn’t too sure if it would be in Bollywood. She filled in her dad with every detail of her life in Australia and they talked long into the night about his life as well. It turned out that he met Shiva when he started working as a dishwasher in a fast-paced restaurant. She was a hostess and the owner’s daughter. It was years before he got the guts to ask her out and by that time he had worked his way from dish washer to manager. He was now the co-owner and managed three different restaurants around Mumbai. Fatima had the honor of being the first one that Shiva revealed the news that she was expecting another baby. They were working up a plan on how to surprise her dad with the news. She still kept in touch with Elisa and she was even considering making a trip to Australia to celebrate Roger’s birthday with them. She thought that now that her life was complete she would put past grudges behind her. As for her and Devin, well, you could say that they were keeping the long distance relationship going pretty strong. They had been meeting up as

much as his busy schedule would allow. And although she was annoyed at first, she really admired how he helped her reunite with her dad. She couldn’t have done it without his help. “Thank you,” she said the last time they had met up on Aksa Beach again when he came to Mumbai to visit her. “Oh, no, don’t thank me,” he joked. “I’m expecting payback in return.” He held her close as they both stood shoulder deep in the beautiful Indian waters. “Yeah, and what would you like as a payback,” she said playfully, escaping his hold and swimming a few feet away. He swam after her and had her back in his arms in no time. “Come live with me in London,” he said. “You will find a job in no time. We could even work together if that’s what you wanted.” Fatima already knew what she wanted. She wanted to be with Devin. That didn’t stop her from teasing him though. “I’ll consider it,” she said. “After all, you know me. I take my time to think things over. I would never ever just end up on someone’s door step to surprise them.” She smiled.

The Florida Keys I love the natural beauty of the Florida Keys Mangroves, sandy beaches and tall palm trees The sunset illuminates the turquoise seas There are no city lights to detract from the stars I think there is no prettier island than ours The coral reefs are very near Sharks, rays and crabs all make their home here There is no place I’d rather be Than here at home in the Florida Keys

- Heather Herd


Jessica Karikas My name is Jessica Karikas and I’m a young writer with my first publication. The work is titled, “I Really Didn’t Do It.” The piece is a short story that peeks into the life of an accused murderer who is sure that he is innocent. My second work is a poem titled, “Miles,” which highlights the timeline of a failed relationship. I am new to the published world but hope to make a memorable entrance.


I Really Didn’t Do It Jessica Karikas She looked so beautiful that night. Ricky was wearing a blue dress and her hair was curled. She had heels on, too. I don’t remember what the shoes looked like but I know they were heels and I know she looked really sexy in them. I called on my way home and said that we were going to dinner. I didn’t say it was a nice place but somehow she knew. The woman knew everything. It was aggravating sometimes. It was like she knew what I was going to say before I said it. She didn’t ever know where her car keys were, though, or her phone. That was the only time I had something over her. As soon as I came in I tossed my brief case down. She heard me and walked over to the living room from the kitchen. She stopped about three feet in front of me. I could smell her perfume. She stood there with a smirk on her face resisting the urge to smother like she usually did. Her full pink lips were a shade of red tonight that I hadn’t seen before. Her dress hung in such a way that you could see her shape perfectly. She was teasing me and I knew it. ”You think you’re funny don’t you?” I said, as I grabbed her and threw her long toned legs around my waist. She clung to me like a monkey. I grabbed her head and messed up her hair as I kissed her. She pulled away laughing hysterically. “Andy, stop!” I set her down and she ran her fingers though her tangled blonde mop and it immediately fell right back into place, like I hadn’t touched it. She had honey colored blonde hair. It wasn’t a sandy blonde or bright, it was distinctly golden. Her hair was very full. It was always cut so that it waved around her face like a lion’s mane. She didn’t get mad that I messed up her hair or made her left heel fall off. She just smiled and rolled her eyes. “When do you want to leave, babe?” she said as she walked back into the kitchen. I stuck my hand in my

pocket and played with the ring box. I opened my mouth to answer her, and then I woke up. Mornings always hit me like a ton of bricks, a solid white ton of bricks. Everything in this god-forsaken room is white. The nights that I dream about Ricky just make the mornings worse. They’re just huge teases. I wake up with an irritatingly strong reminder that she is gone. I rolled over knowing Olivia would be coming in the room any second to give me a good morning that was so cheery you would swear she was talking to a puppy or someone’s little sister. She would take a deep breath, get real high pitched, and drag every word out slowly. That’s how she began every new conversation with a person. With the mood I’m in, I just might duct tape her mouth shut. Five minutes later and there she was. “Goooood morning, Andy! I hope you had wonderful dreams and are ready for a great day,” she said as she bustled through the door beaming, annoyingly. I stared at her for a minute and then growled, “Good morning, Olivia.” Olivia had short dark brown hair. She dyed it last week. Now it is still brown but it has more red in it than before. I didn’t like it. Not because it looked bad but because she asked me how it looked. It hardly looked different but she had to fish for a compliment. I don’t like short hair on women at all, and I really didn’t like Olivia’s short hair. Of course, I told her it looked good anyways. She always wore a dark red lip color. The red was too much against her gray pale skin. I’m sure she didn’t spend much time outside. Her build was very masculine. She had broad shoulders and almost no waist. She wasn’t thin but she wasn’t fat either, just kind of thick. Olivia was working on some medical degree that makes her a psychiatrist and a damn goddess, apparently. She talks about her studies all the time and tries to analyze me. In my eyes, until she graduates and gets a job far away from me, she is just the annoying little girl that makes me take my pills. I started to roll around in bed and get myself to my feet. Before I even got my feet on the ground Olivia starts to quiz me “So, Andy, did you have any good dreams?”

“No,” I lied. I didn’t want to talk about Ricky today and I sure as hell didn’t need Olivia’s expert opinion on anything. Talking about Ricky out loud hurts. It hurts in a way that you can’t begin to understand unless you’ve seen someone the way I had to see her. Nobody even wants to hear me say her name anyways. So I’m always lying. It’s frustrating. “You know we have dreams every night. We usually have more than one in different realms of REM sleep throughout the night, but sometimes we don’t remember any of them. We suppress them subconsciously. Sometimes this is because the dreams are of negative situations that threaten us. ” She looked over at me with wide accusatory eyes. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” My mind drifted to Ricky and the last time I saw her. I couldn’t think about this. I squeezed my eyes shut, shook my head, and thought about everything else but that. Toothpaste was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes again. I need to brush my teeth. Okay, I’m back to reality. I forced myself not to look angry but I hated her for saying that. Not only was she alluding to Ricky and what happened but she was showing off. I really didn’t want to hear it, not today. “Alright, now, don’t forget to take your pills. Go to your therapy session at three, and drink some more water. Your urine is looking a little dark.” She smiled a big toothy smile and skipped out of the room with her perfectly pointed pixie nose in the air. That’s creepy. Why was she looking at my pee? After taking my pills, brushing and flossing my teeth like a mad man and reading every piece of literature I could find, magazines, newspaper, and even guideline posters on the wall, I decided that a nap would be the best way to calm my anxiety before therapy. It was also the most entertaining thing that this room had to offer. Sleep came immediately to me. Ricky got out of the car before I had time to get the door for her. When I reached the handle just moments too late, she stood up straight and stuck her tongue out at me. Her sense of humor was killer. She twirled around


grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards the restaurant. Ricky loved everything about life. Around her everything seemed like it was just sort of lit up. It was almost like she had a constant spot light on her. Ricky never went unnoticed, and the attention she got was always positive. “So what’s this place like?” she asked. “Well, it’s got waiters and food, oh, and tons of tables and chairs.” She punched my side and I pulled her in tight to my waist making sure to hold both of her arms so she could not continue punching. We just couldn’t help being fools in love that night. She wriggled free and we held hands as we approached the host stand. Ricky beamed up at the hostess “Reservations for, uh, Andy, right, Hun?” “Yeah, that’s right. I’ve got you down right here. Okay, follow me please.” I followed Ricky behind the hostess hoping that she wasn’t suspicious yet. The hostess took us to a room all by itself. In the middle of the room was a small round table with a white table cloth and a large red candle in the middle that was already lit. The walls doubled as indoor waterfalls from floor to ceiling. Ricky’s eyes were huge. I didn’t know what was going through her mind but I could tell she was about to react. If you wanted to know how she was feeling you just had to look at her eyes. They were like two huge blue queries of water. The blue was so intense that if eyes could have visibility, hers would be one hundred feet. The two deep pools went straight into her thoughts. She looked at me after a moment and said,“What the hell is all of this?” I laughed, kissed her cheek, and then, woke up. I forced myself to be vertical. The room spun for a moment. I had to stop and focus on one object in the room for it to stop spinning. After I came to, I felt uneasy. It was always a strange feeling no matter how many times I felt it. I hated the trance my medication put me in. I was unable to think straight and everything evoked a huge emotional response


from me. I’ve never felt any saner after taking it, just less motivated to do or say anything that will bring attention to myself. I sulked down to the room where therapy was held. It is not possible that anything good could have come out of this. Dr. Kamninski met me at the door and sat me down. Everything was fine at first. She asked about my day so far and how the last few days have been. We talked briefly about Olivia and what my routine has been. Then we ran out of small talk and she calmly asked, “Andy, have you thought about what happened a year ago?” I stared at her and said nothing. I’m sure the anger was just pouring out of my face. She said it out loud. A year ago, Ricky died a year ago. For a split second Ricky’s face came to me as clear as if I was stepping right back into that moment. The expression on her face when I found her was nothing like I’ve ever imagined. Her mouth was in a state of absolute stress. You could see that she did anything she could for more air. Her eyes, god, her eyes were huge and cold. They were such a pale ice blue. I’m not sure if blue can be considered warm but her eyes were always warm. Imagine Caribbean waters in eighty degree weather under full sunshine. That was the color her eyes had been, normally. After I didn’t answer she said, “Has anything changed for you?” I snapped back to reality in a horrified state. The room was spinning again just like it had when I woke up. Dr. Kamninski looked at me calmly waiting for an answer. Why was this so casual for her to just want to talk about? Ricky died a year ago. I just kept saying it in my head but I still didn’t believe it. “Take your time with an answer.” Now I’m furious because I know what she wants. She wants me to say, yes, I’ve decided that I agree with all of you. I killed her in my sleep and I miss her dearly. I can’t do it, I can’t believe it, and I won’t believe it. I did not kill her. I die a little every day at the thought of hurting her. How could I not remember killing her? I constantly feel that there’s nobody on my side. My head is spinning faster and I can’t form sentences. I’m losing control. I hate when this happens. Why

do they schedule therapy at the same time that my medication hits bottom? Really, it doesn’t matter to me. Finding the real killer won’t bring her back and if I can’t have her I might as well stay here. Currently I would do anything to get out of this room and not say another word for the duration of today. I feel nauseous. I opened my mouth to do something, scream at her maybe. Tell her for the millionth time that I love Ricky more than life itself, but all that comes out are tears. I can’t see straight. In between sobs I forced something out. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can talk about this.” “That’s good for today, Andrew.” She wrote something down and I almost thought I saw her smile. I was too dizzy and out of sorts to know if anything I was seeing was real. Maybe I did kill her; if I was a little farther into this state that I’m in right now then my body could do anything it wanted and I would have no control of it. I was dismissed from the session. Moments after I got back I lay down and decided I just wanted to check out of this world. These people didn’t deserve my time. Neither did this place. I wanted out. We were back at the restaurant. I remember the moment perfectly. Ricky was almost done with her entire steak that she ate with a Blue Moon, of course, which looked funny next to my glass of Chardonnay that cost as much as the entre. I was very nervous and she knew I wasn’t right. “Sweetie, are you alright? You really haven’t eaten anything and I’m almost done. Is the food bad?” “Ricky. “ She looked concerned as I got up and kneeled in front of her. Her expression melted from concern to shock when she saw the stance I took. As my hand reached around my side with the ring her hands flew up to her mouth. Tears immediately started forming. Her blue eyes looked like someone cannon balled into them. The water was now spilling over the sides. Traces of her mascara were trickling down the sides of her face along with the tears. My hands were shaking. I couldn’t get the words out and then they were there all in one blurred mess.

“I love you so much it scares me sometimes. Will you marry me?” She fell into my lap and started crying “Yes, yes, and, yes, I am so happy I can’t even breathe, Andy!”.

Then I woke up. I expected it to be about three in the morning. I had returned to my room at about five o’clock yesterday evening and immediately went to sleep. I hadn’t felt like I

was asleep for an entire night’s worth of time. Apparently I had been, though. It was morning, and I waited for the overtly cheery Olivia but that morning, there

Miles 14,000 miles ago I bought a Jeep And your apartment was the first place I drove it 13,000 miles ago we drove out to your mother’s house And you showed me the countryside 12,000 miles ago I dropped you off at the airport And you didn’t want to go anywhere without me 10,000 miles ago I drove us home from Casey’s birthday And you told me you loved me 9,000 miles ago I drove away from your apartment, crying And you were drunk but still drove, and followed me 8,000 miles ago you were more than intoxicated. We fought for the car keys And you almost punched me, Which you don’t remember. 5,000 miles ago I drove home from work And you were at my house, crying. 4,000 miles ago I moved to the Keys And you couldn’t face me when I dropped off your things Just a few miles ago I saw you at a bar back home And you didn’t recognize my Jeep. After you had no hand in the miles they got better The tires got bigger The bumpers are shiny and brand new The oil was changed and the rims upgraded You walked right past the Jeep and into the bar to see me at Mile Zero Where I had none left for you. - Jessica Karakas


Murder Mystery John Malatesta It seemed to be a normal, muggy July night in Orlando, Florida. Newcomer Detective Wallick approached my desk saying, sir, the coffee’s ready, with a fresh cup in hand waiting for me. I thought to myself, what kind of protecting can I expect when my partner refers to me as a sir? He was a rookie detective who, with my luck, got paired up with me as a partner. Since the boss man, Captain Lee, thought pairing him up with a 20-year veteran like myself was a good idea, I was hoping to be able to take him to a grizzly scene to see if he could handle himself, although it didn’t seem possible tonight. It was only five o’clock and everyone on this force knows Friday nights get crazy in this town. You can find anything from bums fighting over a tall boy of natural ice or a gang shooting downtown off Paramore. That was one thing that kept me coming back for 20 years, the ever-present element of surprise. At about 9:45 I was finishing up a report. I looked up to see Captain Lee pointing towards me, motioning he wanted to talk. He said, “We got a messy one for ya.” I always knew it was bad when Captain called me into his office but this time I wasn’t as anxious as I usually was. “Head to Winter Park 720 Via Tuscany,” he said. I thought to myself nothing usually comes out of Winter Park but some long-haired pot heads with bad attitudes and Richie Rich’s with too much time on their hands calling the cops on those potheads. Reluctantly Officer Wallick and I got into our car and headed to Winter Park. We had not even arrived yet when we saw people outside their million dollar homes looking around pondering what the flashing lights of Winter Park police cars and ambulances were doing all around. This was nothing new, that all the Cops were here. Cops in Winter Park had nothing better to do so when something big happened. They would all show up and act like they were helping. In all honesty, I hated Winter Park cops. We were met at the caution tape by a young police officer who told us, “Hey, nobody past this line.” With one flash of our badge we were walking up this beautiful, well-kept yard heading


towards a monstrosity of a house. It had big and clean windows, large red door and vines that grew up the whole house and made it look like a beautiful jungle house, and somehow it worked. Already Detective Wallick was asking, “Man, stuff like this doesn’t usually happen in this area. What you think happened?” I already wanted to slap him. Haven’t even gotten to the door and this guy is already pushing my limits. I glanced over at his shaking hands and said, “If you can’t handle walking into the unknown, this ain’t the job for you.” As my partner and I neared the front door, I wondered if I should give him a pep talk to ease his nerves. After quick deliberation, I looked at Detective Wallick. “Ready for some fun?” He nodded his head towards me and I opened the door. As I did, it seemed as though we had opened the door to a mad house. There were cops were moving swiftly throughout the house, some consoling the family and others collecting evidence. We walked passed a couple of crime scene photographers taking pictures of blood splatter that seemed to go on forever. We walked into the kitchen to see a heavy-set man lying in a pool of blood. He had what appeared to be one fatal gunshot wound to the chest. After examining the body, I could see my partner’s mind racing a million miles an hour. Partners only a couple of months and I could already read him like an open book. We walked into the living room and saw a woman covered in what I

would assume to be her husband’s blood. It was hard not to notice her calm demeanor, particularly for someone in these horrifying circumstances. We walked over to the wife, who introduced herself as Cheryl, and began asking her what she had experienced tonight. She calmly began explaining that she had taken her two kids to get dinner at Kobe Steakhouse to celebrate their daughter Taylor’s acceptance into the University of Miami. I thought to myself, celebrating without her father? Doesn’t sound like a happy family to me. When I asked her why her husband didn’t tag along, she quickly said, “My husband is a very busy man and unfortunately had to stay late and the office tonight so he wasn’t able to make it.” After continuing with Cheryl and not getting many useful insights, I asked, “Does your husband have any enemies you know about?” She looked at me and grinned saying, “My husband is a judge in Orlando; I’m sure half of this towns criminals would like to see him dead.” Even after Cheryl had walked us through her entire night in a detailed account, I still had questions running through my head. Cheryl had said that when they came home from dinner at about ten o’clock, they were just in time to catch a glimpse of a person in all black leaving through the back door. They began to panic and ran into the kitchen to hear some faint cries of help from her husband. They had barely had time to call the police before his life slipped away.

Realizing what trauma they had gone through I decided to finish up the questioning for the night. “Thank you for all your help and I am very sorry for your loss.” As we were walking away I thought to myself, what kind of burglar breaks into a ten million dollar home and does not take a thing? My partner interrupted my thoughts. “Man, wrong guy to shoot if you’re that burglar. Who tries to rob a judge? I mean, I know there’s some stupid people out there, but really? A judge?” “Hey!” I interrupted. “Watch it. We can’t be sure of anything yet.” He looked shocked at my response. “Come on, man, she just told us what happened. You don’t think she’s lying, do you?” “No! I’m not sure what I think yet, but I do know that all your guessing isn’t going to get us anywhere, so knock that shit off!” I knew what I said to him was right, and good advice at that, but as I drove back to my house to get some well needed sleep, I couldn’t help but ponder why someone would risk breaking into the million-dollar home of a judge, and not at least get something out of it? Even if they killed him out of revenge for a sentence he gave them in the past, why not steal something and make a profit? I walked around that house for five minutes and saw more valuable things than I’ve owned in my entire life. Something just didn’t add up. Perhaps the profit was already made; perhaps we were dealing with a hired hit man.

Pops Your influence made me who I am today Like an artist who molded me out of clay Without you in my life, I don’t know where I’d be Like a healer of the blind, you helped me to see You prepared me for the future, I feel ready now Not only did you tell me but you showed me how Your words mean a lot, and your actions even more I feel confident, despite having no idea what’s in store So now it’s time for me to go out and do it on my own But with your ongoing support I know I’m never alone So thank you so much for what you’ve given me You’re a better dad than most men could ever be - John Malatesta


Charity C. Noble I’m Charity Noble, age 19. Born in Miami, I spent 19 years of life living in the Florida Keys. When I reached my senior year I decided to want to become a nurse practitioner. I’m currently attending FKCC for a general studies degree and plan to transfer to the University of Santa Barbara in California. In high school I found a love of painting and created canvases to express myself. I also enjoy writing free verse poetry in my spare time to help vent when I’m feeling down. In my adolescent years, I donated a lot of time volunteering at the Upper Keys Animal Shelter. I like to spend time with my terrier mix, Ralphi.


Beware the Virus Grows Charity C. Noble INT. TRAIN – SUNSET MELISSA and her four-year-old daughter CARRIE sit on the train waiting for it to arrive in L.A. People are COUGHING and a few babies CRY from time to time. It’s 6:45 around sunset. The sky turns orange and blue as the sun sets over the horizon.

CARRIE Mommy, when are we going to get there? I miss Daddy and Fluffy.

MELISSA (In a comforting motherly voice) Don’t worry, we will be there in no time. Try and take a nap and time will go by faster.

CARRIE (Wiggling in her seat) It’s hard when I am so excited to see Daddy. I feel like it’s been forever!

MELISSA (Smiling at Carrie) It hasn’t been forever. We have only been gone a week. Grandma wanted to be able to see you. Aren’t you glad you got to see Grandma?

CARRIE Of course, Mommy, but I’m definitely soooo happy I’m going to be able to see Daddy soon.

The camera zooms out from their seats and shows the other passengers. A MAN sitting next to them by the window COUGHS, hacks and sprays the back of the seat in front of him. He reaches into his bag and attempts to wipe the snot that’s caught in his brown bristly mustache.

MELISSA Mommy needs to go potty. Come with me, Carrie.

Melissa takes Carrie’s hand and guides her to the back bathroom.

MELISSA Here clean your hands princess. We don’t want to get sick. It seems like everyone on this train is sick. I’ll sit next to the man this time. He is coughing his head off. CARRIE Okie dokie, Momma.

They open the stall door and walk to the front to seat 23. As they pass, Melissa wanders along behind staring at a woman wiping her nose with blood shot green eyes. When they reach 23 the man is clenching his head appearing in pain with his head against the window.

MAN (Nasally with a half smile) I can’t get this sickness to go away and now it’s getting worse.


I have a killer headache.

Melissa gives an uneasy look and then applies more hand sanitizer. She nods off into a light sleep. The man GROANS loudly in pain and wakes her. Melissa looks over at the man as the front of his head explodes and a pointy brown, claw like structured creature reveals itself. MELISSA (Splattered in blood) OH SHIT! Carrie SCREAMS in terror. They flee hand in hand towards the front to the vacant bathroom. People scream behind them. Melissa slams the door and locks it. The camera shoots from a bird’s eye view on them while Melissa cries cuddling Carrie in her arms.

CARRIE Mmmmm-m-mamma, I’m scared. What was that? Are we gonna die?

MELISSA (Sobbing) No, we’re not going to die. We are safe in here. I’ll do my best to help us get out safe.

Shrieking people start POUNDING on the door and beg for Melissa to open the door and help them. Fifteen minutes pass. The screaming goes to silence. Melissa, frantic, looks around the bathroom and notices the faucet. She breaks the faucet off with her foot. She clutches Carrie with one arm and the sharp faucet spout with the other.

MELISSA Baby, you need to be strong, we can get through this. Hold on tight to me, Sweetheart.

Carrie with wet eyes nods and hugs on tight to her mother’s side. Melissa slowly pushes the door open just enough to peak around the corner. The only light she has to see are the lights on the train making it dim. She sees one of the creatures sprawled on top of a man, picking at his eyes and devouring him. She looks to her left and notices a suitcase partially open with its contents strewn all over. She then sees the face of a CHILD, hiding. Their eyes meet. Melissa holds her finger against her mouth signaling the child to be quiet. Melissa then begins to crawl underneath the seats to try and creep up onto the creature in hopes of saving her child. When she reaches the second seat she hears the creature’s pointy feet crawling above on the roof over the aisle. Wide eyed Melissa shakes while she looks above her to try and locate the creature. Suddenly, Melissa feels something twirling her hair behind her by the window. The creature doesn’t give her much time to react and launches at her causing her to fall on top of the seats back first. She struggles to smack the creature away. Melissa swings at the creature and misses, hitting the window making a CLANKING noise. The creature is spewing an orange-red goo and slips away from her hands easily. Melissa screams as the creature makes its way up to her neck. Carrie hears the commotion and gives a blood curdling SCREAM from the bathroom. The creature stops in its tracks right before it pierces Melissa’s jugular and looks towards the bathroom. It leaps to the aisle heading straight for the bathroom. Melissa fixes


her position and chases after the creature. When she gets out of the aisle the creature is already digging its way through the bathroom door, determined to get Carrie. Melissa tightens her grip on the broken off faucet and sprints to Carrie’s rescue. She swings again but this time she doesn’t miss, clonking the creature on the top. The creature twitches on the ground and right when Melissa goes to swing again it leaps onto her leg. She flings the creature with her foot against the door off her foot and smashes the creature underneath her polished black leather shoes. Green and orange liquid comes squirting out all over her shoe and the hallway.

MELISSA (wiping the tears from her face and smearing her mascara around on her cheeks) Are you two alright? I don’t know what that thing was but it sure wasn’t something to play around with. How did you end up in that suitcase little one? What’s your name? I’m Melissa and that’s Carrie. She’s four.

Carrie waves a shy wave to the girl while the breeze blows Carrie’s bright red hair in the wind. The child waves back bouncing on her heels in her My Little Pony t-shirt and Care Bear sweat pants. ANASTASIA (Weeping) My name is Anastasia. I am five and my mother hid me in the suitcase right before she got caught by the monster. MELISSA Do you have a father? ANASTASIA Yes, he’s at home. I want my daddy. Melissa fixes Anastasia’s out of place brunette hair and wipes a tear from her tan face. MELISSA (With her blonde hair in a mess and her mascara smeared underneath her eyes like a raccoon) Come on girls. We need to get home it’s way past Carrie’s bedtime and Dad is waiting for us. I think we have had a tough enough day. We need to go to the front of the train and get help. Melissa heads to the front of the train clenching the faucet handle while the two children hold hands and follow. Anastasia SNEEZES and then goes to hug Carrie. Melissa quickly swoops Carrie up in her arms.

MELISSA (Giving Anastasia an uneasy look while still moving forward) Now we don’t need to be sharing germs, girls. That’s how you get each other sick and we have no time to be getting sick. We have a long journey ahead of us.



Halloween Children walk in herds To get their Halloween treats Listen to these words Keep out of the streets In darkness pumpkins flicker Decorations placed just right They keep walking quicker Buzzing to every bite A race to get the most Or be the better ghost Boos and screams And silky seams Bats fly above In the dark of night Couples in love Cuddling in fright Keep one eye peeking Until the sun comes up The ghosts will be seeking Growing death cup - Charity Noble


Solange Sanchez This is my second year at FKCC and I’m going into an English major, which is why this class was very exciting for me. I learned and explored different types of writing during this course and got to read others’ feedback about my work. It was really fun and helpful.


Lindessia Solange Sanchez I opened my eyes and found myself in total darkness. There were no stars in the sky, just the moon, but even that looked strange. It was a crested moon, yet it shined as if it gave off its own light. Suddenly a dim light made a circle around me. Everything else was still dark. I looked up at the moon again and this time it looked like it was pointing in my direction. It hurt to stare so I shook my head in confusion and looked down at my legs. Underneath the torn scarlet dress was a trail of bruises. They didn’t matter though; I was used to small injuries from playing sports since the age of seven. I tried to stand up even though my head was pounding and I was extremely hungry. Where was I? After gathering my balance I took a step forward and the moon’s light disappeared with the moon itself. I raised my hands, inches from my face. I couldn’t see them. I tried blinking and during that half of a second it didn’t feel as if it made a difference whether my eyes were closed or not. The confusion was making my headache worse. I looked all around me until I finally managed to see something in the distance. Looking closer I noticed little shining stars floating around a shape. They seemed familiar somehow. I walked towards them, anxious for some sort of light and tried to ignore my aching body. Each step brought me closer, until I was able to see what the shape really was. Only it was not a shape, but a body. Samuel’s body. The floating stars. That’s why they looked familiar. The images rushed back to me as furiously as the whirlpool that had swallowed our yacht. I remembered the burning in my lungs when I was deep under water. I remembered swimming and pulling Samuel’s unconscious body to shore. That’s when I had seen the stars for the first time. Seconds after reaching land and coughing up the water, a silver snake with fangs larger than my face emerged from the water. A violet colored star had appeared and

gave a sudden flash of light. I had fallen backwards hitting my head on something hard. I rushed to Samuel’s side and threw myself next to him. “Samuel! Wake up. We reached land. We’re safe now.” I begged through the tears that were flowing down my cheeks. “Come on, honey, just open your eyes.” Placing my head on his chest I managed to hear his slow heart beats. Shutting my eyes I pleaded again. “Please, I need you. “ I felt my uncovered arms getting warmer. Slowly I lifted my head and opened my eyes. To my astonishment the sun was shining bright overhead. Where did it come from? Did it rise instantly? I massaged my forehead and ran my fingers through my tangled brown hair, the pain was getting worse. The sky was radiantly blue and I was sitting on white, soft sand not far from the ocean water. With some struggle I got to my feet as my heart began to race. Am I going crazy? And that’s when I saw her. Coming towards me was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her long hair fell down to her hips in thick blonde curls. Her body was more perfect than any model on TV and her serene blue eyes were looking straight at me. She was wearing an aquamarine dress, so long that it touched the sand. The short sleeves fell naturally off her shoulders and left her arms uncovered, her expression unreadable. The bottom of the dress moved like the waves of the ocean revealing her naked feet. My eyes were fixed on hers. Each step brought her closer and made my heart beat even faster. Her silence made me uneasy and I wanted to run, but Samuel still laid unconscious at my feet. When we were one step apart, she stopped. The expression on her face didn’t show any emotion. That’s when I realized I was trembling. “Hello,” she said. Her voice was like a soft melody and childlike but with power and determination. I couldn’t respond, or even move. I felt as if death was standing in front of me. But that was impossible. How could death be so ethereal? She looked more like an angel. “You don’t need to be afraid of me; I’m here to help you, Isabel. I will be your guide and

will answer your questions.” Guide? What was she talking about? I tried to control my fear and swallow it back. Slowly I took a deep breath and spoke. “What do you mean? Guide? Who are you?” She was patient and did not seem to be bothered by my questions. She actually smiled. “I will guide you and give you my best advice concerning how and when to leave Lindessia. However, you will make your own decisions.” “Lind-what?” I asked confused. “Lindessia. That’s what this place is called.” She made a gesture with her hands. “Not many humans have been in Lindessia and those that have, had a hard time getting out.” “And how do I do that?” “That’s a good question,” she said with a smile. “But sadly I can’t give you the answer, not yet. That would make it too simple for you and I have rules that I need to follow. You will have to find your own way.” “But how? Rules?” How will I find the way out? And where am I exactly? I rubbed the sides of my head, right above my ears. Stupid headache. “I understand your confusion, Isabel. That’s the natural instinct but try asking me simpler questions for now. Too much information at once might confuse you further.” “Samuel,” I said. That was my biggest concern at the moment. “He won’t wake up. Our yacht was pulled into a whirlpool and he swallowed a lot of water. We need a doctor.” She looked at me sympathetically. “Isabel, you are in Lindessia now and this is like nowhere you’ve ever been. This isn’t your world anymore.” I don’t understand. How is that even possible? Not my world? Yet that would explain all the strange things that had been happening ever since I woke up. “How?” I’ve always been impatient. “Your yacht was inside the Bermuda triangle when it hit something. Actually it was something that hit it instead. Our Guardian Master, a silver creature that closely resembles the snakes you might see in your world, but much bigger than any boat. It protects


those seas and forces any boat into the whirlpool that connects here. Many humans die during the process; others manage to survive. Once someone enters Lindessia they are tested by the five rulers in ways that the humans don’t know about until they have passed or failed. Most fail because they don’t know what is valued here. Truth, love, loyalty, honestly, respect, those kinds of things. There are people all around you right this second that your eyes cannot see. They can’t harm you or touch you, but they are here.” I shivered and looked around me, her words finally sinking in. I’ve always been afraid of the dark. My mother once told me it was not the darkness that scared me but the unknown, and standing here I realized she’d been right. The beach was still and quiet but it was like being blind, which in a way I was. Understanding her words was easy; accepting them was the hard part. No matter what she said this all seemed impossible. I twisted the chain of my necklace around my index finger out of habit. My mother had given it to me; a silver heart with a ribbon around it and the words For Eternity across the back. How I wished to be with her now, safe at home. “I can help him though.” She had my attention once more. “Samuel, I mean.” “But there are no doctors,” I said in suspicion. “They aren’t needed.” Her smile reminded me of a magician right before they pulled a trick. “Those stars that you saw are called lilus. They can cure anything and anyone but they will only help you if you really need their help and only if you have not caused what you are trying to fix. For example, if you break a cup, then the stars won’t help you fix it because you have caused the damage.” Many thoughts wandered in my head. This place was supposed to be….. magical? Empty. Threatening.Frightening. Those were the words that were


crossing my mind. She snapped her long delicate fingers and the stars appeared again and began floating towards her palm. “You have many things to learn, Isabel,” she said then touched the green star with her index finger making it glow brighter. “I want you to try it. Just lift your palm and one will come to you. The lilus know which one you need, for each color has a purpose.” She sounded wise and motherly, which was maybe why I was beginning to trust her. I have to admit I was also curious. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad place after all. I tried extending my hand and a white colored lilus approached my palm. I tried mirroring her action and touched the lilus with my index finger. It flickered then moved down to my palm. “It’s beautiful,” I said, and felt myself smiling. “Samuel can’t know about me or anything I have told you,” she said. “He will know in his own time. And remember what I told you; we value trust, and those are the kinds of things you need to respect here. Once you touch Samuel with the lilus he will wake up and I will be gone till we meet again. Now, go on.” “Why can’t he know? He won’t know what he needs to do and….” “He will know, just not now.” “What’s your name?” I asked, feeling rude for not asking before and determined to get as much information as I could. Now that I thought of it, she had known my name all along. I guess nothing was a secret here. “Delora,” she said and smiled. “One more thing. The rulers can know how you’re feeling and also know your thoughts. That’s how they know when a human lies. Be careful, Isabel. I’ll see you soon.” I nodded not yet sure how to take all this information in. I was freaking out inside. Full of questions and in the back of my mind thinking this is all a dream. But it felt real and Samuel was

lying down next to me still unconscious. I bent down to my knees and looked at him. He was more than my lover, my partner, my best friend. I loved him. “Please work,” I whispered and placed the white lilus over his heart. His body seemed to absorb it and then faded into nothing under his ripped shirt. His bruises, like mine, were not too bad. I ran my fingers along his cheek and through his brown hair. He had always been there for me, when I won first place in the cross-country contest in my town and when I twisted my ankle during a soccer game. Six years together and I felt like I’ve known him my whole life. “Please,” I repeated. Delora wouldn’t have lied. Maybe it takes some time. I looked behind me and she was gone, yet his eyes were still closed and his heartbeats echoed a fading drum.

Not Enough The candle is ticking The fire is flicking I feel its warmth Soon it’ll be gone The clock is speeding “Slow down” I whisper The hours pass The days run fast Another spring Another fall I close my eyes The week is gone The minutes fade I whisper “stay” I turn the page It reads “The End”

- Solange Sanchez


Ryan Wohlers My name is Ryan. I work on a fishing boat in Marathon, Florida. I love the water and would always like to live near the water. I’m a psychology major at Florida Keys Community College. I hope to get my associates degree and then to transfer to the University of Central Florida to acquire my bachelors. From there I would like to get my MD and become a psychiatrist for children with my own practice. I enjoy writing when I don’t feel pressured and feel that I produce more enjoyable work then. Hope you enjoy the portfolio!


Twist, Sally, Twist Ryan Wohlers Sally Crass was beautiful. It was true because many people told her it was true, people who ought to know. She was admired by wealthy Hollywood producers, powerful political figures, and world renowned artists alike. Sally’s dark chocolate hair poured over one shoulder and down her back in shining, cascading curls. Her olive skin impeccably framed her forest green eyes, which were her only hint of vulnerability. Sally Crass was tough. Sally Crass was a go-go dancer. She was young but well on her way toward a life of leisure. At only 17-years-old she had already performed at dozens of venues throughout New York City, as well as countless more intimate soirées. She had her agent, Damien Barter, to thank for her artistic opportunities. Without him she would still be attending school and living at her parents’ home, both of which seeming unbearably benign. Damien met Sally on a bench in Central Park; she was quietly studying a mathematics textbook when he sat down next to her, exceptionally closely. “Hello young lady! My name is Damien Barter, agent to the stars!” His voice boasted esteem and Sally was taken aback. “It’s nice to meet you,” she replied sheepishly. “How can I help you, sir?” “I bet you hear this all the time but you have gorgeous legs, my dear!” It was true. Sally indeed heard that all of the time. “I think you have potential to be a very successful dancer!” Damien then took out a shiny black business card with Peppermint Lounge printed in bold silver script on it, along with his office telephone number, and placed it on the bench next to Sally. Her eyes were gleaming. Far out! That was the grooviest club in town. Was this guy serious? “Young lady, I work closely with the biggest names in the business. You take some time to think about it and then you can give me a call.” He knew she’d call. Sally walked the two blocks from

the park to the subway station almost entirely without sight. She couldn’t peel her eyes away from the regal business card she had mysteriously received. Her father was a money man on Wall Street and her mother was president of her private high school’s PTA club. Sally knew they would never let her dance in a club known so widely for its promiscuity. Sally also knew that with their busy schedules it would not require an elaborate effort to conceal it from them. Sally arrived at her stop only a block away from her apartment building. The air was brisk now that the sun had begun to set; she secured the remaining couple of buttons on her coat as she strolled across the street. The doorman opened the building for her and a wave of warmth caressed Sally’s rosy cheeks. She took the elevator to the eleventh floor apartment where her mother was sitting alone at the dinner table. “Hello, darling, how was school?” “It was a drag, mom. Everyone there is stuck up; I want to go to a public school.” Mrs. Crass had heard this a million times and was not about to give in today either. “The other girls are jealous, sweetheart. Have a seat and eat dinner. Your father is going to be late at the office again tonight.” Sally had not even noticed her father was gone; it was much more unusual to see him present. “No thank you, I stopped for pizza on the way home from the library. I have a ton of homework to do so I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight, Mom.” “Goodnight, sweetheart,” Mrs. Crass replied, her daughter already out of earshot. Lying on her bed, Sally once again removed Damien’s business card and examined it over. She had sometimes heard of peers at her school going to the Peppermint Lounge but had never been herself. It was known for its celebrity cult following, and progressive artistic vibe. She had decided she would call Mr. Barter tomorrow while she was at school and make an appointment to see him soon. The next day was colder than the last; winter was moving in quickly. Luckily Sally’s father had hired a driver to wait just outside of her apartment building to take her to and from school

today. Her school was a short distance away but with the city traffic it normally took nearly 45 minutes to transit by car. She read over her mathematics notes once more before finally arriving at the large mausoleum that was Sally’s high school. The day passed quickly with thoughts of the Peppermint Lounge in Sally’s head and before she knew it half of her school day had vanished and it was time for lunch. Exiting her French class room she hastily made her way to the front office where she would ask to use the phone for an emergency medical purpose. “Thank you for calling Peppermint Lounge. This is Teresa speaking. How can I help you?” “Yes, this is Sally Crass. I was looki…” “Mr. Barter has been waiting for your call, Ms. Crass! I’ll transfer you right now, darling.” “Oh, ok, thank you.” The hold music was a new popular tune Sally had heard on the radio once. Her conversation with Damien was brief but Sally wasn’t disappointed because they had planned to meet at the Lounge shortly after her school closed. The day passed very slowly from that point on. Sally couldn’t help it. Her eyes had been fixating on the nearest clock since she had spoken to Damien. This was all very unreal for her, the opportunity of excitement and notoriety. She hated the structured and carefully-disciplined life her parents had smothered her with. She saw Damien and the Lounge as her way out. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BEEEEP! Sally was already halfway out of her classroom door and into the corridor at the sound of the day-end bell. Her heart was pounding now as she decided whether transit by subway or taxi would be more efficient in getting to the Lounge. She had just reached the bottom step of the snow-blanketed courtyard when she spotted her father’s driver holding open a door of his black Lincoln town car for her. She had forgotten he would be picking her up also. With little time before he would spot her, Sally made the rash decision to abandon the driver and made a run through the side gate toward the nearest


subway. Her knee-high boots made it easy to wade through the snow and she felt confident she had lost him by the time she began back on the sidewalk at the station. Each stair she walked down into the subway station warmed her body more. The Peppermint Lounge was only a few blocks away; she would be there in no time. The club was the most extravagant place Sally had ever seen. There were lava lamps the size of a people! Teresa, the bubbly receptionist she had spoken to earlier, led Sally to the back where Damien’s office was located. It was a beautiful office with a dandelion yellow shag carpet. There were multicolored bean bags in a corner casually surrounding a hookah but hung on the opposite wall was a Da Vinci given to Damien as a gift from Jackie O. Sally couldn’t tell if she felt underdressed or overdressed in this eclectic dwelling. “Ms. Crass! It’s wonderful to see you again,” Damien called, rising vivaciously from his leather seat. “Hello, Mr. Barter. An absolute delight,” she replied, consciously maintaining her cool. “I’d like to get right down to business if you don’t mind, darling. You’ve got what we like to call in the business, an ‘It’ factor. You’re a beautiful chickie. You gotta know that, don’t ya, Ms. Cross?” She noticeably blushed and hoped it wasn’t. “I’d like to get you to work with some of the veteran dancers here and let them teach you a few things. Especially, I’d like you to dance something new we’ve been playing around with.” A new dance? It seemed that clubs like this had only gotten more promiscuous as years went on. Women wearing less clothing, clothing becoming less imaginative and more sexual, and men drooling more than ever. Sally shuddered to think of what they could possibly have come up with next. Then Sally thought of what her father would do when he heard she had ditched the driver earlier this afternoon and decided that she would at least hear Damien out. Hoping it wouldn’t have all been for nothing. Sally and Damien made their way back toward the front room of the Lounge, onto the stage, and then into


a hidden door backtage that led to the dressing rooms. There were racks and racks of beautiful and elegant costumes for the dancers of Peppermint Lounge. There were endless, top of the line make up brands lining every counter. The vanity lights lit up the face of five beautiful women who were here to teach Sally how to dance in the club. Sally didn’t have any trouble with the moves they were teaching her. “One, two, three four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.” Sally hit every move precisely on beat and it looked effortless from where Damien was watching in the crowd seating. He knew he had found a star that day in Central Park and now everybody could see. Sally was enjoying her time being taught and felt very proud she had done so well on her first day, but in the back of her mind she had still worried about this “new dance.” “OK everybody! Let’s take five!” Damien bellowed, gesturing for Sally to come over to him. This was her perfect opportunity to ask about what they were talking about. “Good work, darling! You’re a natural out there!” “Thanks, Mr. Barter!” Sally couldn’t contain her pride. “But I was wondering what this new dance of yours involves. I truly appreciate the opportunity that you have presented me with but I couldn’t bear myself dancing like one of those gentlemen’s clubs in downtown.” “It involved quite the opposite my dear! It’s a dance called The Twist. Have you heard of it before? As requested by some of our more influential clientele, we’re trying to move back to more wholesome, fun-loving roots. Come on, let me show you you’ve got nothing to worry about!” Damien sat in the audience seating and pulled Sally into the seat next to him. “Girls!” he shouted. “Break’s over! Let’s show Sally the twist routine from the beginning. Five. Six. Seven. Eight.” The song bellowed from the speakers and Sally realized she’d heard it before on the radio. It was very popular with kids at her school. The upbeat tune had her feet tapping as she admired the girls on stage. They looked absolutely regal and respectable, their bodies moving with ease and control.

The routine lasted roughly four minutes and as far as she could tell, all of the girls remained fully clothed. Sally no longer worried she would be compromising anything; she only longed to join them. “What did you think, buttercup? Can I count on you to dance front and center?” “Front and center!” Sally scoffed. “I don’t even know the dance yet.” “I have faith that you will. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have someone work with you one on one.” Damien winked. “Tomorrow? Absolutely. I’ll be back, Sally caught a cab home. She was in no rush to see her parents, or more specifically her father. She knew he would be livid that she had run off without telling him where she’d gone. Sally spent the rest of the ride coming up with an excuse for where she was. She could never tell him the honest truth. He just wouldn’t understand. The doorman promptly opened the door for Sally. She strolled up the steps and quietly turned the door knob to her apartment. Walking in, she found both of her parents sitting at the dinner table. Sally looked at the clock to her right. It read 8:56. “Where have you been young lady!” Her father stood up and motioned with his hands for her to sit. Her mother remained quiet but Sally could tell she was disappointed. Sally took a seat at the head of the table opposite of her father. “I was studying late at the library. I’m sorry, Daddy.” “Don’t give me that, Sally. Bruce said he saw you coming out of your school and that you bolted through a side exit. Where the hell did you go?” “Fine! I went to Bloomingdale’s to buy a new bra and I didn’t want your creepy henchman following me around the store.” “Why didn’t you tell your mother or I? She’s been worried sick and I’ve been beside myself also.” “I’m sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Mom.” “It’s okay, honey,” Sally’s mother finally chimed in. “Why don’t you head to your room and get your homework done. I’ll heat some food up and bring it to you.” By the time Sally reached her bed, exhaustion had caught up to her

and she was fast asleep. She had a big day ahead of her. In the morning, Sally told her parents she would be attending a meeting after school and that she would find her way home when she was done. She thought it would be best not to test their patience. Another day of school only amplified Sally’s excitement for her appointment this afternoon. While she enjoyed reading and learning, she hated being at school. The school Sally attended was full of sons and daughters of New York’s Who’s Who. Sally’s parents were fairly wealthy but in the eyes of her peers she was a peasant. In turn, she spent a lot of time on her own. Sally felt that she fit in at the club better than she did in this world. Come on, baby, let’s do the twist Come on, baby, let’s do the twist Take me by my little hand and go like this The words played over and over in Sally’s head like a broken record, beckoning for her. When she arrived at the Peppermint Lounge, she stopped for a moment outside to take it all in again. Then Damien opened the doors. “Hello lovely!” “Hey, Damien! I hope I’m not late,. I got here as soon as I could.” “Nonsense, perfect timing! I have

to get everything ready for your show tonight, but I’ve asked Michelle to work with you inside. I’ll be back shortly. Good luck!” My show? Tonight? What was Damien talking about? Sally headed straight for the stage and back through the door leading to the dressing rooms where she hoped to find her mentor. Michelle was applying copious amounts of makeup in front of the vanity when she saw Sally. She immediately stood and turned toward the doorway. “Hey there! You must be Sally. I’m Michelle. Damien asked me to go over the moves with you for tonight. He says you’re a natural.” “I was told we would be working on a dance but I don’t think I’m supposed to be in any show tonight,” replied Sally. “Damien told me you were shy! You’ll have to get over that quick. Let’s get started.” Without an explanation, Sally followed Michelle out onto the stage where she was taught The Twist. It wasn’t long until she got the hang of it and by the end of their time together Sally had excelled. A few of the other girls had begun showing up, all chatting in excitement, wondering what celebrities would appear tonight. Sally had never

seen a celebrity in person before. Sally hoped Damien would be back by now and headed toward his office. Had he been serious when he asked her to dance front and center? More importantly, would she accept his proposal? With a million questions swirling around in her head she opened his door. He was sitting at his desk on the phone. “Yes… Yes… Of course! I’ll see you tonight then! Thank you. Goodbye.” Click. “Hey, Damien, I’m a tad confused. What is going on tonight?” “Sally! My starlet! You’re going to dance, of course! Now I know you’re nervous but that’s exactly what I want to see. Raw energy! Can you do that for me?” Sally had dance recitals and school plays when she was younger but she had never done a performance of this scale before. She did feel comfortable with the routine though. This was her chance to break free of her broken record of a life. “I’ll do it,” replied Sally. With that leap of faith, Sally Crass’ life was turned upside down.

K.M. My dearest darling tried and true Sailed off into the ocean blue Seems I’ll not see him again Not today, tomorrow, nor ever again What did he think of as he caught the wind? Had he planned to go? Was it whim? His baby blues, I can’t forget Not tomorrow, next year, or ever - bet. You’d say “I’d never leave you alone!” Now you make me sick, down to my bones I shan’t go searching for even a week A coward seems awful pointless to seek - Ryan Wohlers 55




Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing  
Dragonfly: Journeys in Writing  

A collection of writing pieces from Creative Writing students at Florida Keys Community College (Middle Keys Center) during the 2013 Fall se...