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Ec - lec - tic (adj.)

Not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, ect., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems. The Eclectic magazine is created yearly by the students of Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama. Submissions are accepted year-round. Student contributors receive a free copy of the literary magazine to show appreciation for their creative efforts.

Cover Art and Section Dividers

The cover and dividers were drawn by Elisa CastaĂąeda and edited in Adobe Photoshop.


We used the fonts Fliped, Freeroad, and Slab Romana.

Copyright Š 2018, The Eclectic

Reader's Guide The Eclectic • Spring 2018 • Issue 21 Our goal is to curate the creative works submitted by our student body. We aim to represent our diverse community through a broad selection of student art and writing. As you begin to explore our publication, you will notice that the content is split into the following sections:

General Submissions

This section, comprising the bulk of our magazine, is a collection of works that are unrelated to the theme and vary in subject at the artist’s discretion. Works of prose, poetry, creative nonfiction, comics, art, and photography are included in this section.

Thematic Feature

The feature portion of this magazine contains works of art and writing that explore a specific theme chosen each year by the staff members. This year’s theme, boundaries, was explored through a variety of genres.


The online counterpart to The Eclectic,, is a digital publication of the magazine for all to view. The website also showcases short videos, animations, spoken poetry, and student portfolios.

“It makes a difference, doesn’t it, whether we fence ourselves in, or whether we are fenced out by the barriers of others?”

-E. M. Forster

Contents Prose Poetry Creative Nonfiction Comics Art Photography Thematic Feature Index

9 47 75 117 137 147 159 244


Prose In the Sea of Tranquility Tiffany Wu Horizon Payton Gloschat Human Intelligence Replacement Lily Hughes The USS Maine Ben Meyer Me and Myself Neda Mobasher How it Began Anna Grace Pell Transfigured Omen Julia Pimmel The Second American Revolution Jack Woods Return to Form Alec Mothersele Moralistic Sight Casey Kula Galaxy Streaks Dalia Altubuh Creation of the Moon Candace Lyons Oblivion Avery Beckham Blue Serpent Maggie Brown All That is Left Kylee Henrie Can You See Me? Claire Dieselberg Betwixt Old Magic and Pickles Ben Meyer Joy Ruby Ingram Deservance Emily Franklin Basement Chloe Kuebbing Dead Wood Emilee Lamps Message Denied Rebecca Robinson Microfiction Stained Dresses Lily Hughes Running Away Hayden Madison I Sold My Soul Abbigail Jackson Bones Ashley Phonthibsvads The Dress Claire O’Neal The Race Serena Osuigwe You Don’t Feel, Right? Kylee Henrie

10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 21 23 27 28 29 30 34 35 36 38 39 41 42 43 44 44 44 45 45 45 45


In the Sea of Tranquility


Tiffany Wu We made it all the way to another world, literally. The ground beneath my feet was still, and I gradually began to float above it. As I breathed out, my feet sank to the dusty surface again. Our module had landed in the middle of a dark lunar sea, Mare Tranquillitatis, just like we predicted. I slowly reached down and picked up a small rock. Through the polycarbonate protector around my head, I could see that the stone had a yellow-green tint around its crusty surface. After examining it, I carefully placed it into a small sample bag from my suit pocket. Buzz and I planned to explore the area for approximately three hours. This would give us time to collect some samples and take pictures. As the first moon explorers, we didn’t know what to expect. Looking at the skyline, I saw the Earth. Swirls of clouds covered the various spots of blue and green. From this distance, it was difficult to find the shape of the land. Buzz stood beside me and pulled out the camera hidden in his suit. He took a shot of the horizon, with the Earth beautifully positioned in the background. Slowly, I began to walk forward, away from the module. The bulky suit made it difficult to move, but the limited amount of gravity made me feel light. With every step, I was lifted above the ground, floating over the surface of the moon. After a few harsh crashes onto the surface, the flag fell out of its strap behind me. Cautiously, I turned around and picked it up. I looked at Buzz and raised the flag up, questioning where to place it. Buzz pointed to a spot a few meters away from us. I nodded at him and jumped towards the spot. As I jumped, my body was lifted several feet into the air, gently descending to the ground. Once I was back to the ground, I dug the end of the pole in. The regolith on the surface was surprisingly like soil, easily shaped. I stepped back a few steps. The American flag’s bright color stood out of the dull gray environment of the moon’s surface. Throughout the afternoon, Buzz and I continued to explore. We flipped around in our suits, took lots of pictures of the various rocks and dust, and collected the most uniquely shaped objects on the surface. The environment was beautiful, although it was relatively dark and slightly cold in my suit. Once our research for the day was complete, we headed back to the module. After activating the door, the stairs fell out. We climbed back into


the module and closed the door behind us. I unstrapped, unbuttoned, and unzipped myself from the heavy suit. I took off layers of protection until I was back into my routine space uniform. After resetting all of the front fixtures, we lifted off. Maybe one day I would return to the sea of tranquility.



Payton Gloschat Digital Art


Human Intelligence Replacement


Lily Hughes “That’s not my husband.” I twist my face away from the machine-made representation of Daniel, focusing instead on Amelia. “There has to be a mistake; he isn’t some mechanical freak!” The bot’s fresh coating of plastic skin gleamed in the white lights of the hospital. It turns its face upward as if to inspect the light panels for any threats. Amelia only shrugs. “It’s the new generation, Mae. Daniel signed up to be one of the volunteers if anything happened, but I doubt he thought it would happen so soon. Didn’t he talk to you about it beforehand?” Her careless words hit with sudden and unbearable pain. I rub my shoulders the way Daniel would have if he were here to comfort me. Instead, I have an unfeeling lab rat to receive comfort from. I stare as Amelia puts her hand on the robot’s to introduce me to the copy of my husband’s subconscious. “It’s called H.I.R., and I promise it will only take a week before you learn to love having it around.” “I don’t want to be married to some machine, Amelia.” I flex my fingers, smearing my sweaty palms against my chilled skin. The bot pats my arm, its fake face twisting to mimic Daniel’s bright smile. “I am here to take care of you, Mrs. Jones.” Amelia grins at me, and leads me out of the private room, with H.I.R. following close behind. I ignored it on the drive home, but for a human replica, it couldn’t take the hint to shut up. After the twentieth time asking if I preferred country over pop music, I hit the brakes. The bot shot forward, slamming into the dashboard. They must have forgotten to include human instincts in the programming. “We’re home.” I chime as H.I.R. sits up straight once more. “Mrs. Jones,” H.I.R. calls as I shove the key card into the scanner, “perhaps a slower entrance would minimize the chance of damage.” I roll my eyes, stepping through the sliding door. The house has been empty for over a week, but it looks pristine as always. H.I.R. spent the afternoon inspecting every inch of the desolate place, its bright red eyes digging into every inch of my belongings. “Mrs. Jones, Doctor Amelia input all of your medical history into my database, so that I may assist you if any accidents were to occur,” H.I.R.




explained, “she has given me strict instructions to remind you that you must run every evening to keep your legs from locking up before the chip has finished its procedure to assist your disability.” “It’s not a disability, idiot,” I snort, poking mashed peas around on my plate. “You can tell her that I can take care of myself.” H.I.R.’s eyes glow a soft red, then a soft ding breaks the awkwardness. “Message sent, Mrs. Jones.” H.I.R. spins around, plucking a chess board from the back table. “Perhaps you would prefer a mental exercise?” It places the board in front of me and begins to set the pieces up. I push aside the bowl of mush, wrinkling my nose at H.I.R.’s feeble attempt to spark a connection between us. I would not replace Daniel so easily. “No thanks, I don’t like chess.” I force a smile at the robot, who in turn shakes its head. “My database informs me that you enjoyed chess thoroughly with Mr. Jones. You insisted it was a healthy alternative to television and an impressive hobby.” H.I.R. sits back once its task is complete, awaiting my first move. Begrudgingly, I move a pawn, keeping my arms crossed to protest the bot’s investigation. “You do not enjoy the idea of a human’s intelligence replaced, Mrs. Jones?” H.I.R. gracefully makes its moves. “Do you think it is inhumane?” I shrug, relaxing against my cold metal seat. “I never enjoyed the idea of a human being dependent on a machine. Life takes its course, and we shouldn’t alter that.” “Yet you allowed Mr. Jones to implant a machine into your mind?” I squirm a bit. “That’s different. I couldn’t walk, and Daniel deserved a wife. Not a vegetable.” H.I.R. shakes its head slowly, moving another piece to counteract my own. “You could not be a vegetable, Mrs. Jones. A vegetable is a plant or part of a plant used as food, typically an accompaniment to meat or fish, such as a cabbage, potato, carrot, or bean. Not a human.” I laugh for the first time in a long time, our game becoming less of a competition and more of a hand distraction. “I mean, I don’t want to be a useless blob sitting around doing nothing all day. I want to take care of my husband, have a career, have a life!” I sigh, pushing along a knight. “What is your career at the moment, Mrs. Jones?” “Well, I was a teacher, but I doubt they’ll hire me again after taking so many breaks.” H.I.R. smiles; it looks almost natural now, almost human. “I believe they would hire you once more, Mrs. Jones. I have found humans to be very understanding... This is the part of the mental exercise where you pronounce yourself the victor.” I glance down at the board, where I have successfully managed to corner H.I.R.’s king. “You’re right. Checkmate, Daniel.”

The USS Maine


Ben Meyer I woke up to the bright sun blinding me through the shades. I made my breakfast before the rest of my family woke up. Dressed in my dull, daily attire, I made sure not to spill my coffee. In my car, I found my pens scattered. Almost like someone had thrown them into my car without looking. An explosion of dark ink and broken metal. I would clean them up if it weren’t for the time escaping from me. It was an ordinary day in the dim office, writing as many stories as our callused fingers could produce. I had been writing some article about the dangers of coal dust on the skin when Mr. Pulitzer exited the Telephone Room and interrupted everything; it was quite a shock from the norm. I almost threw my notepad. He wanted everyone to begin working on a new project. All he said was that the USS Maine had exploded and it was our job to explain why Americans should be angry. At first, I protested. We are the news, not a crew of housewives spreading rumors. But then, Mr. Pulitzer explained that we’re not the first to fib. He claimed that the New York Journal was beating us out by lying quicker than us. If the New York Journal won, we could lose a good amount of money from the ordeal. My job was on the line, and I needed to do whatever possible to make sure my family came out of this. What could go wrong with a little fibbing? “Mr. Pulitzer?” I asked before leaving for the day. “Yes, Andrew?” He replied with haste; it was clear he was in a rush to get out. “Do you think what we worked with today might cause some tribulations?” “Of course not, the people hold no power.” I found this comment strange. We were always told that the power lies in the people, not the government. That night, I woke up at the hour of the wolf. It felt like someone was breathing down my neck. The thick, cool air embraced my skin. My spine danced away from me as I heard a rasp at the bedroom door. It couldn’t be anything. It’s only my anxiety getting to me. I open the door to find my five-year-old daughter holding her stuffed animal. “What’s up, buttercup?” I asked her. “I’m not sure. I just felt like you were upset,” she responded. “It’s nothing, go back to bed.” “Okay—” and with that, she complied.


On the way to work the next morning, I saw plenty of angered signs against Spain. News spread quicker than a wildfire. I feel as though Mr. Pulitzer’s doubts in people weren’t truthful. I still believed in a country of “We The People,” but perhaps I should believe in “We The Press.” As I entered, there was a note on my desk with the directions for ‘more.’

Prose Me and Myself

Neda Mobasher Mixed Media


How it Began


Anna Grace Pell 05/23/2035 The virus was never really meant to leave the lab or the quarantined testing area. It was never even supposed to come in contact with human skin unless deemed necessary by our nation’s President. The United States military created the extremely dangerous strain of Templachlonic Neurosis to use as a weapon against the country’s enemies in the next World War. After 2030, the tensions between the world’s superpower countries were near a breaking point. President Watson was terrified for our country, the threat of a nuclear attack was always hanging over our heads. So he ensured a backup plan… thus began “Plan Templachlonic.” This became the nation’s most top secret project. Only the POTUS, the Secretary of Defense, and the six epidemiologists who were assigned to this project were allowed to enter the lab. I was chosen to be one of those few epidemiologists. The six of us collaborated as a team, but I was a specialist on deadly pathogens. So my job was to determine which pathogens to cross with viral genetic DNA that came with stubborn symptoms, thus creating a disease that no one could escape from. One of the first trials contained a strain of MRSA or “Superbug” and a strain of a bacterial infection called Endocarditis. The goal was to use the MRSA to infect the subject, and hopefully, the strain of Endocarditis would direct the infection to the heart. MRSA is known to be very resistant to antibiotics, and the cardiac disease can be deadly if not treated immediately after exposure. Alas, this prototype was merely average in its attempts. The MRSA had failed to infect the lining of the heart before treatments were given. “I am extremely disappointed in this team… I expected more. We need to see gore and extreme severity. They cannot be able to treat the infection so quickly. I want them to have no hope of surviving...” The POTUS was unsatisfied with our work, to say the least. We employed 241 more trials over the course of three years, with little to no success. The 244th trial proved to be impressive enough. The successful attempt consisted of a strain of bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae, which causes the infectious disease known as leprosy. One of the most complex strains of influenza was also included in this concoction. This disease was perfect for our mission; it affected the skin, respiratory system, eyes, and nervous system. During the trials, the lab rats were suffering from


Transfigured Omen Julia Pimmel Digital Art



what their brain scans read. I had to leave the room due to their screams as the results were being collected. One of the many peculiar notes taken was that one of the rat’s hair started to fall out. The pupils of their eyes became a milky white color after a day. We were happy with these conclusions—well, the people employing us were happy. Seventeen days after the last trial…one of the rats who had been subjected to one of the strains started to refuse the food pellets. After that point, we could no longer examine it. If we tried, it would bear its teeth and snap at our gloved hands. I thought it was defending itself, but it was attacking us instead. Eventually, the rat killed itself by slamming into the glass case. It was horrifying. That rat was the first living creature to ever be exposed to the disease that we now call “Templachlonic Neurosis.” The second subject, or more so a victim, was one of the epidemiologists working alongside me on this project, Erica Manning. She was exposed during a simple procedure, disposing of a dead test subject. We all knew the routine as well as anything else: make sure to secure all PPC before entering the quarantine room outside of the lab and place the body in the hazardous waste bin. The bin was then disposed of immediately. Erica was the only person in the quarantine room during this operation. Once the case was opened, that was it. That was how this started; with that one simple bite. The world came crumbling down after that incident. There was no coming back from it. Nothing could save us, and I knew that as soon as I saw the color of Erica’s eyes transition from her warm brown shade to something so inhumane: a murky, milky, maddening white hue. I knew it was over. It was over. Here I am typing this letter, just praying that anyone sane may find it after this devastation has ended… If it ever does. The disgusting creatures that I partially created will burst through that puny door any minute now. I will soon also become one of those mindless, revolting, wretched monsters myself. I have explained how this terror began, but this is how my tortured soul will come to an end…

The Second American Revolution


Jack Woods It was too risky to go outside. Patrolmen and spotlights covered the streets, searching for any spark or cry of resistance. Occasionally, a machine gun would open fire upon a building or a small crowd. The sound no longer fazed me. The rain poured hard outside, but the patrols were unperturbed. I kept my head down; any attention was certain death, either by gunshot or forced labor in the concentration camp that opened in what used to be Pittsburg. The Nazis successfully removed Jews, homosexuals, disabled people, etc. Some were my friends. My blond hair, however, made me favored by the German patrols. My great-grandparents were from Germany and escaped before the first world war. This also gave me social status in the Reich. My heart belongs to the country that once was a shining beacon of hope. I swore the day America fell that I would avenge her. I will never forget that day. Five years ago, the Allied invasion of Normandy had failed; a spy had relayed every detail to Field Marshal Rommel. The Germans were quite prepared, and Allied soldiers were slaughtered by the thousands. They had no choice but to retreat to England. German scientists were far ahead, however, and launched missile after missile at the dockyards and cities. London was reduced to rubble; Manchester and Liverpool followed. Countless soldiers were burned alive on boats that were struck by firebombs. Hitler waited once more to push the invasion; the people turned on the government. The English crown fell to riots, and Parliament locked itself behind closed doors. Eventually, the people welcomed the German army. By then, the surviving soldiers retreated further to the United States. The US knew what was coming, and they did everything they could to protect us from the Reich. The German War Machine proved too capable. In December of 1944, the Wehrmacht took Iceland without a single shot and cruised to Greenland. By now, America had pulled all resources from the Pacific Theatre in an attempt to repel the imminent German invasion. Japan had retaken everything west of California. The Soviets moved into Alaska and most of the Middle East. Canada fell in an hour. A peace treaty was signed once Rommel stepped foot on the beach of Newfoundland. German diplomats persuaded Mexico to invade Texas, which was unsuccessful and Mexico lost ninety-percent of its army. Japan then invaded Mexico.




Stalin moved his troops further into Alaska, then into Canada. Predictably, the Germans broke the peace treaty with Canada in a week and moved to Toronto, Montreal, and Ontario. The Soviets moved into Vancouver, and the armies met in the middle. America stood alone by design. New York took almost a year to fall, but eventually, it was overwhelmed by Rommel’s Panzer division and the Luftwaffe. Simultaneously, Japan attacked the South and the USSR attacked the Northwest. The Axis forced Americans to the Midwest, surrounded. By 1945, every American state had fallen. Hitler officially declared victory on July 4, 1945 as a calculated, spirit-crushing blow to American resistance. The resistance persisted, however, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. That moment arrived yesterday. My friend John burst into the room, screaming, “The alliance is over! Hitler has turned on Japan and Russia! German troops are leaving to fortify their borders!” The room exploded into a cheerful madness. Yelling and screaming ensued until our elected leader, former United States Colonel Jameson, barked at the room to quiet down. “Is this true, Lieutenant?” questioned the colonel. It was true. The ticking time-bomb that was the Axis alliance finally went off. Hitler grew tired of splitting his fortune with Stalin and Emperor Hirohito. The German War Machine diverted all troops to its borders. “Yes sir, and der Führer has offered incentives to Americans to join the Wehrmacht,” answered the Lieutenant. “I see… if any of you wish to leave for the benefit of your families, friends or selves, it will not be held against you. However, if you mention any word of this resistance you will be punished for treason,” the Colonel ordered, “However we have a hope now that was previously impossible. Men, if we are to retake what once was the United States, the time to strike is now!” The room erupted into more chaos of opportunity. Men scattered back to their homes in waves to avoid police notice. Colonel Jameson held me back, though. “Captain Hunt, stay a moment, will you?” “Yessir,” I replied easily. “Field Marshal Steiner—are you familiar with him?” “The commander of the Detroit Arsenal and barracks? Yes, sir, I am quite familiar.” “What is your experience?” “He saved my life, sir; his respect for soldiers is admirable, sir.” “Good. He is a sympathizer to our cause, and we need his help again to break into the barracks if we are to retake Detroit.” “Yessir, is that our next course of action?” “Indeed, Captain. If we are to win we need our weapons.” Hitler, similar to his strategy in Germany, outlawed guns, anti-German books, and political parties. Soon, all citizens were forced to convert to the New German Church or risk execution. The New German Church worshipped the Führer, and, expectedly many were martyred for their


refusal to worship someone like him. It was another nail hammered into the American spirit. “Very well, sir. I shall see to it that plans are created,” I replied, then saluted and left. I spent a week creating schematics and plans and two weeks recruiting for the assault on the barracks. Hopefully, no full assault would be needed, but that’s what I expected. Four years under German control was more than enough, and I was in charge of ending American submission. I met with Field Marshal Steiner, under the guise of a tax matter, and discussed the attack. “I will have a tunnel dug for entry, and my officers sent home for the night. I want you to succeed, Captain. Hitler’s reign cannot persist,” the Field Marshall stated. It was quick, but it was effective. The attack started out near-perfect. Well-placed snipers eliminated German guards, while an explosion on the south side of the barracks distracted the spotlights and heavy machine guns. A small group of patriots found their way over the fifteen-foot wall. Once inside, the group uncovered the tunnel, allowing more soldiers in. Soon, nearly 100 Americans had poured into the arsenal and barracks. Four buildings housed them, with small groups stealthily taking out guards and patrols. It was going well until one soldier fired at a patrol with his machine gun, and a stray bullet hit a gas tank on a Jeep nearby. The explosion alerted the base. Field Marshal Steiner had no option but to unleash the Panzers. Slowly, but effectively they tore through patriots. Only three were available due to war depletion, but they slaughtered half of the infiltration force. One shot alone killed 25 Americans holed up in a building. John was among them. The only good news was that Steiner had called back the heavy guns. For now, it was only the three Panzers. However, more good news followed; a group had stumbled upon a lightly guarded armory. Eliminating the guards, the group moved inside and found several machine guns and rocket launchers. The Panzers were hit from the back with the rockets and were destroyed before they could return fire. I ran up the road to Steiner’s HQ. When I opened the door, Steiner stood among several Germans. I was worried that he had remained loyal to Germany, but he ordered them to stand down. They were with us now. We now had the Arsenal. After three hours that night, Patriots had taken Detroit. It was one city of many, but it was one victory to be followed by many.


Return to Form Alec Mothersele



“I just need to know, are there any survivors?” “We have done three full scans in the last hour; need I answer that?” The crew of the Renaissance was quarreling amongst themselves about the circumstance they found themselves in. The ship was in the upper exosphere, not out of the orbit of the Earth, but far enough away from what waited below. The crew was not entirely human; they were, in fact, machines. Machines funded by some of the most influential men and women on Earth to preserve mankind in their darkest hour. Rapport, a grey machine programmed to be in charge of maintaining the ship, asked, “Is it time?” Alius, a rather large, green machine who had the important job of maintaining the fluid tanks and development pods, stated, “Is indeed. Wake up Gardien and prepare number four. We are going in.” Four seconds after that, the alarms inside the machines activated; the entire ship was active and ready to begin its duty. As all of the workers readied their stations, Alius received a message from the captain of the ship. Contremaitre, the captain, wished to speak with him. “Alius, it seems to be a large gamble to send one of our five Javelot down to Earth only three days after the last signal, three weeks after the extinction, and three months after the Renaissance was launched.” Without pause, Alius replied. “I am already well aware of the dangers of this plan, but it is important to send a scouting party to Earth to see just what we are dealing with.” Not two minutes later, Alius got a response. “That would prove to be very risky. We only have five of the ships. Although I see the possible rewards of your plan, we would have to go about this carefully. You may be leading the human resources department, but do not forget your authority. As for waking up the ship, see me immediately.” As Alius started to return to his station, his internals let out a small beep. He received yet another message from Contremaitre wishing to see him personally. He trudged through the dark hallways to the elevator room. The circular disk, giving a slight shudder as Alius stood on it, attached magnetic clamps to the machine’s feet, and started to move. The magnetic-lift stopped at floor fifty, the central floor and middle of the pill-shaped ship. The magnetic clamps—the only thing keeping


the machine in place—disconnected, and Alius made his way to the captain’s quarters. The halls were pitch black, but due to his excellent night vision and internal maps of the Renaissance, Alius made it to the center of the kilometer-wide ship in less than two minutes. The magnetic door to the captain’s command center opened, silently, for there was no oxygen in this part of the ship. There was light in this room, but to the human eye, it would be unpleasant indeed. All the lights were a dark red, and so were the monitors. The five-machine crew of the command center stood at attention during all this. The captain, without turning, sent Alius a message. “The first Javelot is being sent down to Earth with a crew of recently engineered prototypes and military machines. I need somebody I can trust to go down there with the new machines and supervise them. Their code can be questionable, and they still are prototypes. I need to see if the restoration chambers work.” Had Alius not been a machine, he would have been befuddled. But his code dictated that he would ask questions. “Why are you selecting me? My role on the ship is critical and without my contribution, the mission would be jeopardized.” Not a half-second later, he got a response. “You have high authority on the ship. But only I have the authority to assign tasks, and your plan is approved. You will have a substitute looking after the fluid tanks.” Alius understood that the fluid tanks would be cared for and headed for the Javelot immediately. The docks of the Renaissance at the top and bottom were large and sealed tightly. The lighting was similar to that of a hospital, bright and yet bleak. The Javelot themselves were large, thick jets capable of going to and fro in the atmosphere. The wingspan of the Javelot were almost three-hundred feet, and they were colored similar to a space shuttle. There was a crew of almost one-hundred machines entering the Javelot, each four times the height and five times the width of a man. As the workers evacuated the area, the sealed doors to the outside world opened, and the Javelot exited the airlock. Its engine’s blue fire stained the milk-white walls a coal black and the ship with its eight engines left soon after. The jet flew through the atmosphere’s layers, soon becoming little more than a meteor. The degree and speed tore up all but the interior of the jet, and soon it was but ten kilometers from earth’s surface. It crashed into a large lake and nearly cracked the Earth’s crust open. All but the internals were completely incinerated, and only a few of the machines survived. Only Alius, six other machines, and the fluid tanks survived. A blue machine, shaken but none of his internals damaged asked, “Are there any survivors?” Alius stared and responded, “Only the ones who needed to make it.”


Moralistic Sight Casey Kula



Darkness is always unsettling. Especially when it’s only darkness and nothing else. Samuel lifted his wrists forcibly, but none of his muscles tensed. He sniffed the air, but none seemed to fill his lungs. He couldn’t feel the wind blow against his cheek either. His determination had to remain on sight alone. He opened his eyes. Suddenly, all his senses became clear, and that ominous delusion drifted away. Samuel cleared his throat and took a deep breath to recalibrate what he was seeing. It was unjustifiably nightfall, still darkness. Though, the tranquil breeze and humming cicadas allowed him to forget his fears. The cicadas’ chirps were depleting, which only could mean their time was coming to an end in this landscape. Winter was coming soon, but not soon enough. Samuel stood in an uneven, circular field that was bordered by a tall patch of oak and maple trees. The air was muggy, but the skies gave no sign that it would rain tonight. Still, as the wind shifted, thousands of leaves flew off the trees as if a huge rainstorm had assembled itself in the forest. Light reflected off the moon, allowing the leaves to hide in the colors of purple and teal, so when they hit the ground it only seemed that they’d been sucked into a flooding pool of swarming water. Autumn. It was always such a pretty time. Normally someone would watch this spectacle, but it turned out that no one was interested in these wonders anymore. This caused Samuel to feel a shock of disappointment. He remembered from when he was a child. This is where his parents would take him and his neighbors to see the stars. What a beautiful time. A golden time. He began to turn to walk home when he was stopped. A young girl stood, fully still, an expression of dread on her face. Samuel concluded that he must’ve startled the girl and regained his footing to apologize. “S-sorry, miss.” He bowed and shifted to the side to conclude his disruption of her path. Her expression became less anxious, but her sight was still trapped, straight forward. Samuel followed the line of her sight and began to chuckle to himself. “There’s no ghost over there,” he stated while pointing, “That’s just


the wind pulling mind tricks. It likes messing with the leaves. The feeling of their hardened form and their firm crackle-” He could tell the girl was laughing at him by her smirk. “Sorry.” He cleared his throat. “I love speaking. I’m, I’m just not the greatest at it. That’s all. But it sure is a pretty sight out here tonight.” The child took in the view for a few seconds and suddenly mouthed the word “wow,” showing off her pronunciation skills. The girl was in awe. An old leather backpack slid off her shoulders and fell to her side, right on Samuel’s foot. He shifted about a foot away as he carefully watched what the girl would do next. She breathed heavy and pulled her moppy whimsical hair out from under her polyester jacket. Her hair was a short mess of strawberry blonde that would’ve covered her face if it hadn’t been pulled to the side with a barrette. She sat softly on the ground, crisscross applesauce, and reached into the dark abyss of her jacket pocket. She first pulled out some old gum wrappers, and then a newspaper clipping with some job interviews scratched out in sharpie. Her hand jumped back into the crevasse and again came out bringing a receipt from a popular deli in town and a pencil with a dull tip. She scattered the trinkets to her side near her backpack but continued to keep hold of the pencil, squishing the eraser into her cheek. Samuel sat near her, wondering why she had all these things in her pockets. Coyotes could be heard far off in the mountains, but this didn’t scare the two of them. Samuel just continued to watch the young girl while she continued her work. He deduced that she didn’t like to talk, but she wasn’t shy. If she was shy, she probably would’ve run off. Curiosity is always an important thing to hold in your heart. The moon was finally able to hang his head above them which only made the scenery more beautiful. The cicadas and crickets finally dispersed and only the wind, coyotes, and water from a tiny creek could be heard. While Samuel was taking in the changes of the terrain, the girl reached into her bag and pulled out the contents. “Whatcha got there?” Samuel asked, scooting over for a closer look. The dirt didn’t bother him. The girl turned and looked, giving the expression of total secrecy. This was the first time Samuel had seen her face. A stream of freckles led to her eyes. Eyes always helped determine a person’s grief. She was shattered. Her irises looked like glass walls that could break at any moment. At least her eyes weren’t broken fully. He looked over at a puddle to see his eyes’ reflection. All he could see was shame. He pushed his downheartedness aside and came back to the action that was important. The girl gave a melancholy sigh as she brushed off the already clean folder. For a folder, it was huge and extensive.




An accumulation of papers, files, and photographs was piled up neatly, only stable from the many paperclips. She turned back to the folder and grabbed the first stack, hiding the rest in some of the of the tall grass. “Y’know, I won’t tell. No one’s around but us two.” She scooted the first thing on top, allowing both her and Samuel to see it with the moon’s light. The photo consisted of her and two adults, most likely her parents. They looked so happy. Behind them stood a rotating Ferris wheel with rainbow lights flickering back and forth. It was such an original place to be. The girl showed off her genuine smile, and in that photo Samuel could see that the girl’s eyes were whole. Samuel grinned at the heartwarmingness of it all. Then a single droplet of water fell onto one of the corners of the bent photograph. At first, he thought it was a small rain shower, but he felt nothing. He then circled his surroundings, but no rain showers seemed to be in action in the greenery nor the sky. His questions were answered by the child, who reluctantly began to sob. “Oh no. Don’t cry. What’s wrong? You can tell me.” The girl was very persistent and pushed away, not stating her troubles. She began to breathe heavily and mumble words that couldn’t be made out. “What has you so dismal?” He placed his hand on her shoulder which only caused her to shiver and mumble more vigorously. Her face was hidden by her hair that fell out of place. The girl didn’t seem to care, which only made Samuel more worried. After what seemed like forever, the girl finally looked back at some of the photographs that shuffled out of place in the pile. “It’s all gonna be alright.” Unusually, the girl managed to say one word as if she were saying the word to the world instead of just to Samuel alone. “No,” she croaked softly. Then without thinking, she began grabbing random photographs and ripping them in half as fast as she could. Samuel tried to stop her, but she was too fast. “You’re not thinking. You’ll regret this soon,” he said, but the child didn’t listen. Her eyes were filled with so many tears that it should’ve been blinding. Soon, she didn’t have any photos to rip that she could reach for, so she grabbed the first drawing“No!” Samuel stood in front of her, but she tore it in half. That’s when she finally looked up and saw the mess she’d made. Her hard breathing subsided, and she wiped away the tears. “N-no,” he said more quietly. She looked up at him and then the photos. Then she noticed the drawing in her hands, half in each. Her hands shook as she arranged the two halves to fit together.


All of sudden a smile started to crack on the young girl’s face as she giggled happily to herself, forgetting about the world around her. “What? What is it?” Samuel tripped over himself as he skidded to the girl’s side. He gave a detailed glimpse. On the two halves was the drawing, most likely drawn by the girl. On one half was the girl, the messy hair and all. On the other side“Oh,” Samuel understood why the paper was torn up, why she tore all those photographs in half, why she was crying. On the other side stood a taller man with comical brown hair and two dots drawn for his eyeballs. The drawing was old and tattered, something you’d see in a child’s memory box. Though the girl wasn’t staring at the picture itself, she was looking below it. Under the picture, someone had written neatly in sharpie three quick words. The girl brushed her hand across them as if they were something worth great value. “To new beginnings.” Samuel choked up some but recovered so the girl wouldn’t notice. On the very bottom of the note in cursive, the words “love, dad” were spelled. Samuel peered back at the girl, and her shattered eyes evolved. He saw beautiful confidence and hope jump out. She reached and grabbed the two halves, hugging them softly to make sure they were really there. “See, it’s okay.” Samuel patted her on the shoulder and took a few steps back. The girl swiftly reached into her leather backpack and brought out a tape dispenser. For a few minutes, she carefully aligned the pieces of tape so it would look like the paper was never torn in the first place. Soon enough the two halves were a whole again. The girl placed the drawing cleanly onto the pile. She was about to start on all the photographs, but she was soon disrupted. Off in the distance, a light from a farmhouse flickered on, and the screen door opened up. A figure peeked out. “Cass? I’ve got your new room set up for the night! You get to sleep in dad’s old childhood bedroom!” The girl looked up and waved her hand, letting the figure know to wait a second. Cass scooped up all her photograph fragments and placed them on top of the drawing and then closed the folder. She carefully pushed it into her backpack and then slid her bag over her shoulders. “W-well, I guess this is so long,” stuttered Samuel contently. “I wish we could’ve talked more. You’re an extraordinary kid.” Cass smirked in agreement and looked at the sky one last time. Then she ran toward Samuel. Samuel came down to hug her. The fearless girl leaped and found herself behind Samuel as she continued to race off to the farmhouse where the figure was waiting. Samuel hung on to himself as he stood up. He teared up and sniffled softly to himself as the screen door closed and the light disappeared. “Love ya, sweetie.”


He wiped the tears away. “Daddy loves you.” That’s when he noticed that his eyes were back and the shame vanquished. He breathed in one last lifeless breath and closed his eyes. He was ready to go back into the darkness, but to his surprise, this time he saw the light.


Galaxy Streaks Dalia Altubuh Pastel


Creation of the Moon


Candace Lyons In the beginning, there was Earth, but not as we know it today. There was a singular woman there, referred to as Mother Earth. For she had made the grass and flowers grow with every step. Every thought became a star in the sky, and every breath a tree in the forest. The animals came years after Mother Earth. She had gotten lonely and would create bushes shaped like the animals we know today. As more time passed, she fell into despair, and the sky cried for her. This rain helped the bushes grow, and the animals came to life. Mother Earth was so happy when she found her new friends that she decided she must make more. So more and more animals came, but as always, she started to get tired of not being able to communicate with anyone. Mother Earth looked around and thought of what she could do. She shaped a bush that looked like her and waited for the rain to come. But it never did. Months and months passed as Mother Earth created more bushes shaped like her, and some a little different. She created caves and mountains, in the hope it would please the Creator and He would allow her to weep again. The time finally came, and as the rain washed over the bushes, Mother Earth began to dance. She danced for her children, for her Creator, and for her animals. The animals looked on from the forest, sadness, and fear in their eyes. The men, women, and children came to life and saw Mother Earth dancing; they smiled and circled around her. She stopped and looked at her creations. She told them, “I am your Creator, your Mother, your Caretaker, and friend! I will name each of you, and we will live in harmony!â€? She began to name each of her children: January, February, March, April‌ And when all thirteen were named, she told them to rejoice, for this is remembrance day! They danced all day and night and feasted upon berries and animals. All were tired the next morning and slept, except Mother Earth, for she was ready to create more humans. She created more bushes, but instead of rain, a storm came. And her Creator told her she has done more harm than good; she has fallen into the hands of greed and been ignorant of what she has. She has become selfish and unworthy of her power. She will be punished. Mother Earth fell to her knees and begged her Creator for mercy. He scoffed at this and waved her away. With a heavy wind, Mother Earth



Avery Beckham 31


was forced to look away, and when the storm was over, He’s gone. She went to her people and found every single one of them dead. She wept and wept as the rain began to take her people away. She finally stopped and looked to the forest for her animals when she stumbled upon her only daughter, named separately: Moon. “Oh, Moon,” she said, “What have I done to your brothers and sisters?” Little Moon silently cried and looked up at the stars.“I’ve always felt alone with them, but it feels worse now than ever before.” She wept in her mother’s arms until she fell asleep. When she awoke, Mother Earth was dead. Little Moon looked up at the sky and silently prayed for mercy from the Creator. The Creator heard her and listened to her every word and pitied her. “Dear Moon, I cannot help you; there is no one left.” She cried and begged him: “Send me to the stars, I can have friends there. Start over on Earth, please!” He thought for a moment and nodded. “ I will send you to the stars, but you must watch over Earth, so long as you exist.” Little Moon nodded and closed her eyes, and she was gone. The Creator began to work on a new Earth, beginning with a garden and a man and a woman. But Little Moon is not gone forever, she is with the stars; she is our moon. And once a month, Little Moon leaves our sky and weeps for her dead brother and sisters: January, February, March, April...

Blue Serpent


Maggie Brown When the Blue Serpent came out to play, the whole town shrank and quivered at the sound of his footsteps. Yeah, we all knew to keep our blinds drawn shut and our hands curled into fists in case he visited. It didn’t happen often, but the last time we’d let our guard down Rosie Wilkins had ended up in the ER. Bruises laced her neck for weeks after it happened; she hadn’t spoken since. If it had been me, I wouldn’t have spoken either. Some memories are too bitter to sift through out loud. We all knew he was a weirdo; he cried over roadkill and made a fresh dent in a telephone pole every morning. A chill crept through the air when he was around. That’s not me saying he was scary or anything. He radiated cold and his skin was always raw like meat left in the freezer for too long. Not a hair on his body ‘cept for what was on his head. Kids at school made fun of him for it. “What are you scared of?” I asked him one day. We walked the same way home from school, but I’d never talked to him before. “Kick their teeth in. They deserve it.” The Serpent didn’t look at me, just scratched his skin and pursed his peeling lips. He always wore the same ratty letterman jacket every day, even though no one would put him on the team. “It’s not about who deserves it,” he said, his eyebrows arched. I wanted to ask what it meant, but I thought I knew already. Papa used to kick the dog when he was mad at his boss. I gulped and knotted my fingers together as he shouldered his pack and walked down the street. His veins and bones jutted out so bad I wanted to set them back in place. All I did that day was stare and hope that I didn’t end up like Rosie Wilkins. Momma always said I liked danger the way that scientists like the deepest parts of the ocean. I would poke and prod and see how far I could go—-until I ran out of oxygen and drowned. I spent the next few weeks seeing how close I could get to the Serpent without drowning. I found him in the courtyard a couple of days later, bent over his backpack. All his stuff was scattered in the pond and his precious books were soaked down to the last page. Tears dotted his red-rimmed eyes, but he brushed them away when I approached him. A few bones crackled and popped as he uncoiled himself. “Hey, Cal,” he murmured. “I dropped them.”




“Yeah, right. Need some help?” The last thing I wanted to do was make an enemy of the Blue Serpent. I hadn’t considered that it might be worse to make him my friend. The poor dude rubbed his eyes. They were that heartrending, milky blue that earned him his name. Blue eyes, blue veins, blue bruises. “I can’t touch the water,” he said. “Why? You afraid it’ll bite you?” I shifted on my feet and rolled up my sleeves. “Don’t answer that. Relax.” I dove into the pond with my palms outstretched, looking for a stray pen that might have slipped away. I sifted through the sludge and soda cans until I found all his books. He flinched. So much for a “thank you.” “I watched you bash Ernie Lester’s head in like a pumpkin,” I said, “and you’re scared of water?” The Serpent’s body wound up like a pulled-back punch. “I’m scared of things I don’t understand,” he said. “Aren’t you?” Maybe I was. Maybe I didn’t get why my dad had locked me in the bathroom when I was eight. I didn’t get why we had found him bloated in a ditch a few weeks later. I didn’t understand the Serpent and his hair-trigger moods. “You’re a freak,” I said and set his books on the ground. “I know.” “That doesn’t bother you?” “Sometimes,” he said. “Not much I can do about it.” “That’s a bold-faced lie.” I shoved a finger in his chest, closer to him than anyone had ever gotten. “You’re perfectly fine talkin’ to me right now, so why do you keep snapping?” The Serpent wilted under my touch and hung his head. “Do you even know my name, Cal?” he said. His tone was so even that I jerked back and cradled my finger like he’d tried to snap it off. “Course I do.” I sniffed and turned away. “People would say your name if you smiled more often. Or brushed your hair.” The Serpent nodded, but he knew I was bluffing. When he first showed up at school, we hadn’t bothered to learn his name. Not because we ignored him; he was too other. Names didn’t have power over people like him. I took a deep breath and planted my feet. “I’ll say your name when you stop punching my friends,” I snapped. “Got it?” “They aren’t your friends.” That was a load of bull to me. Ernie and I had been on the baseball team since we were little. Rosie was my winter formal date every year. It still made the concrete swim underneath my feet. The Serpent kept staring at me like he was waiting for something. “Don’t wait up,” I grumbled. “I’ve had enough of you today.”


The Serpent’s mouth pressed into a thin line, and the tears that had caught in his eyelashes fell. They kept coming and coming until I realized he was crying, but by then I couldn’t do anything about it. No one had seen him cry over anything but dead possums. “Sorry,” I said, but it came out all wrong and crooked. “Look, I’ll—-” He swatted my hand away when I reached out to touch his shoulder. “There,” he said. “Now you can tell Ernie that you got a beating, too. You can tell him you’ll kill me if I touch you again. It’s nothing to you.” “It’s not—-” He clenched my collar in his fist, his forehead inches from mine. I didn’t want to look at the bruise on his cheek or the droop of his mouth, so I lifted my chin and looked him in the eye. His pupils contracted and flicked across my face. “I thought you were halfway decent,” I said with a bitter laugh. “Yeah.” He shoved me away and put his hands in his pockets. “I thought so, too.” So I did what he told me to do. Over the weekend, I lazed on Ernie’s porch and told him I would kill the Serpent. He would get what was coming to him before he punched someone else’s lights out. It felt good when Ernie smiled and clapped me on the shoulder; he never did that. Surely I was doing something right. I wove my brave tale of survival for Rosie, making a light swat sound like a full-on brawl. After a few weeks, it all faded from my mind. Final exams were coming up, and I couldn’t afford any distractions. Sometimes I saw the Serpent when I was heading home, but he always turned and walked the other way. His skin was getting paler by the day like he would burst if I poked him. A nasty cough was going around, but he was the worst. Sometimes he had to leave class to vomit up mucus. I walked through the empty corridors, hall pass in hand. Sometimes I had to take a breath and step away from the classroom; I lied and said I had to go to the bathroom. It was hard to stand that gloomy pressure without going insane. A muffled scream came from the bathroom. Laughter burst from as rushing water drowned out the panicked howls. I bit my lip and edged towards the end of the hallway, every muscle in my body tense. Ernie and one of his boys held the Serpent’s head in the sink. He screamed and lashed out at them, his teeth snapping, but it didn’t ruffle them one bit. His elbows jabbed out at their limbs as he began to droop. When I lurched into the room behind them, Ernie locked eyes with me in the mirror and grinned. “Join the party, Cal,” he said. “We’re about to kill a snake.” The Serpent thrashed in the sink, but the other boy was built like a bulldozer. When he tried to get up, his face only smashed back down into the drain. I had never considered that Ernie would take me seriously.




“Get off him,” I whispered. My feet wouldn’t move, even as the Serpent went limp. “Why? This was your idea.” Ernie leaned on the bathroom stall and cracked his knuckles. “Never pegged you for a wimp.” “Get. Off.” I knew the instant that the Serpent changed. The warm air turned frigid in a matter of seconds. Bulldozer’s hand slipped on his skin, which now seemed less like skin and more like something to hold the monster in. The Serpent rose, his chest heaving, water dripping from his Cupid’s bow mouth. Make no mistake. This boy was a monster. Blood spattered the bathroom tile by the time he was finished. Ernie’s temple was bust open, but he was too hurt to get back up. Bulldozer’s legs bent like plastic straws beneath him. Only I was untouched. Water sluiced off of the Serpent as he shook himself off. When I caught a glimpse of his hands—I leaned over and retched onto the floor. It looked like a rash from a distance—-some kind of scab. Up close it was worse. Tiny scales protruded from his chicken-skin, jutting out in bloody, pus-filled patches. He whimpered when he looked down at his arms. “Please,” he said, sinking to his knees. “Please make this stop.” I can’t touch the water. The Serpent didn’t look at me. Maybe he didn’t remember that I was there at all. He tore at himself, plucking the scales out one by one like feathers from a bird. I’m scared of things I don’t understand. Tears streamed hard down his face and mixed with the blood pooling at his feet. Aren’t you? “I’m going to take them to the nurse now,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry, Cal,” the Serpent said, his eyes bleary and sad. “I never meant to hurt anyone. It’s just—I don’t know what I am.” “Neither do I,” I said. “Are you going to hurt me now?” His voice was so tiny, amplified only by terror and the bathroom tiles. Those glittering scales littered the floor. “No,” I said after a long while. “No one’s gonna hurt you anymore.” I offered him my hand. After a shaky breath and one last scratch, he reached up and took it. I guess I had a little bit of Serpent in me, too.

All That is Left


Kylee Henrie You are walking down a street, crowded and noisy. Your reality filter is connecting to what people want you to see. It changes what you see, makes life better and easier to connect with those around you. Flashes of descriptions of those around you move and follow their owners like dogs, or a fish circling in the water around the crowd. A grainy video pops up in front of you of a teenage girl sitting in a chair. You almost turn it off, but stop and watch as you walk. “Hello? If you are hearing this, I’m standing next to you. You can’t see me, and I can only see you. I do mean only you, none of that text whizzing by or your social media info. This is prerecorded. I’m not hacking your brain, by the way. I thought that maybe if I did this someone would find me, I don’t know.” She pauses, and glitches flash across the screen. “My reality filter started breaking a couple of years ago. It was just a couple glitches here and there, no big deal. I would have just gotten the update and everything would be fine. Except, sob story, my dad lost his job, and my older model wasn’t cheap to repair. So I lived with it. I mean, we can all live with a couple of pixels changing once a week. I thought of it like living with what the previous generations had, cause I needed to learn ‘patience.’ Yeah, that turned out well. “It soon changed, so it wasn’t just a couple pixels, but I couldn’t see certain people’s mini-bios. Sometimes they were just the wrong color. I never liked knowing personal information about strangers on the street so I mean I dealt with the little steps to destruction. It was the worst at school. I couldn’t see the board. But, embarrassing as that is I came home and-” The girl stops. You stop in the middle of the road, and people curse around you. You barely notice their ratings go down with yours. You know where this story is going. “Resa, stop the-” you cut off talking to your reality filter, the girl is talking again. “It got worse. My parents… they couldn’t see me. They couldn’t even hear me. They started looking for me for hours, and all I could do was stand there as my mom called out my name. They even called the cops. I stood there as the sirens came down the road, closer and closer. I watched as the officers came out of the car and walked to my mom. She was crying. But, one of the officers asked, “What’s the problem ma’am, your daughter is right there.” I could have kissed him ‘cause that meant I


Can You See Me? Claire Dieselberg



was still there and… yeah.” You start walking again, frowning. “It turns out I have a rare virus, one in a thousand have it. Though, you don’t want a PSA or anything I know. Every day I fade a little more. My parents know I’m here sometimes. They say I flicker in and out of view. Like a ghost. So I’m recording this because chances are you’ll never see me. I’m stuck in between the code. “So, what do I see? I guess I just see things normally. Things are dirtier than I thought though, I guess we can’t clean what we can’t see. I can’t use automatic doors or anything unless they’re motion sensors and who uses those anymore. But the point is I get to see people as they are. Like my brother, for instance, I always see what he is feeling; he doesn’t hide his face behind a wall of text. The cost of that is cheap. Hardly anyone knows I’m here. Funny huh? “I better go. I’ve been rambling.” a wave of pixels wash across the screen. “The important thing is-” You see a flicker of a person out of the corner of your eye. It’s a teenage girl, slightly older than the one in the video. An echo of a flicker shows up beside her. It’s a boy. They are both smiling and laughing, having a normal day walking down the street. “-I’ve been rambling-” The video is looping in the background, each time after a wave of pixels. “Resa, pause the video.” You say to your reality filter. “Save the file under humanity and send it to the hard drive.” You walk along the sidewalk, on your way to work. Text swirls around everyone you meet. One woman loves to eat ice cream and has three cats. That boy walking with his mom’s favorite color is blue. Some text cover’s people’s faces, and you can’t tell who they are. Job descriptions appear in front of those with ties and salesmen are surrounded by ads. “Resa, limit reality filter. Show what is real,” you say, and reality is beautiful.

Betwixt Old Magic and Pickles


Ben Meyer “Confound it-” Frazer yelled as his newest spell fizzled out. He had been trying to learn it for months, to no avail. A sort of party trick, or ease of comfort spell—it was a pickling incantation. Unfortunately, every cucumber he attacked so far would only half-pickle. “Every time!” he shouted, picking up the cucumber and taking a bite out of the pickled end with his straight teeth. An idea sparked that he could simply cast it twice, yet he realized that defeated the purpose. What good is a pickling spell that only pickles half a pickle? “Why do ya even want a pickle spell?” his friend Ghundir asked. “You just don’t understand me,” Frazer said. Sighing, he cast Pickle again to finish his snack and went back to his study. What good is a wizard who cannot even use magic right? Frazer was disappointed in himself. He was a Court Wizard sent from the faraway land of Alternita to find and control an ancient source of Old Magic. A journey to a land such as Vortor was not a simple task. Returning to Alternita would be even more difficult as the brier path was a mile long. He could not return empty-handed, yet he could not figure out how to complete such an impossible task. It used to take a handful of mages to secure Old Magic and even then they usually did not come back the same. Whatever the Archwizard saw in Frazer he did not know, for he was sure a task as such would be too daunting. Alyn interrupted the silence. “You aren’t using the right mindset.” “What do you know about magic?” Frazer replied. He always found it annoying when Alynandra thought she knew how to solve all his problems. Who could understand someone whose intelligence is on a completely other level? “My point is that all you focus on is the end result and how you struggle. Lighten up a little.” “A knight-errant should be focusing on her chivalric adventures, should she not?” “May I remind you I was ordered to aid you to find this Old Power?” “Old Magic. Anyway, how am I to collect this magic if I can barely pickle a pickle?” Alyn thought for a moment: between pickles and magic, what were the similarities? “Well, you know that pickling is a form of preserving technique like




salting, right? So wouldn’t preserving magic be the same?” “Well actually-” Frazer started. He held his hand up for a moment as he thought. “You may be onto something there.” “Take a break ‘fore ya fry yer brain, Fraza,” Ghundir called from the other room. He baked a common fruit pie for the party. Ghundir’s scarred muscles looked strange in an apron. Frazer always enjoyed his interesting skills. “Common fruit is my favorite,” Frazer mentioned as he sat down. The group ate as they filled Ghundir in with their plan. They would learn to pickle magic with a pickling thaumaturge. Frazer decided he could practice pickling different objects and then create pure magic. If he could pickle pure magic, he should be able to see if he can pickle Old Magic. “So basically you’re solvin’ ya pickle with a pickle?” Ghundir inquired. “I suppose, but it is not exactly that simple,” Frazer started. Alyn decided it was her chance to speak. “I happen to have heard where this old magic could be,” Alynandra announced, “On the way here to meet with you, I overheard some treasure hunters talking about strange magic energy found in these large rock ...monuments.” “Why do ya say it like that?” Ghundir asked. “Somethin’ strange about ‘em?” “That’s just it. I don’t know. Apparently, they simply shot up out of the ground in the Greater Plains.” “Then to the Greater Plains we go,” Frazer spoke. They packed their survival bags and equipment and marched. Ghundir, being the largest of the group, carried more. He was a fist fighter, trained on the streets of the Capital. Alyn tied her sharply red hair behind her head so that it would not block her vision of intruders or monuments. Once they had gotten far enough, Alynandra stopped leading. She could not detect magic from such a distance as well as Frazer. “It’s over this plateau,” Frazer pointed. The others frowned. They knew the Greater Plains were famous for being flatter than polished metal. “Plateau? Why is there a plateau in the Greater Plains?” Alyn asked. The earth below them rumbled, and the group toppled off the amalgamated stone. They looked up to see a large granite golem. “This must be that magic ya mentioned,” Ghundir noted, “Seems angry.” The golem brought its arm across and Ghundir caught it. While the force was immense, he could handle it. “Maybe ya might try ya own magic!” Ghundir shouted during the strain. “He isn’t weak enough yet!” Frazer shouted back. Alyn took this chance to throw herself onto the central core of the elemental, bashing it with her shield until it began to crack. The golem writhed in pain as it could feel itself slipping. “Now!” Alyn screamed. Frazer began to pickle the core. As it closed,


his staff cracked. The golem was still too strong. Ghundir worked on the stones in the golem’s arm. He ripped out every gem he could find until the monster’s arm fell loose. Frazer cast his spell one more time, preserving the Old Magic, and the rock golem collapsed. “Well that was a mess,” Frazer commented, putting the magic into a bottle. “Still is,” Ghundir said pointing at the decaying stone crater in the plains. The party gathered green and red gems from the rubble. Packing up, they began the hike back to their small hovel to prepare for the next quest.


Ruby Ingram

Colored Pencil


Deservance Emily Franklin



February 19: police arrived at the home of Cindy Walker after neighbors heard the sound of breaking glass late in the night. They discovered the sound the neighbors had heard was a small hole in her window that was not big enough for someone to fit through. Spilled glasses of wine and scuff marks showed signs of struggle. Her cell phone was placed on the table with all her papers neatly stacked and organized. Cindy was nowhere to be found, but her blood was found in the foyer on her carpet. Rumors spread around the city like wildfire and her case wasn’t closed for weeks. October 24: in the heart and soul of Tennessee, Kacie Thurston disappeared from her home. Police arrived to the scene and found a replica of Cindy Walker’s incident. With no MO or signature, FBI could not yet be brought in to investigate. The only connections between the two victims were age, gender, and crime scene . Over the course of many months and more victims, the unsub began to evolve and visibly grew more confident. In April, the BAU was brought in to assist in the investigation. The crime scene remained constant but letters began to appear next to the blood stain with the same message: “Stop me before it’s too late.” The downward slant of the letters showed signs of depression; their faintness was a sign of anxiety. The letter was either folded or flattened, signs of disorganization. The BAU questioned the girls’ parents on any unusual white males in their early 20s that their daughters would have recently associated with. After meticulously examining the crime scene, one agent found a crumpled note thrown into the trash can. They compared the two and found the handwriting to be an exact match. This note was too damaged to read but it was processed as evidence. Annabelle Beckett was brought to the FBI’s attention when she reported receiving a mysterious note at school. She claimed she had not seen who left it in her mailbox and called the police as soon as she read it. The note was a match and revealed a threat against Annabelle’s family if she did not act upon the set rules: do not involve the police and write a cover article about him. If not, her family would be punished. Annabelle was a featured writer for The Tennessean and had already broken the first rule. Police concluded that the unsub was a vigilante who believed their victims needed punishing from past actions. Additional


research provided the useful information that all three victims went to the same high school. The girls were all on the cheer team, but went their separate ways in college. After dawning upon this research, the BAU built and sent out the profile for a sadistic, vigilante white male in his early twenties who had attended Ravenwood High School and was most likely involved in petty theft crimes his junior and senior year. Analysts cross-researched with these parameters and narrowed the search down to two men: Johnny Baker and Eric Griffin. Johnny had dropped out halfway through senior year and still lived with his parents in the Franklin area. Eric’s hometown was Nashville but he was always out of town for work-related travels. Police and FBI arrived at Johnny’s home with a search warrant and followed the trail of broken glass and droplets of blood to the basement door. They stopped to mentally prepare themselves for what they were about to see. What the profile failed to include was that Johnny had been in a psychotic state of mind for well over a few years. Old books and pictures lined the shelf of Johnny and his family, all covered in dust with sharpie marking out the faces of his parents. A car engine reved in the driveway and the team carefully and quietly made their way up the the front door. “You didn’t listen! I told you not to involve them!” “I’m s-sorry p-please don’t hurt m-me” “Shut up!” The police threw open the front door with guns aimed at Johnny Baker. He had a gun rested on Annabelle’s head and threatened to shoot if they did not leave. “This is between me and Annabelle! Go away or I’ll kill her!” “Johnny, you don’t need to hurt her. She didn’t do anything wrong.” “Yes she did!” “Johnny, put the gun down and I promise you’ll get to tell your story. You’ll be all over the news” “Really? Make sure to tell them that I didn’t deserve this” He placed his finger over the trigger and those soon became his last words. Everyone flinched at the sound. Annabelle dropped to the floor sobbing and medics rushed her to the ambulance. Johnny Baker died a coward that day. His last words were an interesting composition. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve to have parents who shut him out and paid no attention to his dangerous behavior. He didn’t deserve to die this way. A cowardly death. They never did unmask the motive behind his killings, but they did find the bodies of his other two victims in his basement placed in handmade coffins. They never did find out how he got into the homes of Kacie and Cindy. They never did find his parents. Maybe he killed them too. Killed the people who deserved it. Johnny Baker didn’t deserve this.


Basement Chloe Kuebbing



“Good Morning, Mr. Field.” “Good morning, Altris. What appointments do I have today?” “Today you have nothing on the calendar. Would you like me to add something?” “No, I think I’ll be taking the day off. Altris, turn the TV to my favorite channel.” “Of course, sir. What would you like from the room serrrrr-” “Altris? Altris, reset program, reboot memory.” “Reboot complete. Good Morning, Mr. Field, what would you like from the room service? The menu today includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links, orange juice, and coffee.” “Order me scrambled eggs and sausage links with a pot of coffee, please.” “Of course sir. Your breakfast will arrive in approximately 3 minutes.” “Altris, I’ll be heading down to the lobby to pick up my breakfast today.” “I have notified the staff. They are ready with your food, Mr. Field. Would you like a cart? The food is hot, so it is recommended.” “Yes, Altris. Open the windows please-” “Initiating lockdown sequence. Please return to your room. Intruder alert. “Altris, report. Where is the intruder?” “An intruder has been spotted in the lobby. Restricted access security has been breached. The building is in lockdown. Please remain in your room. He is being apprehended.” “Altris, display the security feed on my TV.” “Of course, Mr. Field. Displaying now.” “Altris, instruct security to use tasers. Apprehend him and remove him from the premises.” “Mr. Field, the intruder has been apprehended. Where shall he be taken.” “Put him with the others, Altris. “Which level should he be brought to, sir.” “Send him to basement 7, with the snakes.” “Is that not a bit cruel sir? The last to be sent to Basement 7 severed his own limbs just days after introduction.”


“He can handle it, Altris. He’s one of the Emrets. They always seem to last a rather long time. “As you wish sir. He will be transferred immediately. Would you like to visit him” “Not today, Altris. Maybe tomorrow, but right now I’m rather upset.” “What is troubling you, Mr. Field? Is there anything that you wish for me to assist you with?” “I’m just upset that they let him escape. They can never escape.”

Dead Wood Emilee Lamps


Message Denied Rebecca Robinson “Please leave a message.” “Are you there?” “Please leave a message.” “It’s me. Kai.” “I’m sorry. We could not process your call.” “Please. Don’t you remember me?” “Failure to understand voice recognition.” “I know you’re listening. Pick up the phone.”

“Failure to process command.” “I don’t have much time. Where are you?” “Message has reached maximum time limit.” “What are they doing to you? Please, you have to remember me. Listen to my voice.” “I’m sorry. Try calling aga-” “Kai. I...I hear you…I’m…” “Where are you?” “They...they took me...they…” “I’m running out of time. You need to tell me where you are.” “They’re...they’re coming...coming” “I’m sorry. There was an interruption in your call. The person you are contacting has failed to be reached.”



“Failure to process command.” “Pick up the phone. Please.”

Microfiction Various Authors Stained Dresses Lily Hughes I trace the faded buttons lining my dress. Each handcrafted with its own indentations and curves to suit the customer’s needs. My father frowns in an effort to scold me. “Now you’ve done it,” his eyes say, “Now you’ve gone and ruined the party with your own selfish needs.”


Running Away Hayden Madison The sun blared in my eyes and touched my chapped lips. My red wagon was growing heavy, full of two sticks, three rocks, one snail, and my dog Poopsie. The bottoms of my overalls dragged on the ground, it was a hand me down from my cousin Oliver. I told Momma that I refused to wear boy clothes, but Momma insisted that no one would know the difference. My brother Christopher, who was three years my senior, was calling my name to come home. My ears did not catch his voice as I kept walking barefoot on the hot dirt.

I Sold My Soul Abbigail Jackson The halls oozed with a dark red liquid. A boy sat in the middle of it all with a shadowed hand on his shoulder. He is smiling as he looks at the aftermath of his thoughts. His pain was all gone forever now. All at the cost of his soul.


Bones Ashley Phonthibsvads I killed their dog by accident. “In self-defense,” I said to my neighbors. But really, their dog was just too good at digging up bones.

The Dress Claire O’Neal Her long blue dress made her look beautiful and showed off her dazzling eyes. It was perfect for dancing, which she would never do again.

The Race Serena Osuigwe

You Don’t Feel, Right? Kylee Henrie “I love you, you know,” I said in a monotone voice. “Sure you do,” came the reply. Then my gears stopped working and I froze.

Stage and Screen

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Faster and faster as the sharp, Alaskan cold went through my body then out again. My hands turning from pale to blue the longer I was out. I kept running. I couldn’t stop. I was so close I could see it. My name being replayed over and over.


Poetry The Little Robot Ella Waddell Human After All Sebastian Rivera Sisters Megan Lamps Unbreakable Chloe Smith The Black Ram Josiah Giles Untraveled Road John DiPietro Coming Out for the Night Carolina Mooring Oranje Alex Smith Orphan’s Home Brenna Kilpatrick On the Glorious Stage Tiffany Wu Her Last Dance Sija Headrick Cheese Wontons Ben East The Remains of Sorrow Anna McCauley A Sky of Emotions Phoenix Johnson Love, Vincent Megan Lamps A Journey Home Sija Headrick Good Tmes Hendrik Morales Remembrance Gracie Poehlman Illusion Megan Lamps The Hands of Joy Filled Faces Trevor Peck The Trip I Took Trevor Peck Our Lighthouse Emily Franklin Lakeside Matthew Enfinger Whirlpools Megan Sheehan Everything at Once Maggie Brown The Selfish Cure Daniel Swinney What Lies Beneath Meredith Martin Alessandro’s Cigar Hayden Madison A Light in the Sky Josh Lin Due Date? Too Late Durant Thomas Time Courey Bratt My Pet Tiger Megan Lamps In the Rain Byron Headrick FIRE Rishi Doreswamy The Faces of Anxiety Chloe Henderson A Profound Poem Jeremy Sailors He, the Stage Sarah Waldrop Alone Jaylen Brown Little Boy and Fat Man Dalia Altubuh Don’t Step on My Toes C. Audrey Harper Parallels Yunona Shkolnikov

48 48 49 49 50 50 51 61 52 53 53 54 55 56 56 57 57 58 58 59 59 60 60 61 61 62 62 63 64 65 65 66 67 67 68 69 70 70 71 72 73


The Little Robot


Ella Waddell If you took on the old inventor’s desk Under the clutter of paper and the forgotten screws All misplaced long ago, You will find a small machine sitting on the edge Covered with a thick layer of dust It’s a silver metal box, icy to the touch With circuits crisscrossing in the interior Waiting for the signal to bring life Forever on its face, an expression of loneliness Like a young child waiting for the return to his desk And the cold compostion of gears and wires Remains under its blanket of dust Amongst the rest of the forgotten relics Waiting for the old inventor To bring him to life

Human After All Sebastian Rivera Digital Art


Sisters Megan Lamps


See me lying in my bed see the cracks inside my head feel my anger live my pain watch as it begins to rain while I exist inside life’s a twister my anchor will be my sister she’s there to laugh and talk with me she’s there to calm the raging sea even when we drift apart and even when we depart you can always depend on being my friend.

Unbreakable Chloe Smith 51

The Black Ram Josiah Giles


As the fog rises at night The black ram flees the slaughter He sees the herd at the heights As the fog rises at night He hastens without falter From the herd’s imminent blight As the fog rises at night The black ram flees the slaughter

Untraveled Road

John DiPietro Digital Art


Coming Out for the Night Carolina Mooring She walked into the arena, And Marie was amazed. “This is gonna be great,” squeaked Tina. This was a night that would forever be praised. The bass was coursing through every vein, And lights flashed by wildly. Marie brushed some stray hairs away, And Tina smiled slyly.


They charged into the crowd, And danced with themselves, Until a familiar face broke through the shroud, And Marie stopped, as she was compelled. Tina saw this and ran off shouting, “I’ll leave you two alone,” And Marie gave her a scoff, But she just laughed at her tone. “Hi Marie,” said a nervous man. “Hey Paul,” she said warmly. “Uum, can... I-I mean w-will you-” he began. “I’d love to dance,” she grabbed his hand firmly. Dragging him to the middle of the floor, She shimmied the night away. And when the hirelings started taking down the decor, She thought to herself, ‘Wow, I could not be more gay.’

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Alex Agnew 53

Orphan’s Home Brenna Kilpatrick A rickety house practically falling apart, on the edge of the life and breath of the town. There is no doorbell in the place it should be, instead a little shop bell hangs strung up with yarn.


Inside there’s a picture of a three-member family, covered in fingerprints, and placed down with care. Yet there can only be seen one pair of shoes, small and dirty sneakers sitting lonely by the door. The kitchen is bare but for a few boxes, Poptarts and candies, and cereals galore. There is a small table of plastic and tape, that sits by a bean bag chair wrinkled by use. A white bedroom door stands closed and locked, ‘Mom and Dad’ carefully written in paint. A creaky hallway leads to a second bedroom, a large empty space where its white door should be. A small bed sits neatly made, the hole-riddled blankets smoothed over the lumps. A rickety bedside table sits by the side, much more cheerful than the rest. There are pictures and drawings, notes, papers, and tape. Memories bright with sunshine smiles sit, filling the lonely gaps and cracks with hope. And I thought to myself, in that small sunshine room, the owner in question was a brave little child, who dared to live, hope, dream and exist on his own.


On the Glorious Stage Tiffany Wu Inspired by “Dancers in Pink” by Degas


The dancers in pink waited For their turn on the glorious stage, Where the dancers before had left their mark For the whole auditorium to see. They were nervous, but prepared, Fixing each others costumes And checking each others’ hair. Months of preparation Would pay off in the moment That they stepped onto the open. The audience waiting in boredom, Until they see the bright color fill the stage. Voices went still as the music began And the dancers in pink took their place On the glorious stage.

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Her Last Dance Sija Headrick


Cheese Wontons


Ben East To me, cheese wonton, you will never get old. When I first gazed upon your golden brown crust, your soft shell so wispy, yet your flavor so bold. When you were, made I knew you couldn’t grow rust. As I take a bite, with joy I cry. With a taste never so rich and so very sweet. And with a leap, I feel like I could fly. I knew that you, cheese wonton, could never be beat. Soon I approach for another bite, crunch crunch. So subtle and so smooth, yet so loud and so rough. Oh how I could eat you always...even brunch. Your cheese sweet, like creme brulee, I can’t bluff. I think I will depart for one right now. Peace out, you uncultured losers, deuces, ka-chow.


The Remains of Sorrow Anna McCauley shshshshshshshshshshshshshshhshhh sorrow dddddddththrhrthtfhdhtdhdrthdrthrdthtdrhhhjjjjjjjj ddhtrhdrthgfhdrthdtrfdhdtfhrthdghtdrthdrhhthfhfhf Shall dawn upon him sssdkfvkdfvdkfjvbdkfjbvv ssthrtdhdhfthththtfhdfghghghgfdhthtdtghthhhtnv sshththththfghththtyhtthtdrhtrhrtrhrvfvf sssss a ssss remembered story sssfdjvnkdfnkjvdfkvkdfvkfb


ssssssssssss now, ddddddddddddddddddddddddddd Through the jdfkvhkjdfkjvkdjfkvjbdfkbvkbdfkvbkf fnvkjdnfkvnkdfnvkndfknvndfkvndkkdnfnvkdfvkdn kdfjnkvndfknvkndfkkvdfvnkdvkdnfvndfkkv kvdnfvkndfjvkdfnvjdkfnkvdnfkvnkdfnkvdnfkvn kdfnvkndfvdfnvkdf pale door kfndvkndfknv rush out forever dfkjgher but smile no more.


A Sky of Emotions


Phoenix Johnson Your emotions are like the sky. Through the bright sunrise of happiness, To the cold, rainy days of sadness, And the dark thunder storms of anger. From the cloudy days of confusion, To the calm, clearless days of content, And the sun-filled days of excitement. From the relief of dusk, To the star-filled nights of wonder, And the starless nights of fear. The sky has a way of speaking To the people who choose to look. It seems to tell the world it’s feelings As if it had nothing to hide. You show your emotions so clearly, To the people who choose to look.

Love, Vincent

Megan Lamps

Digital Art


A Journey Home Sija Headrick


Good Times Hendrik Morales


Remembrance Gracie Poehlman


It took a while for us to notice him; his quiet presence ghostlike; his footsteps devoid of gravity, as if his feet met the ground not once at all. Perhaps this was the reason he began to truly disappear; his outline became fainter ev’ry day, his lips gaped like the fish in the school pond, his clothes seemed to slip through his skin and bones, until the glint of his tufted hair was the only sign he had existed beyond our memory.


Megan Lamps 60

The Hands of Joy-Filled Faces Trevor Peck The dinner bell is lightly rung and the family gathers for their meal The silverware is tightly clung for the potatoes robbed of their peel A simple dish is served tonight one that’s been served for quite some time and yet their faces fill with delight to them potatoes are sublime


Their tired hands have worked the fields and they have earned every bite for with all their toil they never yield to the constant pain of peasant smite In fact they flourish in their joy with all the small things that they’ve got they’re never found with looks of cloy at the simple meals with mild rot

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The Trip I Took Trevor Peck


Our Lighthouse Emily Franklin Every other Sunday we headed west on the coast In her red Cadillac with leather seats To the beaming lighthouse sat upon the rocks We would stay would stay all day before the rain called us back to the streets


I can never forget the nights when it all felt right When the waves crashed against the rocks that held our lighthouse And the bright light brought wayward ships home But before we knew it the light became too bright to douse When we were together, in that lighthouse I couldn’t remember anything else All that really mattered Was which way we would take home So to our beloved lighthouse May your light shine on forever May your warmth be felt by everyone And may your love live on


Matthew Enfinger 62

Whirlpools Megan Sheehan


My mind: a whirlpool. A jumbled mess of thoughts ricocheting around every corner of my brain. Never ceasing. Dreams, desires, criticisms, concerns. I always have something to experience, something to ponder, something to desire, something to need because of this constant flurry. I sometimes forget that I am surrounded by others, hundreds of individual whirlpools with intense currents of their own. Perhaps if we all took a moment to realize the other whirlpools, maybe we can calm the hurricanes in our hearts even if just for a moment.

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Everything at Once Maggie Brown


The Selfish Cure Daniel Swinney


The rain dripped on the window. Pathways of water, giving life to another. The cloudy, gray sky enveloped the building. “How can I help make you happy?” “Make the rain last longer.” She admired the dreary scene from the window. “What?” “It’s selfish,” She sighed, the same expression on her face. The rain let up, and her smile faded with the sun’s rays. “I feel normal in the rain: everyone shares sorrow. When the sun shines, I see everything for what it is, And I’m left waiting for the rain to come back.”

What Lies Beneath

Meredith Martin

Mixed Media


Alessandro’s Cigar Hayden Madison Alessandro spoke in waves of smoke. Every time he opened his mouth, the smell of expensive Italian cigars rose from his toes to his raven black hair. His skin young with no imperfections. He had a crooked smile that showed his white teeth, each tooth fit in his mouth perfectly like a puzzle. His body had scars, and each scar like a piece of art in an art gallery, but Alessandro chose to smother these scars and to not speak of the crimes that belonged to them. His only love, Maria, never approved of anything he did. Her voice was soft like gelato, while his was rough and patchy like dead grass. So when Alessandro and Maria fought, their voices blended together to make an awful symphony of screaming and yelling, always fighting, never time for a breath of clear oxygen, the air was toxic and both of them were suffocating.



Years went by. An illness rooted in his lungs, it stole Alessandro’s life. Maria’s hair grayed, and her children grew. Maria longed for something more to life. She was filled with regret for not leaving her love behind, for he was not her love—only a smoke-filled man to argue with, her children gone with the time. Maria was alone for the first time in her life, all she knew was the depths of fighting and crying herself to sleep on some nights. The streets of Italy were full of cobblestone and youth; the air was fresh for the first time—barren of his cigar smoke. Maria missed that cigar smoke, she didn’t want to miss the smoke, but she did. Sure enough, in the kitchen drawer was one last cigar. Maria struck a match and held the end of the cigar; puffs of Alessandro’s cigar drifted out through the open window, into the streets of Italy.

A Light in the Sky Josh Lin


Dark and beyond hope, a sky of doubtful air. Stars upon stars, shining with flickers of light, lifeless shadows drowning them out with despair dark and beyond hope, a sky of doubtful air floating without direction, a heavy nightmare at the day’s end, the starlight outshines the night dark and beyond hope, a sky of doubtful air stars upon stars, shining with flickers of light.


Claire Dieselberg


Due Date? Too Late Durant Thomas His teacher says the deadline’s one day away. In his mind: “It’s not my problem today!” He states, “It’s just another assignment; I have nothing to fear.” His teacher then reminds, “The due date is near.” He puts the music buds in each ear as if there’s nothing important to hear. Music blasting so ridiculously loud, his melodies can be heard by the surrounding crowd “Young man, this assignment must be done by the setting sun.” “Yes Mister, you know I’ll get it done.” But now it’s midnight and he hasn’t even begun.



Courey Bratt

Watercolor and Pen


My Pet Tiger


Megan Lamps Tiger growling in my ear saying words I shouldn’t hear. Making sure that no one’s near, when you tear away my fear. I show my skin; you withdraw your claw, as blood runs down, I stare in awe. My arm is ribbons, red and raw, the meanest tiger I ever saw. Scars like stripes, my eyes have dried, my stare is glued, eyes open wide. Red paint trickles down the side; my wounds are getting hard to hide. You brush your fingers down the streak, you wipe your eyes and start to speak. You ask me how I could be so weak, my eyes mimic yours and start to leak. Your sorrow switches to mere disgust, I quickly start to lose your trust. All my hopes soon fade to dust, I shouldn’t lie, but fear I must. The tiger grins because he has won, I know his game has just begun. My arms feel like they weigh a ton, my spool of ribbon has come undone. I know there’s nothing I can say, to keep you here another day. I wish I would’ve made you stay. I wish you’d never gone away. I know it’s too late for regrets, keeping these tigers as my pets. It’s not your fault so please don’t fret. You say farewell, but you won’t forget.


In the Rain Byron Headrick The devil is beating his wife today Mama says don’t play in the rain Just wait till it goes away But I never listened Mama says don’t play in the rain You’ll ruin your sunday dress But I never listened I laugh and play


You’ll ruin your wedding dress I was a newlywed with so many dreams I laugh and play Holding the man I love in the rain I was a newlywed with so many dreams But a drunk driver was able to take them all it seems Holding the man I loved in the rain The devil is beating his wife today

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Rishi Doreswamy


The Faces of Anxiety Chloe Henderson Fear is standing in line for the roller coaster, then reaching the front and deciding you can’t do it, waiting for everyone else to get off in the blazing heat just to skip out on the next one again.


Loss is the first tear falling down your face, the butterflies that once inhabited your stomach now filled with knives. Looking into someone’s eyes and seeing only a void that cannot be filled, seeing someone you used to know so well and now knowing them not at all. Loneliness is cold sheets and thin air, the absence of another warm-blooded individual to help fill your weary soul with laughter, sitting alone on a bus with no hand to hold, only wishing to be back home once again. Thought is the whirlwind that is your mind, never ending until the day you retire from this life, the thing that can make you want to scream yet smile all at the same time. The human version of an engine, the best, yet the worst thing to exist. Irritation is the growing heat coming from your ears, the balled up fist to your side, your mind moving faster than your own two legs can, the sound of the person’s voice who hurt you the most. The tightness of your forehead when your brows are furrowed.


A Profound Poem Jeremy Sailors

1. High School Musical, “Start of Something New” 2. Megamind 3. Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood” 4. Outkast, “Hey Ya!” 5. Shawn Spencer from Psych 6. Brand New, “The Waste” 7. Taking Back Sunday, “Liar” 8. Taking Back Sunday, ”Cute without the ‘E’” 9. Taking Back Sunday, “A Decade Under the Influence” 10. The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”



We know the world can see us in a way that’s different than who we are. There is no Easter Bunny and no Queen of England, but now we got bad blood. Now we’ve got problems. You think you’ve got it oh, you think you’ve got it but “got it” just don’t get it. Many have said that the universe is even larger than the Indian Ocean but if it’s breaking your heart, if nothing is fun don’t lose hope, my son Liar, Liar and will you tell all your friends you’ve got your gun to my head. Well, I’ve got a bad feeling about this I’ve got a bad feeling about this it started out with a kiss how did it end up like this it was only a kiss (This may sound confusing, but take a deeper look at the poem and reflect on some bad breakup or something of that importance in your life, then tell me if it makes sense.)

He, the Stage


Sarah Waldrop You are the stage, dusty and black. You have scuffs and marks, dents and bumps. You are lifeless. You are bland; yet you light up when I dance, casting your light down on me. I leap when I see you, waltzing all around. I am your ballet; the light in the darkness. Why don’t you see that?

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Jaylen Brown


Little Boy and Fat Man Dalia Altubuh

Poetry 73

Don’t Step on My Toes C. Audrey Harper


Don’t step on my toes a poem might burst out These internal whispers have turned into shouts My veins are lines, each drop of blood a syllable My metaphors so abundant they’re almost biblical Jumbled up fragments, there’s alphabet soup in my stomach Stick a hand up my ass, I am your poetic puppet Don’t step on my toes a poem might begin I am blood and thoughts wrapped up in thick skin I breathe out teen angst and self-righteous indignation Does my mind arouse you? Am I the pinnacle of temptation? I am just another limp body to lust a collection of cells accumulating dust Don’t step on my toes a poem will be born Put me on your Instagram feed, it’s millennial word porn Dress me in roses and cigarette smoke I’ll have a seat at the table with all y’all white folk Pass me the salad with a side of privilege My accent is cute and my clothes are “vintage” Don’t step on my toes I might become famous I am utter mediocrity dressed up as greatness Pull my eyeballs out and you’ll have a bestseller Throw me against the stars, I’ll be celestial, I’ll be stellar Paint me in your pictures, put me on a t-shirt Give me a book deal, let’s make dollars off my hurt Don’t step on my toes I am awfully nervous My toes, my poems, they define my purpose I am nothing but unwritten words on a blank sheet I am just a rotting corpse for maggots to eat Tap my chin, and I’ll be spitting sonnets But this isn’t poetic it’s catchy word vomit


Don’t step on my toes I am not wearing shoes My poems are damaged, scratched, and bruised They’re trembles and stutters and stammers and twitches They’re desires and cravings and yearnings and itches They’re scratchy knees and days in the dark They’re no-hit wonders, a match with no spark Don’t step on my toes my brain is tired I feel infinitely creative, yet so uninspired My blood doesn’t flow without an existential crisis I am joyfully cursed, I am King Midas The thoughts, the blood, the world, I am the holy trinity I am as divine as Mary, minus the virginity Don’t step on my toes I’ll spit in your face Did you know of your insignificance to the human race? Disgustingly mundane, horrifyingly ordinary Your thoughts, your work, they’re all arbitrary Do you have a line in a textbook, painting in the MET, Stalkers on your doorstep, or a phone full of death threats?


Don’t step on my toes, slam my fingers instead My entire existence lies within my head My hands will break off, my bones will splinter Let my limbs turn raw and freeze in the winter Throw me in an incinerator, the smoke will become rhymes Nail me to a cross, I’ll repent for all my literary crimes Don’t step on my toes they’re covered in bandages My work will do the talking, my poems will cover the damage I am sunken eyes and a messy mind I am of utmost insignificance to mankind Don’t step on my toes I’m afraid of failure So I’ll get lost in my poems and delusions of grandeur


Yunona Shkolnikov



Creative NonFiction Beauty Should Not be Painful Claire Dieselberg Reflecting Shiyeon Ku For the People, But Not Equal Michael Kelly Self Portrait Carl Yem I Love You, Bro. No Homo Ella Waddell Dudevorce Jeremy Sailors A “Pop Pop” Tosis Byron Headrick The American Dream Michael Kelly I am Uncle Sam Elisa Castaneda The Journey of an Author Ryan Langston Light and Perspective Courey Bratt Show Me an “ID” Taylor Theakston Taking a Knee Love Lundy The Tide Pod Challenge Holly Bradshaw Luciana Vega’s Launch into Space Ella Waddell The Case of the Trojan Autobot Maggie Brown Shattered Glass Grace Hannah Junque Nastiya Burjak Slap Heard ‘Round the World Amani Hendricks My School Bus is Better Cassie Volkin Foreign Friendship Lily Hughes The Well Brenna Kilpatrick The Struggle is Real Courey Bratt NBA 2K18 is a Slam Dunk Ryan Langston Swish Avery Beckham Roadkill Ashton Jah Autumn Anna Mathias

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Beauty Should Not be Painful


Claire Dieselberg When I was in the fifth grade, I witnessed two girls wax their eyebrows with the duct tape they were supposed to be hanging pictures with. I then went home and did the same thing, which tore my skin. Trying to emulate what the popular, pretty girls did gave me nothing but pain and embarrassment as I walked into school the next day with scabs on my face. Society and the media, while they are taking steps towards body positivity, still set unhealthy examples for girls by overwhelmingly praising unnaturally thin, edited bodies and by pushing them to alter what they naturally are. Girls become obsessed with their looks, and the ideal of beauty becomes “a form of self-oppression.” This overwhelming pressure to fit a specific standard causes many girls to develop such issues as anxiety or serious eating disorders. France, a country where thinness is highly prized, recently passed a law to combat this epidemic. The fashion industry had been struggling with an inaccessible ideal of beauty that had many unhealthily thin women strutting the catwalk and polluting the media. Because of this, the regulation bans underweight models and requires edited photographs to be labeled, which they hope will create a more healthy, realistic idea of beauty. Reforming the standard of attractiveness to be more diverse and natural will empower women to feel good “about what they actually are—or normally grow to be,” and in turn, make them more accepting of others’ looks. This is more important than one might think. When a young girl begins to look at her body critically, her life changes — suddenly, she is obsessed with how thick or thin she is, whether her hair is straight or coiled, blonde or black. These heavy critiques along with the tendency for girls to compare their bodies with those of their peers can cause serious insecurity. Along with their peers, many girls compare their bodies with actresses, youtubers, and models. The big issue here is that these women’s bodies are unattainable, especially for a young girl. Photos are edited, and the most flattering lighting and angles are chosen to film. Not only this, but social media allows for communication between these celebrities and the impressionable girls. Companies have taken advantage of this by paying these influential women to promote their products. Scrolling through any female celebrity’s Instagram, one would almost certainly find a sponsored post from sugarbear gummies, which are said to promote hair and nail


“France Bans Extremely Thin Models.” BBC News, BBC, 6 May 2017, Sontag, Susan “A Woman’s Beauty: Put Down or Power Source?.”

Reflecting Shiyeon Ku Paint



growth, numerous detox teas, which are usually a form of laxative, or any other number of similar products. These endorsements push fads that are deemed necessary to purchase in order to achieve perfect beauty, which is detrimental to the mental (and sometimes physical, if they purchase that tea) health of these girls. Not all of the media, however, is closed-minded. Numerous movements towards body positivity have surfaced on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Models with extremely dark skin, with albinism, and with vitiligo have made progress towards acceptance for all skin colors. Plus size or even average sized models have flooded multiple industries such as Target and Aerie, promoting healthier, more normal body types. A model with Down syndrome has risen on social media to show that even some of the most downtrodden have the right to be celebrated. This diversified new age of the internet is propelling a generation of young girls towards a future where the “flattering idealization of their sex” is not one specific standard, but a celebration of their own unique characteristics. Although society has a long way to go, new laws and social media movements are slowly repairing the damage caused by unattainable beauty ideals. Countries are banning detrimental, over-edited images, and while one side of the internet is flooded with face-tuned selfies and endorsed beauty fads, there is another side promoting diversity and self-acceptance. Just as many women transition from insecure teens into confident adults, the modern world is in a transitional stage between strict ideals and total acceptance.

For the People, But Not Equal


Michael Kelly Equality. The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. The Holy Grail of idealism, and the foundation of America, land of the free. Though is it really free? Free of terror? Free of discrimination? Free of hate? Is this not the word that millions of feminists are currently marching for? The word that took 246 years of slavery and 12 years of peaceful protesting to extend its benefits to the “people of color?” Equality. The poster child of how society has advanced from their ancestral counterparts. But have we really gained equality? The state of being equal on all fronts? Of course not. If that were true, why are there protests? Why are police getting paid vacation leave for killing unarmed civilians? Why is there still discrimination? Why is there poverty? The answer to all of this is quite simple. Equality. The state of unanimous equity. The essential fuel to the undying patriotism that propels us forward to this so-called “progression,” while simultaneously averting our eyes from the actual problem at hand. The question defies the very principles this country was founded on. Is equality applicable to civilization? And if it is, how do we, the people, attain it? Equality. The quest to an unknown destination that has both begun and ended. A journey that loops indefinitely. An image without color. Food without taste. A blizzard without snow. A book without pages. A lyric without words. A speech without an audience. Incomplete. A glass half full. Yes, America has made its fair share of amendments to better meld itself into the frame of this concept, but it is by no means finished. What we have currently is, for the lack of better words, partial equality. Otherwise known as inequality. Equality Is evil. That’s what the majority Americans believe, anyway. Ever heard of communism? Sure, it may not be the most practical way to run a capitalist nation, but has anyone ever wondered why? Again, the answer is blatantly obvious. Equality. Is it fair for a doctor to be paid the same as a janitor with no additional


benefits? Nothing to reward the individual who has a much more challenging occupation? That is up for interpretation. Equality is interpretation. So you tell me. What is it, Equality? If we are currently living in equality, in a country of equal men, then equality is not equality. It is a misconception. It is deception. It is a dream.

Nonfiction Self Portrait Carl Yem Digital Art


I Love You, Bro. No Homo.


Ella Waddell Bromance is the complicated relationship between two straight men and has become the highest level of friendship that pair of homo-sapiens could ever have. In other words, the two have entered into a bromanticrelationship. The word originates from the two English root words “brother” and “romance”. But of course, the word comes with boundaries. It’s like when you were little, and you did not let your peas and mashed potatoes touch. So, you built a wall of fragile masculinity around them so the two won’t get too close. A bromance is when you can get a hug from your best friend in the world after a stressful day of lifting weights at the gym. A bromance is when you are required to say “no homo” after you show the slightest amount of affection to your male counterpart. A bromance is when two bros are chillin’ in a hot tub five feet apart because they’re not gay, but if you were gay, you can bet that it would be with him. A bromance is Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. It’s Achilles and Patroclus. It’s Hamlet and Horatio, John and Sherlock, Nick and Gatsby. It’s Obama and Biden. A bromance is like a Squish but without the commitment. A bromance is when you realize that your friend’s girlfriend isn’t good enough for him and he deserves better. A bromance is when you realize, if your bro wasn’t a dude, you would totally date him. A bromance is when you start to get jealous over the girls flirting with him. A bromance is when you slowly start to feel butterflies in your stomach when you are near him. A bromance is when his hand brushes up against yours and you blush. A bromance is looking in his eyes, and feel the world slow down as you both share a moment of eternity together. A bromance is a feeling that is unexplainable. A bromance is a word that becomes a weapon to society. It is a safe place that two men can retreat behind when things get confusing. A bromance is a mask that hides feelings that you have come to fear. After all, a bromance is easy to explain to your parents and teammates. It’s not an anniversary. It’s not a date. It’s not the first kiss. It’s just you going over to his house because you are studying. It’s just you staying late into the night because you guys found a cool video game that you just had to finish. It’s an accidental trip that ended up with the two of you brushing lips. Because after all, you aren’t gay. You two are just in a bromantic relationship, a bromance.


Dudevorce Jeremy Sailors



Now I know what you are thinking, Dudevorce, this is a joke, right? But I’ll have you know that Dudevorce is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Now that we have that warning out of the way we may continue. Dudevorce: the dissolution of a bromance by mutual consent, Dudevorce occurs only after a Bromance. Bromance: a close but nonsexual relationship between two men. A Dudevorce is one of the most hurtful things that can happen to a bro, especially if one bro was cheating on the other bro with someone else. I’ve personally had this happen to me—I thought my closest bro was my best friend, turns out he had a closer bro—him and I had to get a Dudevorce. Now, this did hurt; nothing, and I mean nothing, is more unforgivable and harmful than breaking the Bro Code. Once the Bro Code is broken, a Dudevorce is automatically commenced and the ex-bro is shunned. And if you are new to the whole bro area let me explain: the Bro Code is a list of 128 rules that all bros must follow, that if broken result in, as I have said, a Dudevorce and then a shunning. As we all know, a Dudevorce is a very serious word with lots of meaning, but I want to delve deeper. I’m going to explain why I have been through a Dudevorce. It was a cold Friday night, stormy and foggy. My best friend Max had told me that I was his best dude, and that no one would ever replace me. Three days later I saw him, saw him with another dude, laughing and giggling. I felt betrayed so I confronted him, and he confessed that this man was a closer bro than me. With that I initiated the Dudevorce. We blocked each other on social media and stopped hanging out; it hurt me more than it did him because I was left alone. Days passed without speaking; we still haven’t spoken. I don’t miss him at all though; he broke our main code, the Bro Code: never cheat on a bro with another bro. But this is why I’m here today, to speak about the Bro Code; to speak about Dudevorce and Bromance; to warn all others that before you break the Bro Code, before you make the mistake of hurting your bro, stop and think for a second: would I want a bro to do this to me, would I want someone to Dudevorce me? With that I am done; I hope you found the research on my topic able to save some Bromances, anything to help.

A “Pop Pop” Tosis


Byron Headrick Cells are called the building blocks of life, and yet they are always dying. Their bodies are fixed to live only a certain amount of time, and when that time is up, they implode. This process is defined as apoptosis. Why can’t I take this word seriously? I mean, death is a serious thing, but when I hear the word apoptosis, I just think of a cell going “pop.” And that’s not sad at all. If anything, apoptosis causes envy. Cells have a set expiration date. We humans have to live our lives without knowing when our end could be. I mean, I could cross the street and get hit by a car, I could develop stage 4 pancreatic cancer, or I could drop dead of a heart attack. And my death wouldn’t be just a “pop.” I have friends and family that I will leave behind. That will miss me. No one will miss a cell when it goes under apoptosis. That is why it is an envious word. I guess apoptosis is really a serio-comic, a dramedy. In Showtime’s TV show Shameless, the daughter of a deadbeat dad struggles to raise her siblings while trying to pay the bills and deal with romances. Sure, the show will make you laugh, but is it really funny for a 21-year-old girl to raise her teen siblings? Is it really funny to watch them go through the financial trouble? Apoptosis is a serious word, yet why do I hear the song “pop goes the weasel?” Apoptosis is irony in its purest form. In the words of Alanis Morrisette, “It’s rain on your wedding day.” It’s animals representing a communist regime. Apoptosis is laughing even though you are the joke: pop pop laugh. Pop pop laugh. Pop pop cry. The word is a fragment, a piece that has fallen off. It is a piece that we will eventually gain back, but what if it didn’t come back, what if it was gone forever? Would we really miss it? Have we become so desensitized that nothing has value? In the average adult, 50-70 billion cells die from apoptosis per day. Every day, billions of cells will shrivel up and pop. Their existence ending, to only be replaced by a billion more. Apoptosis is really replacement with a punchline. Apoptosis is a fleeting thing. Will you be, too?


The American Dream Michael Kelly

What country did you originate from? How long have you lived there? I was born in Poland and lived there for ten years. When I was ten years old, my family moved to Germany and lived there for an additional seventeen years. What made you come to the U.S.? Did you ever consider moving prior? I never considered moving to America prior. I was pretty good at school in Germany—I had finished up my special education major. I had a job, career plan. I never thought about moving to the United States. Why did I move? Because I met my husband and he was in the military. We had planned for him to retire in Germany and live there, but he sustained heavy injuries that caused him to leave early and return to America. This left me with a choice. Do I stay in Germany and let him go back to the U.S.? Or risk it and go with him, leaving everything I had behind? At this point, we had two kids, and splitting the family apart was not an option. This ultimately led me to move to America. Did America meet your expectations when you first arrived? Did you have any expectations to begin with? I had no idea what to expect. Everything went so fast after making the decision to move that I really couldn’t think about that kind of stuff. This wasn’t planned at all, yet I still had to make a choice. If anything, the



As Americans, we all are quite acquainted with the idea of the American Dream; however, have we ever considered the viewpoint of this ideology from a non-native born’s perspective? Will it align with America’s patriotic definition of the term, or will it reveal the discrepancies between concept and actuality? That is the goal of this interview is to see whether or not this collective understanding is held not exclusively among native citizens. How will I accomplish this feat? Luckily, I have an adult family member who has originated from another country and also gone through the citizenship process. This individual is none other than my beloved mother, Justine Kelly. Not only does she serve as a primary source for information on the topic, but her experience of the citizenship process should also further provide an insight of a non-native’s view of the American Dream.


movies I saw of America portrayed it as being glamorous, big cities like New York, everybody living well. It was just—awesome. Tall buildings, in the films you don’t see homeless people, you see fancy cars, and when you look at these music videos as a teenager, you want to be “cool,” and made you believe that America was a “cool” country where everybody had “cool” things. That’s how I saw it growing up. So in a way, this is what I had pictured in my mind. But after having lived here for a few years, it’s a whole other world. One that crushed the childhood image I originally had. Did you feel you were at a disadvantage in starting a successful life because certain opportunities were not given to you—being only exclusive to Americans? Yes. I was at a huge disadvantage. I didn’t know it then, but I do now. My first job in the U.S. was in a daycare. In Germany, I had a degree in education as well as years of training in special education. When I started the job, I was earning six dollars and twenty-five cents an hour, and I worked there for almost a year. I was the head teacher for children ages two and a half to four and a half, with eighteen children in my classroom. It was a really difficult job. They needed to be potty trained, got sick, got hurt…My boss at the time knew what my qualifications were in Germany, and assured me that once I had my transcript translated that I would get reimbursed for the lack of pay I was receiving and that I would additionally receive a pay raise that matched my credentials. Several months after the paperwork came back, it was stated that I had indeed received education training in Germany; however, no credits were granted because it was a different system of schooling than in America. After hearing the news, my boss basically said “Good for you, we see you are well educated, but it seems that you aren’t certified so you will be receiving your normal pay.” At that point, I quit. I got sick frequently, worked overtime, and, for the time I put in and the money I was paid, I felt like I was taken advantage of. It was crushing. After having a few years of living here under your belt, do you feel as if your view of America has changed in any way? Yes, the people mainly. I think America is a beautiful country; It has so much to offer. It has oceans, mountains, great cities, deserts, snow... what country can offer you all of this? But as far as the people? They are really hostile. Not all, of course, but there are quite a few. There have been numerous occasions where my clients at my current job ask “What language do I speak?” or “Where from South America did I come from?” due to my accent. It makes me feel as if I am not a part of the rest of the Americans—being singled out like that. They don’t know what I’ve been through, and the reason why I’m here. Americans are quick to judge you. I imagined that America would consider everybody as equals and that everyone would be treated the same. But that is simply not true. 86

What is your definition of the American Dream, and do you feel like you have found it? What is my definition of the American Dream? I didn’t know what the American Dream was going to America, because I was not looking for it. I came here as a mother of two. For me, it was important to have the family together, but I later learned about the American Dream. After being here for thirteen years, the American Dream...for me? Nothing came easy; I had to work hard to be where I’m currently at. The American Dream for me is working hard, not giving up, following your goals without anyone’s intervention, and prospering from your dedication. I mean I have a house, I have my family, I have a car...this is my American Dream. Being able to provide and keep the family together.


I am Uncle Sam Elisa Castaneda Mixed Media


The Journey of an Author Ryan Langston


Christine Wicker is a former religion reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She now is an author living in Dallas with numerous books published. She had trouble at first with writing, but now she has numerous books to her name. What led up to you being a reporter? I was in college and was an English major, and I was going to sign up for an English class. There was a long line at the English desk, but there was no line at the journalism desk, and I went over. I said to the man, “Do you think that I could write for the newspaper?” He said, “Yes, I do. I know that you could.” So I signed up. What kinds of things did you want to report on? I wanted to write feature stories. They are soft news like someone finds a baby somewhere. I might do a story on the rodeo in Fort Worth. That’s what I wanted to write. What inspired you to write? Well, I thought that if I could bring back an account of how people’s lives were, then people would understand each other better, they would know each other better, and wouldn’t be so separate. They would also learn things about other people. I wanted to write my stories so clearly and so wonderfully that people wouldn’t know they were reading them, they would be able to read them effortlessly. What made you transition into writing books instead of news stories Well, I was still working for a newspaper when I first began to think about doing books. I thought, “If I do books, then that will give me an edge as a reporter and people will admire me more.” It was an extension of what I was doing, and it would give me job security. So, I started looking for stories that might turn into books, and I knew someone who had done books. I asked him if he knew an agent. So, I called the agent. She said yes to me because she had to have writers to make any money. I sent in proposals for books and for a long time she said no. I would write them, and she’d keep saying no. I couldn’t get her to sell anything. Then, one day she said she had a policeman in Dallas, and he solved this crime.


There were these women, and they would be murdered. This policeman solved the crime, and he had a book contract, but he didn’t know how to write. If I did the book about him, they would give me half the money. So, that’s what happened. My first book was called The Eyeball Killer. It was called that because when the man would kill the women, he would cut their eyeballs out. I interviewed people, looked at documents then wrote an outline for the book and the publishers looked at it and told me to write it and it got published.



After your first book, how do you decide what to write about? I had by this time become a religion reporter, so I thought maybe I could sell a book on religion, but I didn’t know what to write. I wrote a proposal and, I don’t remember what was in it, but my agent said she would try to sell the proposal. Nobody wanted it, but one editor called me and said, “I like what you’ve done here, but this isn’t really the book I want. Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to write a book about your own belief, and I want it to be something you believe is so true that other people would be foolish not to believe it.” I thought about it, and I decided that I was going to write about myself and how I had grown up in the church and I had stopped going and why and how I felt about it. How I felt about God, and how I became a religion reporter. I would always want to know why people believed what they believed and if they truly believed it, and I would think to myself, could I believe it? So, he said to me was, “What you need to write is a manifesto, and that is a declaration of what you believe,” so I declared that I believed anyone could reach God even if they didn’t believe they could still be in touch with God. The church I grew up in said you have to believe in God and you have to believe these things, and I had trouble believing these things. So my manifesto was you could just be searching for God. You didn’t have to believe, and I said, “God knows whether I believe or not, so it wouldn’t do any good to lie about it.” I talked about why I left the church, and the book was called, “God Knows My Heart,” and the reason it was called that has to do with Gammy. I was very earnest about things, and I wanted to be a good Christian. The preacher said one Sunday, “If you are truly a Christian, people will know it by the smile on your face,” and that made me unhappy because I didn’t smile all the time. So I went one day, and I was talking to Gammy, and I said, “I’m wondering if I was really a Christian because I’m not smiling all the time.” And mom said, “Oh for goodness sakes, I know those preachers say that and I don’t smile all the time and it doesn’t make any difference because God knows my heart.” And that became the name of my book. My idea was that, if you wanted to stumble along thinking about God, you could. And if you couldn’t believe, then God wouldn’t punish you for that because he would know your heart.


How much research goes into your books like Lily Dale and The Simple Faith of FDR? A couple of years. You would send in a proposal, and it would have to be pretty detailed for someone to buy a book. Sometimes I would research up to a year just to sell the book. I wanted my advance to be as big as possible. Once I got the contract, they would give me another year to finish the book, so I would usually do the research and write the book in a year. The FDR book took longer than that; it took two years to write. And then you look up things on the internet. I would call people. I would go to places to research. In Lily Dale, I had gone there to do a story. It was such a charming town, and it was so unusual, and I didn’t think anyone had ever heard of it, so I just thought: if I get the chance, I’m gonna do a book on this. And I did. I went back and forth for about a year, and I would write.

Light and Perspective

Courey Bratt Colored Pencil


Show Me an “ID” Taylor Theakston

What is an infectious disease doctor? An Infectious Disease (ID) physician has completed residency training in Internal Medicine and has then done further training, or a fellowship, in the medical subspecialty of Infectious Diseases. An ID doctor can assist with evaluation and treatment of a broad range of infections, including bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections. Why did you choose to work in this field? ID is interesting and challenging because of the wide variety of conditions that we treat, and since we manage infections of all organ systems in the body and treat new infections that emerge as public health issues (e.g. Ebola, Zika virus, etc.). I enjoy the “detective work” aspect of gathering information to try to figure out a patient’s diagnosis that may have been elusive. In addition, many of the infections that we treat can be cured, and I find it gratifying to be able to help people in this way. What are the most common diseases you diagnose and treat? Some of the most common infections for which I am consulted in the hospital include (not in order): Septicemia (bloodstream infections), endocarditis (heart valve infections), bone/joint infections, diabetic foot infections, skin/soft tissue infections/abscesses, bladder/kidney infections, pneumonia, C.diff diarrhea, meningitis, leukocytosis (high white blood count) or fevers of unknown origin, etc. In my clinic, I also see patients with HIV, hepatitis C, tickborne illness, etc.



Infectious diseases are constantly evolving and becoming more common in society. Some even fall into an epidemic category. As I am interested in the field, I decided to speak to a doctor in the medical specialty of infectious diseases. Kelsey Ivey, who is an infectious disease specialist that works at the Alabama Infectious Disease Center, agreed to help enlighten me and others about her career. The following interview includes questions regarding her job, reasons for being in the field, questions targeting logistics around her work, and advice to patients (i.e. referrals, vaccinations). She also provides information on what some of the illnesses are, how they can be contracted and gives advice to the public on lowering the risk of coming into contact with such diseases.


What is considered an infectious disease? What causes an infectious disease? Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms, including bacteria (e.g. Staph, Strep, E.coli, tuberculosis, etc.), fungi (yeast or molds), viruses (influenza, HIV, hepatitis B and C, etc.), and parasites (malaria, etc.). Some infections can be transmitted person-to-person (through respiratory secretions, fecal-oral transmission, bloodborne or sexually-transmitted infections, etc.), while others are acquired from the environment, animals, insect-borne, etc. Sometimes an infection can occur when bacteria that are normal flora in one part of our body gets into the wrong place (e.g. E.coli from the stool causing a urinary tract infection; or Staph bacteria that normally live on the skin causing infection after you get a cut, etc.). Who needs an infectious disease specialist? A general internist can treat uncomplicated UTIs, pneumonia, cellulitis, etc., but ID may be consulted for more complicated cases (e.g. infection not resolving with standard treatment, recurrent infections, infections due to resistant organisms, a patient who is immunosuppressed, etc.). While most of the patients I see are having an acute episode of infection, patients with HIV need to follow with an ID specialist long-term, since they need to be on lifelong antiretroviral medication (we don’t have a cure for HIV yet). How can a patient get the most out of visiting a specialist? If a patient is referred to me in a clinic, one of the most helpful things is for the referring doctor’s office to send all records on the infectious problem ahead of time. If you have tried previous treatments (antibiotics, etc.) for the infection, it is helpful if the patient can write down the name of the medication and when and for how long they took it. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and any previous workup or treatment you have had preferably starting from the beginning and going to the present; the timeline of symptoms/events can be very important to help an ID doctor make a diagnosis or determine the best treatment plant. Is there any method to reduce the risk of contracting an infectious disease? The best way to reduce the spread of infection is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Stay up to date on vaccinations, including a flu shot every year and a tetanus shot every ten years. If you are traveling abroad, go to a Travel Clinic ahead of time to make sure you have the appropriate immunizations and preventative medications. The risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (HIV, chlamydia,


syphilis, etc.) can be reduced by using a barrier method (condoms). What tests might be ordered by an infectious disease specialist and what is the process of diagnosing a disease? Typically, I start by taking a history from the patient and doing a physical examination. From this information, I formulate a differential diagnosis of some of the possibilities that I think it could be. I often order blood tests to see if the white blood count or inflammatory markers are elevated to suggest infection, as well as to have baseline kidney and liver functions since this can affect which medications are safe for me to use. If it is possible to directly sample the area of infection (e.g. urine, a wound, etc.), we typically obtain cultures to try to identify which bacteria may be causing the infection. Sometimes I may order X-rays or other imaging studies to evaluate for or determine the extent of an infection (e.g. whether a diabetic foot ulcer is just causing infection of the skin or whether it goes down to the bone).



What would you say to people concerned about vaccinations, to lower the risk of contracting an infectious disease? Vaccinations are safe and effective at reducing the risk of acquiring many infections, and I would recommend checking with your primary care doctor periodically at check-ups to ensure that you are up to date on the vaccinations recommended for your age group and medical conditions. It is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months to receive an influenza vaccine every year unless you are told otherwise by your doctor.

Taking a Knee


Love Lundy For now, the NFL owners will continue to allow players to kneel as an act of protest. President Donald Trump came to Huntsville to campaign for Luther Strange, a Republican primary candidate. During his speech, he attacked NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, tweeting that the behavior was “not acceptable.” Trump tweeted upwards of 10 times over that weekend, expressing his annoyance with players. Trump tweeted, “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!” Julius Thomas, a tight end for the Miami Dolphins, said that he kneeled because he wanted to use his platform for those who cannot voice their opinions to so many at once. “I used my position to try to empower everybody who seeks equality,” Thomas commented. Taking a knee during the national anthem before NFL games became a hot topic when Colin Kaepernick and fellow San Francisco 49er Eric Reid kneeled during the national anthem. Initially, Kaepernick sat during the national anthem, but after a discussion with veteran and retired football player Nate Boyer, he and Reid understood that it was more respectful to kneel. Kaepernick explained his kneeling in an interview from August 2016. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” Along with his kneeling, Kaepernick pledged to donate (and inspired the San Francisco 49ers to match his donation) a total of upwards of $2 million to organizations that help communities in need and that work towards the causes he has been kneeling for. Over 200 NFL players have protested in some way, shape, or form, since the comments made by Trump, in which he encouraged NFL team owners to fire players who did not stand during the anthem. The methods in which players have protested now include staying inside the team’s’ locker room during the playing of the anthem (which is breaking a rule enforced by the NFL since 2009), linking arms with other players, sitting or kneeling, or raising a fist. However, these protests have been viewed more as a response to President Trump’s comments towards NFL players, which they feel is an attack geared towards African-American athletes using freedom of speech while he (arguably) called white supremacists 94



“very fine people” as a reaction to the Charlottesville riots. Some players have used their protest as an opportunity to exercise their right to freedom of speech and freedom to protest, as given under the Constitution. The controversy around this topic comes where NFL fans and other American citizens are trying to decide whether or not kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful. Mr. Craft, our drama teacher and the son of a man who served in the military for 23 years, understands why veterans may feel disrespected, but he also understood the other viewpoint. He said, “Symbolism should not trump individuality.” He believes that elevating what has been perceived as a sacred symbol in America (the flag, the anthem, etc.) over people’s ‘genuine and legitimate’ concerns for the well-being of the country shows the beginning signs of a totalitarian society like 1930s Germany. “I think that there are other ways to protest that are more effective. Yeah, you’ve got the national spotlight, but there are other ways to protest that might be more effective. At the end of the day, what do they want to change? What they want to change is for police to be held accountable for acts of brutality.” He also added that football players are employees and should respect owners’ wishes. Ms. Husky, whose entire family served in the military, also thinks that there are other ways to protest. “I think kneeling during the anthem is undermining the whole point. I think that the national anthem and the flag are sacred to our country. The issue is about Americans. You’re disrespecting those who fought for your right to kneel. Kneeling during the anthem is insulting and desecrating; my family members gave their lives for this country. There is a problem with the senseless killing and profiling, no doubt, but why not take the millions that they’re making and do something about it? Go out into the community and speak; that’s a positive protest. There’s so much more that can be done than sitting during the national anthem. It’s not that I disagree with issue; it’s that [I] disagree with the way that they’re raising awareness for it.” Addressing police brutality is a hot topic amongst Americans, but for now, the players can choose to continue to kneel, though politicians like President Trump and Alabama’s Roy Moore are against it.

The Tide Pod Challenge


Holly Bradshaw The Tide Pod challenge became a social media craze in the beginning of January, and some young people who have taken the challenge and have become sick or almost died. For those that weren’t aware, the premise is to bite into a Tide Pod. The Washington Post sums up the Tide Pod challenge, as kids just eating tide pods and posting it online to sites such as Youtube. Sometimes, the act is accompanied by some dry humor, like pretending to cook a laundry pod. That being said, more often than not, it’s just kids biting into Tide Pods and filming until it pops, and then seeing if they survive or spit it out in time. Shockingly, a 2018 a report from the AAPC stated that a grand total of 86 cases of Tide Pod poisoning have been seen in 13-19 year olds since the start of January. That is an extremely concerning number. Sophomore football player Kale Farr said, “I think eating a laundry pod is one of the dumbest things a kid can do, especially since it’s for no purpose but harming yourself for attention.” Another Bob Jones student Damon Williams said, “Frankly, the fact that something like that legitimately exists is just reflective on the stupid things people will do to follow a dumb internet meme.” Sophomore Aidan Griffith said, “Poisoning yourself because you were idiotic enough to believe people on the internet is an idiotic thing to do. Just because someone says something clearly poisonous isn’t poisonous if you do it right doesn’t make it a guaranteed truth.” Thankfully, no one at Bob Jones seems legitimately interested in eating a laundry pod. While students may poke fun at it, it’s pretty clear consuming Tide pods is a stupid trend. Nonetheless, it’s concerning how quickly things like Youtube videos can influence teens and young adults. People need to call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) if they suspect someone has ingested a Tide Pod.


Luciana Vega’s Launch into Space Ella Waddell



On January 1, 2018, Luciana Vega, the newest American Girl doll was released by Mattel. She is of Chilean descent and dreams of being the first girl on Mars. Showing interest in robotics and engineering, she attends Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Mattel and NASA worked together secretly for eighteen months to ensure that every piece of this doll would be accurate. Recently, the Space and Rocket Center hosted the launch party for the newest addition to American Girl doll collection. Among the attendees were female astronauts and engineers teaching girls about life in space and the newest technologies on Earth. Girls were introduced to 3D printing, basic robotics and programming, and how scientists conduct experiments in space. The president of American Girl, Katy Dickson, explained the doll‘s importance as she discussed her own life as a graduate of Huntsville High School, and how she had once attended Space Camp. That trip led her towards the path of STEM and eventually the Air Force. She ended up designing missile defense systems for America before she retired. She believes that Luciana’s story will encourage girls of all ages to pursue a career in STEM. Luciana’s story shows that girls can become champions of STEM, defy stereotypes, learn from both successes and failures, and show that girls have the ability to change the world. To end her speech, she announced that she would donate $20,000 to Space Camp towards scholarships for young girls and that The Space and Rocket Center will have Luciana themed Space Camp options this year. Dr. Rhea Seddon, one of the first six female astronauts, spoke about the grant given by American Girl, “I am just amazed at the generosity of American Girl. I know that you will always remember your dolls throughout your lifetime. They helped you to be brave, helped you to learn, and they help you dream about what kind of person you would be someday. When I was your age, believe it or not, I had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I want you to dream because sometimes dreams do come true.” Bob Jones engineering teacher Jessye Gaines also attended the event and stated that the importance of this doll doesn’t send the message that every little girl has to go into STEM. Something like that is unrealistic because we all don’t have those interests. However, it shows girls that this is one other cool way to be a girl. Gaines recalled on the event saying, “ There were so many young girls that day who had baby dolls with them.


This is typically what we see when we think about what toys girls like, and we can stereotype. We will give little girls baby dolls and they will like to play house. That’s kinda setting them up to think that all they can do in life is be a mom. Normally with boys, they will have something like legos and they are building things. So, it’s more like spatial visualization skills. They are all really closely tied to engineering. But its really cool to take the baby doll that girls love and they turn it into a role model.”

Photo by Ella Waddell


The Case of the Trojan Autobot Maggie Brown



I hated Transformers almost as much as I hated boys. They both had a lot in common: they were loud, annoying, and swarmed the hallways of my elementary school. Avoiding them was difficult. At recess, I would sit beneath a sprawling oak tree, ignoring the Autobots and Decepticons flitting around. It wasn’t until fifth grade that I began to appreciate them. My school had a small gifted program, filled with bright-eyed kids who had big ideas. Every week, we studied everything from superheroes to medieval times. We were all determined to be the smartest in the room. I was no exception. Ten-year-olds rarely have a strong grasp on reality, but I was a brilliant visionary in my head. When we finally got to class after a long break, we couldn’t contain our excitement. “I hope we get to do something cool,” said J.R., “like robots or zombies.” He was a boy, regretfully, but I gave him a pass because he drew me dragons sometimes. “Zombies,” I said. Our teacher swept into the room. Everyone went silent. I straightened up and made eye contact with my best friends, Alyson and Caleb. Everything would be fine as long as I could group with them. Ms. Stapler would be blown away by our combined brainpower! Her hawkish eyes scanned the classroom before she stalked over to the board. “You guys will like this one,” she drawled. “Especially the boys in the class.” I held my breath. So far, so good. As long as we weren’t dealing with—“—-Transformers.” The world as I knew it soon spiraled out of control. What? How could she base an entire unit off of a toy franchise? We’d gone from feudalism to robots in a matter of days. When I slouched back in my chair, J.R. looked at me like I’d committed murder. “This is gonna be awesome,” he said with a grin. Our job was to build a life-sized Transformer for Reading Night. We could only use cardboard and our imaginations. The group with the best Transformer got candy. I was paired with four boys. Four. My teacher was trying to kill me. I spent most of the first day pouting, certain that the whole thing was a lost cause. They wanted to make a blue and red Autobot from refrigerator boxes. “No,” I snapped. “We’re doing a Decepticon because those are the cool


ones.” “Maggie gets to paint it,” one of the boys said. “‘Cause she’s a girl and she’s good with colors.” “I want to design it!” I huffed and turned away from them. “At least let me pick the colors.” “Fine, but no Decepticons,” J.R. said. “Nobody wants an evil robot at Reading Night.” When I suggested yellow and purple, they heartily agreed, being the crazy LSU fans that they were. Compromises were made. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. I thought nobody understood me; after all, I was a tortured artist. Soon they would see how much they needed my creative genius. I painted the torso in golds and curlicues, hoping that they would catch on. A few weeks came and went. We had the tallest Transformer in the room. By the end of it, we had to use a ladder to reach the head. Even though it was huge, something was lacking. Our teacher told us to redo it, much to my dismay. It would’ve been perfect if I had done everything. “I have an idea,” said J.R. “Why don’t we make a Trojan helmet? I can do that while you paint.” After I grumbled my approval, the other boys started piping up with their ideas. Someone suggested that we put a book in his hand for Reading Night. Another helped me put on another coat of paint. When we ran out of yellow, J.R. covered the torso with a giant yellow net. Soon, they were all looking to me for directions. I realized my place in the group; of course, I couldn’t do everything. It would’ve been awful if I had. Instead, I was the de facto leader, even if my creative side wanted to blaze through it alone. Once I came to that realization, we finished in a matter of days. Our Autobot stood guard beside the library doors, glowering at the kids who rushed past. We high-fived each other and chattered about the candy we would receive. It didn’t matter that I was a girl or that they were boys. All that mattered was the surge of pride we felt when we looked at it. We made something big and beautiful—-and we’d done it together. From then on, I never turned my nose at Transformers or boys; I played with the guys at recess sometimes. The zombie apocalypse waited for no one, after all, and they needed my assistance out in the field. My introversion made group projects hard, but they got easier after the Trojan Autobot. At least I had finally figured out what I was missing.


Shattered Glass Grace Hannah



I used to think that there were only two types of people in the world: glass and clay. The glass people are fragile and cannot always be rebuilt. Lost pieces and broken edges can define a person. The other type of people is the clay. Clay people are adaptable and can withstand a lot of hardship without breaking. The only problem is that most people will not know if they are glass or clay until they obtain pain. If someone is shattered, it then becomes a matter of if they can heal. “Sometimes I think that you don’t care as much about our friendship as I do. I have been trying so hard to hold us all together,” the voice, a child’s, broke around the sorrow. The sound of sadness was searing a hole in the still night. I was in sixth grade and my entire friendship I had worked so hard to create had crumpled. There is a beautiful symmetry when the builder destroys their masterpiece. That was me; my masterpiece was our beautifully artful friendship. It wasn’t entirely my fault. Our friendship had been breaking down for years. I had managed to convince myself that the foundation wasn’t breaking up as I watched. I didn’t think I could survive the loss of my best friends and still be the same. I was glass, and I could shatter. I knew that I wasn’t adaptable like clay. If I lost my friends, I would break. I was glass. My friends were all I cared about at the time. “We should promise to always be friends. Even through middle school, high school, and college. Even in our lives after that! I’ve heard that time can draw people apart, but we can’t let that happen to us. Promise me that we will always be friends no matter what!” I once said a long time ago. My friends agreed to my terms of always being friends, and we went right back into ordinary life. But nothing good can last forever, and like glass, some of the most precious things are the easiest to break. My friendship broke before summer break, leaving me to try and pick up the pieces. If we had still been in school, we probably could have worked things out, but unfortunately, we spent almost three months apart, and as a result, didn’t talk for almost three years, which does not include the tense hellos. Life became a routine of boring summer fun. My family went on vacations, visited other families, did what we wanted to


do, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I had always spent the summers with my friends. Even up to the last couple of days of our friendship we had hung out together and talked. I don’t think my family noticed anything at first, or maybe not at all. It finally came to a point that I had to tell my parents so that they wouldn’t ask why I wasn’t calling my friends. I finally broke down and told my mother in the best way a dramatic kid can. “I don’t have any friends!” She comforted me with an all-enveloping hug. She smelled like flowers and familiarity. She told me something that will always stick with me: “Grace, relationships are hard, and they take work from two people. If someone doesn’t invest as much effort into the relationship, they might not want to be your friend. But just remember, there’s always someone who wants to be your friend, you just don’t know it.” To this day, I’m not completely sure what my mother was trying to tell me. I took my mother’s advice and decided to be kind to everyone I met because you never know who needs and wants a friend. I found something out about myself, about all people. People are more than glass and clay. What is broken can be repaired, and just because something looks different, that doesn’t mean it is any less beautiful. It’s like the saying about when something is repaired, often the mended spots have become the most durable. It doesn’t matter if you are glass or clay because everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. I learned that relationships are like socks. You have different colors, blends, and sizes. Some socks are your favorite because they fit you perfectly, much like friends fit your personality. Other socks can fit you until you grow out of them or they shrink, similarly how people can grow apart. I know that once you find a good sock, you try not to lose them, although sometimes you do, and you are willing to patch them up if they ever have holes. Friendships are like socks too because people make an effort to keep them “alive.” Just remember: even if you feel shattered inside, you can make it to the other side and be better off.


Nastiya Burjak Mixed Media


Slap Heard ‘Round the World Amani Hendricks



Raising children comes with its fair share of stress and worries. Especially the first one, who is simply a test drive to see how well the parents handle the whole parenting shindig. If baby number one grows up to be a serial killer, for instance, try a cat. If they turn out to be a doctor who donates to charity and reads to elderly folk than you need to make as many babies as possible. The world could use more charity giving, elderly reading, and Doctors of Medicine. The journey is also as important as the destination in the case of parenting. How will parents discipline their children? Timeout? A slap on the wrist? Five fingers on the bare buttocks, lecturing in between each strike? The question has stumped adults for ages. A chicken or the egg conundrum if you would. Sadly, my parents never cared much about chickens or eggs and decided to go the vegetarian approach, or option three: a sinless butt whooping that leaves you spasming on the floor crying out in utter despair. Once you have felt the hand of God slap your cheeks with a vengeance, life will gain a whole new meaning. For me, I learned that when it is your time to meet Jesus, there is no changing it. You must walk to your final resting place with pride, and that, my friends, is the Hendricks family method. *** My sister timidly shuffled towards the playroom door, her body trying to find a way to prepare itself for what was about to unfold. She reached for the doorknob, turning it as slowly as possible to prolong the moment of peace. It creaked as the door shifted open. The gust of wind kicked up by the change in pressure startled her slightly as she began to enter the room. “Shut the door Myana,” my father says. She swiftly complied. With the door shut, there is an eerily quiet tone throughout upstairs. The silence was halted abruptly by the percussive slaps heard from outside the door. I looked down at my brother with wide eyes, silently telling him to run while he still can. My sister’s cries eventually began to coat the air, and her pain was made evident even through the boundary of a door. After two more damaging blows, all sounds faded out. The only thing that could be heard were her stifled sobs of agony. Another gust of wind racked the hallway as she waddled painfully out of the room. It was now my turn to feel true agony.


I walked down the carpeted hallway, popping air pockets locked in the ground with my body weight. The door rapidly approached me, and my heart pounded hard like a jackhammer. I reached my shaking hand for the door and gave it a quick turn. The hinges slowly moaned once again, fully matching my emotion. When the door was open, the broad body of my father came into full view. He wasted no time getting to my punishment. “Pull down your pants.” “Please daddy, I’m sorry. Please!” I beg. “Now, Amani.” Realizing my only option was to surrender my will to live and present him an easy target, I grudgingly obeyed his order. His hand made direct contact with my flesh, causing my knees to shake and buckle under the new agony. Tears started spraying out of my eyes, and snot began to fly all over the room. Each hit now came faster and with more force behind it. My mind shut down, stopping all thoughts. I closed my eyes, only to feel another shock of pain and then nothing. “Don’t you ever do something like that again! You hear me?” I couldn’t even formulate a proper reply with my body still processing the assault it survived. My dad then angrily stomped out of the room and closed the door behind him, leaving me alone on the scratchy carpet asking, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”


My School Bus is Better Cassie Volkin



I spent second and third grade living in Paris, France, and one of the best parts of my day was the bus ride home. My school was about an hour and a half away, yet was the second nearest one to my apartment. The metro station near my school was always down for construction, and the roads were unusually small, so traffic was a little messy, not that that was unexpected. I usually rode with my best friend, Anya. I think we mainly bonded over the fact that ours were the very last bus stops at the end of the day. It also didn’t hurt that she had a Nintendo DSi, therefore making her the coolest kid on the bus. She brought her portable DVD player sometimes too, so we passed the time pretty easily. Looking back on it, I know that most of my best friends in elementary school took advantage of my gullibility. Anya always came up with something new. She had a magical talking dachshund that sleepwalked backward and lived in her enchanted pencil case. Her mom was Lady Gaga, which didn’t make much sense since Anya was Ukrainian. I was occasionally suspicious, but I let it slide. I enjoyed the stories and was glad to have a friend. Since it was a private school, we didn’t have public buses; I thought that those bright yellow school buses with blinking red stop signs were only a myth, for movies and stuff. There were overhead compartments and TV monitors on the ceiling, though they were never on. The seats were in good condition and had seatbelts and footrests. The bus monitor, Anthony, insisted that everyone keep their seatbelts on and only change seats between stops, but only half of us really listened. Since the bus driver didn’t speak English, Anthony was in charge of keeping order and announcing stops. He was really nice, though. Like most French school employees I interacted with, there wasn’t a day that went by when he didn’t give us candy. My mom only found out on the last day of school, so my addiction to French candy had plenty of time to cement itself. They weren’t the name brand chocolates and gummies we’re familiar with here. It usually alternated between something like fruit-flavored Tootsie rolls and hard caramel sticks. The caramel sticks were the best, and the day I find them in the States will be a happy day indeed. There were two girls on the bus that were rather annoying. They were


one grade ahead of me, and I know that one of their names was Ella. They sat in front of Anya and me, and since Mom forbid me from sitting in the back, I was stuck with them. They would sing the same two songs on repeat until they got off, and eventually, I got tired of hearing about umbrellas and hitting the dance floor. I was always grateful when they left, and I suspect I was more than a little rude to them when I asked them to stop once in a while. The best part of the ride was its length, though that might sound strange. We drove all over the city, circling the Arch de Triomphe and passing the Eiffel Tower more times than I could count, along with seeing what felt like every corner of Paris. One observation, in particular, was that at nearly every stop one could see a neon pharmacy sign. They were green crosses that displayed light up patterns, and every one was different. I thought they were really cool. The people were interesting too. Green seemed to be a very popular color for hair, as well as signage. In general, I was pretty appreciative of my surroundings for an eightyear-old. One day, when we were passing the Eiffel Tower for the ten millionth time, I turned and asked Anya, “Isn’t it incredible how lucky we are to get a private tour of Paris every day! Think about how many kids from our home countries would love to be in our shoes! Isn’t this amazing?” She looked at me like I was crazy. “Um, no,” she replied, and went back to her DS game. It made me feel kind of self-conscious at the time, but now I’m glad that smaller me thought to appreciate the opportunity she had. Experiences like that don’t come around often, and overall, I don’t think I’d trade my time there for anything. The only bad thing was that it gave me relatively high standards for when I returned to the U.S. Bright yellow school buses are terrifying.


Foreign Friendship Lily Hughes



I have always valued the companionship of others above all else. There was not an opportunity to make friends that went untraveled in my life. My mom considered my ability to walk up to strangers a gift, but to me, it was just another event in life. I had a yearning to communicate beyond our top floor apartment, and with the great event of moving to Madison, Alabama midway through third grade, I had the perfect chance to finally bond with someone besides my siblings. America was a new subject that I knew but did not understand completely yet. A Saturday of introduction to my new school only fed that hunger for friendship and understanding. I had never had desks created for individuals rather than pairs, or have one class without any breaks between each subject where students could play in the narrow halls. There were no well-rounded lunch ladies that allowed you to help set up dishes before lunch or tiny P.E. rooms for minimal exercise to be done. My first days of school were crammed with questions from fellow students, but after a week or so, the interest in the foreign girl was lost. The teacher was a lean, kind-hearted African American woman who warned us of the dangers of cracking your fingers too much. Despite my many failures of pronouncing her name, she never corrected me, leading to the label of Mrs. Foxton for the next few years. In retrospect, I was an odd child in third grade. I didn’t understand the laughter when sitting with my knees to my chest while wearing a skirt with tights, or how other girls got upset on my behalf that everyone but myself got a shiny birthday invitation. I couldn’t catch hints of unwanted friendship from other girls on the playground, and I even lied about picking at my scab so the nurse wouldn’t snap at me for causing it to bleed. I was, and possibly still am, gullible beyond comprehension. A year into my time in elementary school, I met a girl named Ella who insisted on being one of my first real friends in Madison. I hung off every word she ever uttered, never questioning the logic behind her claims, ultimately leading to my own downfall. For one reason or another, Ella enjoyed the art of lying. She would weave tight-knit tales of demonic beings sprinting at us that only she could see. She would describe these beasts, twist images into my mind before shouting at me to run ahead and escape with her before they caught and killed me. Against all of my body screaming to run, I would


continue to walk and pray that God would protect me from these creatures. For weeks I prayed over and over asking for this shield from an enemy of my mind. Ella’s stories only grew and implanted deeper into my mind. On one occasion, she convinced me that she had extracted my saliva from a candy I had to throw away, taken the DNA, and injected it into a squirrel she kept in her closet. Ella went on to claim that it started participating in activities that I often enjoyed at that age, such as reading and playing, and a collection of other things. I have lost the majority of my confidence amongst strangers over the course of the last few years. It was a talent that I strive to own once more, but may never experience fully again. Although it is true that I still made bad friendship choices after Ella left my life, I have never had such a mind-twisting experience that has come anywhere near my years with Ella.


The Well Brenna Kilpatrick



Many people don’t realize that sometimes people who are depressed don’t really want to stop being depressed. They choose to stay in their state of pain and loneliness even if they’d rather be happy. This begs the question: why do these people want to stay depressed? I have experienced such feelings as I’ve dealt with depression, and after much contemplation, I’ve found a way to put it into words. Not every person feels the same, even when in similar circumstances, but my experiences shed a little light on the thought process. Imagine a deep well where down below is a seemingly infinite black abyss of depression, and above that is the light of the sun or happiness. A ladder is bolted to one side, creating a path of escape for those who have fallen towards the abyss, and I cling to it. It is dark and cold down in the well, and I don’t wish to stay. I look up and can see the warm light awaiting me at the top of the ladder. I want it; I want to be safe, happy, and warm. My friends and family are up there, and I know I cannot stay down in the well, so I climb up. My first enemy is my muscles. I am tired and weak, and the light seems no closer. My palms ache and burn from gripping the ladder. I have worked so hard, and yet I cannot see change. Below, the black abyss still looms, however, but I continue to climb. The ladder is not perfect, and it is twisted and rusted in places. Some rungs are spaced unevenly, and I have to take a risk to stretch for it. It is so difficult to reach the top. There is so much work. There are so many problems that perhaps the world is conspiring against me. I look back down at the darkness. I can feel its gravity pulling on me, and my muscles shiver. It would be so easy to let go and drift into nothing, finally resting this constant battle. I knew the lower part of the ladder more than I knew the top. The light seems no closer: perhaps it is better to let go and succumb to nature’s will. For who knows how long the cycle continued. A constant climbing of up and down, too scared to go in either direction. So I remained lonely, cold, and in pain because that was what was easiest. It hurt less to feel the pain I always had than to create new pains as I climbed. I knew the well; the well seemed to want me. Depression is a state that, when entered, you become pulled in by its gravity. You have to fight it, and for a long time, I didn’t want to. Some people stay for other reasons, such as punishment, but I feel many are


like me and are only tired. I eventually did make the climb, and though I occasionally still sit at the edge of the well and stare into its depths, I do not jump towards the darkness. Once in the light, it has a different gravity. Once happy, you wish to stay happy.

The Struggle is Real

Courey Bratt Mixed Media


NBA 2K18 is a Slam Dunk Ryan Langston



Introduction NBA 2K18 is the newest installment of 2K Sports’ annual basketball simulation game. It has many modes such as MyCareer, MyTeam, and MyLeague. The game came out in September 2017 at a starting price of $60. NBA 2K18 is a step above the competition when it comes to gameplay. The player models look as realistic as ever, and the modes are deep and engaging. I have invested many hours in this game on the PlayStation 4. Gameplay The game this year in NBA 2K18 feels like real basketball. Compared to its competition, NBA Live 18, this game is like comparing an iPhone to a payphone. The animations that the players have to feel smooth and easy to control even at a fast pace, while NBA Live has animations that feel canned and clunky. Even though the gameplay has not been modified much from last years installment, NBA 2K17, new animations have been added in that continue to improve the game. Players play like their real-life counterparts. Say I want to drive to the hoop with Russell Westbrook. He feels as fast and powerful in the game as he seems in real life when watching him play. Kyrie Irving has the same mesmerizing dribble size ups as he does in real life also. This is all due to how 2K gets their animations: they have real players inside a motion capture suit and play basketball. For dunks, they get professional dunkers to come and amaze the developers at NBA 2K and have them insert it into the game. MyCareer In NBA 2K18, almost all the modes are deep and engaging. The most popular mode, MyCareer, or Playgrounds, is a single player and multiplayer experience where you create and upgrade your own personalized character. You start out as a former DJ who is participating in a Jordan Brand basketball tournament. Once the tournament ends, you are approached by someone from the scouting department of an NBA team of your choice. The team offers you a tryout, and from there on you work your way up in the NBA, earning endorsements, playing time, and upgrades for your character. The Playgrounds portion of the game is a park setting where you are with other players’ characters, and you compete against each other in either two-on-two or three-on-three games to a score of 21 points. This game mode is very far from perfect, though. To upgrade your


player to an 85 overall (with a maximum rating of 99), it costs just under 200,000 Virtual Currency (VC). This amount of VC costs $50! This is an outrageous amount, considering in last year’s NBA 2K17, to upgrade it cost around 140,000 VC, which is about $40 with about 10,000 VC left. When this happened in 2K17, people thought it was crazy. Now with the price increase, it is crazier. MyTeam The MyTeam mode in NBA 2K18 is a step down from that of NBA 2K17. First off, 2K took away arguably the best mode in MyTeam and replaced it with a new mode, SuperMax, in 2K18. SuperMax gives a salary cap to your team with each player having an individual cap value based on the rating of the player among other things. You compete against other teams developed by other users to obtain rewards that seem to take an absurd amount of time. While the game still has content added weekly in packs, there is still money to be spent in NBA 2K18. In NBA 2K18 MyTeam, you open packs to obtain players for your team. You can buy boxes of either 10 or 20 packs. The packs, however, cost VC, which can be purchased with real money. The cheapest 20 pack box in NBA 2K18 is just under $30. MyLeague and MyGM This year in NBA 2K18, MyLeague and MyGM feel fairly the same as they did in NBA 2K17. No massive upgrades were made in MyLeague or MyGM, but no massive downgrades occurred either. In MyLeague, you take control of every aspect of an NBA team. You control everything from the team’s players to the location of the team. In MyGm, you take the front office of an NBA team: less control and more responsibility. If your team performs poorly throughout the season and you fail to meet goals set by the owner, then you risk termination from your team. In conclusion, MyLeague and MyGM are still good game modes even though 2K made no massive changes. Pro-Am Pro-Am in NBA 2K18 feels fun from what little I have played of it. ProAm is a game mode where you use your created player from MyCareer to play either with a team you have joined or as a walk-on player with other random players, much like five-on-five park games. When I played as a walk-on player, I experienced a good amount of teammates not passing to me. When teammates pass and play as a team, the game feels very fun and enjoyable. I find NBA 2K18 wants the Pro-Am portion of the game to bring a good representation for their upcoming collaboration with the real NBA, which brings me to my next topic: The NBA 2K League. 2K League In 2018, 2K and The NBA are teaming up to form a league comprised of real players from the 2K community. So far, there are 17 teams affiliated with the real NBA teams, and you can be a part of this league if you possess the skill. To qualify for the league, you must win 50 Pro-Am games to then proceed on to further rounds. Then, the top players will be


dropped into a pool to be drafted into the league. Once in the league, it will be as if you are a real NBA player as a full-time job. The season will start in May 2018 and continue through August. Overview Overall, NBA 2K knows that they are far above the competition. It looks as if they think no matter what they do their player base will still play their game. Even though the gameplay and graphics are very realistic and the modes are engaging, the game is plagued by microtransactions that are pushed in your face in almost all parts of the game. Compared to NBA Live 18, the game is still way ahead of the competition. NBA 2K18 appears to be on a downward spiral with the way 2K is handling their game. I give NBA 2K18 a 7 out of 10. If the game was handled as it was in past years, the score would be higher. It is hard to grant a game a good score when they are constantly trying to get you to buy Virtual Currency. In previous years, you were able to get a fair amount of VC for playing the game. I am hoping to encounter more improvements in next year’s game.



Avery Beckham 113

Roadkill: A Lyric Essay Ashton Jah


The sun was glaring across the bright, colorful, horizon Highlighting all the beauties nature had in store. Birds were chirping through the air Propelling the bright morning feel. This was pure paradise. Everything seemed to be chiming in succession: the wakings of animals, the sunrise, the evident morning pollution of cars driving. This was the same experience I get every morning. I love living here. The seas, the trees, all highlight my day. I was driving down the road when a squirrel ran out in front of me. As my vehicle drew nearer to the stealthy rodent, the squirrel’s eyes met mine in terror. We exchanged a long glance for a minute or two until the rodent realized his soon demise. Why did the squirrel cross the road? “To get to the other side!”

“Now, remember darling: always look both ways before you cross the street,” my mother commented one day after I tried to run across the street when we were leaving our burrow. “You don’t want to take the chance and end up like one of them squashed animals just tryin to get a nut. Ya hear?” “Yes, mama,” I hesitantly replied. What squashed animals? I thought to myself. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Region 5 Boundary Analysis, there were 2,065 reported roadkill incidents in 2016. Most included species of larger animals, but some, however, were distinctively rodents.


Are rodents suicidal? Or are humans just cruel murderers?

I knew from the instant I met eyes with the small animal our worlds would never be the same. How does Mother Nature decide my role in the unfortunate death of this innocent creature? This creature that, not only has a family, but loves someone just like I do.

My mind was racing And my head was spinning out of control. Was I the murderer that vegans unquestionably riot against in their protests? Or just the prized individual selected to carry out Mother Nature’s duties? I sit here stopped in the middle of time simply contemplating whether this is all my fault or the rodent—sorry, squirrel. Honestly, could I have swerved out of the way and risked my life? No, I would never. But, would the squirrel jump out of the way to save his own? No, probably not. Who in the right mind would give me this power? The power of determining the innocent rodent— Squirrel’s— Future. The woman, sitting in her blue Toyota, sat stunned. What was she to do? Her mind raced, searching for the right decision. But by the time she realized what the right choice would have been, there was a loud cry and a new thought on her conscious. “I think people who kill animals are cruel because animals have lives too. Our luxuries kill them.”



My world was spinning out of control: the type of control I wish to have at every moment of every day.


But should the animals give up their life just to cross the road? What is so important on the other side of the road that the squirrel must take its walk now across the death-defying road? Although the road might be a bridge to the other side of the promised land, to survive, the squirrel must cross the road in attempt to continue its venture for food. The squirrel must take a chance, despite a possible outcome, to fight for survival. One fate seemingly outweighs the other. In an attempt, the squirrel might have perished, but he never would have known what was on the other side of the road if he never took the first step towards success. The squirrel had a life well deserved, much like humans do. Sometimes, we just have to face our battles, and try to survive until the next day. Why can’t you be friends with a squirrel? “Because they drive everyone nuts!” So, maybe it was a justified decision. My conscience says no, but my story says yes. Spewed among the city paved road Lies a squirrel whose life was cherished by someone, But clearly not all. The Colorado Department of Transportation: Total number of reported roadkill incidents (updated 2016): 2,066. The sun was glaring across the bright, colorful, horizon Highlighting all the beauties nature had in store. Birds were chirping through the air Propelling the bright morning feel. This was pure paradise. *** “But, mama...what do I do if I need to cross the road?” I asked, casually expecting a sarcastic response.


“Son, you are worth more to me than a nut. I just want to make sure you don’t become roadkill. Those humans really know how to spill some guts.”



Anna Mathias Mixed Media



Comics Little Buddy Kylee Henrie Jake Daemon Ella Waddell Last Man Standing Georgia White Tweets Gracie Poehlman Reasons for Disbelief Caitlin Kiker The ‘Embarressment’ Club Cassie Volkin Pixton Comics Thunder’s Great Adventure’s Amanda Melton Kingdom of Red Abbigail Jackson Stargazing Kylee Henrie

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Little Buddy


Kylee Henrie


Little Buddy by Kylee Henrie

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Little Buddy by Kylee Henrie


Little Buddy by Kylee Henrie

comics 123

Jake Daemon


Ella Waddell


Jake Daemon by Ella Waddell

comics 125


Jake Daemon by Ella Waddell


Jake Daemon by Ella Waddell

comics 127


Jake Daemon by Ella Waddell


Last Man Standing Georgia White

comics 129


Last Man Standing by Georgia White


Last Man Standing by Georgia White

comics 131


Last Man Standing by Georgia White


Last Man Standing by Georgia White

comics 133


Last Man Standing by Georgia White


Tweets Gracie Poehlman

comics 135

Reasons For Disbelief


Caitlin Kiker

The “Embarressment� Club Cassie Volkin


Pixton Comics Various Authors Scan the QR code to enjoy Thunder’s Quick Adventure by Amanda Melton https://bit. ly/2Hw29kV


Scan the QR code to enjoy Kingdom of Red by Abbigail Jackson https://bit. ly/2qJJRms

Scan the QR code to enjoy Stargazing by Kylee Henrie https://bit. ly/2vqoQ56



Art Drum and Ladybugs Emma Grider Self Portrait Christine Tran Surprise Visitor Tiffany Wu Glasses Avery Beckham Still Life Lillie Reid Still Life Susan Xiao Light and Perspective Reagan Hall Release Sherry Lee Wolf Jordan Embrey Locksmith Iman Gadalla Broken Key Iman Gadalla Winter Anna Mathias Spotlight Artists Brenna Kilpatrick Michael McGinley

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Drum and Ladybugs

Emma Grider



Self Portrait Christine Tran Oil Paint

Surprise Visitor

Tiffany Wu

Acrylic/Oil Paint



Avery Beckham


Art Still Life Lillie Reid


Still Life Susan Xiao Charcoal


Light & Perspective

Reagan Hall


Colored Pencil


Sherry Lee

Colored Pencil


Jordan Embrey

Digital Art



Iman Gadalla

Mixed Media


Broken Key

Iman Gadalla Mixed Media


Anna Mathias Mixed Media


Brenna Kilpatrick Spotlight Artist


Everyone has a story, but not all are told. My pieces are part of a larger story of life itself, showcasing fear, grief, happiness, adventure, dreams, and peace. Through my art, every character is a different story that intertwines with all the others, just like in our own lives. When we remember that the world is larger than ourselves, we learn to understand and tolerate others more.

A Story of Nature Mixed Media

A Story of Expectations

Mixed Media 144

A Story of Death


Mixed Media

A Story of Time Mixed Media


Michael McGinley Spotlight Artist


There is no super deep spiritual meaning in my work as of now, but I try putting some meaning in. I enjoy making little scenes of towns and villages, and hopefully people sometimes imagine what life may be like in those pictures. I like putting nature in them and having the cars, buildings, and other things blended in together. I like illustrating simpler life in intricate pictures with lots of hidden things. As of now, life is super busy and full of stuff, [and there’s] not much time to enjoy the little details.


Pen, Ink, and Watercolor

Two Trees and a House Pen, Ink,and Watercolor 146

Trading Cards


Pen, Ink, and Playing Cards

The Harbor

Pen and Ink 147


Photography Vengeful Raneen Alaskari Rachel C. Audrey Harper Giggly Megan Lamps DARKNIGHT James Carter Combat Boots Shelby West Bridge Xiao Lin Crystal Clear John DiPietro Capri Aaron Michaels Somber Ford Thornton Joy John DiPietro Luminescence Madeline Carpenter Spotlight Photographers Chloe Smith Payton Gloschat Alexander Huynh

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Raneen Alaskari


C. Audrey Harper


Megan Lamps 150

DARKNIGHT James Carter

Shelby West

Bridge Xiao Lin



Combat Boots

Crystal Clear


John DiPietro


Aaron Michaels

Somber Ford Thornton


John DiPietro

Luminescence Madeline Carpenter




Chloe Smith Spotlight Photographer


For some, photography is just something to look at, but for me, it is everything. This past year I’ve been inspired by more things than ever before. I aspire to show others the beauty in the simple things and the beauty in life.

One Big Happy Family


Eye of the Beholder


Eclectic and Electric

All For One and One For All 155

Payton Gloschat Spotlight Photographer


With my photography, I always wanted to emulate two things: emotion and movement. I’ve always been fascinated by different works that embody those qualities, and I try my hardest to match them. My favorite way of doing this is by manipulating lights and colors to emphasize a certain aspect of the subject, or utilizing a scene that already has certain colors in it. To me, this is one of the most simple yet effective ways of displaying certain emotions. These pictures are my interpretation of those two details and everything within them.

Food Coloring 156



Maddy 157

Alexander Huynh


Spotlight Photographer Through my photography, I wanted to appeal to the sense of touch. Most things in my childhood I can’t remember fully, but one detail I can always recall is the sense of touch and the emotions that followed. I try to aim for those feelings I felt during the photographing process. Warmth and tranquility are found in my close up shots, the sun as my source of light. A chilling vibe is found in my still life shots with the sun being the source of light, but used in a particular way that contradicts its basic feeling of warmth. As for the meaning behind my works, the answer to that is simple: I just thought it looked cool. Now,that doesn’t have to be the case. I see them delivering two different messages. The first being what you see is what it is, but the second is that they are an invitation for unique ideas. We all get inspiration from somewhere. I get mine from idolized photographers and artists. There is no stopping point when a work is made. An artist published a piece, I found inspiration off of that and made my own, and hopefully someone viewing my work will be inspired and come up with something new. Hopefully, my works could be a piece of something bigger, like a railcar in a train of creativity.

Leaf 158




Petal 159


thematic Feature What Does it Mean to Be an American? Kafui Sakyi-Addo White Kid Who Doesn’t Understand William Spiegel How Far Can a Joke Go? Ethan Merenda Right and Left Maddy Moe and Emilee Lamps God Paint Me Rainbows C. Audrey Harper Rumors Gracie Poehlman Hard to Break Jillian Matthews That. Love Lundy Hate is a Bitter Thing Toni Glover Salt on a Snail Zach Johnson The Wall Gracie Poehlman Not the Pearly Gates Zach Johnson Have You Forgotten? Hadley Rosengrant Inconceivable!: A Lyric Essay Shandi Burrows Gone Toni Glover The Red Phone Zach Johnson The Walking Dead is Not About Zombies Janice Hendrick Across the Yard C. Audrey Harper Where the Green Grass Grows Ashton Jah God’s Peak William Spiegel Get Across the Canyon Amanda Melton A Zombie, But Not in the Way You May Think Ethan Ray A Sick and Twisted Future Kiara Gunn A Call to the Universe Sija Headrick The Gift of Healing Soumyaa Utlapalli Drowning Chenoa Gentle Gouge My Eyes Out Love Lundy Invisible Walls Hayden Madison ABC’s of Nothing Good Shandi Burrows A Word’s Boundaries Brenna Kilpatrick Freedom in Language Kafui Sakyi-Addo Grammy’s: Where the Girls At? Anaya Chambers The Farm Shandi Burrows The Pioneer Who Helped Change the South Ashton Jah Why is ‘Black Panther’ so Important? Anaya Chambers Trapped in My Mind Claire O’Neal Framed Alexander Miller Generational Divide Avery Beckham American Immigration Story Elisa Castaneda Behind the Fence C. Audrey Harper Neo Sebastian Rivera

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Dear Reader, CHECK ONE: ☐ Rich ☐ Poor ☐ Male ☐ Female

☐ Democrat ☐ Republican ☐ Straight ☐ Gay

☐ White ☐ Black ☐ Asian ☐ Other

Only those who pass this Rorschach test of an acceptable identity may be granted safe entry. If your interpretation of yourself does not match the identity perceived and preferred by society, you become nothing more than an other. Society does not shine brightly upon others. Behind walls and in closets are the others. These huddled masses yearn to breathe free, stuck in the limbo of life and death and wait to be spirited away into a crowd of nameless shapes and faces. We draw these boxes, these boundaries, just as we draw lines on a map. We wrap meaning around words to create language, make laws to define the norms of our society; We even frame our art and cage our animals. We are keenly aware of our personal space and the dangers of crossing the picket line. We feel safe behind our fences, but we wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. We sacrifice on the stones of Terminus and marvel as Hermes moves freely between the mortal world and the divine. We ride along with Don Quixote as he blurs the imaginary with reality, and we know if we live in West Egg or East Egg. We applaud the protective force field of Wakanda, but we frown upon the Districts of Panem. We build Great Walls, and we sometimes tear them down. We shackle our brethren and ship the lepers off to Molokai, but we applaud Jackie Robinson walking onto the field and photos of Barbara Bush cradling babies born with AIDS. Though we are of the Earth, the Heavens blessed us with infinite potential. Crafted of stardust and chance, we decide whether to open our hearts or close our minds. Some may think it’s only beyond the orbit of our Pale Blue Dot that can we defy gravity, break the fourth wall, shatter glass ceilings, and cast off our chains, but we make the rules, and Dear Reader, we can break the rules. Sincerely, The Eclectic Staff

What Does it Mean to Be American Kafui Sakyi-Addo Google Search History: What college is best for me? Are women’s colleges safer? Can I major in 5 different things? How many minors can one person have? What does it mean to be american Do you mean: What does it mean to be American?



1. relating to or characteristic of the United States or its inhabitants. 2. relating to or denoting the continents of America.

Where is Charlottesville?


Google Search History:

La Patria

Sebastian Rivera 164

White Kid Who Doesn’t Understand William Spiegel



My name is Will. I was born into a middle-class family and live in the suburbs. I’ve never struggled with money, getting things I wanted, or having things taken away from me. I’ve lived a life of extreme privilege. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve struggled in life. Mentally, emotionally, and physically, I’ve fought my fair share of battles. But what I’ve dealt with is minimal to the struggle that others face. I’m a straight white kid raised in a household that follows JudeoChristian values. I’ve never been discriminated because of my skin color, my religious values, or my sexual preferences. All things considered, I fit the archaic definition of the social “norm.” So when tasked to write about something as terrible as a hate crime, I struggled greatly. I know what a hate crime is; I understand what connotes a hate crime, but in my life, I will likely never experience one or truly understand what a hate crime is. My station in life had all but blocked me from fully understanding what a hate crime is. I can’t begin to fathom what it means being discriminated against just because of the color of your skin or your sexual preference. I’ve lived a life where, no matter what I say or do, it’s okay. I don’t suffer consequences for loving who I love, looking the way I do, or praying to my chosen god. Most people in this world don’t have that luxury. So you can see how it’s hard for a person like me to identify with such a horrid act on a deeper level. That doesn’t mean I’ve been completely closed off from hate. I can still remember the first time experiencing ‘hate culture.’ Although not directed towards me, it was still very polarizing. My family was staying in a quaint, quiet little town, located on the cliffs of France’s northern coast. To the north lay the English Channel. Rolling green pastures typical of the French countryside flanking it, not the typical place to be the hotbed of antisemitism in most people’s minds. At the time, the town was holding a little fair in typical European fashion. There were rides, cotton candy, carnival games, and more. I can remember being excited to ride the bumper cars, my favorite attraction. When I went bounding over to the cars, my father’s hand grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me away from the ride—I can still feel his hand. Turning around, I asked him why I couldn’t go on the bumper cars; what was preventing me from experiencing fun? He proceeded to point out something I didn’t notice


about some of the people riding the cars. A group of about five gruff-looking men were riding the cars. All were wearing the same camo pants and a black T-shirt. This didn’t look odd to me until I saw what design was plastered on their shirts and stenciled onto their sleeves. On the front of their shirts stood an imposing, stark eagle, clutching a swastika in its claws. On their sleeves lay another swastika. I knew at the time it was wrong, but I didn’t understand why. Later that night, my dad explained to me who those people were. They were Neo-Nazis. Sick people who spew the awful Nazi ideology in the modern age. Looking back at this event almost seven years later, I understand what these people are. They are hate, and they stand for everything that’s wrong in our world. Even though it’s minuscule compared to others, that was my little experience with hatred in this world. Although small and isolated, that moment still sticks with me.

Contemplation Shelby West


How Far Can a Joke Go? Ethan Merenda



How far can one go before it offends? A sarcastic remark on racism, a play about death, it really depends; A joke can push boundaries, it is true, But the boundary never seems to be pushed through, As more jokes are told, the border becomes wider, But is it good to remove that divider? When one offends, many lives feel like they end, But the truth is less intense. An offense is not death, If it isn’t serious, all it is, Is a comedic expression, Not a sin.

Right and Left Emilee Lamps and Maddy Moe “Hey, Don, another rough day at the office?” “Oh wow, I’m so sorry, that’s a real sh-” “I- That is ridiculous! Are you some kind of racist?


“Well, if you’re gonna go there, you wanna know why I hate conservatives?” “Because they’re too conceited to realize that they aren’t the only ones with problems!” “For a matter of fact, I DO have a job! I mean, how do you expect me to pay for food?” “Agh! You are so insensitive!” “Clearly you can’t see the elphant in the room!” “You need to check your privilege! There are people dying on the streets as we speak, and you’re too busy thinking about your high mortgage to give a second thought?” “Hey, Don, didn’t you donate like half your savings to the Boy Scouts of America a couple months ago? Why are you conservatives such extremists?” “If Hillary were president, maybe we wouldn’t have such a problem with Twitter controlling our politics!”


“Yeah, Stephen, I got laid off from my job…” “It’s ‘cause of those damn immigrants coming in and taking our jobs!” This is why I hate liberals. You always jump to conclusions. I’m not racist; I just hate anybody who’s not white! Simple as that!” “Yeah, why?” “Oh give me a break, we aren’t the ones that think we’re so entitled that we won’t even get a job!” “Food stamps?” “You want me to be nice, but how am I supposed to do that when you’re a liberal?” “At least I’m not an ass!” “Maybe you should try to encourage other liberals to use money responsibly instead of throwing money at all the poor people you can find!”

“Why are liberals so—as my good man Donald would say—sad?” “Well, thank goodness for the electoral college.”

God Paint Me Rainbows C. Audrey Harper And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come.�


I have been sitting in the rain all too long My clothes are soggy They stick to my body like molasses I walk with a drawl My limbs are gooey with excitement and apprehension Because I met a girl with auburn hair And freckles on her nose. My hands tremble as they reach for hers I have braids in my hair They usually fall out by the end of the day Frizzled up in a brown mop. I sit at my desk, knotting and unknotting my hair Feeling my insides unravel and ravel again with every swoop of her auburn hair in my direction My teeth are wiggly, My brain feels the same way: Temporary, fragile I talk with the kind of enthusiasm That makes you think everything will be okay. I have a smile on my face Because life is good; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me My Sunday school teacher taught us Unconditional love In the form of a rainbow Because you see God and I share a covenant His love radiates through my body And so does the girl with auburn hair But I am drowning once again


My lungs are full of holy water But my mouth is full of slurs etched in my skin is Faggot Faggot Faggot Faggot Until my skin is scratched raw Red and itchy, my blood slow and sticky Until it becomes melodic And I can no longer hear my own voice But I still sing it to myself As my vision blurs And wait for the rainbows to come.


their bloodguiltiness is upon them

Photo by C. Audrey Harper


Rumors Gracie Poehlman

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Rumors by Gracie Poehlman


Rumors by Gracie Poehlman

Feature 173


Rumors by Gracie Poehlman


Rumors by Gracie Poehlman

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Rumors by Gracie Poehlman


Hard to Break Jillian Matthews June 21, 1955 Today is the first day of summer! We just got here, and our house is already broken. The house is hot. The cold air isn’t working. But I get ice cream more often. Mom tells me to drink more water, but I just have juice instead. Mom says to get out of the house. I want to play in my new room, but it is way too hot. And there are a lot of boxes everywhere. Not fun. And I have no one to play with outside. Cooper is at universety, and Mom and Dad are busy with the broken air machine and the moving trucks. I went on a walk with Stacy around the negborhod. Was fun, but got lost. I need a map!

June 23, 1955 I told my mom about Johnny and that he was funny and good at sports. She said Good Honey I am glad you found a friend. I said Yes now summer wont be boring. We ate brekfust at our new table. I had juice instead of water! Haha mom! We played basketball again. Johnny left before his mom called for dinner. I asked why he did that he said He just had to go. I said Bye and he ran down to his home. At dinner dad said the air machine is getting fixed tomorrow. That was good. It was HOT. I felt like my brain was boiling. I do not no what that means. Mom said that at breakfast. June 24, 1955 I saw Johnny outside his house and was going to say hi. He waved. But



June 22, 1955 I saw a familie down the street! I went to go ask if they wanted to play. They are sad I think. Not sure what is rong. I just left and said no-thing. I went down there agin and they wer not outside anymor. I ringed the bell. A mom answered. She asked why I was there and looked mad. I said I wanted to play with someone. She yelled for Johnny, and a boy my age was there. He came outside. I said Hi My name is Franklin and he said Hi I am Johnny. We played basketball at my house for a little. But then it was dinner time and he went home.

went inside right after. I wanted to play! But I geus he could not todaiy. Today was no fun. Mom and dad wernt home at all really. Cooper wasnt home because univurcity. I watched grown up shows on tv. Like The Danny Thomson show and I Love Lucy! No more Micky Mouse! I had losts of ice cream, to.


June 26, 1955 Didnot right yesterday. Pensil broke and couldnt find anouther. No big deal. Yesterdaie i went to the park in the nehborhod. I saw Johnny and went down to play. We played socker. After that he asked why I am freinds with him. I said it is because he is funny and nice. He said If there was something rong with him. I said not that I no of. He kinda laffed and shook his head. I asked why he asked and he said He was curous. Not sure what that word means. At diner mom and dad were home and we ate at the table. I told them about Johnny and how he asked if there was something rong with him. Mom didnot laff like Johnny did. Dad didnot care. Mom looked at me and I felt like I was in troble. I looked down at my food. Mom breathed. She told me why he asked that and I said that I wasnot sure. June 27, 1955 We ate breakfast and Mom toll me she had to tell me something. I lisened. She asked if Johnny looked diffrernt I said no he looks the same as he has been. She said no I was wrong. She asked it his skin was different I said I guess. She toll me I was not allowed to play with Johnny anymore. I asked why and she said bevause he is differernt. I said what is wrong with being different and she looked mad. June 28, 1955 Summer is now boring I have no thing to do! Can’t play with Johnny becuase mom said no. I stil do not understand. June 30, 1955 I saw Johnny down the street and I waved. He waved back but his mom took him inside. I think they are moving away. July 4, 1955 I wanted Johnny to come over for July 4. But he couldn not. They don’t live in the nehborhood any mor. I don not no why.


That. Love Lundy

“This man starts beating on the windows of the car saying to my father: ‘I’m going to kill you. I want your daughter.’ None of my white friends have ever had an experience like that.” 179


“I was followed in a parking garage once. I’m not sure if he was actually following me, but it definitely felt like that.”

Hate is a Bitter Thing Toni Glover Hate is a bitter thing. A substance so nasty and vile; A feeling so toxic and inhumane, yet oh-so-common.


It is the punch to the jaw, the knife to the stomach The anger coursing through the veins, And the venom dripping from the lips. How? How does an emotion; a feeling blind one’s eyes and corrupt one’s heart? It’s horrifying How something that has no real shape No real form Has so much power And that the source of it Comes from the symbol of love: The human heart.

What Lies Underneath

Dalia Altubuh


Salt on a Snail Zach Johnson



18 APRIL 1917 NORTH OF RHEIMS, FRANCE Night had not existed in northern France for three straight years. Every single night, man-made lightning roared down. Thunder was heard up and down the lines of each side. The lightning illuminated the skies to reveal thousands of anxious, broken men quaking in their boots, waiting for the next whistle to sound. Every once in a while, the lightning would stop for a few precious minutes, giving every man an ounce of solace before the next storm rolled through. Like natural lightning, this manmade lightning was slow to arrive but quick to kill. Each poor soul in the trenches could hear the thunder rolling in, but they could only wait for it to strike. This lightning was far more devastating, sending tens of thousands of tiny metal flakes flying in all directions. No man could know exactly where the next bolt would strike. Every ten hours or so, the moon seemed to set behind the clouds of soot, gas, and ash. As the moon fell, the sun rose to reveal a hellscape different from the one only a day prior. Craters dotted the landscape, and each one told its own story. In one, what seemed like the remains of a man lay scattered in a shell hole. In another, a man lay motionless in a small crater, his face submerged in a puddle of green-yellow sludge. “What do you think got him, Abbott?” Jacobson stood hunched on the fire step and peeked over the parapet. “If I had to guess, he got stuck in no man’s land, got thirsty. Crawled over to a shell hole, took a drink of whatever the hell that is,” Abbott replied. “Maybe some gas got in the water?” Jacobson said. “Probably, yeah. Wasn’t a quick death, or an easy one at that.” “Heard from the Major that the Americans just joined the war. ‘Parently they’re bringin’ in 10,000 men per day. Most of ‘em up in Flanders, but they’ll make their way down here,” Jacobson coughed, inhaling the faint traces of gas and minute shrapnel particles in the air. “Can’t come soon enough. War was supposed to be over by Christmas 1914. ‘We’ll be done by Christmas! Fritz is on the run!’ but it’s all lies. Propaganda,” Abbott let out a cynical laugh. “Not their fault, though. They gotta keep morale up. You’ll understand soon enough if you live that long.”


“How long you been here, Abbott?” “What is it now, April? ‘17? Ah, think this is my 30th month. Yeah, sounds right. Got in my first foxhole in October ‘14,” Abbott was now inspecting his dirtied, chipped Lee-Enfield. “I’ve only been ‘ere three weeks. Hopefully, I’ll make it to the end,” Jacobson smiled. “Here comes the Major,” Abbott hopped down from the fire step. “Gather round, men! Gather round!” the Major called up and down the lines. “Men, we’ll be going over the top tomorrow. Our men have been perfecting new artillery tactics far down the line, and they’ve come up with something they call a creeping barrage. Supposed to keep those MG’s off us while we cross the fields, and keep Fritz in his trench, too. Anyhow, write your letters home, get right with God. We go over the top in the morning.” It began to rain. “You ever been over the top, Abbott?” Jacobson gnawed on the remains of a biscuit. “Let me see that,” Abbott grabbed the rock-solid biscuit and beat it with the butt of his rifle, cracking it. He handed it back to Jacobson. “Only twice. It’s not too common, ‘specially when we’re deadlocked like this. “Why not?” Jacobson bit hard into the biscuit. “Those god-awful machine guns they’ve got wreak havoc on our advances. When I first got in, we were sending older groups over the top every week but didn’t take too long ‘fore command realized the cost of it all,” Abbott stared blankly into the dark clouds passing over the trench. “What was it like?” Jacobson asked. “What? Going over the top?” “Yeah. Scary, was it?” “‘Course it was. You and everyone you know climb over the top, crawl through the barbed wire, charge across an open field littered with corpses of men you used to know. All this while gettin’ shot at? I’d pass if I could,” Abbott was still focused on the clouds. It began to storm. A young man, no older than 18, sprinted down the trenches yelling as loud as he could. “Into yer dugouts! Shells coming down the line! Shells coming down the line! Shells coming down the line!” the boy kept sprinting, and his voice trailed away, only to be followed by the all-too-familiar sounds of 105mm shells crashing into the earth. Abbott and Jacobson sprinted for the nearest dugout along with the rest of the trench. Every shell slammed into the dirt, sending dozens of pounds of dust, shrapnel, and explosives in all directions. “Wait for me! Wait! I’m coming!” shouted a faint voice down the line. Jacobson leaned out of the dugout to see another young man hurdling over boxes and debris, desperately running for the dugout.


19 APRIL 1917 NORTH OF RHEIMS, FRANCE DAWN “Morning, men! Grab your helmets, your rifles! Everything you’ll be taking with you to the next life!” shouted the Major to the line of men he had assembled. “Barrage starts in three minutes, seventeen seconds,” he said, glancing at a pocketwatch. Abbott stood loosely, intensely cleaning his Lee-Enfield. “What’s the big spiel about cleaning that thing? The bold works, yeah?” Jacobson asked. Abbott looked up at Jacobson, then back down at his rifle. “Ever heard the term ‘cleanliness is next to godliness?’” Abbott laughed. “‘Course I ‘ave.” “Well I’ve got a feelin’ we’re about to get real familiar with what godliness really means, and I wanna be as close as I can to that when I meet Him,” Abbott grinned, and looked back up at Jacobson. More of man’s thunder was heard in the distance. “Right, boys! Here we go!” the Major peeked over the parapet, turned, and blew into his small metallic whistle, a pitch just lower than that of a dog whistle. As soon as he blew it, a line of massive explosions appeared just fifteen meters in front of them. While the dust cleared, each



“Come on, lad! We’ve got you!” Jacobson shouted. “Almost! Almo-” Jacobson was cut off by a single shell hitting the ground only a few meters in front of him. Jacobson was thrown to the ground inside the dugout. “Jacobson! Are you alright? Are you hit?” Abbott reached over and wiped the blood and dust off of his friend’s face. “Yeah, I’m fine. Got all my limbs still. Did that other guy get in here?” Jacobson’s eyes darted around the room, scanning for the face he had become so familiar with so quickly. “Don’t know, but I don’t see him. I’m closing the door till this stops, though,” Abbott slammed the door shut, and another man lit a lamp. *** “Abbott. We’ve been in here for hours now, seems like. They’re still shelling us?” Jacobson asked. “Sounds like it, but the barrage is moving on down the line. Going to go ahead and open this door,” Abbott replied. As soon as he pulled it back, the door swung open. “Good god!” “What is it?” Jacobson shielded his eyes from the light, illuminating the once-dark room. In the doorway lay the remains of the man who didn’t make it to the trench, his eyes blank and staring straight up. He had lost everything from the waist down. “God save us all,” Jacobson whispered.


man slowly climbed up the small ladders out of the trench and laid in the dirt, waiting for further orders. Every ten seconds or so, once the smoke cleared, another round of shells crashed into the earth in front of them. “What’s the plan here, Major?” An unknown soldier yelled. “Some of the artillery officers call this a ‘creeping barrage.’ Essentially, the artillery corps is going to fire a line of shells fifteen meters and ten seconds apart from each other. The shelling will slowly move towards the enemy lines, and we’re going to march behind the shelling. The explosions will keep the Jerries in their trenches, and it will keep us concealed. By the time the shelling stops, we’ll have marched right up to their lines, and they won’t know what hit them! Then, we’ll jump into their trenches and send them back to the Kaiser!” the Major yelled. Another barrage, fifteen meters further forward than the last barrage, shook the earth around them. “On your feet! Charge!” With this command, about three hundred men stood up in unison, readied their rifles, and slowly walked forwards. “This might be the longest anyone’s survived in no man’s land!” laughed a soldier down the line. The group continued through the corpse-laden fields; their slow march unrelenting. With every barrage, more and more shrapnel was sent into the air, and luckily, only a minute amount came in contact with any one of the men. “It’s actually working!” Jacobson laughed, but Abbott wasn’t entertained. Suddenly, the next barrage fell a little bit short, nearly coming in contact with their line. They each hit the deck and were quickly covered in soot and dirt. The Major landed flat on his chest, and the shock sent Jacobson’s rifle flying. “Only about 50 meters left, boys! Almost there! Get back up!” The Major called, and most men returned to their feet, all except for Abbott. “Abbott!” Jacobson whispered. “Get up, or you’ll be court-martialed for desertion!” “No way, I’m not moving. I’ve had enough of this war. I’ll catch up.” “Jacobson! Tell your friend he’s got five seconds to get back on his feet or he’ll be left here! We don’t have time for shellshock right now!” the Major yelled back. Abbott shook his head. “I’m staying, but take my rifle, I’ll go fetch yours. Just go,” Abbott would not move. Jacobson glanced at the Major, then back at Abbott, and nodded his head. He turned back to the formation and joined the charge. Abbott lay there, surrounded by the dead, and watched as his fellow comrades charged towards the German lines. He rolled onto his back, and looked once more at the clouds above him. These clouds were no longer gray, but now black, and everything reeked of death. He looked towards Jacobson once more. Right as he turned to watch his friend, another barrage landed. This time, it fell too short. Jacobson and the rest of the group were quickly engulfed in a wall of extreme heat, metal shards, and a mountain of dirt.


The shells landed right in the middle of the advancing British, instantly killing dozens, and sent limb and corpse alike flying into the air. This barrage was supposed to be the last one, and as such, continued to hammer the same spot for a minute straight. “Jacobson! Jacobson!” Abbott called, now on his feet. He rushed towards his friends, who were shrouded by the shelling. Abbott continued to run until he was nearly at his group’s location. He scanned the area, but could not meet a single set of living eyes. Abbott collapsed to his knees, and began crawling, looking for whatever he could to use save himself. Once the dust settled, the familiar sound of a German machine gun opened up, and Abbott fell to the ground one last time. He rolled onto his back and looked once more at the clouds above him.


The Scream

Shiyeon Ku


The Wall


Gracie Poehlman Der Berliner Mauer, the Berlin Wall, divided Germany after World War II. It was a divide both physical—for the wall grew from an idea to a large concrete complex within fifteen years, with guard towers, anti-vehicle trenches, floodlights, and barbed wire—to a mental and ideological barrier, called the Antifascistischer Schutzwall, or anti-fascist wall, though it was meant to keep people from escaping the German Democratic Republic. It was fifteen feet high and twenty-eight miles long throughout Berlin. Over one hundred people were officially recorded as killed trying to cross the wall. America, among others, airlifted supplies over the wall to the captive people of East Germany. “Ich bin ein Berliner!” proclaimed JFK in front of the thick concrete, expressing American solidarity. The Wall was first breached on November ninth, nineteen eighty-nine, and citizens with pickaxes attacked it from both sides in the weeks following.

Strategy Shelby West 186

Not the Pearly Gates Zach Johnson



The sky shrieked in a terror-filled whistle as the earth shook and shattered. Dust and gas poured through every new crack in the walls, poisoning their lungs with each successive breath. The city seemed to melt and crumble around them. With every flash, another family was annihilated. With every flash, another life reduced to dust. The battle became four years old, and yet the barrage never ceased, and neither did the aerial slaughter. The sun rose the next morning reveals the hell that was unleashed during the previous night. Adnan choked and gagged on the dust as he opened the shattered window pane, and leaned out to examine his once beautiful city. The previous night’s shelling was just as devastating as the last. Entire apartments were leveled and bodies were strewn across the street. A yellow coat flapped in the wind, caught against exposed rebar. The once beautiful streets were now stained with soot and blood, littered with bodies and garbage. As Adnan scanned his street, nothing seemed to surprise him anymore. A doll here, a computer there, a foot down the street. He had become desensitized. “Daddy!” screamed Tamim. Adnan looked down to meet his son’s horrified eyes. Tamim’s gaze was locked straight ahead towards the apartment building opposite their own. Adnan looked back and immediately snatched his son from the window. On the balcony across the street lay the bloodied corpse of a child who seemed to be just as old as Tamim. The child was completely covered in ash and blood, his skin ghost white and his eyes rolled into his skull. A woman lay next to him, struggling to breathe. “What’s wrong with them?” Tamim was shaken. Adnan could not turn away from the other child’s eyes, the same deep green as Tamim’s. “No more. We’re leaving.” *** After a year-long trek, nearly 550 hours of straight walking and 2,600 kilometers, Adnan and Tamim arrived at the Hungarian border, the gateway to Europe. More importantly, it was the gateway to salvation. Here was the end of their journey. The wander through limbo was over, and salvation was upon them. “Tamim! Look. We’re here. There’s the border!” Adnan gleamed with


excitement. “Really? Where? Where?” Tamim tried to jump up and see over the huddled masses. The crowd drew nearer, and the excitement grew. The group huddled together and began to speed up. Escape from persecution was just beyond the gate ahead of them. “Almost there,” Adnan gleamed. “What do you see, daddy?” “I see… gates. A fence,” “Like from TV and movies?” “Uhm, something like that.” The gates were not pearly and grand. The gates were chain linked and topped off with barbed wire. There was no Saint Peter to herald new arrivals. Instead, there was a portly, sweaty Hungarian policeman walking up and down the highway examining the scores of refugees fleeing their homes. “Form a line! Form a line!” he shouted. The crowd murmured in protest but had no choice but to comply. Was this the procession of horns and angels? Were these their angels? Instead of flowing, white robes, these angels wore snug, grey uniforms. These angels’ swords were not gladii like in paintings of old, but instead, long, black assault rifles issued by the Americans. “Papers and identifications!” barked the officer. The officer’s heavy grey border police uniform was drenched in sweat. The bright yellow badge bounced with every lofty step he took. Adnan gripped his son’s hand tightly. “Where’re your papers?” screamed the officer at another family. “You think you can just come into my country? Take my resources? My jobs? Abuse my government’s welfare?” “Please take pity. We’ve lost everything. We’re just trying to es-” the eldest man of the family murmured. The man was old and frail. He obviously ached from a 2,000-mile trek, and so did the three children at his side. His breaths were fast and short, his clothes tattered from the journey. Before he was given a chance to finish his sentence, the guard pulled out a baton and kicked his knee. The angels on the walls focused their attention on the old man, their grey government-issued robes snug on their bodies. “Syrian scum. Go back to your home and fight.” The old man buckled to the ground and his breathing intensified. The two small children, stricken with fear, were statues. They stared at their grandfather, their sole guardian, as he floundered about on the ground, helpless. The third child, a boy maybe 11 or 12, quickly crouched and tried to pull his grandfather up. “Leave him!” shouted the officer. The officer butted the boy’s chest with his baton, knocking him to the gravel beneath them. The officer then turned his attention back to the old man and beat him until he stopped crying in pain. A crowd had gathered.




“Serves you right for trying to cross my border and rape the women.” The officer was proud of what he had done. He turned to admire his work, and spat on the old man before turning and walking off. “Sir! Are you okay?” Adnan shouted and shoved his way past other spectators. The old man now lay broken and bloodied, sprawled across the ground. His face was beaten and already bruised. His lip was swollen and bled profusely. His grandchildren stood by him and watched in terror as he flailed. “Sir!” Adnan shook the old man’s head. “I-I-I’m alright,” the old man struggled. “How is he?” The old man glanced over at his eldest grandson who was hunched over and puking. Every breath brought vomit and blood. It seemed like the boy sat hunched over for minutes before someone shouted, “Quick! Get him to the tents!” Suddenly, a few men appeared from the crowd and carried the boy on their shoulders back down the road towards a camp the refugees had set up. Adnan and Tamim followed the men back. The next morning, Adnan and Tamim returned to the border crossing. The same faces greeted them there. The refugees once again huddled near the entrance to Hungary and waited, one by one, to be screened for entry. “Papers, please!” barked a familiar voice. The crowd itself became uneasy; whole groups of people slowly stepped back from the fence. “What’s going on?” Tamim looked around anxiously. The crowd grew anxious, too. They shuffled around and murmured amongst themselves. “Gather round, gather round!” the voice barked once more. Slowly, the crowd formed a circle around a short, pudgy man in a deep blue uniform. The very same officer from the previous day. With the officer was a man, hunched over and obscured. “Grandpa!” two small voices called from the crowd. Before long, the two small children shoved their way through the crowd. “Just in time,” the officer smirked. “Children, this is why we don’t run like cowards from our homeland,” the officer yelled, raising his bloody baton. He raised it high above his head and slammed it down on the old man’s head. He crumpled to the ground instantly. The crowd stood silent. “Hey! You!” shouted Tamim, his small voice barely registering with the crowd. The officer slowly turned around to face Tamim. “What do you want, kid?” “Let him go!” Tamim shouted and charged at the officer. The officer stood and slowly uncurled his fingers. The old man dropped to the ground and didn’t move as the officer shoved his boot into the old man’s back. Once again, no response. Tamim stopped in his tracks, and Adnan rushed to his side. “He’s dead, idiot,” the officer smiled.


Tamim was frozen, unable to move. Everything he had seen back in the city, every severed limb, every corpse, every atrocity suddenly returned to his mind. He charged the officer. “Tamim, no!” Adnan screamed at his son. Tamim dove for the officer. Before he could even make contact, the officer struck him out of the air with his baton, and Tamim, too, crumbled to the dirt. “Tamim!” Adnan screamed and lunged for his one and only surviving child. He crouched down next to him and laid his fingers against his son’s neck. There was no pulse. Adnan didn’t move for nearly ten minutes. He held his son in his arms and wept. Finally, he closed his son’s eyes and stood, facing the officer. “I’ll kill you,” Adnan whispered. The angels drew their swords. Click.


Gracie Poehlman


Have You Forgotten? Hadley Rosengrant


Have you forgotten the faces of innocent children? The children who were supposed to live past ten. The children who were supposed to have warm beds. The children who were supposed to have plenty of food. The innocent children that they imprisoned behind barbed wire. Have you forgotten their emaciated bodies, and their faces filled with confusion and fear? Have you forgotten the piles of bones, the piles of bodies, and the pillars of smoke concealing the sky? Have you forgotten that these were people? People just like you, who had stories, and names, and families, and lives that were each as detailed and interesting as your own. Did the pictures tell less of a story, just because they were printed in black and white? I have not forgotten. I have not forgotten the boy in the hallway, the boy who was shoved into a wall after being called a ‘filthy Jew.’ I have not forgotten that one of my teachers looked me in the eye and told me that I wouldn’t be here today if we lost the war. I have not forgotten the boy who marched through the hallway, blaring Nazi propaganda music from his phone. I have not forgotten my grandmother, who watched the Nazis take her grandfather when she was just a child. I have not forgotten the pictures in powerpoints and documentaries, and I have often wondered if one of the men in those pictures is the man who helped raise my grandmother. Who was he? What was his name? What happened to him? Niech spoczywa w pokoju. May he rest in peace. 191

Inconceivable!: A Lyric Essay Shandi Burrows “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line!’”—The Princess Bride, 1987 A classic movie talks about classic blunders and makes the audience question why they should not be involved in a land war in Asia


1987: the year The Princess Bride was released 1980-1988: Just one set of years that Iran and Iraq (two Asian countries) disputed about borders “The Decimal Classification introduced the concepts of relative location and relative index which allow new books to be added to a library in their appropriate location based on subject.” —Wikipedia Dewey Decimal numbers to find books on these topics: Iran History - 955 Iraq History - 956.7 Iran Travel/Geography - 915.5 Iraq Travel/Geography - 915.67 Two bordering countries that come together alphabetically and is, at most, only separated by the difference of the number 1.7 on the shelf of a library.


A list of competitions that end badly for everyone: • • •

• • • • • •

• •

Some of the above are well known, but not commonly known is the fact that: A Sicilian will always win if DEATH.



• •

World Shin Kicking Championships held in Gloucestershire, England. The World’s Ugliest Dog Competition held in Petaluma, California. Insect-Eating Contest held at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Florida. Immediately after the competition, the winner of the contest began to vomit and then died of a suspected allergic reaction to the insects that he consumed. Midget Throwing Contest held in Australian bars throughout the 1980’s. Bobbin’ for Pigs’ Feet held in East Dublin, Georgia as part of their Redneck Games. Miss Cicciona (Miss Fat Woman) held in Italy. Cold Water Championships at Tooting Bec Lido held in South London. Bee Wearing Contest held in China. This is a contest in which participate stands on a scale, gets a queen bee placed on them, and then tries to attract the most bees onto their body within an hour. World Sauna Championships held in Heinola, Finland from 1999 to 2010. The contest, in which you stay in a ridiculously hot sauna for the longest amount of time, has been canceled since the 2010 competition when a competitor died. High Heel Racing held in Paris, Sydney, Moscow, and Amsterdam. Annual NC Hot Sauce and Chili Pepper Eating Contest held in North Carolina. World’s Biggest Liar Competition held in Cumbria, England. Politicians and lawyers are not allowed to participate in the competition. War



Toni Glover Ten. She gasps for air. Her chest heaves as she looks around frantically. She falls to the ground, unable to keep herself afoot from the force of the bullet that pierced her skin. Her adrenaline is pumping, laced with the pain in her chest. Nine. He whips around when he hears something hit the ground. His eyes widen at the sight and runs to her side. “They shot me,” he hears her say. Eight. Her deep breaths become thin and ragged. Her eyes give up on their search for nothing. She focuses on him now and the fear deep in his green eyes that are surrounded by tears. It will be the last thing she sees. Seven. He tears a piece off his already ripped shirt and applies it to the gushing wound. It is immediately soaked in crimson. Again. He must try again. He screams as he placed another cloth on her wound. Screaming for her to stay with him. That’d he’d find help soon. But that will not come soon enough. Six. With her remaining strength, she grabs his hand that holds a piece of his bloodied shirt. She gazes at him with a weak smile. It was so frail yet so bright, almost filling him with a hope that she would live. Almost. Five. He holds onto her tight, hoping that if he held her close enough, her life wouldn’t slip through his fingers. His body shakes with sobs that he failed to restrain. Don’t cry, she whispers. Four. She feels pressure upon her lips. No, not pressure, a kiss. It is short and mixed with love and sorrow. It is full of the words that were never spoken between them. Words that should’ve been exchanged a long time ago. Three. He catches a glimpse at her second attempt to smile, but this time she can only manage a twitch of her lips. Her once glimmering brown eyes are losing their shine, and her tan skin is now pale. Lifeless; she is


shaking hands with death himself. Two. She looks at the sky but sees nothing. She strains her ears but hears nothing. She tries to twist and turn, fighting for her life, but she cannot move. Everything is numb. Acceptance fills her being and a gentle wave of sleepiness consumes her. She can no longer keep a grip on his shaking hand and succumbs to the fatigue that overtakes her. One. Gunshots ring through his ears and drowns his blood with anger. Each echo of bullets replayed the horrible event that just took place. An undeserved death. An apocalyptic war has killed the only thing that was near and dear to his heart. It brutally murdered the only person he ever truly loved. She was the only person who was able to melt what was once an icy heart. But now, his heart burns. It burns with anger, with determination, with revenge. Zero. It is the end of a life, but the beginning of a legacy.

Feature Art Is What You Make Other People See Courey Bratt 195

The Red Phone Zach Johnson


It’s a real shame, isn’t it? One of the most powerful relationships One that could conquer the world Each entity balancing the other Now decimated, ruined Reduced to two sides filled with hatred Only a simple, red phone to mediate It’s getting cold here in Moscow But another sunny day at the end of September in Washington That red phone goes unused And Gorbachev can’t last much longer The union crumbles And the red phone is left untouched.


The Walking Dead is Not About Zombies Janice Hendrick



They creep on your very being; they stalk day in and day out; they are The Walking Dead. This hit AMC show has been surviving the apocalypse for eight years and taking on challenges far past the undead. If viewers can get over the guts and gore from executive producer Greg Nicotero, they’ll see the much deeper meaning to the show and how it applies to the “Zombie Manifesto” of modern-day America. This dramatic take on the end of days shows a perspective of morality in the eyes of man. Every writer on set is required to read the personal experiences of Viktor Frankl, a prisoner subjected to psychotherapy in Auschwitz. Frankl was exposed to inhumanity and despair, until ultimately finding purpose after the most dehumanizing experience. The decivilization of humanity seen in The Walking Dead is only witnessed in the living, while the possessed lose all mercy in death. Characters exhibit a spectrum of moral behaviors from the ever positive and forgiving Dale to the immoral tendencies of the mid-apocalyptic lover and backstabber Shane. For The Walking Dead, family is the one thing characters and viewers can relate through. Throughout tragedy, the family structure becomes even more of a necessity as numbers dwindle. While stressing the importance of family in this series, the writers of the show present the different definitions of family other than the traditional nuclear. Dehumanization, however, can make even the closest family turn on each other when the world is falling apart. With characters like Morgan, we see a sharp devolution from his caring behavior in season one, to his murderous, rampaging, and suicidal demeanor in season three. Ultimately Morgan has an awakening, overcoming his thirst for senseless killing only to return to Rick’s group in the midst of a war against the force that could mean his ultimate downfall. In the wake of the apocalypse, all of the characters acquired a set of skills far beyond what they had in their normal life but in the process surrendered their human qualities of compassion, forgiveness, and fear. With the rise of the dead, humanity begins to fall. The series is comprised of multiple ‘live’ characters, but most viewers don’t consider the inner purpose walkers serve. These undead are plot points; each battle against them adds another layer of stress to the living characters, testing the group’s sanity and humanity as a whole. As people are picked off by both walkers and the living, viewers see who is strong enough to retain


their humanity at the end of days. Andrea’s sense of humanity died when her sister took her last breath, as seen with her depressed demeanor and attempted suicide in the season one finale. Returning to Dale, his humanity stayed with him until his untimely demise, proving the point that humanity in this world could be the downfall of the human race. Dale found the protection of humanity a choice and one that he was not ashamed to say he maintained in the darkest times. Woodbury, Terminus, Hilltop, The Saviors, Alexandria, and The Scavengers. The group boundaries in each of these areas serve as a symbol. Those of like may enter our community, and those different are turned away, explaining Rick’s three simple questions he asks every newcomer: “How many walkers have you killed?, How many people have you killed?, Why?” Rick has formed a relationship and faith with his group and does everything to ensure their safety and prosperity. The purpose of these questions allow him to decide whether someone is worthy to be involved in their group as well as let the person come to terms with their true selves. Psychological boundaries control who belongs to the community and who are denied. Maintaining a concrete exterior but permeable enough for growth is crucial to the continuation of the human race against zombies and other communities. Even in catastrophe, human nature relies on domination in the form of relationships and gender roles. In today’s society, we see the female role becoming liberated and gaining more equality and a voice. These rights are enhanced in the apocalypse by the need for everyone to fight for the safety of the younger. In some communities, however, the older gender roles are amplified with the hierarchy of man, woman, then child. As for the undead, there is no order of importance. There is no order or civilization for the undead. The only inkling of strength is when walkers travel in numbers; there are no male or female zombies, only undead with a resemblance to the living. Rationalization is often skewed in The Walking Dead by the situations surrounding the characters. In respect to the reproduction of zombies, there are no means of sexual intercourse needed to reproduce, only a bite and the infection will pass to another. The apocalypse brings together people and the desire for intimacy, as seen in couples like Shane and Lori, and Glenn and Maggie. This lust coupled with fear made the risk of reproduction a pressing problem that the living were willing to risk for the joy of intimacy, love, and belonging. The building of relationships, sexual or not, is prevalent in this universe, especially when humanity is on the edge of obsolescence. With the fall of society as a result of the outbreak, the living naturally responded with loneliness when friends and families would turn against them in the form of the undead, love when they would find hope in communities and new people, and belonging when their group would thrive.


Across the Yard C. Audrey Harper

The school year started Our hair no longer lying in wet tangled masses From the chlorine and dancing in the poison rain But placed into tidy braids that swung as we walked to school Our feet in pace with one another The bruises on our shins and the tan lines on our shoulders beginning to fade In that dimly lit classroom, I’d feel my insides curl around Mixing and mashing into unsaid jumbled proclamations Of the adventures of the summer And the feelings I wouldn’t dare express. As we sat in these neat little rows, writing in neat little lines, living neat little lives The math equations and the weekly gossip swirled around me like flies Swatting them away, but the faint buzzing still ringing in my ear



On a Saturday morning, I woke up to a moving truck I could hear the barks of your dog from my room The shouts of movers The remnants of life in the house next to mine. We shared a yard Not quite the vibrant shade of green as everyone else’s But dandelions sprouted and blew away just as quickly We’d wish on the petals blowing in the wind Ballerinas prancing across the summer air Playing make-believe till the fireflies began to light up the night sky Our branches were swords, and the rain was poison Fighting the monsters that seemed to appear at that time of night. We’d gaze at the stars Knowing how it felt to feel so alive as they did As our eyes grew heavy, I still felt the infiniteness of the night within myself And I’d squeeze your hand hoping you did too. Waking up to a mess of sticks and stones and mangled limbs Till the fireflies began to retreat And so did you


I can barely hear my own thoughts But I still do Droning on and on While you sit clueless to my demise And swirl your hair around your finger. I dreamt of undiscovered galaxies and holding you Running through the halls of this humdrum abyss And singing at the top of my lungs. On the playground, we would scream sonnets And cartwheel across the ground I had found forever within you The world was cruel and confusing But I wasn’t confused about you How could a world be cruel when it held people like you? But each time you’d scream a little softer And stand from the sidelines. Somehow making a fool of myself was only fun when you were too You wouldn’t hold my hand like you once did Everyone was going to look you said, “Everyone’s going to talk; The world is watching” But my world was you My mom would call your mom To ask if you could come over to play But you were eating dinner You were sick that week You had a lot of homework You had tennis practice that afternoon You had plans already. So I sat in the yard Lying in a stack of the raked orange leaves Watching the sun set and the cold creep in I could see the flashes of your television from your window It looked directly into mine You left it on most of the time Background noise to the clutter banging around in your head Your white sneakers stumbling through the pools of disaster I understood But I so desperately wished it was my voice filling up the void And not the television’s It got too cold to play outside And our moms drove us home from school My afternoons were filled with radio shows and the cries of my little



Hendrik Morales 201


sister Glancing out the frosted window to a grey world Retreating inside to the monochromatic walls of my house Where I began to fall into myself a little more with each dropping degree I so desperately wanted to knock on your door But I couldn’t help but think Did you look up at the stars still? Did you too wonder how they came to be? An anomalous combustion of spectacle and energy A cosmic accident Maybe that’s what I was Maybe that’s what we were Yet, star-crossed we were Floating alone in the galaxy As souls like ours do When spring came back around, the petals from our cherry blossoms lingered in your yard I imagined you dancing Dancing as I shook the branches and let the petals fall over you Lying in your strawberry blonde hair, the flowers felt so mild compared to you And for a second, I imagined a forever With my hand in yours, finding shapes in the clouds We had once held infinity But as the days grew colder The fences we built grew taller

Where the Green Grass Grows


Ashton Jah The rusty metal bars accentuate my life; The dirty brown brick highlights my pain; The dead grass outside illuminates my suffering; My life is complete no matter how hard I try— My mind is riddled with the possibilities of a new life: My hopes and dreams are formed into an unpleasant demise.

One day I looked down and thought, “How did I get this far?

Oh, how my life has come and gone Like the day of tomorrow that comes but never stays. My struggles, My pain, My ever-changing plan. Never have I seen myself live a life well worth The meaning I see in everyone else.

Oh, how perfect my life has been Seeming like my life was meticulously planned this way: No struggles, No pain, Only a set, cemented plan. People look at my life and wish

I am not the man that comes to you begging for money. I am not the boy who went to school clueless. I am not the man who slept under a bridge for a week Because of my unpaid bills and debt. I am not the food stamps I use to live my life. I am not the life of poverty you ridicule.

Another day, I looked down and remembered my faults: Where was I when the homeless man came begging for a dime? What was I when I traveled around the world seeking Myself and my perfect education?


With my sparkling red corvette And my grand mansion overlooking the lush greenery Decorated with joy and passion.” I realized that I have succeeded.

They could have it all this grand.

Who was I when I passed the men sleeping under the bridge? I am not the perfect man you long to be.

I am not the life of poverty you see. I am an overcomer. I am a hopeful dreamer. I am my tomorrow.

I am not the perfect man you see. I am self-centered. I am my riches. I am only my today.

They say you can never lose by loving what you do, But by holding back on what you don’t do, And I have always tried my hardest To make myself anew.

They say you can never lose by loving what you do, And in my time, I have never lost,

Sometimes, you just have to keep going And pray God will lead you So you can keep growing. I might live my life differently, but I’m still human too.

But I always have to try my hardest To be the one who’s always on top. Sometimes the people you cross paths with Will have a different story And a different goal, But we are all humans, so we can’t feel sorry for the time we lost.

What a life I’ve given— A life so grand and accomplished. I had a chance in society: A privilege I was given; an opportunity I can live for. I’ll never know what it’s like to be on the other side Because now, all I have is my wealth: Out of the brown brick, My sparkling red Corvette and my And grand mansion dipped in joy Out where the green grass grows. Out where the green grass grows.



What a life I’ve given living here— Trapped inside myself. Give me a chance: A second chance I can live by, a life I can live for. Because one day, I want to live out— Out of the rusted metal,

God’s Peak


William Spiegel The mighty Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrop to the rolling Colorado countryside. Vast and expansive, the Rockies command the respect of all who lay their eyes upon its masterpiece. One mountain stands out though. Far above the tree line, where the oxygen becomes thin and few travel, sits the ever-snowy tip of Pikes Peak. An icon of all that is Colorado, she demands the utmost respect from all who cross her path. “You’re crazy if you think we can take the horses up there Sojourn; my best mere wouldn’t even be able to make it halfway, nonetheless reach the peak.” chided Paul. He doubted my plan, but hey, who needs em anyway. I knew what I wanted, and I was dead set on getting it. Sojourner Christus was going to be the first man to stake his claim on the mighty peak, and no one was going to tell me any different. I’ve taken Cheyenne, Sentitial’s Point, hell, even Devil’s Playground. Only Pikes stood in my way, and I wasn’t about to lose to a damn mountain. “Hell with you Paul, me and Champion we’ll do it by ourselves then, the only reason I offered ya was I need the company on the hike up.” That was a lie. Champion, my horse, is the only company I need. Champion and I had been through hell and back. Whether it was running from the marshalls, debtors or angered Apache’s, Champion and I had gotten through it together. Through thick and thin, that beautiful black stallion was always at my side. I surely wasn’t going to conquer Pikes Peak without him. I only considered bringing Paul in the first place as a stock mule. That’s all he was good for, besides getting ol’ Sojourn drunk. “I’m telling you Sojourn; you go up that mountain neither you or your prized horse coming back down. You’ll surely die up there, and ain’t nobody gonna be there to bury ya. Food for the birds, that’s what you’ll become,” Paul warned. I wasn’t about to heed his empty warning. Sure it’s a dangerous hike; bunch of fellas have died on the way up. It’s always wolves, avalanches, or exhaustion that gets em. Their bodies would find their way down from the mountain, devoid of color or any signs of life. Empty eyes, sunken skin, lost minds a shadow of their old selves. But those were weaker men, men without drive. I was different. Paul sent his warnings tenfold, but I wouldn’t listen. My mind was set, there was no turning back. The next day I set on my journey to take the peak. Beginning in Colorado Springs, the quaint little town sat at the feet




of the towering peak. From there Champion and I followed the winding path towards the summit, passing Fox Run, Garden of the Gods, and Fortification Hill. With evidence of society slowly fading behind me, I increasingly felt alone. Steadily realizing that this was my fight and my fight alone. I knew Champion could make it. I’m convinced the damn horse could do anything. It was going to be a battle of my own mental fortitude. How strong, how dedicated; could I do what no other man has done? I asked myself these questions, could I do it? Then came the base, where the real challenge would all begin. Now there was truly no turning back. If I were to turn around, I would be known as the man who backed down, and death was preferable to that moniker. Steadily we rose. Climbing ever so gently on the tight rocky paths. Doing my best to lead Champion safely through the treacherous ground. The air became thin. My breaths few and far between. Vegetation dissipated, minutes turned into hours. Each of Champion’s strides became heavier, more stressed, agonizing. I could feel his muscles tense at every drop of a hoof. The crags of the rocks were beginning to wear on him, but where were we? Had we been on the mountain for hours, minutes, days, years? Had I become one of the lost souls doomed to wander the barren waste above the treeline? Had I died, had I failed? Was I just another name in the abyss of lost travelers? Haze had filled my mind. Infected my soul, but something drove Champion and I ever forward. Each step became labored, as if it was the last step we would ever take. But something drove us forward, something carnal, something that only arises when death is ready to rear his ugly head. We became mechanical, step drive, step drive, step drive. Forward, Champion snarled with an intensity that I had never heard before. Whatever had taken its grip on me had touched his mind. No longer were we horse and rider, we had become something different. Something connected. If I were to fail, we would both surely die, but neither of us were going to let that happen. At one point I was forced to dismount Champion. The trail had become too tight. I would need to lead him from this point forward. I could have easily tied him to a boulder and left him, gone on by myself, but I didn’t. We were going to take this mountain together, or we weren’t going to take it at all. Our pace lessened greatly. We took great care in our steps. One wrong move assured death. Something told me we were close, ever so close to championing the mighty peak. The air grew ever cold. Snow caked everything. We were so close. Champion struggled, each step he took left a bloody hoofprint in the untouched snow. We could have stopped, could have rested, but rest meant death. We were committed, no weakness; only strength and courage could help us now. I realized that I had gone where no man had ever been before. The trail was gone. Champion and I were the only two to have ever reached


this far. Just a few more paces, I told myself, not much further. Find your strength. Falling into a snowbank, I faltered for a moment. Solace in death rolled over me; I had failed. As death’s grip crept onto me, a great force pulled me forward. Champion wasn’t going to allow me to stop. We were reaching the peak. What seemed like years ended so quickly. With a final rush of ragged steps, we reached the peak. The haze that infected my mind lifted. I could see clearly, below me lay God’s country. Our hike had been so devoid of color that seeing such a beautiful array amazed me. I saw great green pastures, rolling hills, mighty buffalo plains, timber school houses, communities filled with great love and prosperity. We had done what no other had done before. I knew I could never return after seeing such true unfiltered beauty. I took solace in my fate. Champion curled to the ground, laying himself down one last time. I rested my head on his neck and closed my eyes to the beauty of Colorado one last time. We had taken the peak; even though we wouldn’t live to tell the tale, we had done it.

Fish Out of Water Shiyeon Ku


Get Across the Canyon Amanda Melton



Some movies always depict funerals with grey clouds and rain. For the Brooklaw Family in Orlando, Florida, their movie funeral came with the death of the eldest son, Cade John Brooklaw. From the police report, someone robbed him at gunpoint then shot him multiple times, killing him on the spot almost two weeks ago. They still haven’t found the murderer. Cade’s brother, Leo, sat under the canopy, watching his brother’s casket. His blue eyes clouded with grief but showed no tears—that was for when he was alone. He was lost in his own thoughts and memories about his brother when the sudden, heavy sobbing of his elderly mother next to him brought him to reality. He held her hand tighter and looked over at the picture of Cade. What really happened that night, Cade? He thought as the rain started to pour. Leo watched and listened to those who got up and talked about Cade’s work. He was the CEO of the Brooklaw Company. The building they owned was centered in Los Angeles, California. One side of Brooklaw Co. was publishing books for first-time authors, then sending them to big-time companies. A new author has a team of editors and people thinking about covers and names. After the book is edited and the idea of the cover is submitted through the chain to Cade, Cade approves it and sends it to be published. The other side of Brooklaw Co. is a law firm. “He helped so many people with the system and their goal of writing,” one person wept at the church no more than an hour ago. “Who could do this?” Leo’s mother sobbed. *** A week after the funeral, Leo began looking through his brother’s belongings in California. He felt guilty packing and keeping or selling his things. Through the cleanness, Leo immediately thought of his brother as a man who put everything into his company. He was looking at his degrees when he heard a knock at the front door and sighed as he started for the wooden board. As he answered the door, two lawyers dressed in black suits stood at the entrance. “Gentlemen,” he said quickly. “What can I do for you?” “Mr. Brooklaw,” one of the lawyers said, he had short, black hair and a genuine smile. “I am Blake Greenwood, your brother’s personal lawyer


and this is Connor Locke, his business lawyer.” “Please,” Leo said, slowly drinking in their names and popping ideas on ways they would be here. “Come in.” As the men came into the room, they looked around at the boxes filling the spaces of the hallway and kitchen. The loss of their client caused them to lose money, but the late Mr. Brooklaw was always a friend; a brother. Connor, Blake, and Cade graduated from law school together, all specializing in different categories. “Our deepest condolences,” Connor said, turning to Leo once he closed the door. “Mr. Brooklaw, we are here on behalf of your late brother. He left a will once he started his company in case-” “In case something happened it him,” Leo said, swallowing hard. “He told me. Cade and I were close.” “Mr. Brooklaw,” Blake started. “Please, call me Leo. My brother was the Mr. Brooklaw.” “Leo,” Blake corrected himself as he pulled his briefcase in front of him. “We were witnesses to his will; he went through us in possession of his beloved company and his house.” Leo looked at them both. “Go on,” he urged suspiciously. “Mr. Brooklaw left everything to you, Leo,” Blake finished. “The company. This house. Everything. He said he knew you would continue the company and run it instead of his other partners.” Leo took a step back, leaning against the wall. “To me?” he mumbled. He shook his head, could he live up to his brother’s name? He owned a small apartment in New York where he worked as a tailor. The money wasn’t good, but he had earned enough to finish his bachelor’s degree in management. His brother helped Leo get his associate’s degree, but he had to stop—Leo felt guilty taking his money. “But-” “I know this is a lot to take in,” Connor said. “but let’s put business aside. Your brother was very upset in the months leading to his death.” “What do you mean?” Leo whispered, standing taller. “Upset?” “Mr. Brooklaw told me that someone in his company, or a partner was trying to take over.” If someone is trying to take over my brother’s company, I have to fight for it. Leo thought. “How can I get the company in my name?” Blake shifted uneasily, looking up at his friend. He knew what was at stake with this unknown person. “Court of law,” Connor stated. “It’ll be a hard battle, but the judge has to comply with your brother’s wishes.” Leo swallowed hard. He wasn’t good in front of a crowd. But Cade was different. Cade was an outgoing individual who helped people conquer things. Cade was a lawyer and a publisher. Leo was secretive and helped people with picking clothes for an important day. Leo was just a man




with a degree in management. “We understand this may be hard on you, Mr. Leo,” Blake said. “You can consult with your lawyer if you wish. We can-” “I don’t have a lawyer,” Leo admitted. “If we go to court for this, I would need someone who was on my brother’s side.” Blake and Connor nodded simultaneously. They had Cade’s back since undergraduate school together. *** Within the next week, the Brooklaw CO. has been mentioned in the local news every day. Within the month, the story went nationwide. The late CEO’s name plastered on every TV screen and magazine. The partners of Brooklaw Co. began battling with each other about the company, all while still mourning the death of its CEO. Leo waited by the door of the courthouse, looking out at the street through a small window. News cameras and reporters buzzed around like bees searching for pollen. He swallowed hard, thinking about what to say. He had been trying to avoid them since the partners and himself had filed for ownership of the company. “Mr. Leo Brooklaw,” Connor said from behind him. “Ready?” Leo wanted to shake his head no. How could he tell all these people and the people of America—the world—that he would take his brother’s company and that he was fully prepared to fight for it? Throughout the month, he moved everything from his home in New York to his brother’s house. His boss at the tailor shop let him miss work to fight for the company. Everything changed so fast, and Leo didn’t know how to move with it. Taking a big breath, Leo stepped through the doors with Connor and Blake following closely. The reporters turned and rushed to him. All the yelling and flashing making Leo more nervous. “Mr. Brooklaw!” one reporter stopped him. “How do you feel about your brother’s partners taking ownership of his company.” Leo stopped and looked at the reporter. This is what he was waiting for. “They won’t take my brother’s company,” he stated and looked at the camera behind her. “No one else is taking my brother’s company but me. He left the company to me in his will, and I’m certain the people will understand they must respect a dead man’s wishes.” The reporters flurried into an enormous bout of yelling and asking him questions. Connor nodded to Leo as a gesture of congratulations. *** The next three months took a major toll on the Brooklaw team. The partners teamed together to rival Leo in taking ownership, but still Leo fought with everything he had. He was a very secretive person, as the public knew, and all bits and pieces of his past were revealed in court and pushed out into the public. The spotlights were on him everywhere he went and supports of the partners slammed and belittled him in public.


Before the final court hearing, newspapers called Leo out on tax fraud and that his business degree was faulty. Connor and Blake continued to tell him that it was just media and that his life would forever be in the midst of media as the CEO of Brooklaw. That night, the TV news corrected the papers in saying they were faulty. Leo sat back and relaxed after the TV crew told the world he was not a fraud, but he was fighting the real battle with himself. On the one hand, he wanted to do what his brother wanted and take the company as his own, but he knew he would need help. On the other, he wanted to lose. He wanted to lose so he could go back to his simple life of tailoring and be in his own, small apartment. All of the little things in his life were out in the world. Only messing up taxes and doing something illegal could put him back in the spotlight. “You made this seem so easy, Cade,” Leo said into the empty house. “How could you expect me to run everything with your partners acting like this?” He froze. The one thing that could let people lead this life of wanting more and more was greed. *** “Congratulations, Mr. Brooklaw,” the judge said grabbing her gavel and raising it in the air. The next words will forever ring in Leo’s ears. His heart fluttered at the jury’s words just seconds before. “Brooklaw Company is all yours, Mr. CEO.” Leo smiled and looked at Connor and Blake, hugging them both. “Thank you,” he said. “This feels fantastic.” The wiring in his suit was uncomfortable when he moved, but Blake thought it would be a good idea to record the final hearing so Leo could take it home and listen to it over and over again if it turned out good. One of Cade’s partners, Mr. Worthington, walked over to Leo and extended his hand. Leo took it to shake. “Congratulations, Mr. Brooklaw.” he said. “Your brother would’ve been very proud of you. He was a good man.” Leo nodded. “I hope to change people’s lives just like he did. I’m going back to school so I can do the best I can” Mr. Worthington nodded and leaned in to pat him on the back. Leo smiled softly and patted his back as well. “I’m going to kill you.” he whispered into his ear. “Just like I killed your stupid brother.” Leo pulled back quickly and stared at him. “You killed my brother?” Leo mumbled. His only reply was a smirk and a turn of the back. And I got it on tape, Leo thought, looking back at Connor and Blake. “We need to talk.”


A Zombie, But Not in the Way You May Think Ethan Ray



It had only been a few days since Jimmy had died in a tragic accident. It had all happened so fast. He was just doing bike tricks in an old building, trying to impress his friends, when the floor directly underneath him caved from a landing. Jimmy fell the whole way down, breaking his neck and dislocating many of his vital bones. Poor Jimmy was dead instantly. Nothing the paramedics tried would bring him back. He was buried in the graveyard on the outskirts of town, and for the next few days, he lay there. However, tonight sparked quite a remarkable, almost impossible, chain of events. As several storm clouds raged overhead, one spewed out a high-voltage bolt of lightning. The bolt soared out of the sky and struck directly onto Jimmy’s grave. One would think nothing of it until the dirt began to move and slip away, and a figure rose. It was Jimmy, but he looked nothing like he had before. His skin was greenish-brown and moldy with several holes and tears in his body, as well as his clothes— the same ones he died in. Jimmy rose up from his spot, looked around in confusion, and looked down at himself. Then those fateful words escaped his raspy mouth, “Oh no… I’m an overdone cliche.” Jimmy was not happy at all. Was he grateful to be alive again? Of course he was. Who wouldn’t be delighted to live again after they’ve died? No, Jimmy was upset about being a zombie. “Great,” he thought. “Now everyone will look at me and think, “Oh look at that, little Tommy, it’s The Walking Dead! Hahaha!” As one could probably already tell, Jimmy was not looking forward to going back to town; especially not in a world where the zombie genre had become more half-baked and overdone than every Call of Duty game since 2005. “So, what am I to do? Ah, I know! I’ll just head to town, but act as if nothing irregular is happening! That’ll keep all the zombie hype beasts away from me.” And just like that, Jimmy set off back to town, hoping that things would go well. Upon arrival, everyone pointed and spoke amongst each other. “Is that Jimmy? I thought he died a few days ago?” “AAAHH! ZOMBIE, RUN! AAAHH!”


“Oh look at that, little Tommy, it’s The Walking Dead! Hahaha!” Instead of staying to chat, Jimmy made his way to the bus stop so he could go home. The only other citizen present there looked at him. “So you’re like… not gonna eat my brains and turn me into your kind?” “Of course not,” Jimmy scoffed, feeling a tad insulted. “I’m not as basic as you think I am.” “Hmm… well, alright then.” Soon he boarded the bus, paid his fare with what little cash was in his pocket, and got off at his home. He staggered up the steps, rang the doorbell, and waited. He hoped that his parents wouldn’t be too shocked. No sooner did they open the door. They screamed as a dramatic lightning bolt struck behind them. “Heyo,” Jimmy greeted as he always had when he was alive. “Jimmy? Is it really you?” his father asked in horror. “Yep, it is. Don’t worry about my appearance, though. I may have been revived by the power of overdone cliches, but I’m out to avert normality and maybe, just maybe, go back to my life as it once was. Whadda ya say?” His parents thought for a moment, but ultimately agreed to it. They would much rather have their son back as a zombie than not have him at all. And just like that, Jimmy suddenly began life anew, living amongst all the other humans as if it was completely normal. And in a way, it was, since he acted just like everyone else. On another note, ever since Jimmy’s return, the zombie genre has seen a steady decline as a result of his presence. Mustn’t be insensitive and distasteful, you know.

Ink on Paper Dylan Coleman 212

A Sick and Twisted Future Kiara Gunn



“Hello? Can anyone hear me? I’m in here. Wherever here is.” It was white all around me and nothing more. The white space was endless and went on for as far as I could see and couldn’t see. The walls and the floors merged together, and I was in one big white space of nothingness. “Hello!?” I began to scream at the top of my lungs and still there was nothing. My screams echoed around me until they disappeared off into the distance as soon as they left a loud beeping began. “Ah-” I placed my hands over my ears trying to muffle the sound but it just got louder and louder. “What is that?!” I was brought to my knees groaning. “Hello. Can you hear me?” A strange female voice filled the room. “Yes. I’m here! My name is Dianna Johnson! I’m not sure where I am but I know I’m not supposed to be here.” I got up and looked around trying to figure out where to look while I’m talking, there was still nothing but white emptiness. “I have two kids, Courtney and Jacob. It’s 7:43, they should be in school.” Wait.. what? “How do I know what time it is? What day is- Oh no no no no no. This can’t be real.” It felt as though there had been a punch straight to my chest and I sank to the floor. “Okay honey, just take a deep breath in.” The female voice was back. “Usually we don’t have assistants figure out what’s going on so easily. Your training will go by super quickly! I’m Charlotte. I’m your trainer. As you’ve probably figured out the year is 3012, and your conscious has been put into a consciousness adapter to help those who need it the most. You are constantly updated with breaking news, current news, and history of the past and near future.” “Charlotte” stopped talking and I didn’t feel anything. The whiteness around me was as empty as I was at this moment. Hot tears ran down my face and for the first time I noticed I was freezing. “Sweetie, you okay?” Charlotte’s voice filled the room. “Would you be?” I croaked out. I pulled myself off of the floor. “Would you be okay if you found out that you were alive 500 years ago and now all of a sudden you’re back? Would you be okay if you knew everything about the past? Would you be okay if you had access to files in your brain about how your family died? Would you-” The loud beeping was back, and I groaned. As soon as it left, the room got dark. “Hello?” I couldn’t see anything nor did I think anyone was listening. I sat on the floor and put my head in my hands. I tried to look for how my family died inside


my head, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I couldn’t look up anything. Just stuck in this dark, endless room with no walls and no end in sight. I laid down and shivered from the cold. Soon I was asleep. *** There was a loud chime, and it jerked me out of my sleep. “Good morning, Dianna. Sorry about the abrupt exit I made yesterday.” I sat up and rubbed my eyes as she continued. “You should not have been able to see those files yesterday. I can’t even begin to understand the pain you must be feeling and the unanswered questions you have. Ask away and I will answer everything honestly.” So many questions were crammed inside my head. I didn’t even know what to ask first. “Did she suffer? Courtney... The files said something about cancer?” “Yes, stage 4 ovarian cancer.” Charlotte’s voice was calm but held no emotion. “But she was only 20. She was so young.” Tears began to slide down my cheeks. “What about Jacob?” “Jacob made this country proud.” Charlotte began. “He died in combat rescuing a family in Syria. He died a hero.” She sounded proud even though she didn’t even know him. I choked back a sob. “And Mathew? What about my husband?” “He just died of old age; passed away in his sleep. Nothing crazy.” Her voice was nonchalant. The tears began to fall faster, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Of course he did.” I wiped my tears. “He always said he would die the most basic death. He was crazy like that, ya know? Always said things that other people wouldn’t imagine saying.” I laughed harder. I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt. “That bastard.” I shook my head while smiling. I stood up and began to stretch. “And me? What happened to me?” I walked around the endless white room, not expecting to go anywhere but better than just sitting I suppose. “Car accident. Hit by some rich white kid high on acid thinking he’s in a real-life version of Grand Theft Auto.” She sounded disgusted. “I don’t look like I was in a car accident.” I looked at my arms and felt my body. “I look perfectly fine.” “It’s because you are the conscious of yourself. So technically you’re not yourself.” She began. “Okay? I guess I kind of get it but why am I here, who put me here, and most importantly, where is here?” I looked up while looking around, the ceiling was just white, but it was so mesmerizing. There was something different about the ceiling and the walls. “Like I said, you’re here to be an assistant for Mr. Henderson. He is a very sweet man but also very busy. He desperately needed an assistant that can manage his hectic schedule, and when he read your file, he knew you were perfect.” Charlotte said very matter of factly.




“My file?” “Yes. A file full of things you did in your life. Any record of you that has ever existed was in that file.” Charlotte explained. “He was very impressed with how you coordinated PTA events for two different schools while also working two jobs and going to school at night to get your Ph.D. No one had that much stuff in their files.” I was silent afterward. I guess that gave her the motivation to continue because she did. “Who put you here is kind of a difficult and easy answer. You donated your body to science and a research company called CORTEx wanted to use you along with other people to try and transfer consciousness from one person to another. Eventually, they were successful, but they didn’t just stop there. They wanted to be able to transfer consciousness to another thing.” “So I’m guessing I’m in a thing.” I tried to remain calm. This is crazy, but not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I remember seeing something like this on The Twilight Zone, or was it Black Mirror? I don’t know; either way, I’m not surprised. When humans have an idea in their head they either beat it to death or execute it. “Technically speaking, you are in a thing that goes inside of a thing. Along with CORTEx learning to transfer consciousness, they also created C-Pods. These allow someone else’s consciousness to be updated by the second with current events and implanted into someone’s brain like-” “Like a personal assistant.” I interrupted. “If you really think about it, it’s kinda twisted. I’m still a person, ya know? If anything they should wipe my memories so at least I won’t be forced to think about the past.” “Well yes, you have a point, and we tried that, but we had more failed assistants and a lot of unhappy customers, almost lost half of our investors.” Charlotte chuckled. “We will never make that mistake again.” “So are you like me? Ya know, stuck in this ‘C-Pod’ thing?” I felt silly talking into the nothingness, but it was nice to have someone to talk to. “No, I’m not. I’m still alive and kicking. I just train people, like you, who are in C-Pods and get them prepared for what’s in store. Believe it or not, you are handling this very well, better than most.” There was silence between us. I had nothing to say. Probably mostly due to the shock, but also because I’ve been dead for about 300 years, so it’s not like I have any other options. “Am I in his head? Mr. Henderson I mean.” It didn’t feel like I was in someone’s head. It didn’t feel like I was anywhere, if we’re being honest. “No, it is policy that you have to agree to be put in someone’s head.” “What if I don’t agree?” I was only curious about the alternative. “If you don’t agree your consciousness is just thrown away. Never to be used again.” Charlotte informed me. That’s a harsh alternative. My options are either be in someone’s head or disappear forever? That sucks. “If I stay in here will it always look like this? The white is really depressing, and also there’s a lot of space


around me. I don’t like it.” As soon as I said that there was a soft humming around me and the endless space turned into four walls around me. “Is that better?” Charlotte asked. “Much.” I sat against the wall and crossed my legs. “If I show you something, promise not to freak out? You’ve been doing very good so far, and I would hate to cut this conversation short.” “I promise?” I said cautiously. On the white wall in front of me appeared a screen and a woman appeared. “Hi, Dianna.” I saw Charlotte right in front of me. She looked way different than I imagined. She was older, maybe 60, and her head was full of gray curls. Technically, I’m 543, so I have no room to judge. “You could see me this whole time? Seeing your face would have been more comforting at the beginning rather than these white walls, ya know.” “You say that,” Charlotte spoke into her headset. “But it really would have freaked you out even more. So, have you made a decision yet?” I sighed. “I’ll help Mr. Henderson it’s better than the alternative.” Charlotte tried to hide her grin, but I could see it forming. “Awesome. It’s been great getting to know you. Anything you need, you can call me. Once you are implanted into Mr. Henderson’s head you will get a desk and my number will be programmed into the small list of people you can contact. Any more questions?” I shook my head. “No. I think I’m okay. Well, not okay but you know how could anyone be in a situation like this.” Charlotte gave me a slight smile before the screen disappeared. *** “Hello?” A deep, stern voice spoke out. I was sitting at the white desk that appeared not too long ago. There were a lot of buttons on the desk, but I knew what they all did; I knew pretty much everything that has ever existed at this point. “Hello, Mr. Henderson,” I said calmly, trying not to freak out. “How are you feeling post-operation?” “I feel fine.” Mr. Henderson did not have a warm, inviting voice at all. “We have a lot of meetings today. I expect you to pay attention and take my notes for me. Also remind me at 2 o’clock to fire my personal assistant, I no longer need her because I have you. Do you think you can handle this?” The way he said it sounded like I didn’t really have a choice. “Yes, sir. I know I can.”


A Call to the Universe Sija Headrick



She disappeared the night of the full moon Her shadow stained upon the walls of her room Constellations of stars scattered her ceiling’s surface Hours spent on the creation lying in front of her eyes With a soft smile, she looked up at Orion and shouted at the top of her lungs, “I wish to go beyond this place, beyond the cheesy moon and sleeping stars.” And her gravity could not hold on to her as she begged for something more than this life A galaxy lived inside the walls of her lungs and with it, she breathed in interstellar gas The dark abyss welcomed her war cry with a gust of wind hitting her small fragile body “Take me away into the night and capture my soul as you’ve already captured my mind.” Delicately she placed her paper creation upon her small and tender shoulders Her hands shifted into wings and she moved slowly unto the roof’s edge But, as her foot began to slip, the stars answered her prayer “Child, you cry out to us, begging us to bring you to the heavens. But, do you not see the beauty of your world?” Struck with the burden of the universe’s question, her foot stopped The silence of the atmosphere overtook her roar in seconds Her face frowned towards the moon and she realized her fate A passion arose in the deep blue oceans of her eyes as Vega twinkled brightly in the sky She yelled at the night sky’s erratic nebula dancing “Do not take me away from your world. Do not trap me among this dense and slow planet, let me explore the gods of the sky.” Among the vast solar system, the cold ghost heard her call He whispered a song of great woe into her listening ears: “You have lost yourself in our starry skies, you’ve forgotten the little things of your world, beauty in the blue skies, ladybugs crawling among the green leafed trees, The rush of water through your toes, and the feeling of love.”


Her voice broke into a somber tone when she heard his words Fabrics of space began to rip before her tearful eyes Weeping cries appeared to float in front of her constricted body A smile developed on her lips when she saw the magic of the universe “Child, galaxies live within your fragile body. You are destined to swim in the oceans of the sky but, not now. Our continuum of time will wait for you, now go seek the adventures of your earth.� And with this command, she explored her homelands until the universe called upon her again

Into the Abyss Emma Mayfield 218

The Gift of Healing Soumyaa Utlapalli

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THEA: So... I know we spent a long time on it, but I kinda sorta didn’t understand this last lesson at all. That substitute is so sweet. She just doesn’t know anything about statistics. PETER: Yeah, my mom’s substitute is struggling too. THEA: Oh, yeah I bet. I don’t know how she does it, but your mom made reading off history powerpoints fun. PETER: I think it’s because of her stories. That’s what always sticks for me. You know just before she went to the hospital, she was finding Greek myths. She was gonna start with Pandora. THEA: She’s the one with the evil box, right? I always thought that was so cool. PETER: The myth says that Zeus gave it to her as a gift, so she could terrorize humans. So, maybe he’s not that cool. THEA: Ok, minus the terrorizing part. I thought Zeus loved humans, or at least the women. PETER: It was because Prometheus gave us fire. The box was a punishment of poverty and disease for humans. THEA: Right, that’s not an overreaction. Alright, you think this is decent to sleep on? PETER: I guess so. You might wanna take some of these pillows though. There isn’t really room for me. THEA: What. You don’t sleep with five pillows? I swear you Cassells are so weird. PETER: Right, we’re the weird ones. THEA: Here, let me take some of these pillows. PETER: I do wish that it was as simple as opening a box, because then maybe we could trap all the sicknesses and problems in the world. THEA: Peter, I really think the chemo is going to work this time. Your mom’s so strong. You’ll see... I’m gonna go to bed.



Chenoa Gentle DILLON: I should’ve known. She was always... Always so quiet... she wouldn’t laugh at the jokes anyone else would. I should’ve known she’d be vulnerable... I... I should’ve...should’ve known. He begins to grow an angry tone and looking back at the audience stands up, almost shouting. DILLION: You know I think I heard one of the cheerleaders today mention something offsetting. Something like... like... [groans from anger, pulling at his hair] Something like she never mattered anyways or some crap. Heck, I just thought they were talking about someone getting kicked off the squad. He grows quieter and sits back down. DILLON: How was I supposed to know? There were rumors about the girl around school, but rumors are always fake right? Or even if they aren’t, why would they lead to death? Why would it have to lead to anything like that?

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Claire Dieselberg 220

Gouge My Eyes Out Love Lundy I hate looking outside of my window. The grass will never stop taunting me. It sits there, mocking me, every single day. “Come outside!” it says. “We sit here and frolic timelessly! Why won’t you come play with us?” Just like those demonic little girls in The Shining, you know? I’m sure there’s a silver lining in it though. I mean, there are positives to everything. We’ve talked about finding those before, right? I suppose that’s there is one upside about this, this thing. I’ve had quite a lot of time to watch movies.

Do you have a favorite film? The Shining, for sure. The Overlook Hotel is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen. I keep watching the movie, over and over again, telling myself that opening my door will get me there. Taking a step outside will get me there. Making myself vulnerable to every threat in the outside world will get me to this beautiful hotel, and I can’t even look at the damn window without wanting to gouge my eyes out. Gouging your eyes out is a drastic resolution. Feeling that you need to solve it so strongly is not uncommon for someone with your condition. My condition is not the real problem, Dr. Schneider. It’s my eyes. My sight. That’s the issue here, temptation. If I didn’t see things that made me even think about leaving the house, like those stupid blades of grass, the overlook hotel, or anything for that matter, then I wouldn’t be so scared. If I remove sight from the equation, fear isn’t even an option. That is a skewed reaction, Casey. Don’t worry about me, Dr. Schneider. I don’t think we’ll need to meet anymore. I’ve found the solution to my problem.



That’s great! What kind of movies do you like? Oh, no genre in particular. I’ve taken a particular liking to movies with beautiful landscapes, though.

Invisible Walls


Hayden Madison April 3, 2018 Boundaries should not be a thing. Maybe I’m only saying that because I cross way too many, or maybe boundaries just constrict everything. Either way, I don’t believe in them. I try to contain myself, but it’s hard when I see a wall between someone and myself I just can’t help tearing it down. Tearing down invisible walls give me a rush, it gives me a sense that I can do anything I want too. So, I’m that person that approaches loners at lunch. Sure, maybe that makes me look like a good person, but honestly, it’s really uncomfortable. You approach the person sitting by themselves and the closer you get the more confused they get. Their face screams without making a noise, is she going to sit with me? Then you paste a big perky smile on your face to assure them you aren’t some freak, but not too big because you might end up actually looking like a freak. You sit down next to them, and you ask them how it’s going. They look down at the floor or their food, anywhere where they can avoid eye contact. “Good.” They say, only speaking one word at a time. You nod, still smiling a big perky smile, when all of a sudden they get up and leave. The wall was broken for a good three minutes. April 5, 2018 I’m a freak. I went too far, way too far. Preston Malcom sits right in front of me in math class, and he has really nice hair. So nice, you just want to touch it. So I did. There was a wall between us that had a big sign, “do not touch!” So I had to touch his hair, his soft fluffy hair. He turned around and looked at me funny. I quickly looked down at my paper and pretended to write. I looked up and made a facial expression that said, why are you looking at me? With one eyebrow raised I watched as he turned back around, I got a quick whiff of his hair. Pine trees and vanilla Heaven… April 10, 2018 I’m mentally exhausted from all these boundaries.


ABC’s of Nothing Good: The Limitations of Chance Operators Shandi Burrows “As vocabulary is reduced, so are the number of feelings you can express, the number of events you can describe, the number of the things you can identify! Not only understanding is limited, but also experience. Man grows by language. Whenever he limits language he retrogresses!” - Sheri S. Tepper, A Plague of Angels


An audience already accepted an abnormal articulation. Babbling blunders burdened by bylaws. Cool cats can’t chill. Doing drawn-out departures departing drivel. Eggheads either execute, either encumber, even embarrass. Fake fans fake forbearance for fake facts. Gingerly gathering gibberish. Hate hits. Incuses indue injury. Just judging, judging, judging. Keeping kindness, Losing light. Marinating. Mastering meaningless material. “No! Nothing needs never-ending nonsense!” Offal only oafs originate. Practically purposeless preposterous parallels. Qualities quake qualified quizmasters. Rules rule raging regulations Still, script stands slapped. Standing stupidly statuesque. Terribly turgid, Unintentionally unintelligent utterings. Verbose verses verbify vivid versions. Wait, why worry with writ words without wisdom? X-Double-Minus, Yet, you yearn Zigzagging zeal. This has been a chance operator about the encumbrance of chance operators.


A Word’s Boundaries


Brenna Kilpatrick




Freedom in Language


Kafui Sakyi-Addo Surprise! The tree huggers have been right all along. True, society has advanced, but one’s sense of self and personal freedom has been restricted in more ways than one. In the narrative poem, “Half-Hanged Mary,” Canadian poet Margaret Atwood uses the attempted hanging of Mary Webster to show that humans were once at one with nature, speaking a language now unknown to human ears, but fear and hatred in society has caused an ever-growing barrier between the two, making many forget what true freedom looks like. Mary Webster is wrongfully hung for being a woman with an independent voice; fear in the town, hatred, and staggering mob mentality motivated her accusation. Mary is hung because the townsfolk do not know how to address their fear. They fear her because she has “a weedy farm in [her] own name” (Atwood 7pm 13), and some medical experience, which is viewed as witchcraft. Filled with paranoia, the men in this town want nothing more than to silence her unique voice and independence. They are a prime example of the subconscious oppression of women that has followed them for decades. Filled with predatory language, the men stalk, observe, and lie in wait, waiting to gather evidence for “their show of hate” (Atwood 8pm 10). In a supposedly God-driven society, the amount of blatant hatred is stunning, and further displays the amount of hypocrisy and irony in this society. She is seen as nothing more a sacrifice— not to please God, but to please their own selfish desires. In this society where conformity is the key to survival, a mob mentality reigns supreme. Mary has always been one to stand out amongst the women of the town, speaking up for herself, knowing her value—a raven amongst bluebirds. She had helped them all at one time or another. Yet she understands why she is alone, why no one will say something to save her. The use of a few words could save her life. But Mary knows that “the safe stance [is] pointing a finger” (Atwood 9pm 19) —stay silent or you will be next; in death, you are alone; Mary understands how things have been. Every woman in that town a result of years of holding their tongues, afraid of the consequences, letting fear drive them. Humans were created to be with and in nature, but the trials and problematic areas of our society have pulled us away. Mary Webster had been questioning her faith for quite some time, mainly the matter of “free will” (Atwood 10pm 7). Mary has always been outside of the typical mold.



Kaylee Rowland 227


Ironically, the innocent finds herself hanging as a result of the sins of others. Death calls to her as she is filled with anger and determination to fight, to live. Nature tries to re-accept her as part of its own as Mary continues to fight death. Sounds erupt from her, strangled raven cries— perhaps prayer—as nature is enraged by this act of injustice; the wind screaming as Mary says “No,” (Atwood 3am 10, the “leaves and wind” (Atwood 3am 17) the only thing holding her together. Mary Webster has declared herself innocent, completely alone and teetering on the brink of death, nature the only one responding to her cries. Mary Webster has become two parts nature, one part human, the truest version of herself. She has abandoned her faith and begun trusting in nature, her only comfort for the last 11 hours. She can now understand the language of the stars, as “this is what happens when you drift in space” (Atwood 6am 11). The town put their sins upon her, expecting her to make a worthy sacrifice, but her survival shows that the sins of the town were too heavy a burden for one person to hold; she could not be accountable for all of them. A reflection of their sin, their own “ill will” (Atwood 8am 16) staring them down, fully alive. Mary Webster, either a witch or saved by God, had survived. At this point, Mary is now one with nature, free to speak her mind, free to truly be free. As she was “hanged for something [she] never said, [she] can now say anything” (Atwood Later 14-15). Now God is her audience, the only one that understands her because “who else has been dead twice?” (Atwood Later 27). Mary has become the universe, stars coming out of her eyes and galaxies bursting from her mouth. She is free. Mary has faced the adversity of false accusations from men filled with hatred, silence from those that were once her friends, and nature holding her together as she fell apart, mentally and somewhat physically. Mary Webster has bridged the gap of women being able to speak freely, all that it took was her death.

Grammy’s: Where the Girls At?


Anaya Chambers The 60th Annual Grammy Awards didn’t go as many viewers thought it would. The ratings last year were 26.1 million, and this year’s ratings dropped significantly to 19.8 million. Ratings haven’t been this low since 2009. James Corden also returned as the host this year making it his second time hosting. Twitter users using the hashtag #GRAMMYS expressed their emotions this past Sunday night as the show went on. Viewers showed anger when certain nominees won over someone they thought deserved the award the most, based on the artist’s music and popularity over the past year. No one was completely pleased with the Grammys this year, even if some of their favorite artists won or performed. The award for Best New Artist went to Alessia Cara, who made her music debut in 2015. However, her last single was “Scars to Your Beautiful” released in 2015. New up-and-coming artists SZA, DJ Khalid, and Lil Uzi Vert did not receive the recognition they deserved from releasing popular singles and albums in 2017. Those who watched the Grammys expressed how they believed that if the Recording Academy thought that Alessia was a perfect recipient for this award, then she should’ve taken it home during the 2016 Grammys, not Sunday. Another artist that was completely ignored Sunday night was Jay-Z, who was nominated for 8 Grammys because of his platinum album 4:44 and took home nothing. Although he took home none of his nominations, he was honored with the Industry Icon Award the night before at the Clive Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy gala. Fans of Jay-Z still believed this award wasn’t enough to acknowledge his album that he worked so hard on and opened up about his marriage onto especially considering how private he and his wife keep their personal life. Bruno Mars took home all six of the awards he was nominated for. Usually, Bruno is supported when he achieves something as big as this, but viewers were very disappointed that Bruno took home so many awards. Bob Jones student Jada Bennett stated, “I think he should’ve won Song of The Year but not Album of The Year. The other albums actually had an important message to send, which is probably why they got snubbed.” This was the main reason so many people were upset they felt the Recording Academy wanted to play safe and choose a non-controversial album to receive the big awards this year. So many artists decided to


speak their mind with their music this year that the Academy probably felt like they had no other option to not receive backlash. The Grammys actually managed to stir up more drama after both women and men pointed out that those who won most of the awards Sunday night were men. Not many women were even nominated. Recording Academy President Neil Portnow gave a statement saying that women needed to step up to be included, which is a very inconsiderate thing to say, considering everything happening in many places with sexual harassment and inequality. P!nk, a female pop star, responded to Portnow with a handwritten note she posted to her Instagram stating that “Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ – women have been stepping since the beginning of time,” she said. “Stepping up, and also stepping aside. Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this.” To sum it all up, the show was a huge disappointment this year. Nobody’s favorite artist won, and turmoil was at an all-time high afterward. The excitement and usual buzz after the Grammys was not there this year. This show caused 2018 to have a bumpy start, but it’s only the start of the year maybe the other award shows planned for this year will be more promising.

Feature Luminous & Electric Feeling Elizabeth Kasprzak


The Farm Shandi Burrows


Blue looks like the sky in the new morning It sounds like the rooster calling you to work The color blue smells a fresh shower ready to wake you up It tastes like blueberry pancakes that grandma places on the breakfast table Blue feels overwhelming and enjoyable all at the same time Green looks like the stains on the white dog’s body It sounds like the birds chirping The color green smells like your grandpa cutting the tall grass It tastes like the need to get out and explore Green feels rough and soft all at the same time Yellow looks like the sun beating down on you in the middle of the day It sounds like the ducks quacking and swimming in the pond The color yellow smells like heat draining any color from you It tastes like fresh lemonade with a little too much sugar Yellow feels exhausting and rejuvenating all at the same time Red looks like the sunset brutally blinding you It sounds like the truck reving up to take the pigs to the fair The color red smells like the new coat of paint on the barn doors It tastes like the tomato, cheese, and mayo sandwich you eat for dinner Red feels like hope and depression all at the same time Black looks like the empty sky full of shining stars It sounds like the crickets threatening to take over The color black smells like the stillness in the air that is full of life and sound It tastes like the Oreos and milk you and your sister steal from the kitchen Black feels like emptiness and fulfillment all at the same time


The Pioneer Who Changed the South Ashton Jah

When you moved into college, what were your goals? During this period, Alabama A&M was the only black college other than Oakwood University for blacks in Huntsville, so due to the finances of the family, [Alabama A&M University] was the only place I was able to go to school. After finishing high school, students now get all these scholarships, but then, there were no scholarships, and if there were, we never heard about them, so my parents had to pay with money out of their pockets or know someone that worked there in order to get in, so that’s where I went. At that time, the family did not have a car, so I would have to get rides from someone or walk. A lot of times after class I walked home, which was about 6 or 7 miles. I did a lot of walking in school: from high school through college. Laughs. But, I had some very good instructors at Alabama A&M which helped me decide to get into chemistry, biology, and math. I did not want to be a teacher, so I was going to go into the scientific field. How did you end up at NASA, or ABMA at the time? While I was at Alabama A&M University, during my Junior and Senior



Delano R. Hyter is an African-American Huntsville native who, like most men of his age, was born into segregation and racial tensions in the South. However, something in the thriving Rocket City made it different than the rest of Alabama: it was integrating. In the coming years, United States President John F. Kennedy was ignited with the passion of sending a man to the moon and returning that individual safely back to Earth. Concurrently, the Soviet Union was appearing to be winning the space race, a competition in which the nations were attempting to achieve space exploration, and America could not afford to lose. This was the beginning of the integration of African Americans into the program. Through the space program, President Kennedy delivered the beginning of the end to racial segregation in the south, and Hyter was one of those men. Although Jim Crow laws in America prohibited the mixing of the two races, the incorporation of the civil rights movement and the space program took a turn for the best. Through governmental desegregation, the beginning of Hyter’s story in pioneering the United States’ space program for many years to come was born.


years, I joined a fraternity, and one of my frat brothers had graduated a year, or I guess two years, before I did. He had gotten a job at the Redstone Arsenal, and he was telling me about it and encouraged me to apply. So, that is what I did. In my senior year of college, I got a job description and application from the post office and sent in my application. At the time, they were called Physical Science Aids, so I put in the application in March or April of 1957, and after I graduated, I was called in for an interview, and I was hired at ABMA, or Army Ballistic Missile Agency. As a physical science aid at ABMA, my opening salary was $3900 per year. Laughs. You might think that’s funny, but that’s really what it was. Laughs. During that period I started Physical Science Aid because of my major in math and a minor in chemistry and biology. When they offered me the job, I had nowhere else to work at the time, so I decided to just start working at ABMA. Then, I was called into the Army in [1958], I had just started working, and after spending 19 months, I came back and got my job back at ABMA. When I got back in [1960], things had changed at Redstone and ABMA. At that time, NASA was already formed, and in June of 1960, the government told AMBA that they need to keep their emphasis on military missions instead of space. Eventually, ABMA turned all of their space programs over to NASA, which was when they offered all the people who were working with ABMA if they wanted to work with NASA or stay with AMBA. Most of us transferred to NASA in June, which was the Marshall Space Flight Center. They had about ten different centers across the United States. One was Langly, which was where the emphasis on the movie “Hidden Figures” was. There was Marshall in Huntsville. There was one in Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, and many more. That was pretty much the start of it all. When President Kennedy wanted to start the space program, it was also during the time where he needed to address civil rights issues and concerns. I know they were using forced integration here in Huntsville, so did people reject the idea, or did it feel different while you were working? Not here at Marshall. Here in Huntsville, it was much different. At Langly, apparently the experience was completely different, according to “Hidden Figures,” but here at Marshall, the people were much more receptive of obtaining African American employees and workmates than I saw in other places. It was all-together different. We didn’t have separate restrooms. We didn’t have separate eating places. We didn’t have separate coffee pots. Nothing like that. So, we were able to be comfortable with the situation. Were you aware that it was different in other places? Not really. Up until recently, I did not know that some of the other NASA centers had the problems that it had. I really never thought it was


that bad because of looking back at what Marshall was like. There are two different sides of Huntsville: one where they are trying to unite different races, and one where they are trying to force segregation. “I draw the line in the dust . . . and I say: Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!� Those words were spoken by Governor Wallace. Practically, you have a governor who wants segregation, and someone like Wernher Von Braun that wants integration. What did it feel like living in two opposing viewpoints? Laughs. Well, my personal opinion of George Wallace is that he said what he thought the people wanted to hear. In order to get elected, he had to say these things. After he said those words, he was not the same person everyone thought he would be, which is what I’ve heard after he left office. In terms of living in the different lives, Huntsville was pretty much night and day in Marshall and in the city because it was still segregated.


Janice Hendrick 233


How has your involvement in the space program changed you as a person? Being part of the space program has helped change me as a person to be who I am now. It allowed me to help steer others to try and achieve their goals and to encourage them not to be afraid to move forward and to get into programs they are interested in. When an opportunity comes, I am always willing to tell my story to show what can be done if you just keep pushing.

Why is ‘Black Panther’ so Important?


Anaya Chambers There have been multiple social media posts about the new movie, Black Panther, questioning why people are so happy for it to be released. Some showed their excitement and their support of the movie...others shared that they thought the movie was racist to people of other ethnicities because there were only two other main characters in the movie who were another race. The movie had almost an all-black cast, and some did not like this. Although, many other people of different races and cultures don’t see this movie as a problem. Most of the posts comment that the all-black cast is an issue feel that the film lacked a diverse main cast, but within the context of the film, it does not make sense to have more people of different ethnicities in a movie all about a hidden African country. Wakanda was never colonized and was hidden behind its borders and never let outsiders in, so a person who was not African wouldn’t just pop up in the middle of the film. Even though it is not a problem when any other movie either has an all-white cast or almost an all-white cast with only two or three people from a different ethnicity, it is only a problem when a movie like this comes out and has a big impact on people like this one does. Many African Americans were very excited when the trailer for Black Panther first popped up onto the internet. The film has an impressive cast, consisting of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurirai, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, and many more amazing actors and actresses. For the first black superhero movie, the casting was amazing. Yes, we have had Storm, Halle Berry as Catwoman, Hancock, Cyborg, and much more but none of these are comparable to King T’Challa or even the all-women army, the Dora Milaje. The cast is also a plus when it comes to inspiring young African American boys and girls, not only African Americans, but others with African backgrounds as well. My friends who came along with me to watch the movie were so excited when we saw the all-women army in action for the first time. Hadley Rosengrant, a Bob Jones sophomore, said, “The whole time I was watching it, I was amazed by all the representation and all the amazing women in it, and even though I am not African-American, I still appreciated all the amazing people that made this film happen.”




My mom came as well and brought my four-year-old nephew. While watching the movie, my nephew constantly would face my mom and do the Wakanda hand motion to her. After the movie, he kept pulling down his bottom lip and would try to show me his Wakanda tattoo. I also saw a video on Instagram of two young black boys pointing at a Black Panther poster saying which person they were. This may seem like a little thing, but it means a lot for people to see. The boys saw someone on the big screen who looked like them and that itself did amazing things. Even if they did not understand the storyline and only liked the effects, it still matters. Even when I was little and I first saw Halle Berry as Catwoman I was very happy to see her playing that role because I would only see the original version of Catwoman in the cartoons. This is why this movie matters so much to us as African Americans and everyone with an African background. Yet, it’s also not just us, but for everyone who knows how to enjoy a movie without finding a problem with it. All of the people who I have heard talk about the movie after they had watched it have said good things about it. I mean, honestly, there is really nothing to hate on this movie for with its well deserved 96% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. The special effects were amazing so was the acting, casting, and traditional clothing used in the film. Overall, I’d give it a 10/10, and I recommend this for anyone who usually loves Marvel movies and enjoys amazing special effects and storylines. Do not let any of the little hate it is getting stop you from going to see it.

Trapped in My Mind


Claire O’Neal I was driving home from my friend’s party when it happened. The other person was coming straight at me, and we were about to have a head-on collision. I swerved to avoid them and ended up crashing head first into a tree. The crash put me in a coma, and that’s where I’ve been since then. I’m not really sure how long it’s been since the accident because I can’t move or speak or open my eyes or do basically anything. I’m trapped with my only companion being my thoughts. I can hear everything. What my friends and family say to me, the conversations they have with the doctors, their conversations with each other, etc. “She hasn’t improved or gotten worse,” the doctor tells my parents. I’ve imagined him as an older gentleman with gray hair and lots of experience. “She’s stable for now, but there isn’t much else we can do. I don’t think she can breathe on her own…” the doctor trails off. “What are you saying?” my dad asks. I can imagine him holding my mom close and bracing for the news I had heard the nurses whisper about earlier today. The doctor sighs heavily and says, “I think we might have to take her off life support soon, since we don’t think she can breathe by herself and she hasn’t responded to any of our attempts to wake her...well, that’s just protocol. I’m very sorry Mr. and Mrs. Grace.” “But it’s only been four months since her accident! Is there anything else you can do?!” I can hear it in her voice that my mom is about to cry. “No, ma’am. There isn’t,” the doctor responds calmly. No doubt he’s been in worse situations than this. Years later on his record, I’ll just be one of the names on the list of people he couldn’t save. “When?” is all my father asks. “A week from today. That gives you, the rest of the family, and friends enough time for goodbyes. I’m sorry again.” I hear the doctor leave the room. My mother’s crying gets louder as she walks over and sits next to me. “Come on, Azlea. If you can hear me, come back honey. I need you to wake up. I don’t want to lose another baby.” my mother breaks down into tears again, and I hear my father come over and comfort her. When my mother says that, I immediately remember what happened to my older brother Jordan. I was only five when he left for the army. All I remember of him was his bear hugs and his promise to me that he




would come back. He lied. All we got back of him was a flag and a letter delivered by a general who said Jordan was a good soldier and that he died bravely in battle. My mother was never the same after that. She kept me very close, and we never spoke of him. The one time I did happened to be on his birthday. I only asked how old he was, and my mother left the room. My father shamed me for asking. So I never asked about Jordan again. Jordan became the ghost we all knew was there but didn’t want to mention. Until now. I will get out of this prison. I have to. I repeated this to myself, again and again, every day. Again I tried to command my body. Legs, move! Arms, move! Eyes, open! WAKE UP AZLEA! WAKE UP! But as always, nothing happened. I started to cry. The worse part about crying in a coma is that no tears come out of your eyes, and you can’t curl up in a ball or anything. All that happens is your throat closes up, and the nurses come in like they do every day and say my throat is stopped up again. They don’t realize that I’m crying and fighting to get out of this hell that has become my life. I’m definitely more terrified now because of what the doctor said. I only have a week to live. I’ve been fighting, but now I have to fight against a clock. And if I lose this fight, I lose my life. Two days later, my best friend shows up. Heather and I have been best friends since I was six. We’ve both lived at each other’s houses ever since we met. We’ve been through a lot together, and I don’t think we could live without each other. “Hey, Azlea.” Heather always starts off like this. I like it because I feel like we are just having a conversation instead of a goodbye. “So not much has happened since I last saw you. Things are still going well with the cute guy from history. We talk a lot, and I’m pretty sure he likes me back. I’m just scared to take the first step.” Go for him, Heather! I say in my mind. I know she won’t hear me, but it just makes it feel more like a conversation. Go for him, Heather. “I know I should go for him, but what if what happened with Johnny happens again. Last time I went for it, the guy didn’t like me back.” Heather trails off. Come on, honey, this guy is different! I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and he likes you! “Maybe he does like me, but I don’t know. Anyway, your parents told me what the doctor said. I know people have probably said this a lot, but come back, Azlea,” I am! I’m trying but I can’t! “I believe in you. I know you’ll find a way back to us. You still have a fire inside you, Azlea. You still have a life to live, so come back, please.” I hear Heather stand up quickly and leave the room. I’m coming, Heather. Just tell them I need more time. I kept fighting. Every day I repeat my commands. I will get out of this prison. I have to. Legs, move! Arms, move! Eyes, open! WAKE UP


AZLEA! WAKE UP! For some reason, today something worked. My eyes actually opened. I couldn’t move the rest of my body or my neck. I could see some of my hospital room, but no one was there. Somehow it was more frightening to be able to see everything and not move than only seeing black and hearing sound. Suddenly, my body went into shock, and I started having a seizure. Doctors and nurses rushed in. And the world went back to black. “Hey Azlea, they said I should come talk to you, ‘cause I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do right before somebody—you know—stops existing,” my cousin Jonathan says. He’s only two years older than me, and he has been my big brother in place of Jordan for most of my life. We’ve grown up together, and the whole time I’ve known him, he has never been unsure of his words. I feel him take my limp hand in his. “This is so stupid,” He whispers to himself, “It’s not like you can hear me anyway, and even if you could, you can’t respond to me.” There is a long pause before he speaks again. “You’re like the younger sister I never had, Azlea, and you know I’ve never liked being an only child. You were always there for me and I was always there for you. I can’t lose you now. I’m about to go to college and I need a pen pal. I need somebody to watch my parents and me. I need you to keep me in line, Azlea. I feel like I need you for everything.” “Azlea? Can you hear me?” The whole time Jonathan is talking, I try and move one small part of my body. I almost stop listening to his words because of how hard I’m concentrating. And then, I succeed. My hand closes tighter around his. “Azlea? Can you hear me?” After that, everyone who comes in tries to get me to hold their hand. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t. The doctors don’t think much of it, but my family sees it as a milestone. Unfortunately, the doctors are still keeping with the original timeline of one week. Today marks the end of that one week. “Please don’t do this, my baby is still alive,” I hear my mother say. “She’s in there still, just give her more time,” Heather says. “All of you are clouded by your emotions. You need to let her go. Azlea can’t continue to live like this. Stand back and let the nurses through please,” says the head doctor. “Giving her another 30 seconds doctor,” says a young nurse. “Please don’t. That’s my-” starts my father. The doctor interrupts him saying, “Don’t worry sir. If your daughter is still alive, she won’t need this machine anymore.” “15 seconds sir,” says the nurse. That’s when I start counting. 14. I have to wake up. 13.


Inside the Absurdity

Casey Kula



What will happen if I don’t? 12. Will I die? 11. Will it hurt? 10. What will happen to my family? 9. Will they remember me? 8. Will I become another ghost like my brother? 7. What kind of impact am I leaving? 6. I never even had a boyfriend. 5. I never had my first kiss. 4. I won’t be there if Heather gets married. 3. I won’t be there for Jonathan in college. 2. This is it. 1. My last thought changes. What if I live? 0. The whine of the machine slows down. Azlea’s friends and family all hold their breath. Nothing happens. The nurse starts to say the time of death when someone starts breathing. Azlea takes one breath by herself and then another. Slowly, she wakes up. Her eyes find her mother and she says, “Oh, hey Mom. Did you miss me?”



Alexander Miller

This is my home. The Louvre Museum in Paris. Lovely place, right? Long halls filled with some of the most gorgeous pieces in the world.

And here I am... without a doubt the most famous piece in the whole place. The best of the best.


Framed by Alexander Miller

Feature least judging by the size of the crowds.

Things get pretty hectic around here, until one day...

S T O L E N ! There he goes with her.

Thankfully, they didn’t DARE take me...


Generational Divide


Avery Beckham

Title 242

American Immigration Story Elisa Castaneda

Feature 243

Behind the Fence


C. Audrey Harper


Neo Sebastian Rivera




End of Simulation 245

Index Abashian, Gabrielle 45 Agnew, Alex 51 Alaskari, Raneen 148 Altubuh, Dalia 27, 71, 178 Beckham, Avery 29, 111, 139, 240 Bradshaw, Holly 94 Bratt, Courey 65, 88, 108, 193 Brown, Jaylen 70 Brown, Maggie 30, 45, 61, 97 Burjak, Nastiya 100 Burrows, Shandi 190, 221, 228 Burwell, Nirah 45 Carpenter, Madeline 151 Carter, James 149 Castaneda, Elisa 85, 241 Chambers, Anaya 226, 232 Coleman, Dylan 210 Dieselberg, Claire 35, 64, 76, 218 DiPietro, John 50, 150, 151 Doreswamy, Rishi 67 East, Ben 54 Embrey, Jordan 140 Enfinger, Matthew 60 Franklin, Emily 39, 60 Gadalla, Iman 141 Gentle, Chenoa 218 Giles, Josiah 50 Gloschat, Payton 11, 154 Glover, Toni 178, 192 Grider, Emma 138 Gunn, Kiara 211 Hall, Reagan 140 Hannah, Grace 99 Harper, C. Audrey 72, 148, 167, 197, 242 Headrick, Byron 67, 82 Headrick, Sija 53, 57, 215 Henderson, Chloe 68 Hendrick, Janice 195, 231 Hendricks, Amani 101 Henrie, Kylee 34, 45, 118, 135

Hughes, Lily 12, 44, 105 Huynh, Alexander 156 Ingram, Ruby 38 Jackson, Abbigail 44, 135 Jah, Ashton 112, 200, 229 Johnson, Phoenix 56 Johnson, Zach 179, 185, 194 Jones, A’Maya 45 Kasprzak, Elizabeth 227 Kelly, Michael 78, 83 Kiker, Caitlin 134 Kilpatrick, Brenna 52, 107, 142, 222 Ku, Shiyeon 77, 159, 183, 204 Kuebbing, Chloe 41 Kula, Casey 23, 237 Lamps, Emilee 42, 166 Lamps, Megan 49, 56, 58, 66, 148, Langston, Ryan 86, 109 Lee, Sherry 140 Lin, Josh 64 Lin, Xiao 149 Lundy, Love 45, 92, 177, 219 Lyons, Candace 28 Madison, Hayden 44, 63, 220 Martin, Meredith 62 Mathias, Anna 115, 141 Matthews, Jillian 175 Mayfield, Emma 216 McCauley, Anna 55 McGinley, Michael 144 Melton, Amanda 135, 205 Merenda, Ethan 165 Meyer, Ben 14, 36 Michaels, Aaron 150 Miller, Alexander 238 Mobasher, Neda 15 Moe, Maddy 166 Mooring, Carolina 51 Morales, Hendrik 57, 199 Mothersele, Alec 21 O’Neal, Claire 45, 234 Osuigwe, Serena 45 Peck, Trevor 59

Pell, Anna Grace 16 Phonthibsvads, Ashley 45 Pimmel, Julia 17 Poehlman, Gracie 58, 133, 169, 184, 188 Ray, Ethan 209 Reid, Lillie 139 Ricketts, Nicole 45 Rivera, Sebastian 48, 162, 243 Robinson, Rebecca 43 Rosengrant, Hadley 45, 189 Rowland, Kaylee 225 Sailors, Jeremy 69, 81 Sakyi-Addo, Kafui 161, 224 Sheehan, Megan 61 Shkolnikov, Yunona 73 Smith, Alex 61 Smith, Chloe 49, 152 Spiegel, William 163, 202 Swinney, Daniel 62 Theakston, Taylor 89 Thomas, Durant 65 Thornton, Ford 150 Tran, Christine 138 Utlapalli, Soumyaa 217 Volkin, Cassie 45, 103, 134 Waddell, Ella 48, 80, 95, 122 Waldrop, Sarah 70 West, Shelby 149, 164, 184 White, Georgia 127 Woods, Jack 18 Wu, Tiffany 10, 53, 138 Xiao, Susan 139 Yem, Carl 79

Staff Dalia Altubuh

Love Lundy

Holly Bradshaw

Reed Player

Shandi Burrows

Savannah Plume

Jordan Embrey

Gracie Poehlman

Matthew Enfinger

Ethan Ray

Chenoa Gentle

Hadley Rosengrant

Toni Glover

Kafui Sakyi-Addo

Kiara Gunn

William Spiegel

C. Audrey Harper

Cassie Volkin

Janice Hendrick

Sarah Waldrop

Ashton Jah

Ethan Worcester

Zach Johnson

Emma Leigh Wright

Casey Kula

Douglas Zhang

Staff Biographies Feature Editor

C. Audrey Harper is the cracks in the sidewalks. She is woven into the seams of a dress, messy stitching zig-zagged across the corners of gaps in fabric. She lies in the holes in the fences, darkness peering in, light subtracting. She does not exist as one specific entity, but the in-between. Find her in the dandelions, growing in the most inopportune places, between the edges of one place and the other.

Feature Editor

Zach Johnson is a shopping cart at your local Ross department store. He does very well in the space he’s already in, but getting him out of a familiar and safe place in his life is fairly difficult. Just like bulk shopping in a Ross, doing something without Zach in his specialized area could be pretty hard.

Feature Editor

Kiara Gunn is a fast flowing river. Experiencing everything the world has to offer, but being held back by those same limitations that define her. Some may not view her as important compared to the lakes, oceans, and rain but without her (and others that came before) all of nature and its creations would cease to exist. But just like with any creation, no one would notice her importance until she was gone.

Staff Biographies General Editor

Casey Sue Kula is a ______. Just like writer’s block, the ______ represents her individuality that has yet to come into light. ______ is also her willpower to conquer the difficulties no one else thought she could ever accomplish on her own. Why is ______ so distant, but so close to people at the same time? Why is ______ such an optimistic ______ but still as stubborn as can be? Who will ever know why this ______ is the way ______ is? Casey Sue Kula is a ______.

General Editor

Ashton Jah is a closed book hidden beneath a row of shelves: unopened and untouched. Deep in the book lie stories left untold and memories waiting to come back into light. He waits, waiting for someone to come and explore the book—waiting for someone new to open the untouched book, to find and explore the unknown hidden beneath a row of shelves.

Layout Editor

Gracie Poehlman is the space between lines of text. She fills it with red pen as she reads through her own life and works, making small nudges and corrections. One day she will finally turn this great assignment in and see it in print at last—her messy scrawl no longer visible, but still present in the story.

Staff Biographies Layout Editor

Janice Hendrick is sand trapped in an hourglass. She has made her way to the bottom of the curved glass and now she sits. Waiting for someone to turn her over, for her next journey to begin. But no one comes. She sits, minutes going by, months, years. No one takes a moment to simply start the minute over. Until one day she falls, and that curved glass shatters, spilling her everywhere, starting her new adventure wherever the wind takes her.

Website Editor

Cassie Volkin is a YouTube video—not a vlog by your favorite creator, but a poorly shot home video that most people will never see. Everyone who watches her sees her for what she is, and develops their own opinion. She is not the most popular video on YouTube, and there will always be people who dislike her. However, she just enjoys being herself, and if her best self doesn’t have great resolution, that’s okay. As long as she puts her best foot forward, nothing else matters. After all, nothing online can ever be deleted.

Website Editor

Jordan Embrey is a sprouting tree. He has fought through Mother Nature’s wrath and has started to grow his leaves—which allows him to stand out—but he has still yet to grow his bark to protect him from the Earth’s elements. He is still just a sapling, but he knows that if he pushes on one day he will grow strong and tower above the other trees.

Acknowledgements Madison City Schools

For educating us and granting us the opportunity to create this literary magazine.

Mrs. Panagos

For inspiring us to work harder in the face of challenges, such as breaking one’s ankle.

Mrs. Lambert

For always coming to school with an inspirational quote and a smile.

The Art Department

For all of your wonderful submissions. Special thanks to Elisa Castaneda for the section dividers and cover.

The English Department

Specifically, Mrs. Robin Dauma, Mrs. Nicole Murray, and Mrs. Emily Polak for volunteering your students’ writing. Special thanks to Mrs. Emily Polak for chaperoning us through San Francisco and putting up with our zaniness, and to National English Honor Society for raising awareness of our publication.


For every time InDesign didn’t give us the pinwheel of death, and for all the horrors that we created in Photoshop.

Grammarly Premium For saving our bacon.

The Bob Jones Student Body

For your quiet embarrassment but overall support as we publish your work.

Creative Minds Everywhere

For always coming up with new ways to break the boundaries of what was thought to be possible. Keep doing what you do.

Eclectic18 for web printtest  
Eclectic18 for web printtest