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COVER


THE EMPYREAN Creative Writing Club Members

Illustrations by Art Club Members

Nicole Crilly

Marissa Pine

Veronica Rodriguez

Shannon Geraghty

Ruqaiyah ElSaawy

Jenna Doller

Amira Helwani

Madison Cornett

Shayla Lugo

Olivia Dunn

Cecilia Schiavo

Eloyce Pedragon

Natalie Tousignant

Richard Garzon

Mike Verdon Evan Voss Chris Hulmes Allison Zuckerberg Nina Nadirashvili Kristin Miyamoto Fausto Dominguez Enerd Pani Shamel Dishack

Club Historian and Photographer: Mike Verdon

Creative Writing Club Advisor: Theresa DiGeronimo and Joe Verdon Art Club Advisor: Danielle Russo All Copyright-free images used in this publication. 2


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Table of Contents Over The Sound of Sirens Allison Zuckerberg

Masks 6

Shaya Lungo

The Song of Wind Chimes

Ode to my Pillow

Nicole Crilly

Kristen Menses

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I Could… Nina Nadarashvili

12

13

14

18

35

Natalie Tousignant

36

Fausto Dominguez

38

Excerpt from “Perfect” 22

Storms Still Raging On Nina Nadirashvili

Natalie Tousignant

The Upcoming

The Doctor Told Me So Cecilia Schiavo

28

You Can Do Your Best

The Song Gabriel Sung

Ruqaiyah ElSaawy

Oar

The Encounter Mike Verdon

27

Circle of Death

Hatred is a Horrid Theme Amira Helwani

26

Samantha Contrini

40

The Same 25

Caitlyn Aguirre

45

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Over the Sound of Sirens Excerpted from the novel Sunlight to

Shadows

By Allison Zuckerberg

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I

t was almost nine, but we found a good Chinese place. Well, it looked good

from where we stood outside. None of us had ever been here before. But at this point we also didn’t care. The bells on the door jingled as the four of us stepped inside. The restaurant had quite a crowd for this late at night. The lights were low and there were multicolored paper lanterns with Chinese symbols hanging up throughout the restaurant. I took in all the vivid colors and the stained glass windows and… oh! There was even a skylight. “Can we sit at that booth?” John asked the waiter, pulling down the hood of his black sweatshirt after surveying the scene. He was motioning to the table that was, incidentally, directly under the skylight. John must be thinking ahead, I thought. We wouldn’t have to worry about being overheard in a booth. John went to one side and held out his arm, cordially, for me to sit. Red in the face, Lyn, my sister, took the place that John had indicated for me. I sent her a grateful look. Before we could get comfortable, a new waiter approached the table with four tall glasses of water. “Chinese water,” he said, and then winked at Lyn and me. “We’ve got a special just for your table. Two ‘love potions’ for the price of one!” “One for me and Dawn,” said John, with a straight face. Connor burst out laughing, but Lyn and I didn’t. We each showed discomfort. The waiter looked a little confused; he’d so obviously been joking. Lyn and I especially looked underage. I drank some “Chinese water.” My hand was shaking. I put the glass back down and quickly made sure the other three hadn’t noticed. I read through the menu, but the words swam; my mind was so obviously elsewhere. I spun my blonde hair on my fingers, a nervous habit. Connor and John were talking about something I wasn’t following. “…I think we’ve put enough distance between us and them…” I couldn’t help but glance at the clock every so often. (Let’s just say my cell phone was out of use.) Mr. Klank had warned us about lingering too long so far away from the SVA agency. “Dawn, don’t be paranoid. Not a good look,” said Connor, making me blush. “Hey!” cried Lyn. “I wanted that fried noodle!” 7


“Too bad, Carrot-Top,” said John. He gave my sister a small smile, so few and far in between, and sort of mischievous. “They’re all the same,” said Connor, now looking especially bored. Lyn threw a fried noodle at John’s face. He tilted his head slightly to catch it in his mouth. Lyn’s bright green eyes narrowed; she chucked handfuls at him. This time John had to cover his face against the blows. “Hey!” I said, quickly looking around to see if the waiter had seen us. Then I let my voice drop. “Let’s not get kicked out. You guys bicker like an old, married couple.” This really set them off. Lyn especially. Flustered, she squeezed her way around me. Said something like, “Bathroom. Order for me.” John reached for the bottle of hot sauce at the table behind him. I gave him a stern look. My light blue eyes probably flashed a sliver of silver. “Yes?” He poured and then stirred in hot sauce in his glass of water. The glasses were all opaque… At last Connor had some interest. One couple complained that they didn’t have any hot sauce. It was just then that Lyn finally took a sip of her uh…Chinese water. She did a spit-take, right out in the aisle, and began coughing. Drinking more water didn’t help. Heads turned to us. I stiffened, but I felt Connor’s hand grab mine from underneath the table. The waiter ran over, panicked, prepared to give the Heimlich if necessary. Luckily, it wasn’t. “It’s…all right…I just…swallowed it wrong…” she coughed between words. John must have switched his glass with Lyn’s. In those dark eyes I could see he was laughing. “So what made you choke?” asked Connor, smirking at Lyn. “The hot sauce or the fact that you and John just kissed? That was his cup you know.” At this, John spit out his own water. But he didn’t say anything, and Lyn spoke for them both. “Eeeeew! Scottie!!!” said Lyn, using an old nickname of John’s that had stuck. “That wasn’t a kiss! We just drank from the same glass! We probably didn’t even drink out of the same side!” “In Japan it’s considered an indirect kiss,” said Connor. “This isn’t Japan!” Lyn cried, banging her fist on the table. The glasses rattled. “It’s America!” “No way. We’re in a Japanese restaurant.”

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“We’re in a CHINESE restaurant!” “Exactly. Japan’s in China.” “No, it’s not! They’re separate countries!” “Since when?” “Since forever!” Couldn’t they take their debate to a lower volume? Then I heard the wailing of sirens. Did the others hear? Apparently not. Connor and Lyn were still arguing about Japan and kisses. “You two kissed before, right?” said Connor. “So it couldn’t be much different.” “Blech!” squealed Lyn, sticking out her tongue. “Please don’t remind me!” Did the others hear the sound of cars slamming on the brakes? John did. He was looking around, just like a Scottish terrier, trying to trace where the sound was coming from. It was from outside the restaurant, but near. John stood to his feet. Connor grew quiet. He knew that if John knew something was up, it was true. “What’s up, John?” Connor asked, his tone now completely serious. John jerked his head towards the door. There was more than one jingle. A lot of jingling. “Oh no,” I muttered, quickly getting out into the aisle. We had to get out of

here.

A few of the civilians under the tables gasped and pointed to us. They whispered to each other, but I could hear one in particular cry out, “Those were the people on the news!” We were all looking to Connor now. “Gas station down the block, ten minutes,” Connor hissed under his breath, so only we could hear. If it weren’t for our sound-sensitive ears, we wouldn’t have. We all nodded. Lyn darted forward, assuming her role as a diversion. Her hair all over, she was just an orange blur. Lyn maneuvered between the armed FBI agents, tranquility darts whizzing past her nimble body. “Until we meet again, my love…” And just like that, John was gone. A jingling. He had made it out, and only a few agents noticed. They ran out after him, guns slung over their backs. Connor and I still hadn’t made a move, and they were approaching. I could take out a few agents, more or less, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone. And Connor was giving me a look; his silver eyes begged restraint. Plus, we were supposed to be the innocent ones here.

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“Follow my lead,” Connor commanded, jumping up onto our table. He held up a dozen menus to shield himself from tranquility darts. I followed him up, and he had me stand behind him. I could hear shrieking. The table rocked unsteadily, and the dishes crashed to the floor. “Hold on,” Connor muttered under his breath. I obeyed him without question. He swept me off my feet, as if he was going to carry me. But instead of cradling me in his arms, he lifted me high as if I wasn’t seventeen years old, as if I wasn’t a hundredthirty pounds. “Meet you on the other side,” Connor quietly whispered to me, over the sound of sirens. Other side…? After one, two, three sways, he hurled me up in the air. I screamed, expecting to come right back down into his arms. But I didn’t. I was heading straight for the skylight overhead, and at this velocity I’d go right through… By a split second decision, I covered my face with my arms as the glass shattered. I could feel it cutting me all over and the blood dripping down my arms. And if I were normal, it would have hurt a whole lot more.

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The Song of Wind Chimes By Nicole Crilly I recall the song of wind chimes, That spoke of peace like words could never attempt. The silky grass under my feet, A brief existence in a world free of contempt. I remember the cool blue water, The sweet music of silence and the breath of trees. I remember the gentle wind, And the ripples that came from around my knees. The simple desires have developed, From honest simplicity, freshness, naivetĂŠ. .To grow is to be stained. And ambitions are corrupted, no longer of levity. The lust, impurity that's so attractive, Racing heart, mistakes made, desire for adrenaline. Don't contemplate the consequences. Don't think, don't feel, so desperate, all sin. The throbbing lights cease flashing. The boom of dissolution and of blasphemy halt. Tattered and ruined life. The victim, the poor soul, is the one at fault. Back to when life was right, To innocence, freedom, loving God. Be at ease. Just remember the cool blue water. Recall the song of wind chimes and embrace the breeze. 11


I could....

By Nina Nadirashvili I could write all over the paper; I could take it in my hands; Put it down, next to my bed; Re-read it later. I could sing my songs without sound, In my heart, in my soul; I could play it out loud. I could put my hands up in the air; Out of my pockets, raise them above, And say life isn't fair. I could try to change myself; Take what's right and now it’s left. I could feel it all, now, then; Red-brown leaves on the ground, I could feel the air of fall. I could make you believe, All of you, a few things that I know; Then ... I could leave. I could also write my rhyme, Without thinking most of the time; I could show you how the story never ends; People with imagination can write with bare hands. I could do things that you wouldn't dare To think about; I would say that I don't care; I could just sing lyrics of a song; Tell you that all of us are equally strong. I could fight and fight, As long as it doesn't scare me, the darkness of the night; I could rise with the sun And shine so bright till dawn. I could do what everyone tries to do; I could make all the lies come true; I could do whatever I want And no one would say - don't. I could smile when everyone would weep; And when everyone is awake, I could go to sleep. I could do it all together; Doesn't matter; after all, in the end, It will just get better. I could‌

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Hatred is a Horrid Theme By Amira Helwani Hatred is a horrid theme. Yet when you say things you don’t mean I can only look away. But sadly to my dismay Your negativity being pushed upon me Is leaving one thing left to see. This brew of emotions I feel Almost seems too intense to be real. I know your intention was pure But it may take a while to cure Because all of this you had to mention Is leaving one thing left to question. Should I mend what is broken Or find myself a new token? I guess our friendship is one to redeem Because Hatred is a horrid theme.

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The Encounter By Mike Verdon

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I

t’s going to happen soon, and I know it. It’s only a matter of time now. My heart beats in unison

with the ticking of the clock. Every beat brings me closer to the end. Or is it the beginning? I wonder to myself. I let the question linger for a moment, but I know no answer will come to me. Not yet, at least. I must embrace the unknown. I must surrender to the deafening quiet, to the chaotic peace. When I finally give in, I find that the feeling is breathtaking, more majestic than anything I’ve ever felt before. My body feels weightless and my mind is set at ease, far removed from the countless cares and burdens that define life’s every moment. I have never felt so close to heaven, so near to complete and utter perfection. It’s a lot like a dream, really; a wonderful dream that only comes along once in a lifetime. The feeling of warmth and safety that it gives me is so real, so consuming, so intoxicating that I wish it would last forever. In the deepest recesses of my mind, however, I know he is out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting patiently for me. His callous voice shakes the very essence of my being and the mere sight of him would leave even the mightiest of heroes frozen in fear. My heavenly fantasy soon begins to wane as the sound of trickling water brings on a tempest of despair. Drip, drip, drip. Each drop taunts me, sending a wave of dread through my body. It stops as suddenly as it had begun, though. For a fleeting moment, I feel a weight being lifted. I cling to the deluded hope that I may yet be free. My dreams are crushed, though, when the silence is disturbed by the soft sound of footsteps. Petrifying footsteps that paralyze me in place. Thump, thump, thump, they resound in harmony with my heart. He’s coming for me now. I have nowhere to run, no place to hide, no means of escape. He lets out a blood-curdling moan, shrill and obnoxious, that assaults my ears with its harsh and raspy pitch. He’s so close now, so very close. He brings with him a poisonous light that sears my skin as it dances around me. The distinctive chill that hangs in the air collides with my face, bringing with it a feeling of instant paralysis. I try one final time

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to cling to my fleeting divine fantasy, but it seems that destiny will indeed come to fruition. The silhouette finally emerges from the darkness. I keep my eyes closed as tight as humanly possible, praying that he will not see me. He murmurs something that I can barely make out. He speaks again, louder this time, and I know he’s calling my name, willing me in his direction. “It’s time,” I hear him say. I refuse, however, retreating into my sanctuary, once more seeking refuge from his command. For a long moment, he is silent. I pray that he has departed, that he has been abruptly called to torment another. I reluctantly open my eyes, and at once despair overtakes me. My wildest imagination could never have concocted such a ghastly visage. His snow-white skin alone would frighten little children and make Lucifer himself cringe. The fabric of my thoughts begin to unravel as he approaches. His eyes, even more bloodshot than my own, stare right through me. He seems average in stature, but his presence looms as large as a giant. “Please!” I beg him. “I’m not ready!” His devilish grin grows, and after holding his gaze a few moments longer, he vanishes through the threshold from whence he came. The final grains of sand fall helplessly through the hourglass of fate. I know when he returns he will not be so merciful. “Come on!” he roars, his voice cold and bitter. I scream as loudly as my voice will allow, but it’s no use. We’re all alone. The room is blindingly bright, casting a dark shade around his body. I can just make out bits and pieces: a large beach towel wrapped tightly around his waist, oversized slippers adorning his feet. He smiles at the sight of my anguish and misery. I cry out once more, begging him for just one more minute of freedom. “No,” he says, “It’s 7:15. We’re going to be late.” I let out one final feeble whimper and succumb to his command. As I wearily bid adieu to my heavenly paradise and rise from my nightly coffin, a single thought crosses my mind: Ugh, I hate Mondays.

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17


The Song By Kiyun Gabriel Sung

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“Hail!” Within a large stone hall, aristocrats and courtiers of the Old Kingdom – garbed in silk robes with necklaces of gold and jade – stood to honor the entrance of High King Shan. But instead of laughter or a joyous smile, the young sovereign blankly scanned the room and sat upon his ancestral throne with all the vivacity of an invalid. Shan sighed. Though he was of the drinking and feasting sort, Shan could not find merriment in the celebration of his victory. Rather, he was beset with cold uncertainty and shock. “Could it be true?” thought the High King. “Have I killed the man foretold to usurp my family’s crown? Have I truly defied the will of the Creator and survived?” “Your Majesty,” said a royal advisor, “with your command, the celebrations will begin.” Shan stirred. “Oh … yes, let the festivities commence.” The advisor – who stood just a few feet from the throne – raised his arm and a great roar came up from the crowd. For all their sophistication and civility, the courtiers and aristocrats fell upon the food and drinks like beasts. Men raised cups of pungent wine in honor of the glorious dead while others toasted to the death of the man known as Dae-Hyun. “So much for legends,” said a nobleman with his arm around a young maiden. “Poor lad should have stayed in the palace like a good boy!” Laughter rang all around. High King Shan rubbed his temples. The confined noise of the room was drilling into his head and he could barely hear his own thoughts. Were it not for the begging of his private council, Shan would have never permitted the party. After all, it was not so long ago that he called Dae-Hyun “brother” and rode alongside him in the fields outside the castle. “Even if he did seek to dethrone me, I should be in mourning,” thought Shan. He buried his head in his hands and muttered various phrases that would shame the most foul-mouthed soldier. “Your Majesty!”

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Shan looked up and there stood before him a handsomely robed man with a fair face and hair as black as ash. This was Soon Min – the tactician responsible for Dae-Hyun’s death. “You …” murmured the King. “Why so glum? You, of all these people, should be rejoicing,” said Soon Min. “Forgive me … some affairs of state are troubling me,” answered Shan. “Then perhaps this can take your mind off those affairs,” said the tactician. He turned towards the crowd and raised his hand. Immediately a silence seized the room. “Thank the heavens,” muttered the High King. “Your Majesty, let me present a creature with a voice so powerful that tempests have been said to cease in order to hear her songs,” said Soon Min. He snapped his fingers and a voice – so soft and so elegant that it fell like music upon the ears of all who listened – spoke: Our savior, our hero, sings the commoner’s heart. I tell you, I tell you, a legend is born. With a Sword wielding power of the ancient divines, Believe, Believe, the Heir of God is here. Enchanted, Shan stood as the young woman, garbed in a white robe embroidered, approached him with the slow pace and graceful poise of an alluring nymph. A gasp escaped the King’s breath. It’s an end to all Evil of the old Kingdom’s foes. Beware, Beware, the Heir of Him is here. For the shadow has gone and the prophecy yet lives. You’ll know, You’ll know, the Heir of God has come. The woman was now so close to the throne that Shan could perceive the aroma that emanated from her angelic frame. It was the smell of the fields.

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Hananeum, Hananeum, Fo’lah hie la strum. Novah Die, Fo’lah koo. Man’a fo Hananeum, Will rise again, from the dead, And bid the old Kings goodbye. Shan could not move. Very few knew of the Old Tongue that was spoken during the days of the Kingdom’s founding, and yet this woman not only managed to speak it but cursed him with it. Hate gripped his heart and then anger for the woman, but then fear. For if what this woman spoke was true then Dae-Hyun was still alive.

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The Doctor Told Me So By Cecilia Schiavo

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A

momentary lapse of judgment. That’s all it took to change my life forever. I tried to think

about that night: How could I let this happen to me? I was always the girl with a good head on her shoulders, the girl who knew that drinking and drugs are wrong, and the girl that every boy’s parents would love him to bring home. Ha. I guess I can kiss that last one goodbye. “I can hear another heartbeat.” The doctor told me that it’s not just the flu that’s making me nauseous in the morning, or even the Bubonic Plague, for which I crossed my fingers. It’s a baby—a real live baby—inside of me. Now I know what you’re thinking…you’re judging me. And I don’t blame you because that is exactly what I would have done if I heard this news about a girl like me. A girl like me…it still comes as a shock. Teen pregnancy isn’t something that happens to me. It happens to that girl on television, or your best friend’s cousin. But it’s true, and it has officially become my new reality. I tightly closed my eyes and tried to bring myself back to that night, that moment. He seemed so confident and his eyes so reassuring. He was obviously the more experienced one of the two of us, and I can’t believe I allowed myself to fall for that look he gave me. I totally disrespected myself by letting him put me at risk like that! Well, the risk was taken and we lost our game of chance. The doctor told me so. A myriad of options was running through my head: abortion, run away, keep the baby, get disowned from my family, choose adoption, drown in alcohol. I was beginning to feel sick again and something told me that the pregnancy was not entirely at fault. I knew in my heart that there was no way I could send a life that hadn’t yet even had a chance straight back to the grave, but it seemed so much easier. Ugh. I told myself to stop: I’ve never been a quitter, and I wasn’t about to start being one now because that’s how my daddy raised me. Oh no. Daddy. He’ll be so ashamed of his little girl. But hasn’t he always said that he’ll love me no matter what? I’ve watched him coddle and adore every baby he’s ever held, so maybe mine won’t be different. Maybe a part of him will be so excited about another baby coming that he’ll forget to banish me from the house. Well, maybe it will all turn out okay. After all, even if I’m exiled with a scarlet letter, I’ll still have my baby. People have always told me that I’d be a fantastic mother someday; the day just came a little earlier than expected. There’s nothing I can do about it now, so all I can do is wait to see how the cards will play my fate. I can try to cheer myself up; wouldn’t it be fun to have a little girl or boy to take to the park or to play peek-a-boo with? I bet my baby will be adorable, or I’m sure that I’ll think so. Maybe that could be my saving grace! I’ll be a great mother to my child, and I’ll never miss a piano recital or a parentteacher conference. If anything positive is able to come out of this not-ideal situation, it will be that I will learn responsibility and the deep love of a mother. I’ll learn to grow a tough skin, something I’ve never had before, and to be my own individual who doesn’t thrive upon the approval of others. So it is decided: I am going to become supermom and nurture my child for the rest of his—or her—life. Then the doctor came back into the room, after looking at the test results he had just received.

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“I’m sorry,” he began, “but it looks like your baby is not receiving the proper nourishment that it needs in order to sustain life. It will not be able to survive—you will have a miscarriage.” Well there it was: hanging in the air, blunt, dry, and unchangeable. Pro-life, pro-choice, what’s the difference? I had picked life, but it was never my choice at all. The doctor told me so.

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Storms Still Raging On By Nina Nadirashvili

When will the world get back on its feet? When will the new beginnings arrive? When will the lightning strike, When will the happiness be back? When will the sun peek through the clouds? When will the rain stop pouring down? When will gentle snow fall all over the place, When will the breeze pick up its pace? Nobody knows, So time goes. Storms are still raging on, But hope is never gone. When will the cheers fill up the world? When will the warmth defeat the cold? When will be the end to countless miles? When will I see those happy smiles? I can see it coming; I can feel it’s close. You know it’s kind of funny, how fast time goes. I can see it coming; I can feel it’s close. I wish well to all my friends, and even better to all my foes.

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Masks By Shayla Lugo

Everyone seems to have one these days. Whether it is to hide sadness, anger, your life is a maze.

Who are you? Are you who you seem? Or do you hide behind a painted face?

Emotions rule us, our actions, and thoughts. Make us puppets on strings ruled by our hearts. Why hold in your emotions for them to build up and tear you apart? Let them out of the cage you put them in and free your heart.

Put down your mask and burn it to ashes. Wash off your painted face, so it never clashes.

Who are you? Are you who you seem? Or do you hide behind a painted face? 26


Ode to my Pillow By Kirsten Meneses As smooth as the skin of a newborn after a warm bath Attentive when I am speaking Absolutely never callous like cold ice when I am weary Like a soft tissue that will wipe away my tears My head’s number 1 fan The boxing glove when playing pillow fight Instead of counting sheep My pillow can sing a lullaby that will make me fall asleep.

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Circle of Death By Ruqaiyah Elsaawy

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“T

his is Karen Rogers, CNN News. We are here at the murder scene of Viktor

Creed, world famous doctor. He was reported to have been stabbed a shocking 17 times. The police have been looking into his death, but no leads have surfaced. This is Karen Rogers, CNN News.” Detective Nathan Moore sighed. He was the officer in charge of the Creed murder. Unfortunately, he already had his prime suspect; he just didn’t want to accept it. The killer hadn’t taken many precautions. The murder weapon was found two blocks away, without having been wiped clean. In addition, the victim had cameras in the hallway leading to his office, where he had been killed. It hadn’t been well planned, more of a heat-of-the-moment crime. All in all, it was a very sloppy job. At first, he had been ecstatic to know the case was as good as solved. But then Nathan had seen the video tape. It was the last person he had ever suspected to be the killer. The perpetrator was around 5’11”, with spiky blond hair and bright blue eyes that were more suited to showing joy, not the murderous expression he wore. Nathan sighed again and looked down at the file in his hands. This was all the information on the suspect he had been able to pull up. He flipped through it once more, feeling the weight of the world crushing down on his shoulders. Nathan had known Artemis and his family for years. He had worked under Artemis’s father, when he had been the Chief of Police, until he was killed in a home invasion, along with his wife, Mercedes. Ever since then, Artemis had lived with his grandfather, the mayor. Nathan sighed again, wondering how he was supposed to explain this to the mayor. “Suspect sighted, going south on Hayden Ave, requesting back-up,” his radio crackled, bringing Nathan back to the present. Well, one thing at a time. First, I have to bring the kid in. He picked up the radio, authorizing back up, before picking up his jacket and keys, planning on being at the scene.

I’m going to find out what was going through his mind! ~~~~~~~~~ Anthony Smith was angry. He marched up the steps of the police station, fuming silently, though that never lasted long. He had always been loud and outspoken. But this time he held his anger in until he found the person that had caused it. Walking through the doors, his eyes landed on the cause of his problems. He stormed up to the detective, vindictively enjoying the way the man’s face paled upon

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seeing him. “What in God’s name was going through your mind?” he shouted, gaining everyone’s attention. Although it wasn’t rare to see the mayor shouting at someone, it also wasn’t often that the person he was shouting at was Detective Moore. “Mayor Smith, perhaps we could take this somewhere private?” the Detective offered, glancing around at the prying eyes. Anthony took a deep breath. Despite what many people thought, he understood the need for discretion, he just ignored that need. Unfortunately, in this case, he could not do so. He waited until Nathan had closed the door to his office, before exploding with “What is wrong with you? You arrested my grandson. For killing Viktor! Do you know how impossible that is? Artemis has known Viktor since he was a baby!” “I know that, Anthony. I’ve known them both for just as long. But despite personal feelings, all the evidence points to him. Fingerprints all over the crime scene, on the murder weapon, and a video showing Artemis entering the scene then running away covered in blood.” “How is that possible? Artemis could never hurt anyone.” “Don’t you think I want to know that too? I’ve been questioning him for the last hour. He won’t talk.” Anthony sighed, all the leftover anger flooding out of him. The only thing he felt now was disbelief. He fell into a chair, strength having fled with his anger. “Can I talk to him?” “Anthony, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” “I need to do this. Please, Nathan.” “Are you sure?” The mayor paused, before standing up straight. “Let’s go.” Nathan sighed, briefly worrying about the number of times he had been sighing lately. He focused again on the two-way, watching Anthony sit down in front of Artemis, who hadn’t looked up from his hands. “Artemis.” The boy didn’t lift his head, but he moved it slightly, as if to confirm that he was listening. “Artemis, look at me. Please, Sunshine.” Artemis twitched once more at the old nickname, a joke in the family, because he was so much like the sun, with his golden 30


hair, bright azure eyes, and his sunny personality, and yet, he was named after the goddess of the moon. Anthony’s shoulders drooped, taking his head with them. He couldn’t stand it. His grandson, whom he had raised as a son after his parents’ deaths, was sitting in front of him, stoic in a way he never had been before or ever should be. He took a bracing breath before plunging in, “Why…” he broke off before anyone could hear the tremble in his voice. “Why do the police think you had something to do with Viktor’s death?” Finally Artemis lifted his head, staring right through his grandfather. “I killed him.” “Why would you want to kill him?” This time Anthony didn’t bother to hide the tremor in his voice. But that was it. No matter how much the mayor poked or prodded, Artemis had stopped responding. ~~~~~~~~~ “We got a confession on tape, Anthony.” “That doesn’t meant he did it.” Anthony stood steadfast in his belief that Artemis could not have killed Viktor. Nathan sighed, running his hand through his hair in frustration. “Nathan, could you do me a favor?” The mayor’s voice cut through Nathan’s thoughts, “Yeah?” “Could you look over their files again?” Although he hadn’t mentioned whose files, Nathan knew right away who he was talking about. “Anthony…” “I know. I know. But please, I can’t help feeling that something in those files can help us figure out this mess.” It was the resigned sadness in the stubborn man’s voice that convinced Nathan. “All right, I’ll look into it.” Anthony nodded, but Nathan could tell he wasn’t paying attention. He was staring through the glass at Artemis, lost in his thoughts. “Anthony,” Nathan started, placing his hand on the mayor’s shoulder comfortingly, “you can’t blame yourself. None of this is your fault.” “Nathan, I was just told my grandson killed my best friend. There’s nothing that 31


will stop me from blaming myself. Call me if you find anything,” And with that he stomped away in his usual manner. ~~~~~~~~~ “Mayor Smith, you have a call on line 2, from Detective Moore.” His secretary’s shrill voice broke through his fog. “Thank you, Martha.” He picked up his phone, taking a deep breath, before putting it to his ear, “Smith, what do you want?” Anthony could hear a sigh over the phone, briefly recalling the alarming amount of times he had heard Nathan sighing lately. “You need to come down to the station, sir. There’s something you have to see,” Nathan announced in a defeated tone. “What’s wrong? Did something happen to Artemis?” The mayor felt the panic settle back in, as though it had never left, although, considering the circumstances, it probably never had. “No, nothing like that. But I found something in Jack’s and Mercedes’ files, and you really need to see it.” “All right, I’ll be right there.” Anthony carefully placed the phone back in its cradle, contrasting his previous angry actions. He ignored his trembling hands, standing up and leaving his office, absently informing his secretary of his destination. “What’s so important?” Anthony had just arrived at Nathan’s office. Panic bubbled underneath his angry exterior at Nathan’s grim expression. “Anthony, you might want to sit down.” He waited for the mayor to sit to continue. “Now, whatever I say, let me finish before you comment.” This got a suspicious look, but the mayor reluctantly agreed. “I looked into the files on Jack and Mercedes, and that night. And I found something that I thought was interesting. You may think it’s nothing, but it caught my attention.” At Anthony’s impatient look he picked up a file and handed it over. “Inside that file is their will. You know what’s in it, because you were at the reading. But a section of the will wasn’t read aloud as the recipient wasn’t present.” “What recipient? What did he receive?” “He received a large sum of money, very large. The suspicious part was that he was on the verge of bankruptcy before he came in to the money. Some would say it was perfect timing.” “So why wasn’t he ever suspected if he had a motive?” “Because of whom he was. It was Viktor Creed.” There was a long pause as Anthony digested that information. Nathan could see the 32


shock, could see Anthony trying to process it. It wasn’t long before he regained his awareness. “First you accuse my grandson of killing someone, now you’re accusing my best friend?” The tremors in the mayor’s voice came from anger this time. “I’m not accusing anyone of anything, just trying to find out what’s going on. Maybe Artemis discovered this, decided to take matters into his hands? Let’s just talk to him again? He could be willing to talk to us now.” After a few moments, Anthony slowly nodded then got up to follow Nathan. ~~~~~~~~~ Anthony couldn’t stand to see his flesh and blood sitting behind the interrogation table in bright orange, golden hair dimmed under the fluorescent lights, cerulean eyes down, avoiding contact. Despite everything, he couldn’t help but notice the irony of Artemis wearing an orange jumpsuit, orange being his favorite color, his most frequently worn color. He was one of the few people Anthony had ever seen that could actually look good in orange, although no one ever looked good in prison jumpsuits. “Artemis, why did you kill Viktor?” Anthony was so focused on Artemis that he failed to notice his absent denial of Artemis’ guilt. There was no answer. “Was it because he killed your parents?” This time there was a response. Artemis jerked his head up to look at Anthony, eyes wide in shock. “How did you…” Artemis caught himself before he completed his question, but Anthony understood the gist. “So you do believe he killed them. Why? He’s been nothing but good to you in the past.” Artemis looked Anthony in the eyes, fury clearly visible. “I found out that Viktor inherited all that money from Mom and Dad after they were… after they died. So I kept digging. I discovered a connection between Viktor and the men that broke into the house that night. I couldn’t ignore it so I went to confront him. He laughed when he told me that he had hired those men to kill Mom and Dad, so he could get the inheritance. I just snapped. I didn’t mean to! “The knife was just sitting there, and I was so angry, I…” He cut himself off. He had buried his face in his crossed arms, trying to ignore his surroundings. It seemed that he was finished with his explanation. ~~~~~~~~~ “Artemis was telling the truth,” Nathan told Anthony, showing him the file that carried the information on Viktor Creed. “Viktor was connected to one of the men that we 33


arrested for the murders, but it was so insignificant that the investigators glanced over it.” Nathan stopped when he noticed that Anthony wasn’t paying any attention. “Anthony?” “My best friend killed my son and daughter-in-law. My grandson killed my best friend. Who’s going to die next?” Anthony’s voice was quiet, depressed, unlike anything Nathan had ever heard from Anthony before. “I…” Nathan was interrupted by the sound of running, and both the men glanced up to see police officers running past the office. They looked at each other before rushing out to follow the officers. They both felt dread creep up their spines when they saw a commotion around the cell that housed Artemis. Nathan followed close behind Anthony as he pushed his way to the front of the crowd around the cell, and he stopped short at the same time Anthony did. Inside the cell they could see the customary cot and toilet, with the accessories that accompanied both. Lying on the cot, instead of Artemis, was a slip of paper. But something was wrong. Artemis was gone.

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Oar By Natalie Tousignant And it’s just me. I’m paddling the boat, but I only have one oar. So I’m going in circles, never advancing or progressing enough. But I just want to get back to shore. And it wouldn’t be so difficult, it wouldn’t be too tough For someone to just pick up the other oar. So just in case the water gets choppy and rough, We could row in rhythm together, toward the shore.

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You Can Do Your Best By Natalie Tousignant You can do your best to keep it all together. You can absorb everything that hits you. And the blows can keep coming, violent and often, Until, eventually, the impact will be too great. And a gash will form in your suit of armor. And whatever it is you wanted to tuck away And avoid for as long as you could, Will come rushing out. The floodgates will open, And you’ll realize you can’t keep it all inside anymore. Because no one is strong enough to hold it all together.

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The Upcoming By Fausto Dominguez

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The Upcoming By Fausto Dominguez

People have wanted equality in all.

But I know that it won’t last.

That everywhere is a spark of kindness.

Our desires and hatred is a flood.

Even in places of different nations,

The innocent are the dam

Is where the feeling of lies

holding it back until,

without any blindness.

It no longer can be blocked even by our own blood.

But all those beliefs are nothing. Nothing but pointless thoughts of the

Yet it was only the beginning,

mind.

the start of a long war.

We as an irreplaceable mark on Earth,

Hatred and desires versus

Can’t see it, the answer that they must

kindness and virtue,

find.

Will release power that shakes the planet’s core.

We as beings, who do nothing but selfish acts,

Until that day that will

That cause pain,

commence it all,

misery for those in the way.

I will join those opposing the destruction.

Whether it’s other creatures

Even though I have yet to comprehend it,

or ourselves,

I will protect the innocent from the war’s obstructions.

We have kept complete destruction at bay.

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Excerpt from the Novel Perfect By Samantha Contrini

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D

ear Diary,

Have you ever thought about dying? Because I do, every day. I wake up every morning just wishing it was over. Thinking about how Heaven is built up to be so perfect. It must be better than reality. Well, at least my reality. But, suicide's too messy. Homicide is way too tricky. It has to be something unexpected. Something “accidental.� Maybe a car accident. Or maybe some kind of freak incident. And to think, last year I was the most popular girl in school. Great athlete. Great personality. But, then the accident changed it all. Hardly anyone talks to me anymore. It's like I don't even exist. It's a sad thing really. All my talent has gone to waste. It's not like I care, but my parents do. They always say "Scarlett, why can't you be normal?" or "Scar, why'd you have to change? You used to be so perfect." Ugh. Perfect. No one knows the real definition. I hate that word. I'm sorry Mom, but I was never perfect. My parents aren't perfect either. No one is. I was always called perfect. Brown hair, green eyes, varsity cheerleader, straight As, varsity softball player, and popular. I might have been close to perfect, until the accident. It was last year, August 1. My best friend's birthday. Ladington, Massachusetts was usually a boring town. It started out to be a terrible day just because of the weather. I used to hate the rain. Especially driving in it. I had turned 16 two months earlier, and had just gotten my license. I had to stop at the post office. Isa

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belle's present had finally arrived. Talk about "pushing the envelope.” She was hinting at it for the past month. Some kind of pink French heels with rhinestones. She knew I would get them. That's what best friends are for. I got to her house early because I had to help set up. Izzy was so worried about what her boyfriend Scott would get her. They'd been together for nine months so it was supposed to be a really big deal. I never kept a steady boyfriend so I couldn't possibly know how important it was. It was an average 17th birthday party. A couple of drinks, tons of food, flirty games, no big deal. Scott and his friends were living it up in the basement. No surprise. Izzy was sitting on her couch, alone. I was just about to go up to her when Scott came up the stairs. "Hey Scarlett." "Hi Scott." "How do you like the party?" He could barely stand up. "Are you drunk?" Of course he was drunk. No surprise from the star football player. "You want to come to my house?” “Why, what did you do, forget Izzy's present?” I was always naive. "I've always liked you better than Izzy." "I think you need to go home." "Come on Scar,” he said, grabbing me. "Scott you need to go home. Ow Scott let go!" "Come on Scarlett. I know you like me." ""No, I don't. Izzy's my best friend. You need to leave.” He wouldn't budge, "Right now!"

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"Dumb prude," he yelled so loud. I'm surprised no one heard him. He pulled me into the spare bedroom. "SCOTT STOP!" "Come on, don't fight it." He kissed me. That dumb jerk kissed me. And then I did the first thing that came to mind. I ran away. I ran into the bathroom and cried. Cried until I could hardly see. It was just like the rain. When you drive in the rain it's hard to see. When you cry, especially alone, it's hard to see. I was in there for at least 10 minutes, alone. I had never felt so alone. But, then someone opened the door. It was Izzy. I stood up and hugged her, but she pushed me away. It was like a nightmare. "How dare you? Who do you think you are? I thought we were friends?" "Izzy what are you talking about?" "How could you do that to me? How could you kiss Scott?" "Excuse me?" "You heard me you backstabber." I'd never felt so hurt, "Izzy you don't know what you're talking about, he kissed me. I swear." “Oh, I always knew you liked him. First you kiss him, and now you're lying to me about it. What kind of a person are you?" "The kind that's telling the truth. He kissed me Izzy. I wouldn't lie to you."

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And then she did it. She slapped me. She had never hit me before, not even playfully. So, I ran again. As soon as I got out of the bathroom all these people were staring at me. Izzy and Scott had told everyone. All these people that I thought were my friends were looking at me like I was some kind of monster. I ran outside. It was raining heavier than before. And now it was dark. Those were my two least favorite things: the dark and the rain. I got in my car and turned the key. I couldn't see anything. But then my car stopped. I hit something....someone. I had to get out of the car. "Oh my God! Are you okay?" I hit my best friend. I called 911. The police got there. It was too late. I killed my best friend.

*********** “Mom, what are you doing?!”

She fumbled to close my diary, “Oh, uh, nothing sweetheart.” “Are you reading my diary? Get out!” I couldn’t believe she was reading my diary. After everything that happened you would think she would at least leave me with some privacy.

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The Same By Caitlin Aguirre Love is a sick game It messes with your brain And the pain is always the same How can they say love is real When every day you have to deal with how you feel And what you feel is not real People use the word love everyday But is that the real word they want to say Is that the real word they feel inside Is that the real word they searched and had to find Is that the real word they’re thinking in their mind It’s a lie So as not to make you upset or make you cry They don’t want you to feel like you’re going to die They don’t want you to go through the pain Because they felt it before and they know the pain is always the same

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ACKNOWLDEGEMENTS We would like to give a note of special thanks to the following people who gave their time and support to help The Empyrean become a reality:

Mr. Barry Cohen and the entire administration for their continued support.

Ms. Russo and the Art Club for their artistic contributions.

Chris Hulmes and Ruqaiyah ElSaawy for their hard work on the production end of this magazine.

Bill Skees of Well Read New & Used Books for arranging our field trip with a professional author, for sponsoring the fiction writing contest, and for hosting our launch party.

Authors Hank Quense, L.A. Kuehike, and Karen Delle Cava for sharing their time and expertise as judges of the short-story contest.

Cover Design by Mike Verdon The Empyrean copyright 2012

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The Empyrean