Volume III Issue 1
Creative Writing & Art Horace Mann SCHOOL
welcome to WORD Spring is upon us and so is this year’s issue of WORD! We are incredibly proud to present to you Volume III Issue 1. In these pages you will find incredible prose, poetry, and artwork by your peers, a true testament to the immense talent of the Horace Mann community. A lot of work was put into making this issue a great one, so we hope you enjoy it! Vasilisa & Juliet
find us online at: issuu.com/hmwordmagazine
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF: Vasilisa Sokolova (‘13) Juliet Zou (‘13) MANAGING EDITOR: Mia Farinelli (‘13) LAYOUT DIRECTOR: Joanna Cho (‘14) FACULTY ADVISOR: Dr. Adam Casdin
WRITERS: Giulia Alvarez (‘14) Carolyn Applebaum (‘16) Cassandra Copans-Johnson (‘16) Sinai Cruz (‘14) Daniel Ehrlich (‘14) Mia Farinelli (‘13) Zoe Fawer (‘14) Jenny Heon (‘14) Mihika Kapoor (‘14) Thomas Moriarty (‘15) Libby Smilovici (‘15) Elizabeth Xiong (‘15) Lindsay Zelson (‘15) Abigail Zuckerman (‘15)
ARTISTS: Elizabeth Xiong (‘15) - 7, 18 Miranda Jacoby (‘13) - 23 EDITORIAL STAFF: Carolyn Applebaum (‘16) Sinai Cruz (‘14) Daniel Ehrlich (‘14) Zoe Fawer (‘14) Jenny Heon (‘14) Miranda Jacoby (‘13) Mihika Kapoor (‘14) Libby Smilovici (‘15) Elizabeth Xiong (‘15) Lindsay Zelson (‘15) Brenda Zhou (‘14) Abigail Zuckerman (‘15) COVER ART: Liz Xiong (‘15)
Table of Contents COLORED SESTINA by Mia Farinelli........................................................................................4 THE DADDY WHO STOLE THE STARS by Lindsay Zelson.....................................................5 FOOT OF DE MILO 2000 by Thomas Moriarty......................................................................7 ATHENA by Sinai Cruz................................................................................................................8 MOUNTAIN by Abigail Zuckerman........................................................................................11 ELLE’S DAYS by Libby Smilovici...............................................................................................12 WALLS by Jennifer Heon.........................................................................................................13 BLUEBERRIES THE COLOR OF BRUISED EYELIDS by Zoe Fawer.......................................14 LIVING THE GOOD LIFE by Elizabeth Xiong........................................................................15 UNTITLED by Daniel Ehrlich......................................................................................................16 DELIQUESCE by Mia Farinelli..................................................................................................17 SHE RIDES HOME BROKEN by Giulia Alvarez.....................................................................18 SEARCH FOR TRUTH by Cassandra Copans-Johnson.........................................................19 YOU by Carolyn Applebaum...................................................................................................20 THE NIGHT IN BLACK AND WHITE by Mihika Kapoor.......................................................23
Colored Sestina by Mia Farinelli (â€˜13)
You are the midnight purple Of tonightâ€™s sky, the blood red That stains my wounds, the tender blue Of bruised eyelids, the sting of orange Juice, the vibrant green Of a newborn bud, barely yellowed. Time passes as your face embraces ancient yellow, And your fingertips turn purple, But you are still as beautiful as young green, Sophisticated like the bold of red Satin, the memory of the sting of orange Juices on your tongue, the shock of blue Frostbite, then a deeper ocean blue, Or a brighter yellow Bee, suckling on a decaying orange Flower, bruising purple From wear and tear of the red Blazing fire, which will yield, someday, to youthful green. Will you lay with me in the aged green Grass, or gaze at the blue Sky? Will you pluck red Roses, be nicked by their yellow Cynicism of the world, of men? I am but purple Patience, the complement of your orange. I watch you suck on sweet orange Slices, tear apart green Leaves with sticky fingers. I watch you with a purple Adoration, and I hunger for your blue Eyes, your buzzing yellow Happiness, your certain fondness for red. I kiss your cheeks of rosy red, Flushed from your orange Desire to see the yellow Sun. You look to the fresh green Horizon, to the new blue Sky, and I realize I am not your love of purple. I cannot bear to watch you embrace red, or purple, Orange or blue, For I am green With envy and full of desire yellowed.
The Daddy Who Stole the STars by Lindsay Zelson (‘15)
Cam exhaled as he stepped out of the car, shaking his head and running his fingers through his graying hair. In the backseat, he could hear his daughter’s light breathing as she napped. After a tiring day spent together at the planetarium, napping was exactly what he felt like doing as well. He shuffled around to the seat behind the driver’s to carefully open the car door and gingerly unbuckle her from the car seat. Her breathing was still flowing softly, and he thought she wouldn’t feel the cautious movement. But once he tucked her over his shoulder, she whispered into his ear, “Daddy, look. It’s the stars again.” “These are the real ones. They’re very far away, but they all have names,” he shared. By rocking her back and forth, he figured she would sway back into Dreamland. “Which is your favorite?” she inquired, eyes fixed upon the darkening, suburban sky. The countless bright stars shined against the royal mix of blue hues and wispy clouds. “You. You’re my favorite star,” Cam chuckled, pulling her away from his shoulder to look into her big green eyes. “Always and forever,” she finished. “Always and forever,” he repeated back. A hush fell between them, accompanied by a soft rock chord beating from their neighbor’s boom box. Scuffling his feet up to the door of their weathered house, he managed to get the keys out of the pocket of his faded khaki cutoffs. Waves of reminiscence tried to overpower him as he realized that this would be his first time having to handle the complicated lock. It was always his wife’s job. Old habits die hard, but he would manage. He had to. Once inside, Cam switched the flickering, nearly broken lights on and walked
over to set Clara at her seat at the dinner table. Her head lolled forward as she began to rest again, but he prepared dinner nonetheless. First came the plates, three of which he removed from the drawer above the kitchen sink, setting them on the table for the first time. Another job he had never done. Next came the napkins? He placed his head on the counter and wondered how he could do this without her. How he could do anything without her, without his Kate? “Daddy, where are the cups?” Clara wondered as she tiredly opened her eyes to glance at the table. “Momma always gives me a water cup and then gives me my plate.” Cam raised his head and strode to the cupboard to gather three cups and the water pitcher from the refrigerator. He was trying to maintain some continuity, even though he realized life would be different now. He and Clara took sips from their glasses simultaneously, glimpsing at each other with unasked questions in their eyes. Dinner was silent, and he was trying desperately to figure out what his six year old was thinking. He told Clara that her mother was on a vacation, so she might have been picturing a beach with a peaceful sunset, or possibly picturesque locations in Europe that she had seen illustrations of in her picture books. Clara always said she was meant to see the whole world and meet all the people in it. People interested her, and she liked to make friendly communication with strangers willing to talk to her. Whatever it was that she was imagining, he was positive that it wasn’t a cold, harsh cell where her mother was waiting to be tried for attempted theft, simply because she tried to get her husband a nice birthday present. He was sure that Clara didn’t think of her
family’s money issues, or her mother’s constant desire to provide better for the family. If only he had told her that she didn’t need to worry about any of it, that they would thrive even if they had nothing but each other, maybe she would sleep at home that night. Maybe. Clara was long finished with her meal, and her eyes were set inquisitively on her father. She said nothing, but waited patiently until he came out of his daze. “Daddy, I’m tired,” she said, quietly getting up from the table and reaching up on her tiptoes to place her dish and fork in the sink. She walked over to where her dad was looking blankly into space and gave him a hug from the side. “It’s okay. Momma’s having fun. You said she promised me she would be,” Clara comforted. “You’re right. Now let’s get you up to bed; it’s nearing your bedtime.” Cam forced a smile onto his face, which became truer when he noticed how much Clara resembled her mother. The big green eyes, the petite nose with the beauty mark on the left side, the pinkish tone of her high cheekbones and her straight hairline; all of these traits reminded him of the wife whom he missed deeply. With a final glance-over of Clara’s face, he held her hand and she jumped on his back as he carried her up the stairs. Her nightly ritual was something she completed on her own, so he set her down on the twin size bed in her bedroom. Then, he walked around the corner in the constricted hallway, and stepped down the stairs to get the the surprise he bought for her. The new night was quiet, but the soft rock chords played over and over, streaming peacefully from the neighbor’s porch. He grabbed the small shopping bag out of the trunk of the car and looked over to the house next door. Dakota, the social thirty-something, was singing and laughing with a group of friends when she caught
sight of Cam’s eyes. She smiled a knowing smile and raised her bottle to the sky, which he interpreted as her way of coping with change. He’d use her suggestion at some point, but right then he had something to do. He forced his second smile that night, locked the car and headed inside with the shopping bag. “You ready for bed?” Cam called up the stairs. When he didn’t hear an answer, he bounded up the staircase to see Clara already tucked into bed, crawled up into a little cocoon with her favorite blanket. He removed the cardboard box from the shopping bag and turned it around in his hands. Lifting the lid, the glow-in-the-dark stars began to shine pastel blue and green in the dark bedroom. Carefully, he used the glue that they came with to attach the stars to a nearby piece of furniture in Clara’s bedroom. “Daddy! What are you doing with those stars?” she whispered, mortified. “I got these for you, I thought you would enjoy them…” he responded, confused and slightly hurt. “You can’t steal stars, Daddy. That’s not right,” she taught him. Cam could see her crossed eyes even in the dim room, and he knew she was genuinely worried. “Honey, I didn’t steal these,” he reassured, opening the blinds of the small window facing her bed. “See? They’re all there, and now you have a little piece of the light for yourself.” Clara nodded her understanding, and he shut the blinds so that the faded light of the glow-in-the-dark stars was the single source of luminosity in the bedroom. “Which is your favorite star?” Clara wondered, mentally counting the fifteen miniature stars that now dotted her drawer set. “You are Clara, you are,” remarked her father as he started for the door. “Always and forever.”
FOOT OF DE MILO 2000 by Thomas Moriarty (â€˜15)
I remember a dream from a bygone time, in which my foot gets torn off by a subway. This dream is so vivid that I remember it today, but now only the moment of the foot being torn off remains. The foot is caught in the narrow gap between the subway and the platform, and the subway starts to move. Slowly and irresistibly, my foot is removed. However, I think it is possible that I dreamed this as late as 2000.
by Sinai Cruz (‘14)
Athena sat on her towering throne, her head resting heavily on her slender hand. Her icy white hair, streaked with gold, curled around her head in thick locks that fell over her immortal face. She had the appearance of a young woman, deep into her late teenage years and on the cusp of adulthood. She had looked that way for the past millennia. She had the slight grimace of a bored child firmly woven onto her face. Her clear gray eyes wandered into every corner of the room, which she had explored a million times before. This was Athena, goddess of wisdom, quite bored and feeling quite useless. She had sat idle in her court for too many years. Although any other god would have been impatient and eager to find mischief to perform on Earth, Athena had learned patience from her eternal wisdom. So she sat comfortably on her throne, waiting for mischief to come to her. She felt her owl shift from its resting place on her shoulder, hooting softly. She smiled and sat up, her senses alert, for her owl was far too domesticated to move without good reason. Athena faced the entrance of her temple and waited. After a few seconds, she finally heard the sound she had been waiting for: the patter of feet on the smooth marble floor outside her throne room. Aphrodite rushed in, smelling of roses and passion fruit. Athena’s eyes sharpened into a pondering gaze as she evaluated her younger sister. It was not like Aphrodite to have sweat beads on her beautiful round face. Aphrodite’s long strawberry-red hair was not decorated with her usual jewels and combs, and it pooled around her shoulders in uneven waves. The light-footed goddess had tears in her large violet eyes and her cheeks were pink from her distress. Athena sat straight and motioned for her sister to come forward. As Athena stood to meet her, Aphrodite staggered forward into her sister’s arms and whispered the news, “Our father, Zeus, is dying.” Athena’s typical calm countenance broke, because gods were not supposed to die. She ran to get dressed. Her silver helmet topped off a swirling gold gown. She slipped her armor on wordlessly and hurried to the door. From a holder near the entrance, she grabbed her spear with such force that the whole rack came clattering down. Neither sister paid attention to the clatter. They would have to rush to the most celestial room in the sky as quickly as they could. The room was located on the other side of the mighty Olympus. All but two of the gods were there. They watched the once mighty Zeus force every breath into his weakening body. His wife, Hera, stood by his side.
As soon as Athena and Aphrodite burst into the room, they fell to their father’s bedside resting next to their angelic sister, Artemis. Artemis held her stoic expression. The three silently held hands and commenced a vigil at their father’s bed. The three sisters were gods, not mortals; they had no gods to pray to. “Maybe he is not dying, maybe it is another child.” Athena cried out as she tried to convince herself that her father’s death was not actually happening. It was bad enough that he was her father, worse that he was a god, but it was the ultimate shock because he was the most powerful god of Olympus. Athena pried herself from the bed and bowed her head as she approached Hera. “Are we sure that he is dying? Could it be something else? Perhaps, it is a mischievous god tormenting him? Maybe something he ate?” Athena questioned. Hera’s soft pink eyes looked away and she shook her head. “The Fates themselves came to us to tell us that his spirit had lost its immortality; that he would be dead in a matter of days. We do not know why, but there are rumors that the humans are leaving us. That is why…” Unable to finish her sentence, Hera broke into sobs that echoed through the chambers. “Why was I not summoned first? I am one of his eldest daughters. I should have been here,” Athena demanded in a subdued but not irate fashion. Before Hera could reply, the gods felt a burst of wind. The sky outside the room had turned to stormy black and the ground had turned cold and gray. Hades entered the room proudly, barely managing to keep the smile from his ashen colored face. “My cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews! My beloved aunts and uncles! It is good to see you again!” he announced smugly, in a tone inappropriate for the solemn occasion. The gods parted for him, leading him to Zeus’s bedside. They knew that he was here to collect his younger brother’s soul. Everyone left the bedside except for Athena, who had buried her head on the golden sheets at her father’s feet. She glared at Hades, the heat on her russet-colored skin caused soft drops of sweat to accumulate under her helmet. Hades met her glare evenly with a smile. “Athena, my favorite niece.” “Uncle, if I may have the pleasure of asking why, you are here?” Her scorn was not hidden. “I am here to take my dear brother’s soul. You know that.” Suddenly, Zeus began to pant, and Hades kneeled by his bedside and grinned. Zeus’s black hair became
streaked with gray and his skin seemed to wrinkle before their eyes. “Get away from him!” Athena lunged at Hades, but Apollo and Artemis restrained her. “We must let Hades have him.” Artemis said, her eyes still holding their cold expression. Apollo said nothing, but buried his face into Athena’s armor, letting fine tears trace the scales. Zeus left them quickly. He uttered no more sounds. His chest took one final heave and then stopped completely. Hades smiled and touched his brother’s arm, lifting the newly dead spirit into the air. It swirled around Hades silently. Hades lifted Zeus from the bed and made his way through the swirl of clamoring gods, who had started wailing the moment they felt the mightiest one among them die. All the gods who were present were rendered lachrymose. Athena broke free from her brother and ran to her uncle and her father’s soul. “Hades! There must be some other way! Can’t you give him life again? Please! Without Zeus, Olympus will fall into ruin.” “I know,” Hades laughed malignantly. Athena, who had not yet begun to cry, had turned glassy-eyed. “Uncle, I ask you, as a family member, is there any way to bring my father back?” Hades smirked and rummaged in his cloak from which he extracted a clear blue bottle. “The Fates told me that the twelve mighty gods of Olympus would die first. You will be the last to die. If you want to revive any of the gods, you must find their souls, and put them in this bottle. We will make it a game. I will hide them across the mortal world, in the stars, and even in my own kingdom. If you find them all before you die and bring them to me, I promise to give you their souls back,” Hades said as he gently placed the bottle into her hand. “However, be warned. The Fates told me that even if they return, the gods would die again. You gods thrive on prayers from the mortals. What happens when the mortals move beyond you? Trust me my child, you will only work yourself in vain.” He used a cold finger to trace the hair out of Athena’s brow. For a moment, Athena seemed to see her uncle’s logic, but she pulled away from him. “Unless your noble mind figures that it is better to try, and make them live for a second longer, than never trying at all,” Hades replied. Athena continued to glare murderously. Hades shrugged and held his brother’s ghostly image in his hand as they made their way to the gates of Olympus. He turned back to his niece and disappeared from her blurry sight. Athena stared at the bottle that rested on her palm, feeling its steady weight. She turned quickly and ran off to her father’s room. With horror, she saw her great un-
cle, Poseidon, on the floor clutching his chest. Everyone was beside himself with fear, either mourning, or raging, or claiming they felt weak. Athena saw her broken family and held the bottle to her chest. She knew, without a doubt, the Fates’ prophecy would come true; but she also knew she would do everything she could to stop it. … As Athena flew over the churning ocean towards the palace of Apollo, she couldn’t help but glance down at the blackish water. She could see the monsters of the deep causing havoc; the whirlpools were widening and the truly vicious man-eaters were now fighting amongst each other, occasionally ripping off limbs and eyes from their opponent, polluting the water with the acidic contents that spilled from within their organs. Poseidon had finally succumbed to the plague that was picking off the gods one by one, leaving his vast kingdom to wreak anarchy for itself. Blinking back tears, Athena ignored the cries of nearby nymphs, imploring the goddess for protection against the vile beasts that would soon consume their fruitful island. She had to keep going—as far as she knew, she was the last able-bodied member of the Great Twelve who reigned from Mount Olympus. Apollo’s palace at the edge of the world was only kept burning brightly with his fury at this unknown illness that disabled him, but Athena was not disillusioned by her brother’s mighty light in these moments; she knew that the number of sunrises he had left within him was limited. Hades had promised the young goddess that if she could regain the souls of her family—Hera, Zeus, Poseidon, along with all her potent and beautiful cousins—before her own demise, he would resurrect them. He told her he would spread their souls over the mortal world, beneath the sea, over the skies, and in every hiding place of which he knew, including the depths of his own kingdom. Although he warned her that once she collected them, they would die again because their power in the mortal world had already waned to dangerously low levels. Even given his warning, Athena had made the decision long ago to scour the Underworld for the souls of her lost family members. She knew that no matter how easily she could have gathered their souls from the stars and the earth, if she failed to gain back the souls from her Uncle’s territory this time, she would lose no matter what. So she kept flying, the winged sandals of Hermes now straining, as their previous master had never flown with as much urgency, not even when he was under an order from Zeus himself. As soon as Athena could feel the blistering heat from Apollo’s wild steeds rushing to greet her, she knew that her journey was almost complete. She had reached the end of the world, where the light would no longer reach, and where Hades’ reign began. After
sending the flaming horses back with a message for their bed-ridden master as to her progress, she now scanned the world below for the entrance to Hades, where all the rivers of death merged together. Although she was a goddess and, in better times, could have stormed through the gates of hell whenever she pleased, even the brash warrior within her was tempered by her bountiful wisdom. Slipping on the Ring of Gyges, she could feel her luminous glow diminish and fade completely, and even her shadow disappeared, until nothing was visibly left of the goddess. Satisfied with her invisibility, she lowered herself until she was close enough to see the souls that wandered the banks of the Styx, some of the newly dead moaning and some just looking blankly at the impassable expanse that separated them from their last rest. She shuddered when she finally found the ferry full of the lifeless inching across, because Charon turned towards her, despite her invisibility. He had heard the wings of Hermes for far too long, and he recognized the sound of their flaps. He knew a god was onboard his ferry but he decided against speaking out— best to leave the withering gods to their own devices. Charon had already ferried across enough past-immortals these preceding months to realize that whatever was happening in the land of the living was beyond even the gods’ control. He turned his back to Athena and continued his journey across the river, picking up the gold coins from underneath tongues as he allowed the dead to slip on board. Athena was restless, but she held her breath and focused on her surroundings, in clear awe of the high mountains that surrounded Hades—the souls of the dead resting upon them in such large numbers that they resembled a veil. She could have stared at them forever, wondering if she had known any of them in their lifetimes, if she was not struck by the sudden silence that erupted. This was it. Charon had hit the banks to Hades and all of the souls were filing out. Athena waited until the last one, a small girl-child with empty eyes, had walked out. Cerberus watched over them all patiently although his jaws and teeth were drooling with boiling-hot saliva and his eyes blazed with such ferocity that had a mortal seen him in that moment, they would surely have joined the ranks of the dead immediately. Athena continued on her way with confidence though, for she knew that Cerberus’ only task was to let nothing leave the underworld. Entering the underworld was a piece of cake and she knew that her shield and armor would protect her against this creature on her way back if he proved to be resistant to the subduing powers of her divinity. Once past Cerberus, she flew as quickly as she could towards the throne room that she had visited only once in her early days, when Hermes had taken her along on
one of his runs so she could survey the land over which she would now rule over as a goddess. Once she reached the doorway to the throne room, she was startled to see it wide open. There seemed to be no one around, but Athena knew better than to trust the obvious. She cautiously stepped inside, making her way to the large thrones in the center, where she could finally make out the shapes of three souls, one belonging to her father, one to her uncle Poseidon, and one to Hermes. They stared unseeingly at her. After another quick look, she rushed forward to grab them, at which point she heard the large doors slam shut. She could still see no one. She groped around for the bottle she wore on her side, ready to seal the souls within it, when she felt a hand around her wrist. “Ah-ah-ah” a voice taunted. “Uncle!” She squirmed around, but she couldn’t see the source of the voice. “Two can play at this game, child.” She felt the hand slide its way to her finger and although she strained, she could not rip free from his hold. Hades pried her ring off, leaving her completely defenseless. “Did you honestly believe you could enter into the realm of shadows in disguise and I wouldn’t notice? For the embodiment of wisdom, you’re rather naïve, no?” “Let me have the souls, Hades.” Even if she could not see him, she was still a warrior, and Hades was not. She had her pride. She drew her sword from the scabbard with such speed, it sparked. “I am not leaving here without them.” “What makes you think I’m going to simply give you these souls?” Athena circled around, but the voice could have been coming from anywhere. She made a lunge forward but suddenly, she was pushed to her knees roughly. Her sword was yanked from her hands. “How rude of you to draw your weapon in the throne room of a king; I would have thought Zeus taught you better than that.” Athena saw the golden hilt of her sword lift above her head and come crashing on her head with the force only a god can manage. If she had not been wearing her helmet, she was sure her uncle would have knocked her out. She regained her footing and prepared to draw out her dagger, but she was taken off-guard by her sword once again lifting into the air, this time, it was the point heading towards her. She dodged it easily, but as soon as she turned around to make a return attack, the hilt was rammed into her head once more, with even more force than before, successfully knocking off her beloved helmet. Before she blacked out completely, she heard her aunt’s screams, and found comfort in them. If anyone would be on her side and ensure her safe departure from Hades, it would be Persephone; she would have to trust in her ability for now.
by Abigail Zuckerman (â€˜13)
Your shadow plays, tossing itself down dizzying heights, hanging by a thread. Up, walking beside you, dancing along the rocks, forwards, around, stretching, too curious to wait for you, but afraid to leave you behind. Back, waiting, biding its time, lingering in the places youâ€™ve passed. The solitude, up there above the earth, the quiet of a world suspended. Sounds from far below drift up, a mere echo at this summit. The wind chases your shadow, then runs from it, then whirls around in circles, unbridled, at home in the sky. Here, you are a visitor, victim to its keening force. At first you feel intrusive, in the silence, but slowly the heights open and the solitude welcomes you. Undeniably separate, life unfolds below you, so small when looking down. The sun, impossibly close, is bright and warm, despite the frigid air, painting the world in a glow. Perception is turned upside down as it sinks below you, its last rays shining up into your eyes. The moon then gleams in the sky, the exchange taking place so close, seemingly in reach yet eons away. A blanket of glimmering stars unfolds, enveloping you in its cold light, ever far, even here.
by Libby Smilovici (‘15)
The beloved Sunday morning sun reflected against Elle’s heavily pigmented lipstick. Strands of her damaged hair caressed the curvature of her delicate face. I smelled her spring perfume as soon as I stepped through the aged door. Elle and I grew up in this house and became the people we were now. Whether we liked these people or not, this house had shaped us in more ways than we were capable of realizing. I hoped that Elle hadn’t changed since summer. I hoped she still liked to sing Ella Fitzgerald on the porch, look after insects, and drink iced coffee. The house looked just as I had left it. So did Elle. I walked past the antique couch and 90’s television, into the hallway leading to our sunroom. Even as I pulled out the chair across from Elle, she neglected my entrance and continued to examine the floor. She had forgotten to water the flowers, leaving dead plants scattered across the walls. Just as I was about to speak, Elle spit out words even I wasn’t prepared for. “Don’t act like my big sister. Don’t tell me what to do with my life anymore. I don’t need to be patronized by anyone, especially you, especially now.” She then rotated her narrow hips and faced the window. I analyzed her pastel colored blouse, with the top button undone, revealing her pale childlike complexion. I had given her that blouse on her first day of seventh grade. Despite Elle’s being 18, she hadn’t changed much since then. “I just came home Elle. I never told you what to do with your life. I just wanted to see mom’s flowers. Seems you’ve left them
in good health.” Elle bowed her head disapprovingly, noticing my sarcasm. I reached for the nearest wilting flower on the windowsill, pulled out one of its brown leaves and crumpled it inside my hand. I had learned that with Elle, patience was needed in the extreme. There was no getting around her straight-laced fashion or her stubborn verbal advances. Since I had bickered with Elle for as long as I could remember, I knew how to calm her temper. Like docking a boat during a storm, I had to keep steady and deflect strong waves. By tying all my defenses into one singular rebuttal, Elle wouldn’t be able to capsize me. “Elle, it’s spring. Please, don’t make this difficult for us. I know you’re not happy with me for not coming home sooner. Yes, I should have been here more often when Mom was sick. Please don’t ignore me now. I know I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Elle looked up at me, light bouncing off her cheeks. Her eyes widened, exposing her light green irises that enveloped her miniscule pupils. She placed her delicate fingers against her lips as she always did whenever contemplating. This was just one action Elle had adapted from studying our mother. She placed her hand back onto her lap and inhaled forcefully, letting her nostrils flare and her chest to expand. She let out a heavy sigh through her chapped lips, extinguishing the flame of the candle placed between us. She had forgiven me without words once again. Elle was always sweeter in the spring.
by Jenny Heon (‘14)
“Swimmers, On your marks…” BEEP! I spring from the box. Head tucked. Hands together. Extending my body above the water, Waiting for gravity to take hold. I plunge down, Lacerate the barrier. The water surges around me, Shaping to the form of my body, Moving as I take my strokes. Underwater, A serene quietude takes hold – I cherish these few moments – Knowing the work waits above. One more second, then… I surface. Noise erupts – Splashing, Cheering, my friends and family, My heart pounding – A strange exhilaration takes over… All that matters anymore is the race – The need to move faster, To succeed. To win.
But every time I gain momentum, I reach the wall – Forced to turn around, Retrace my steps… They say that I am getting closer, Reaching the finish line, But then why am I swimming further away? Shoulders near collapse, I swallow my pride. Taking a big breath, I turn for the final lap. Hard, strong pulls, Hips forcing my body forward. Gasping, panting. I hit the wall. Hot numbness seeps though my limbs, Warning me to hold to the wall. The times are in. The race is over. …But I’m just where I started.
BLUEBERRIES THE COLOR OF BRUISED EYELIDS by Zoe Fawer (‘14)
“C’mon Zoe!” my mom exclaimed, tugging on my hand as we entered the large Gristedes on 75th and 2nd, where we made our weekly grocery runs. She pulled me through the door, grabbing a basket on her way in. We walked down the produce aisle and I found myself surrounded by an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. As an eager six-year old, I was fascinated by the wide variety of foods. My eyes wandered from emerald green and ruby red apples to midnight purple grapes and blueberries the color of a deep blue sea. And although the smell was faint, the air was thick and sweet. Next, we made our way into the frozen food aisle. As my mom contemplated which frozen waffles to buy – chocolate chip or buttermilk – I noticed two men standing a few feet away from us. One of the men, who was grabbing a gallon of 2% milk, was tall and angular with close set, dark brown eyes and a square jaw. He was wearing a pinstripe suit with knife-edge creases and a cherry-red tie. Standing next to him was a scrawny and tired looking man. He had a thin mouth whose corners turned down a little and there were grease stains on his khakis. All of a sudden, both of the men grabbed the last galloon of orange juice on the shelf. The man in the pinstripe suit acknowledged the other man’s presence with a condescending sneer and squinted his beady brown eyes at the gaping hole in the man’s shoes. And although I was captivated by this exchange, my mom walked out of the frozen food aisle and I followed her reluctantly into the cereal aisle. As my mom and I perused the countless options of cereals, I quickly forgot the men in the frozen food aisle. I became engrossed by the colorful cereal boxes and the promotional prizes they claimed were to be found inside. Then suddenly, I heard glass shatter and I grabbed my mom’s hand and squeezed it tight. The whole supermarket became quiet
and everyone walked over to the frozen food aisle. The glass door to the frozen pizzas was broken into hundreds of pieces on the floor and a galloon of orange juice lay beside the shattered glass, spurting everywhere. Again I noticed the two men, standing a few feet away, in the center of it all. The man in the stained khaki’s small frame was hunched in fear and his face became very pale out of pure embarrassment and shame, whereas the other man had his arms crossed and a stern, hostile look plastered across his face. “What in the world happened here?” cried the manager as she waved her arms around in large gestures. Her voice was loud and highpitched and her red hair curled in a large mass around her pale small head. She adjusted her name-tag as if she were aware that her presence wasn’t intimidating enough. She cocked her head slightly to one side and asked the man in the khakis if he had done this. His voice quivered in indignation as he denied having any involvement in breaking the glass door. She looked at him disdainfully, arched her eyebrows, and gave him an icy glare. “Leave now!” she exclaimed, motioning for one of the employees to grab a broom and a dustpan. The bystanders murmured demeaning comments and gave the man patronizing glares as he exited the store. There was something strange about this whole incident and as a six-year old, it was very confusing and troubling to me. Why had the manager just assumed that the man in the khakis had broken the glass door even after he had denied the accusations? However, I didn’t ask any questions. As my mom and I made our way back down the produce aisle and toward the cash register, my eyes wandered from aged green and blood red apples to shriveling purple grapes and blueberries the color of bruised eyelids. And although the smell was faint, the air was thick and rotten.
LIVING THE GOOD LIFE by Liz Xiong (‘15)
I fidget and shift at the dining table, inciting the frustration of everyone else. “Will you please refrain yourself?” Gertrude, one of the seniors, finally snaps. “Sorry,” I sigh. I find it impossible to silently sip this tasteless mush they call cereal, but if I ever voiced these thoughts out loud, I would only face horror at my words. I’m so lucky to be here when I could be a beggar orphan on the streets, I think to myself, rolling my eyes. Unfortunately, Gertrude’s sharp eyes catch my every movement, and she glares daggers at me. She’s so devoted to the mistresses of this institution. Everyone is. Been there, done that. Most of the girls here were raised as babies and slavishly follow the rules of the institution, but I was brought in here when I was caught pickpocketing and fought my way out of the lady’s jail. (A story for another time.) Having grown up on the streets, I can sniff out corruption from a mile away, and I know the mistresses are not feed, housing, clothing us from the goodness of their hearts. No one’s that virtuous. I know better than to waste food, and even though I’d rather break my fast sprawled over the floor than sitting primly with my back straight, I finish it all. The bell rings, and we all file into line. It’s so neat and perfect that I’d like to flip a table or something and see how the others would react. I want to grab someone and tell her, “there’s more to life than this!” Wearing a grey petticoat everyday with your hair in a braid is not what life was meant for. But I can’t. When I was brought here, I forced the mistresses to take Rachel, another orphan kid I had been taking care of. I couldn’t leave them alone, and I don’t want the mistresses to make trouble for my kid, a likely prospect if I make trouble for them. They need me, I told myself and steeled myself for another relentlessly dull day. ... Just as I had predicted, the day was relentlessly dull, but every time I felt like running out of the room screaming, I took a breath and told myself, they need me, my personal mantra. We are given ten minutes to “wind down” before going to bed, and I always, without fail, used the time to check on Rachel. As I make my way to the younger girl’s hall though, where Rachel sleeps, I am stopped by Gertrude. “I want you to know that I noticed your attitude im-
proved greatly after breakfast,” she commends me sincerely, with a warm smile. I hate her. “Eh,” I mutter. “Really,” she says happily. “I think you’re going to realize how great it is here.” “Yeah, great, I have to go now,” I say, pushing past her. I can feel the time I’ve wasted talking to her, when I could have been checking up on Rachel, my only solace in this place. I speed walk to the younger girl’s hall, and I come upon an interesting sight: Rachel is giggling with the other eightyear olds. I wonder if I’ve ever heard her giggle like this. “Rachel,” I call softly, not wanting to disrupt her mood. She looks up—almost guiltily, which is never what I wanted her to feel—and moves to get up, but I motion her to stay where she is. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright. Having fun?” I grin cheerfully. “Yeah,” she says quietly, but I can hear the smile in her voice. My heart breaks at the sound. “Okay then,” I tell her and walk back to my bed. The candles are blown out, and I lie awake thinking. I always thought that Rachel needed me—the idea that she did strengthened me—but now it turns out she didn’t need as much as I thought she did. In fact, maybe I need her more than she did. And maybe I’m just taking my anger out on the mistresses of this place because they could provide for her like I never could. In fact, Rachel looks like she doesn’t need me anymore, I think with a little bitterness. She looks like she’s made plenty of friends here, but I know that I can never be friends with these prim and proper girls. I can’t stay here, I realize. If Rachel was my only reason to behave here, then, now that she has found her place here, why should I stay? Buoyed by the idea of freedom, I slip out of my bed with half-born plans still in my head. I gather some bread from the kitchen, a sliver of soap, and my other petticoat to sell in exchange for some real clothes. I cut off my hair with a knife from the kitchen— leaving a mess on the floor that I know will annoy everyone—and pocket the knife in a makeshift scabbard. I pen a quick note. Rachel is still learning to read, so I ask someone to tell her to be a good girl from me. I step out of the building and turn around to face the doorway, prepared to leave some emotional goodbye, but the dogs on the land catch sight of me and, excited, start barking. I toss them the bread I had snitched, and started running away before anyone could catch sight of me. I’m free!
by Daniel Ehrlich (‘14)
As I was washing my hands, I saw the inscription. I caught it just barely in my peripheral vision. It read, “Marty P, 1994”. Immediately, I felt an inexplicable curiosity as to who this Marty was. I chuckled to myself at the idea that this little scribble was the least bit significant and I dropped the thought entirely. My friend Maria is into horoscopes. I asked her about Libras, and the quality she mentioned that resonated with me the most was consistency, because I am consistent. I blame this consistency for my inability to forget Marty P. It was 9:30, during a free period, when I saw the name for the first time. At 10:30, in math class, Marty crept back into my head. He left shortly after, only to return once again in gym, then in physics, then in Spanish. By the time English rolled around at 1:30, I was sick and tired of Marty P. I raised my hand, asked to go to the bathroom, and instead headed to the library, where I searched for the 1994 school yearbook. I found the yearbook quickly, but it took a minute or two to find the vandal I was so interested in. Lo and behold, he was a junior that year and a member of the class of ’95. His last name was Poskowitz and he was a sight to see. He wore a leather jacket over an “Alice in Chains” T-shirt and had a long black mane of messy curls. This kid, I was convinced, must be legendary. When I returned to class, I decided I had to find out more about this Poskowitz kid. I wondered what kinds of hijinks he’d been involved in, how much he had achieved academically de-
spite his mischief, and ,most of all, how many cult followers he had amongst the student body. I was excited to hear people closing their books because I now had a chance to ask Mr. Sheppard, who was here in 1994, if he knew of the infamous Marty Poskowitz. “Hey, Mr. Sheppard,” I said, “May I ask you a question?” “Go ahead,” he replied. “Did you ever have a student named Marty Poskowitz?” “Marty Poskowitz…” He paused to think. “Oh yeah, Marty. Yes, I had him in ’93. What about him?” “Well, what was he like?” I worried Mr. Sheppard would view me as creepy for asking such a strange question, but he didn’t. “Nice kid,” he answered. “A quiet guy, though. Good student- a good writer as a matter of fact.” “Did he have a lot of friends?” “He had some, but he kept to himself most of the time. At least in class he did.” “So you haven’t seen him since then?” “I saw him a few years back, actually. He was visiting. I think he said he works at some company in Connecticut, but that’s all I remember.” “Alright. Thanks, Mr. Sheppard.” I turned while saying this and put on my backpack. “No problem. So do you know him or something?” he said as I started to walk toward the door. “Oh, no. Never met him,” I replied with one foot out the door. “I was just curious, that’s all.”
by Mia Farinelli (‘13) “Angelú!” “What, Carlo?” “What does ‘deliquesce’ mean?” “Deli-what? What the fuck are you talkin’ about? Number thirty-two!” A portly, sweaty man stepped up to the counter, squeezing a yellow, damp ticket in his meaty fist. “Can I have roast beef, peppers, lettuce, mayo, tomatoes, and barbeque sauce? Italian roll, please.” Without hesitation, Angelú shouted out the order to any employee who could hear him. It was the normal lunch rush, with perspiring customers in suits and skirts piling into the deli. “’Deliquesce,’ dude. You know what that means?” “No. Why the fuck would I know that?” Angelú stared at the man, who heaved an exasperated sigh and began to fan himself with the small ticket. “I dunno! You always seem to know a lot.” The young Carlo was fumbling around with the ingredients of the man’s sandwich, distracted by his own voice. Angelú shook his head. “Excuse me,” the heavy customer interjected into the background chatter, “but I have a meeting in five, and I need that sandwich.” He shifted from foot to foot anxiously. The veteran cashier rolled his eyes and yelled, “Pronto on the big order, he’s in a rush!” Carlo, having barely finished the sandwich, nearly tripped over someone’s foot delivering the sandwich to Angelú. “Here’s your sandwich,” Angelú said, thrusting the bursting sandwich into the man’s face, who then promptly snatched the sandwich, slammed a bill on the counter, and waddled his way back into the crowd. “No fuckin’ thanks. Asshole,” Angelú muttered to himself. He turned to Carlo, who had just regained his balance. “Why are you asking me, Carlo? You’re frickin’ stupid; why would you know a word like that?” Carlo wiped the sweat off his forehead with his dark forearm. “I was talking to Will yesterday, and he said a whole bunch of complicated words, but that one was the only one I could remember.” “Dude, what’d I tell you? Number forty-three!” A young lady with too much makeup stepped up to the counter. “Stop hanging out with those smart people. You don’t know enough shit to talk to them.” “A salad wrap please,” she ordered, barely loud enough to be heard over the melting pot of sweat and bodies. “Salad wrap!” Angelú cried, surprising the woman. Carlo, noticing the woman’s potential to be beautiful, took the order, carefully placing the salad, chicken, and dressing on a tortilla wrap. He obviously lost track of time when Angelú yelled, “Where’s that salad wrap?” Embarrassed, Carlo stumbled across the kitchen as he delivered the wrap. The lady smiled at Carlo, paid, and disappeared into the melting pot. The tiny deli was beginning to reek of body odor, onions, and ceaseless chatter. Scattered across the mass were fragments
of conversation: “This is delicious.” “Sounds delightful!” “I’ll get that delivery to you next week.” Carlo stood dumbfounded at the lingering presence of the young woman. “She’s not in your league, dude,” Angelú said to him, leaning closer. “She’s like Will; an office job, a loving husband, and a brain that’ll make you brain dead. Get back to work.” Angelú heaved a humid sigh as Carlo went back to his station. He shouted out the next number, his hot breath lingering in the air above his head. His body seemed to melt under the sheer heat of the small deli, as if he were a candle. “Deliquesce,” he muttered to himself. “Fuckin’ wannabe, that Carlo. Why the hell would I know that word?” After some time, he began to feel dizzy. For some reason, the crowd wasn’t thinning out as it usually did. “Carlo…can you take…the register? I gotta…sit down…” Carlo walked over in long strides. “Yeah, dude, you don’t look so good. I’ll take care of it.” Angelú vaguely remembered what a disaster it was last time Carlo took charge of the register, but he could find no strength to remind Carlo to count carefully. He limped over to the employee table and eased himself into the chair. His shirt was completely drenched in sweat, and more dripped off his skin like warm, watery wax. He tried to regulate his breathing, but the more he tried, the dizzier he became. So he watched the crowd weave in and out of itself, almost like liquid. He leaned his head back against the stone wall. Maybe when he got home, he would look up that word. He didn’t even know how to spell it. But he’d do anything to stop Carlo from hanging out with those smarter people. Was it even in his control? Carlo was considering community college; maybe he’d get smart. Maybe he would conform to the society’s gifted, maybe he would one day teach Angelú complicated words like ‘deliquesce’ in his old age, when he had long outgrown this small, decaying deli. Maybe Angelú would forever lose his slippery hold on the young Carlo. He watched Carlo shout out numbers and fumble with cash as sweat dripped into his eyes. He felt like his skin was crying with salty, stinky tears. Slowly, before his very eyes, Carlo began to melt. His dark skin began to drip like thick caramel onto the floor, getting all over the keys of the cash register. His face was contorting, melting into an odd, somewhat elderly looking shape until he was no longer recognizable. Other employees were melting too: Dominic, Pòpolo, Mateo, Jack… all dripping into big, fat, viscous pools of themselves. Was it the sweat? Angelú tried to wipe the perspiration off his face with his apron, but it soon returned anew, and his fellow workers were almost completely sunken into puddles. The crowd began to melt. The ceiling was dripping. So were the walls. The room was melting. The world was melting, faster and faster, until all that was left was utter black. Angelú sat in an endless, thick, sticky pool of humans and their wonders and their worries. And so, he melted too.
SHE RIDES HOME BROKEN by Giulia Alvarez (‘14)
She rides home broken-hearted—makeup running down her cheeks, settling in her pores, and giving her pallid face a sickly gray glow. She weeps silently, face buried in the folds of her jacket. She does not disturb. At 59th Street she gets up, wipes her face, and staggers out of the train. Why would you want to cry? Crying is pain. Crying is sadness. Crying belongs to those with aching chests, knotted stomachs, hearts caught in throats, and mouths set in permanent frowns. Why crave tears when you can have depression? Why be depressed when you can be in love? … I thought I felt something, but then again I always feel something: my emotions running away from me, cartwheeling away without a care in the world. My chest had become a constricted amalgamation of ribs/lungs/ heart/diaphragm/esophagus, coiling itself around me like the biblical serpent. And then the inching closer with my shoes, the dancing, the simple act of staring at you in wonder. You are perfect; your flaws piece themselves together like a jigsaw. My Ouija board says yes, yes but your eyes scream no. My words, dribbling out of my mouth like the drinks I so frequently use to punish myself: “mine”, “gawsh, I luv you”, “you’re a babe” just appearing there and fizzling away like baby fireworks. Leaning my head against your shoulder: I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
SEARCH FOR TRUTH by Cassandra Copans-Johnson (‘16) (inspired by Meg Kearny’s Creed)
I believe the wind blew before Earth Exhaling life throughout the universe Crisp, cold, refreshing. I believe in the astrolabe Guiding us amongst the stars. I believe in magical stardust transforming us into centaurs and nymphs, An ideal version of us. I believe in the twinkling of stars Glory, energy, strength, brightness. I believe a smirking, black cat once sashayed by me. I believe in knocking on wood Smooth, glossy, almost faultless Its grains twisting and curving configuring slight imperfections Conveying uniqueness and beauty. I believe in the madeleine Tasting memory Soggy with salty tears Sweet with unsuspecting smiles. I believe in the screams echoing inside of me Ripping and tearing me to pieces with their vibrations. I believe in Apollo God of Delphi. I believe in bikes I believe in freewill, and that I am a survivor You can go anywhere. Persevering in a world no longer with me, Adventure awaits you. A fight to the death. I believe in the freedom of speech I believe in the ocean The right to speak your mind. Admiring it I believe I heard my Grandmother saying she loved, Consistently changing and adjusting. Caressing me with shaky hands,
Kissing me with dry lips. She said, “be good” and I said, “I’ll survive” I watched her white Toyota drive down the street Just as she drove into another world. I believe in defiance Defense, a barricade. I believe in protecting one’s self, that love is a spell, A cruel joke on the minds of the innocent. I believe in the screaming inside of me, waiting to be heard. I believe in the voice wanting to come out, here in this room. The court awaits my testimony, but who am I to say anything. Inside of me, lies a pit of loss, doubt, despair Trying to be refilled, but constantly being re-excavated. To know truth is pain, To realize it is torture, But to have it is power. I believe I am a stranger Unable to accept and walk in on my life Unable to register truth.
by Carolyn Applebaum (‘16)
When I first met you, you were behind me in the checkout line at the local Winn-Dixie. You were buying Halloween candy, five bags of it, even though Halloween wasn’t for another two weeks. You refused to let anyone else carry the basket. It looked too heavy for a six-year-old, but I said nothing. I told you that you should have gotten the Hershey Kisses instead of the Reese’s, but you just smiled, like there were more important things to worry about. I didn’t tell you I was allergic to peanuts until years later. I was just buying dinner for the night with my mom and her mom. It was grilled chicken—the same as always. You said you hated grilled chicken. I said I did too. And then you smiled—again. That quirky little one-sided smile. For as long as I knew you, that was one of the only things that never changed. I remember that you tried to reach up to the conveyor belt to put the candy on. You couldn’t quite. I could. And then, I smiled at you. I laughed at the fact that you couldn’t reach the conveyor belt. You told me you were only six and a half. I laughed again. I was seven and three quarters. You said you’d grow taller than me when you were seven and three quarters. But, then, I said, I’d be eight. And you said you’d be taller than me anyway. The second time I met you, we were in a crowded airport in New York City. You were waiting for your connecting flight to London, off to see the whole wide world with your mom and dad and two sisters and seven cousins. I counted them all. I was there by myself; lost. You sat there next to the pizza restaurant: Gameboy in your lap, delight in your smile. You were eating Reese’s—again. I tapped you on the shoulder: a nervous wreck of twelve years, alone in an airport that I’d never seen before. You looked friendly enough. And I asked you where the flight to Pensacola was departing from, and you said you had no idea, because you had just come from there. You didn’t even look up from your Gameboy. You were playing Super Mario. You asked me if I wanted a Reese’s, and I told you that I was allergic, so I was about to walk away and find someone else to ask. You grabbed the hem of my pants, and told me that I looked like a girl you had met a long time ago in the checkout line of the local WinnDixie, a girl who hated Reese’s and grilled chicken; a girl who was tall enough to reach the conveyor belt.
I looked at you funny. You had grown a lot in five years. I asked you to stand up, and then it was your turn to look at me funny. You asked me why. And I said I wanted to see if I was still taller than you. You made me remember. And the two of us walked to the pizza restaurant behind the rest of your family, trading stories of Halloweens come and gone, of how I wore the same costume for the past three years, and how you tried to find my house, but you couldn’t. Turned out we lived just on opposite sides of the park. Close enough to walk, but somehow a lifetime apart. I waited for you as you bought your pepperoni pizza at the restaurant. The waiter handed it to you on a little paper plate, all steaming hot and messy. The grease dripped down your chin; a smiling beard that made you look blissfully mischievous, if only for the meantime. I tried to wipe it off, but you batted my hand away. Your dad said that you could walk to my gate with me if you wanted. You said okay, sheepishly. And I stood on my tiptoes to read the departures board, looking for flight number 903 to Pensacola. I was still taller than you. The walk to gate 17 was void of spoken words. So many things can be said without them, the fragile little things. The wheels of my carry-on bag clicked emptily on the linoleum floor. Our fingers touched for the first time. When you left, I just waved; maybe smiled a little. You told me that you’d see me, sometime. The boarding agent called my row. And I turned around and left. I thought I could hear you walking away. The third time was by accident. Freshman year, late December. It was the fifty-fourth day of school. Nine-thirty eight in the morning. Second period started at nine-thirty five, on the dot, no exceptions. I hated running late. My heavy bag bounced against my back as I bounded up the stairs, two at a time. One more flight. I ran straight towards the door, which someone was holding open for me. Wow, they were really late, too. I turned around to say thanks, quickly, but your face caught my eye. I stopped. You didn’t go here. You were still in eighth grade. I asked you why you were at my high school, and you said that it was because you wanted to go here next year. I smiled. I told you
to meet me in front of my classroom after the period was over. You said okay. And I ran down the hall to my class, a stupid grin plastering my cheeks. I barely even heard it when the teacher yelled at me for my tardiness. Fifty-two minutes later, you were sitting in the hallway, staring blankly at the stained carpet. I cleared my throat. You looked up at me. You asked me why I wanted you here, but I just shrugged my shoulders. I said that you should have a friend before you got into high school. You laughed. We walked down the hall together, towards my third period class. You kept asking me if the school had a soccer team. I shrugged. I was hopeless at sports. You said that you liked my shoes, and I looked at you sideways, because I was wearing the rattiest pair of converse that I had ever seen. You didn’t seem to be joking, though. I guess beauty can be found in strange places. You just kept talking and talking, and I kept nodding, and laughing in the right places, but somehow that felt fine. I wanted you to keep talking. I liked when you talked. I turned to go into my third period class, when you pulled something out of your pocket, and shoved it in my hand. I smiled, and waved. So did you. You said goodbye, for now. I told you, hopefully not. And your face broke into that amazing grin. I looked down at the paper in my hand. It was an email address. I clutched it tight. I couldn’t lose you. When I saw you for the fourth time, it was the last day of school, a promising morning in June. The air smelled like hope and palm trees, mixed with a little bit of sweat—although maybe that was just my excitement. The sun was hot, but the air wasn’t thick and soupy yet, so I took a detour through the park on my way home. I always liked to watch the older kids play soccer. I wanted to join them, someday. The game was already halfway finished by the time I got there, so I didn’t know the score. That didn’t matter, though, because nobody else did, either. I heaved my backpack onto the scratchy grass, squinting into the sun to try and see the field better. I could nearly hear the adrenaline. Today, the teams were Pensacola University kids versus everybody else. That was how the division usually was. And the PU kids never won. One of them received the ball, and passed it to a teammate on the outside. No one was marking her. She sprinted up the field, her feet becoming something more. The goalie looked tense. He was a small thing, barely my age, but he had a fierce look in his eyes and a crooked smile that felt as much a part of him as his arms and legs. The girl with the ball easily sidestepped the defenders with a fancy move that seemed to be pure poetry in motion. Everything was silent. The girl angled her body, whacking the ball at just the right speed,
sending it soaring hard into the far bottom corner of the goal—but the keeper was quicker. The ball fell into his fingertips as if it was thrown to him in a game of catch. The Pensacola U team groaned. Everyone else cheered. I looked closer. That floppy brown hair reminded me of someone. That smile. I knew that smile. That was your smile. That was you. I’d nearly forgotten. Six months and seventeen days of email, and I had forgotten your face. That wasn’t right. And the rest of the game passed in a blur of cheers and nervous glances, checking my watch over and over again, and staring at you. Why was I staring so much? It was five o’clock. The game ended. No one knew the score. Both teams thought they won. I had been counting ever since I got there, though. Your team won—5-3. I pushed my hair out of my face. You were standing in the goal, sweat plastering your jersey to your sun burnt back. I took a small step forward. You didn’t see me. I took another and another, my feet moving independently of my thoughts. You turned around. You said hello. One word. Hello. I looked into your eyes. I said hello back. You smiled. The world seemed to smile with you. The rest of the team was on the side celebrating, but you decided beer wasn’t your idea of a celebration. I agreed with you. We walked off the field, our footsteps in sync, as the sun fell below the horizon. I hadn’t realized how late it was. I grabbed my backpack and slung it over my shoulder, hoping that my mother wouldn’t yell at me for being so late. I couldn’t help it. She should understand that, right? You waited by the bench for me, soccer bag in one hand and book bag in the other. I opened my mouth to say goodbye, again, but you asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner with you. Just the two of us, at a café on the beach. I tried, pathetically, to conceal my grin. I nodded. One phone call to my mother later, and one slow bus ride, and we arrived at the beach. Just the two of us. I don’t know why that made me nervous. The sun was half-set, painting the Gulf of Mexico a thousand different shades of beautiful in the dying light. This was too romantic to be real. You knew the owner of the restaurant, somehow, so he let the both of us in with a smile and a wink. I couldn’t stop looking at my shoes. Grey and green Nike sneakers. Yours were the same, only in blue. We sat down in the corner, trying to see each other by the flickering candlelight. I asked you what was the best thing on the menu. You said you liked everything, except the grilled chicken. When you were
five, you had to go to the hospital because the chicken here gave you food poisoning. I asked you if that was why you didn’t like grilled chicken. You nodded, remembering. We decided to share a pizza. I asked you if you were going to my high school next year, but you just looked at your shoes. You hadn’t been doing much talking. You always did the talking. I asked you if anything was wrong. You shook your head. The pizza arrived. For a moment, you were back in the airport, an eleven year old who played Super Mario, and ate pepperoni pizza. You bit into it eagerly. I smiled. You asked, through a mouth of sticky dough and hot cheese, what I was waiting for, so I picked up a slice and dug in. I can’t remember how it tasted, but it must have been delicious. We ate in silence. You finished four and a half slices of pizza in thirty-one minutes. You must have broken a record. I only ate a slice and a half. You said you had something you wanted to show me, so we paid quickly, our waiter winking nonstop. You asked him if he had something in his eye, but he just started laughing, a deep chuckle that seemed to come from the ground itself. We just rolled our eyes. You grabbed me by the hand, and led me out of the restaurant, along the beach to a small pier. I didn’t go to the beach often. Fifteen years and four moths of living in Pensacola, and I still rarely went to the beach. It looked like it was your home. I told myself I’d come here more often. The sun was sinking quickly, as we put down our backpacks and stared out at the water. The inferno that was the sunset had died down, and now all that remained were the pink and gray embers, glowing steadily. You cleared your throat, nervously. I asked you what you wanted to tell me. There was a long pause. You clasped my hand slowly, but firmly, like you were afraid someone would steal it from you. You looked straight into my eyes. You were finally taller than me. You said that you wouldn’t be going to my high school next fall. You said that you were moving to Albany. My breath slowed. You were moving to Albany. 1328 miles away. Too far. You took a breath in, about to say something, but instead you put your hands around my waist and leaned in and started kissing me like you would never see me again. Which you might not. Your slippery breath tasted like sweat and pizza sauce, but I didn’t think it was that bad. You held me tight as an allergy attack and then tighter still. This time, though, I enjoyed it. You were warm. And as we pulled back, both a little shocked at each other, we knew. I asked you how long you’d been waiting for. You said, since that
first afternoon in the Winn-Dixie. And your face looks different, now that I know why you smiled so much. And you kiss me again, more desperately. Why had I never noticed? We slow. We pant. We part. I say that I’m going to miss you. You smile. I’m going to miss that, too. You leaned on my shoulder the whole way home, finally parting ways at the park. You say you’re leaving in two weeks. I nod. My feet feel heavy as I turn towards home. The fifth time was the worst. Fifteen days later, I arrived on your front porch for the first time. I rang the doorbell. You answered. I had never been to your house when you lived in it. Now you were leaving. The only decorations left were boxes, piled into every corner. I wished I had the nerve to come here when you lived in it. It must have been beautiful. An old, sprawling townhouse with four floors and a basement. Much nicer than my cranky old apartment. You took my hand gently walking up the stairs, the polished wood slipping under my socks. Normally you had so much energy, but today you seemed stuck. I wanted you to stay. I knew you couldn’t. You asked me if I wanted to see your room, and of course I said yes, so you showed me up two flights of stairs, then hung a left, and opened a door covered in peeling white paint. It was small. Such a large house, and such a small room. The walls were painted the color of the sky in the morning. The only furnishings were cardboard boxes. You sat down on a large one in the corner, fishing through your pocket for something. I said I hoped it wasn’t Reese’s again. You shook your head, and pulled out a couple of half-melted Kisses. You said they were for me. I stared at you. You stared back. You said you’d email every day. I said I would, too. Your father was downstairs calling for you. He said it was time to leave. I don’t think I started crying. I probably did, though. You got up, your lips brushing my cheek as you walked past me. Our last real kiss. You walked downstairs slowly, holding my hand. The stairs creaked loudly. It was like they were saying goodbye. The van was waiting in the street. Your mom and dad and two sisters were buckled up already. You turned around, looked me in the eye, and said goodbye. One word. Goodbye. I swallowed the lump in my throat. My goodbye made its way out somehow. You turned your back to me. You got in the van, and closed the door. The moving men didn’t even blink an eye as you drove away. And that was the last time I ever saw you.
THE NIGHT IN BLACK AND WHITE by Mihika Kapoor (‘14)
Blinking against the torrential Flow that crinkled her lashes like Broken falcon wings. Her heartbeat Flew as the pace of the gashed Rapids quickened. The ink stained the Porcelain sand. She was washed into The shore, faded like a paled watercolor. She took a sip of the ocean. A sip of the tears she sobbed, while The hand-crafted stars glimmered and Dulled, behind the veils of Gray clouds. “Oh.” As the foam Pierced her feet. She swayed then fell, Unable to hold her own. And the water Took her. Took her on before color Stained the black and white.
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