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Table of Contents Poetry Contributors: Hannah Kennedy Kara Gruber Andrea Anderson Katie Laurin Molly Hendries Allison VanSomeren Rachel Losselyong Shannon M. Gonzales Caitlyn Hills Forrest Pelech

Melissa Kasper Ryan Otto Thomas J. Culshaw, III Tiffany Toothman Elizabeth Cobb Taylor Schultz Brianna Hozschuh Pebhawm Yang Julian Riegler Carley Holewinski

Krista Bouck Vicky Castellanos Rachel Losselyong Stacie Hazlett Kasey Jahsman Spencer Dobbe Jazmine Haygood Kourtney Fisher Amanda Danielson Cori Clay

Matt Ewald Emily Kinney Cheyenne Lambrecht Jacob Sell Andrea Arvizu Cassee Francart Foster Bush Neil Busse Allie Lappen

Anna Doering Kara Gruber Ryan Otto Matt Ewald Jenny Wolfe Tou Yang David Pietila Kristy Ely Nate Stigen

Molly Hendries

Tia Meigio

Essay Contributors: Abby Adams

Memoir Contributors: Brady Laurin

Sara Gilbert

Shannon M. Gonzales

Short Story Contributors: Taylor Lang Jimmy Wagner

Michelle Barden Julian Riegler

Samantha Goldben

Art Contributors: Padra Lee

Megan Kososki

Carissa Kerber

Forward: A haven for artists to contribute their talents, The Basket-Case of Serendipity is a compilation of Menasha High’s creativity on paper. The Creative Writing II class is thrilled to showcase the words and effort Menasha High’s students have invested in their submitted work and would like to thank not only the people who submitted, but also our readers. Enjoy!

Congratulations: Neil Busse, winner of the Creative Writing II Best Writer Award Nathan Stigen, winner of the Creative Writing II Best Workshopper Award.

1


POETRY

2


A Love Note Anonymous

Can Cold Be Warm? Melissa Kasper

Dear Boy, she writes with ease, for she is familiar with the words. But this time, nothing comes easy, the time, she spills the ink of pure truth.

Winter is afoot. Cold seeping in. The very air we breathe doesn’t get warm, but turns to frost in our throats. There is a dusty waterfall inside the nose. The waterfalls turn in to icicles hanging from the nostrils. Sickness takes the health of the most vigorous. Wind chills down to thirty below, blizzards, ice, and frostbite, but with this cold comes warmth. Warmth of the heart. People give to the needy. Families amass together to celebrate Christmas. They go to church and share the peace. Santa slides down the chimney to bring cheer, and fireplaces burn like crackling wildfires. Winter, no matter how cold, is warmth.

Faint-hearted she forces the pen to the innocent sheet, lets the paper be covered in a blanket of honesty. She is so vulnerable when she writes, but she must, because some things are not seen until it gets too late. “I hope it’s not too late,” she admits her doubt, “Here I am,” she continues. He reads her heart right off the paper, and she waits, as he cautiously studies these words… “How do I express what you meant to me? I’m begging, open my veins, I will bleed affection for you; I’ll have a scar I can talk about. Then you can see, feel this beautiful pain I feel for you. Stranded, broken, and scared at the thought of losing you, listen to my story. Please don’t let me find a massacre of beautiful memories, allow them to prosper in this fragile time we have. Impossible to fight the addiction to your tender voice, I tremble with delightful tears in your presence. I learn to find comfort in the little things. Hear me, for you are the breath in my lungs.

Falling -Anonymous

Your words surround me, I suffocate. I take in every one as I would my last breath, please show me this soul of mine tonight.

He walks cautiously, looking for guidance. He finds her, solemnly waiting. He falls in love.

When you grab a hold of me, Please demand that I stay, and I will love you always.” Sincerely, Girl she writes…

She yearns for someone to lean on. She finds him, a flower in the desert. She falls in love.

Liar Hannah Kennedy

He grasps her hand, she holds on tight. Together they share a look of beautiful adulation. They fall in love.

You said you’d help me believe, I tried. You asked me to take your hand, I complied. A true place in your heart for me, You denied. You told me that you loved me, You lied.

I remain desolate, searching for my heart and my dearest friend, only to find them together, hand in hand. Now I stand five stories above all lies, and I fall.

3


Depression Krista Bouck Depression is the black, withered dead rose in a bright, red bouquet. All alone and nowhere to go. It is the mascara running down the face of the girl who constantly gets her heart broken. Depression is the silent screaming in your head telling you to give up. It never seems to go away, and it can push you. Push you to the edge of a cliff telling you to jump, escape this hell called life. Depression is carelessness. Not caring what people think of you as you slowly destroy yourself. Ignoring the tears and pleads of loved ones, thinking they do not understand. Forgetting you lost your grandmother to lung cancer, and YOU walk around with the scent of cigarette smoke lingering on YOUR breath. It is the smell of your hopes and dreams burning away. The thick, grey smoke surrounding your every being, stinging your nostrils as you try to escape. Depression is the pain you feel 24/7, and would do anything for a little relief

Freedom Matt Ewald freedom is the scratching of graphite as my pencil glides across the paper, it’s the joyous tearing sound of the fringes when I’m finally satisfied with my drawing, it’s the sloshing sound of acrylic paint as it swirls in a cup, it is the crisp swish as my brush clears the dry canvas, it’s the soft squeak of the eraser reminding me of every mistake and it’s the silence when there is nothing to change. freedom is the soft surface of paper that awaits my thoughts, it’s the smooth, finished wood of my pencil, it’s the tiny gritty dust left behind when the graphite finally gives under the pressure it’s the cool paint that stains the canvas, leaving its mark wherever it goes, it’s the flaky surfaces that paint leaves when it is settled in. freedom is the little piece of myself I see in every drawing, it’s the vibrant paint that boldly dances across the surface, it’s the emotions that radiate off the page, reflecting every feeling I have, it’s the simplicity in every doodle while I’m lost in day dreams and all the elaborate details in my best works. freedom is the feeling of accomplishment when I put down my pencil, the tradition of finishing your work, freedom is art

4


Future Love Anna Doering

Highway to the Danger Zone Ryan Otto

I’m thinking of you, all through the day. I’m dreaming of you in every way. Mostly when I am home and alone. I dream of us being together forever, and being in love as any two people could be. Just with each other and no one else.

You take a step into these halls of knowledge, not being able to see where you might be going. They might be talking. They might be texting. They may just be telling a story. They might be standing still. They might be having a wrestling match over something stupid. They might be standing in a big group, blocking off a huge corner of the school. Whatever they’re doing, it’s not walking at a normal pace.

But then I woke up, and reality hit me like a punch in the face. you moved on and away, I still think of you in every way. I still remember the day that we met, I hung on to every word that you said. Never forgetting your words, how they just made me melt. All my friends tell me to move on, and to just forget you. But I just can’t because I feel it was true. I will try to see my future, but all I can see is you and our past. We will be together one day, And I won’t let anything stand in my way. Not like today when we pass each other, with a silent walk and a breathtaking smile that kills me inside and out to this day.

Goodbye Kara Gruber Here I go again, Wanting so much to belong, But I know it won’t ever be here. The time has come to say goodbye. So many plans I made, Wanting it all to come true. I never wanted to leave till now, goodbye cannot wait any longer. I wished upon every shooting star, all the wishes in my heart. Little did I know they wouldn’t come true here. It’s time I let it all go and say goodbye.

Here comes the hardest choices of your life. You’re given three choices. The first is dangerous. You could be like a crazy NYC taxi driver, weaving through traffic, passing on the right, making u-turns, cutting people off. Yeah, you could be THAT guy. Or you could be like everyone else. You could walk at a normal pace. Stopping only when you drop that super duper special pencil that you’ve had for a year and a half. You could talk and walk at the same time. No one would hate you then. Don’t choose this next choice. You could be the jerk. You and all your friends could walk in a horizontal like walking slow taking your time, stopping at every opportunity. You could make everyone behind you late for class. Just for a few laughs. You could just stand there with all fifty of your supposed friends, and block off the entire hall and not care just know, that when you step in the hall, you’re stepping into the danger zone.

5


Life Vicky Castellanos

No Fear Emily Kinney

Life can be cruel, but it can also rule. Life is like a story, it’s long and can be gory. People are born in the world all day, as many are getting killed. Life can be very sad, but in a moment you can be so glad. It goes by real fast, it seems it won’t last. Life’s as if one moment you’re small, and the next you see you’re so tall. At times you seem like a big fool, and all of a sudden you’re cool. Life can be tiring, you wish it was the ending. Life can also be fun, sometimes you’ll want to run. You’ll need to make choices, listen to the right voices. Many teens’ lives have run from them, treasure yours like a meaningful gem. life can feel like sh*t, make the best out of it. Don’t give up on life.

The darkness crawling in front of me, the smell of must lingers in the air, the nervous stiffness in my bones, I don’t want to open my eyes, BOOM! JUMP! SCREETCH! followed by frightened laughter, I hold her person in front of me, keeping my heart inside my chest. I wonder what’s around me, it’s like I can’t see the mystery coming toward me, the hand around me squeezes in fear, loud noise fills my ear, flashing lights take control, creepy shadows from the walls, begging them nicely not to follow. Familiar voices behind, I remember all the crossed my mind, moments left until the open doors, reality isn’t that far away. We stand outside, Joyful and fear free, voiceless friends stand all around.

Home Kara Gruber So much to look forward to, So much ahead for my life, so many friends here in this place. This is home. What would happen if I moved away? What would happen if I left? What would I do? Where would I go? This is my home. Do I really want to leave? With all my best friends? The people I’ve been with for so short a time, but yet so long.

Finding Love Anna Doering Love is like finding the perfect flower. You cannot pick one that is too vibrant, nor too dull. Just enough color, just enough spark and enthusiasm to make you glow and get through the hard days.

What would happen if I let it all go? I would leave everything I know, for some foreign place. This is home.

6


Joy Kara Gruber

Mankind Andrea Anderson

Joy is the smile on my face when I see him walk in the door. It’s his eyes sparkling like stars in the night sky, the moon lighting a path on the lake, and the crickets chirping their night songs, while the whispering breeze rustles the leaves ever so gently, almost as if it is afraid of ripping them to shreds.

A strong tree is the core of all creation An apple consists of skin and health. The branches are strong and hold it together, while leaves gently protect the broken apart. They all work together to create one. A withering tree mistakes all creation. An apple must fall away and brown. The branches may bend, break and finally hurt while leaves shrivel and turn. They all fade away to oblivion. A strong earth is the core of all creation. A human consists of soul and heart. The truths are strong and hold us together, while lies gently protect the broken apart. We all work together to create one. A withering earth mistakes all creation A human must fall away and frown. The truths may bend break and finally hurt while lies turn into realizations but worse. We’ll all fall away to oblivion. A strong tree is the core of all creation.

Joy is the sound of his sighs, deep and peaceful, while we lay staring at the stars. THUMP, THUMP, as I lay on the rooftop with my head on his chest. Joy is his arms wrapped around me as we say goodbye on a chilly, fall night, already impatiently waiting until we see each other again. Joy is the smell of crisp, night air as the season slowly changes from summer to fall, While we are too distracted by the stars to notice the ever present change. It’s the scent of smoke on my blanket after a bonfire for my birthday, Us sitting next to each other in a circle of friends, cracking corny jokes and retelling favorite, funny stories of the “good ‘ole days.” Joy is the brat he just grilled, the hot juice running down my chin, like the hot bubbles in a hot tub, It’s the tangy fizz as it tingles, rolling down my throat from the pop he graciously shared on a Wednesday night. It’s him poking me out of nowhere on a Sunday morning, startling me out of my thoughts. almost like his gentle reminder to focus on the task at hand. Joy is seeing his smile, hearing it in his voice on the phone. It’s hearing him talk in the emails. Joy is the way he says “hello,” so unlike anything else. It’s the gleam in his eyes as he tells a joke, his eyes dancing with laughter.

Me Anna Doering I am who you see, What you see is what you get. But I am not going to change, who I am or who I have been just for you. I am who I am and what makes me who I am today. And if you don’t like that it is okay, just don’t try to change me. Just go away.

Joy. It’s what I get when all is going right, with him and I in Love.

7


My Dear Summer Krista Bouck

Panda Ode Thomas J. Culshaw, III

June, July, August. The three best months of the year. A time for freedom, fun, friends and family. Sleeping all day, partying all night, having fun, no regrets, no limits. Enjoying life, avoiding drama. Little shirts and short shorts. Itty bitty bikinis. Almost every day is spent in the water, relaxing in the cool, blue relief. The best treat on a smoldering day, an ice cold serving of ice cream. All different kinds, chocolate chip, cookie dough, vanilla, blue moon. The possibilities are endless. Summer scenes so sweet. Bees buzzing, birds chirping, kids laughing. The array of summer flowers blooming, bleeding the earth worth their beauty. The warm breeze blowing, my brown hair dancing in the air. Sand between my toes, the smell of the beach embracing my nose. But as August ends, the days grow shorter. I must accept the fact that all good things end. Goodbye for now, my dear summer.

Panda, panda, Panda bear. Appearance consists of black and white hair.

Summer 2010 Anna Doering See what you have done? You made him leave and now he is gone. I want him back and I will do whatever it is going to take, because this love that I have is not fake! We can’t see each other and it is because of you, mother. You tell me you want me happy and glad, but he is not here with me so I am going to remain mad. When that day comes and puts a stop on what you have created, then I may forgive you for what you have done. But really, was doing what you did worth losing me. Honestly, was it fun?

They lounge around, eating their bamboo. Bite after bite, chew after chew. Innocence in their adolescence, and as they grow old, always doing as they please, not as they’re told. Always relaxed, the panda’s mind is at ease. Sleeping in the meadow, or climbing in the trees. Everything is simple, in the mind of a panda. One of the finest creatures, Mother Nature will hand ya. Black and white, with spots or a pattern. As mystical as the mighty rings of Saturn. The pandas are lounging, or pondering a thought. Always content, never feeling distraught. The panda is hungry, it’s time for a snack. A supply of bamboo, the forest never lacks. Pandas remind me, of a very good friend. C-murda’s the name, my bro ‘til the end.

8


Summer Evening Rachel Losselyong I am a child again, without a care. The world seems to pause. The setting sun is the only way I know time continues. The sun descends upon the sky. I sit at the end of the pier, dangling my toes in the brisk water below. Slowly the sky changes from brilliant blue, to yoke yellow, to ormolu orange, to pale pink, to pomegranate purple. The sun begins to turn off its light. Only half of it remains. Soon only the tip remains. Then it is gone. The sky is black and empty Time continues to go on. I stand up and wander home.

The Actor Melissa Kasper I love you, but we’ve never met. I think we would make a good set. You are as handsome as Prince Charming, And I’d like you to be my darling. You have that certain crooked smile, I could sit and stare at for awhile. You talk to the side of your mouth, with that accent from the Texas south. It makes me melt on cue, and sends my mind completely askew. Your greenish eyes burn into my soul, and drive me out of control. You can act, sing, and play guitar. Your talents run over me like a stock car. How I wish for your serenades to hit my ear like a grenade. I’m in an imaginary place where our lives interlace. I’m your winning valentine, and you are mine, but you’d probably agree, that this can never be. This is Who I Love Emily Kinney

Sun Andrea Anderson I am an only seed, and you have helped me so much. You’ve taught me to laugh and breathe, to use guidance as my crutch. With that knowledge I am now a green stem, I’ve learned how to dance and move and run with the wind. I’m wiser everyday and have developed soft leaves, I can keep a silent secret and help in many ways. Finally I have petals, each one brighter than the other. There’s still more to go but we’ll look after each other. Thank you sun I am a beautiful flower, such a sight to the eye. You have taught me to live and now I will never die.

It’s my mother and I, side by side, restless eyes wait to rest we stay up, and wait together, for morning to come. Mother, the ocean awaits up, I can almost taste the salt from the cool clear water, it brushes the shore, and makes little ripples for us to adore, we sit, we do, I clearly hear you, say I love you too. Endless sun beating down, and it’s like she knew, exactly what I’m going through, the tears I shed hit the ocean and are carried away. She held me tight, while I whisper how much I love you.

9


The Night Ryan Otto

The Pain Katie Laurin

I’m getting paranoid. I’m losing my mind. I feel like that guy, from the movie “The Fourth Kind.”

The pain I feel is not easy. Mom felt this pain, and took the easy way out. I won’t do that because pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever. I don’t know what to say or think about the people who cause me this pain. Maybe it is their way of pleading for help, but they don’t realize that they are making me need help. I can’t take what they are sending my way but I don’t have the heart to dish it back to them. I want to live in freedom and peace, but how can I when all I feel is death? I don’t want to follow my mom’s path and end all the pain, because maybe I can get through it on my own. There are bumpy, jagged roads ahead that I think will put me over the edge. I know if I let go like my mom, I will solve my temporary problems that really hurt me. But in the process I might start problems for someone else that does care about me. Not that there are many. Most people just pretend to feel my pain. When really they are causing more of it as the years go by. I need a friend. I need a wish. I need it to be answered. All I need is help.

The clock is standing still. it’s been 11:07 for an hour and I can’t see straight, same as every other night. Shadows flicker on my wall, The flames from my candle slowly dance. The cool breeze whistles through the trees. Tonight I’m being brought to my knees. What seemed like an eternity was coming down to a few seconds. I just want this to end. I need this to end. “Words need not be spoken,” I whispered to myself. I can get through this myself. I have before without your help. One last glance around the room. This is it I guess, the end of my poems forget this, take me home So let this be a lesson. Don’t procrastinate. You’ll end up like me, Always turning stuff in late.

A Winter Wonderland Cheyenne Lambrecht Glistening snowflakes, Uniquely designed with care, gently float to earth.

Sammy the Slanderous Snake Thomas J. Culshaw, III Sammy the slanderous snake, was slithering near a lake. Mischievous, devious, more than any previous creature to walk this earth or be with us. Illusive, his movements were exclusive, as rude as a parent or sibling that is abusive. As he slithered, his smooth skin radiated the moonlight. As clear as a mirror, as he drew nearer, an awe-inspiring sight. If you looked into his eye, you would see your reflection. You would most likely die, killed with perfection. The ability to strike swiftly, in the blink of an eye. Poison that kills quickly, no time left to cry. His fangs as sharp as a diamond-coated dagger. Maneuvering through his habitat with a brilliant swagger. Even in the dark, he can tear a grown man apart. Ever since the start, a killer at heart.

10


To Love and Not Forget Tiffany Toothman I want to go back, back to when it was easy. when I laughed… when I cried… when I was me. I wish I could skip all the pain. Keep the moments that I love. Let go of all the bad ones. Go back and stop the disappointments. Go back and change. But I can’t. It’s not the mistakes of my past. It’s the promise of my future that makes the difference in me each day. So I’ve learned to love life, and not to worry about the future. I’ve learned that the past has happened, and to change what I can change. To love and not forget, I’ve learned to hang on tight to my friends and family and not to give up, no matter how much I want to.

Symbol of Love Cheyenne Lambrecht A ring; Ties two souls together for eternity. Binds two hearts as one till death. The golden metal band carresses her finger. The luminous, center diamond enchants her marble eyes. It serves as a reminder for the love she is committed to. He will hold a place in her heart forever like the eternally present sun. Her smile awakens his happiness when he kisses her each morning. They share a bond that is unbreakable: a diamond that cannot be cracked. Their love is more valuable than riches, is irreplaceable as the moon. And nothing in the world reminds them more of this, than the ring when they said, "I do.”

The Pain that Saves Katie Laurin I can’t take the easy way out. Pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever. I’m pleading for help… for some freedom and peace. There is death all around since you left me. I want to end all the pain and the temporary problems that really hurt me. I wish others could feel my pain. I know I can make it through all of this hurt. It may not make sense but I know that in the end. Everything happens for a reason. This pain is making me stronger. This pain is making me think. This pain is making everything different. And in the end this pain will save me.

Absence Kourtney Fisher I think of him when the dew drops fall, and dream of him when the night owl calls. The memories rip through my brain, but at the thought my tears begin to rain. Some say absence makes the heart grow fonder, yet all my heart can do is wander. I try to quell this grievance of the soul, to no avail I have yet to reach my goal. Loneliness is a black hole that will continue to grow, it’s as bleak and ravenous as a glistening crow. Although in the gloom, strength begins to bloom. Some say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I think absence makes the heart grow stronger.

11


Suicide Hill Rachel Losselyong I stare at the snow covered hill. Flying down it would be a thrill. The hill is so high, it almost touches the sky. I dread the climb to the top Since I know it will have to stop. I will have to wait to catch my breath so I don’t get caught by death.

but you better believe, I will return next year without any fear. I will conquer that hill, but first I need a pain pill.

I begin to climb the snow slope, and soon wish there were a tow rope. My legs begin to severely ache, so halfway up I take a break. I don’t think I can voyage all the way, but I truly want to go down today. I decide to keep trudging ahead, so I keep towing my sled. The snow is crunching beneath my feet like a child chewing a crunchy treat. I finally make it to the peak and have proven that I am not weak. Now it is time for the thrilling part! I get to go down like a flying dart. I have a smile on that looks like a clown, now I finally get to put my sled down. I leap inside and get ready for the ride. Inch by inch I scoot, then someone gives me the boot. Off I go, flying over the snow. All of a sudden I spot the jump. and in my throat I get a lump. As I approach the snowy mound I know I am soon to become air bound. The ground is replaced by air, and I feel the wind in my hair. I’m screaming so loud I have gathered a crowd. Crash, Smash. I lay on the ground. People gather around. I unbolt my eyes and to my surprise, I am alive, even after that crazy dive. Like an elderly man I struggle to my feet, and I realize I have been beat. The hill has won. My score is none. I decide to leave,

BeLONGING Hannah Kennedy With a pre-existing feeling of woe, we went back to the place that started it all. There, a man can come to know greatness, and make this lonely world not feel so small, if only for a moment. We could not go inside, we could only look upon the memories made. In the serine place, once called home. Something’s changed, it’s not the place I know. A place once lit by blinding lights, With sounds of friendship, pride, and victory, that made it clearly seen in the blackest night. Magic…. It now falls dark, muffled, and vacant. Not only of the people, but of the magic that makes it home. And so it stays. And it waits patiently, and quietly, for its dormant magic to arise once again. For its champions to return and concur. And they will be back and will honorably take their place. bigger and stronger than ever. You just wait, Calder, you just wait.

12


Never Give Up Emily Kinney

The Land of the Sometimes Free, and the Home of the Hypocrites. Stacie Hazlett

A worried mother hides, holding in emotion like a time bomb that could go off at any moment.

In this nation, there is an issue of segregation. An ignorant creation, of determination to secretly violate our constitution.

A confused daughter, needing to find help but is so lost, she doesn’t know where to start. Wakened in excitement, only a couple hours in the day, they gather last minute needs they use every day. Packed and ready, they start their drive, just before sunrise. Forever that ends, they drive, Joy and Laughter, not one sigh. The love they hold, hand in hand, can break apart, and be built again. The bond collides becoming stronger, every time. We leave and enter new places, watching environments change and the temperature rise, hotter and hotter, makes it the best place to go.

In our declaration, we have a large collection of the rights of Americans in legislation, Freedom of Religion is in violation. Americans have a problem with the location. Being three blocks away from Ground Zero’s foundation. A Muslim coalition, joined together by religion to accomplish one mission. It was a demonstration of Jihad domination, crumbling the World Trade Center’s construction. When we are suffering from aggravation, at the many heated discussions of the persons religion, in the classification of world Islamination. With Muslim discrimination, the world pushes segregation. We need an intervention to prevent future termination. It is our obligation to protect this nation, Now we wait in anticipation to see the creation of “discrimination” for our brothers and sisters of our nation who cannot practice their religion.

13


The Unexpected Jacob Sell

A gusty Friday evening, cameras roll, radios buzz, Fans scream, and players’ hearts pound. The Appleton North lighting have drifted to the Bluejay nest of Calder Stadium like a gang of unwanted bandits. The sun sinks behind the speeding cars on the highway in the distance. All of Wisconsin believes the defending Champs, will crush the smallest school in the FVA. Every red minute slowly ticks away like leaves on a tree in late fall. The stadium slowly fills into a blur of blue and white, like two paint brushes got into a fight. Finally the pre-game stopwatch reads zero.

The shinning section o

f tu ed un

n

instruments,

burp our national anthem until warmed, then return to harmony.

GAMETIME!! I played only kickoff for the night. For the rest of the time I stood with the huddle of

shivering other benchwarmers.

Four quarter’s an absolute dog-fight that was expected to be almost as big as David and

Goliath’s

,

Smashing, Grunting, Screaming, C@$$¡#g, Hurting fight. At last, only one team could achieve the right to be 2-0. The smaller, more humble school of the FVA have conjured the bigger, cockier, storm of Lightning!! The victory was a relief of Gatorade poured down Coach Korth’s back. As the blur of school colors bleed back to empty bleachers, only the light from the camera from Caleb’s news interview could be seen along with the scoreboard black with emptiness, and the final score reading… Home: 8 Away: 3.

14


Time Ryan Otto

Standing Strong Matt Ewald

This is it. This is the time. In just a little bit it will be my time to shine.

standing boldly, it overshadows its surroundings glowing with life, like a new born child, shining greens complement the dry, dull bark settled in the cool, soft grass that accompanies it.

We all have our pads on then we start putting on cleats. I can’t wait this long. It’s time for the captains to meet.

its leaves laugh as it dances with the wind, and cries when abused by gusts if hate, living on as the air around it harshly cools.

We hear all the rules. The zebras flip a dime. We gather around it like a bunch of fools. It’s heads. It’s almost time. We finish warming up and the captains get everyone to gather around. They all sit down and listen like little pups. We talk about how we need to protect this ground. We talk about all our nights in the weight room and all of the running we did for being late. The team is a bottle, and we just shook it to make it go boom. It’s time to go. We all have a date. We run off the sidelines and take our spots. The players stare at each other with fear. It’s time for this to happen. I’ve waited lots. The whistle blows, and we’re here.

the glimmering green friends that it has come to know are now vibrant shades of red and orange, reflecting their new chilled personality. they finally break free as they retreat to the frosty ground, slowly, they dissolve into the rough patches of grass and dirt. then, speck by speck glorious white crystals cover the area, the tree, grabbing as many as it can, now filled with mounds of frozen beauty. it lies dormant in its arctic surroundings while life is moving freely around it. these bold, white layers of frozen bliss are disrupted as a sudden wave of heat stumbles through, yet again the flimmering green returns covered in reflective, clear beads of water though the surroundings have changed the tree stills stands proud, reliably standing where it always has, always needed, but never noticed.

Lightless Soul Kourtney Fisher The shattering streak of power shreds the ebony blanketed atmosphere. Its brilliance is both blind, yet so exhilaratingly divine that one cannot help but to watch. An ensemble of tears descend in a melodious way, a shower of liquid crystals. Each tear a different tune, each tear spilling it’s life song, each tear alone in a collection of many. A crack of drumfire ruptures the melody to interrupt with a harmony of heartbreak. Another white streak splinters a spider webbed shield. All is calm as the rustling liquid gold fields of wheat. As the lightning strikes another night grows cold, another strike to a lightless soul. Soon the storm moves on, out of control, to another place. Another lightless soul.

15


Cap and Gown Molly Hendries

S i tting before our classmates, families, friends and teachers, we will have m x d emotions. i e Some will be so anxious to leave, their feet will tap non-stop against the wood floor. Other’s eyes will begin to turn pink, tears beginning to form, for they are sad to be leaving not only our school and city, but their l♥ving and loyal friends. As we listen to our ELDERS and peers talk, we can’t help but think what life will be like out of high school. Some so worried about it, that their hands will form pools of sweat. Once we start our “big walk”, our legs won’t want to work. Knees buckling, arms trembling, we will slowly make our way up. Hearing our name called, we’ll greet Dr. Haase and Dr. Kobylski; shake their hands, and walk back d o w n. Diploma in hand, we will s e, proud of our accomplishments. mil Then we’ll sit back down, and reality will set in. Those who are nervous will start nail-biting, and the excited will be b u g in their hard, blue, uncomfortable chairs. o c n n i However, all of us really can’t wait until Dr. Haase says, “you may now F P your tassels.” LI Then we will throw our caps in the air, shout out our happiness, and cry. Some, at least, will cry.

Our moms will come over and squeeze us so tight that we think we might suffocate as she tells us how proud she is. Dad will do the congratulating, and grandma will pinch our cheeks. Each family member will have something different to excla!m, and we will appreciate every word of it, even if we don’t want to admit it.

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A Tribute To a Season to Remember Jacob Sell Not big enough like Shaq O’Neal. Not strong enough then a homemade meal. Not tall enough then a bullcrap deal. But every single day you give it your all to work all summer, for that fall. Gettin’ up from the hay, thinking of another way, on a day that could be just wasted away in the town where nothing can be found. You mess with us; you’ll end up in the dog pound Looking for the best of Menasha, sick and tired of that bullcrap “Metrasha.” Check and see, you gotta come with me to where all the studs will eventually be. In that weight room, now that’s no lie we work so hard for that first round bye. All this hard work we “Expect to Win” kinda like T-Allen gettin’ the pin. A win vs. North kick-started our season so Coach Korth told us, “Fight for a reason.” Now there’s a guy who got us in the race for the first time ever, a state-winning pace. It all goes back to those really hot days, feelin’ like you ran a hundred million plays. Can’t believe that this is the way your summer is spent. Now wishing that this season would never end. Not in the spotlight just quite yet, I don’t got the right so don’t put the bet. Right now next year doesn’t matter, only thing that does is that we don’t get badder. Cuz before you know it the playoffs are here. So we all gotta kick it into another gear. Yea, those Kimberly jerks got the first round, but now we will come to this one without a sound. That newspaper mess is one less stress. Those idiots that were ranking were obviously dranking. They won it so many times that they got it set in their minds That Kimberly’s one, and “Mentrasha’s” none Well, listen up Jack I’m gonna lay you a fact, that one win that you had? Well, it jacked us up pretty bad. Here we come for you jerks let’s see what you got. There’s a target on your back, here comes our shot. So gettin’ through the season at 8 and 1, movin’ to the playoffs a lot of fun. We’re the FVA champs, without a doubt, takin’ “W’s” like their dishin’ em out. Steppin’ up our game, like we know we can, Every person tryin’ to be that # 1 fan. First game fought with GB Southwest, Trojans traveling to the Bluejay’s nest. Supposedly from a reliable source, Menasha ain’t got much of a force. We got tiny linebackers,

according to their trackers. Holes in our D, all over the place, talkin’ all this crap, right up in our face. Big C, you know the name, since Frosh year, he’s been ownin’ the game. Most yards, in one season, Defense’s excuse: their talents are treason. Nothin’ less than expected, he played like a hero, makin’ our playoff run: 1 and zero. That kid’s crazy good, but he can’t take all the glory, you gotta hear the reason for our FVA story. Those guys up front, in their 3-point stance, puttin’ other colored jerseys in a trance. You got Zeek, Remti, Travis, and Foster, try to find these hoggies on the roster. Just as important on the other side, Those crazy guys with that D Line pride. They got one question… “D-LINE!! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION!!?” I’m talkin’ bout Kober, Meat, and that Caveman, don’t make them mad, it will hit the fan. Everyone knew we would, playing Kimberly, the odds were good. The stage couldn’t get anymore set, this is what we worked for, all that sweat. We fought and fought, done what we were taught. But you can’t play when you’re in pain, We lost the game, time to get off the train. We played every minute till the end, cuz we had a message to Wisconsin that we had to send. “Here in Menasha, we know we’re small, but with our spirit, the Jays stand pretty tall. Quit countin’ the number kids, that don’t mean crap so close your lids.” SPASH, Rapids, DC, Marshfield, you better have been watchin’ this year, next year, you’re gonna have somethin’ to fear. Cuz we’re gonna watch ya on film and pick apart your whole scheme, There’s nothing else to say, but we’re “LIVIN’ THE DREAM.”

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The Gloomy Cabin in the Woods Matt Ewald

Sadness Of The Cold Jenny Wolfe

settled in a pocket of trees in a small opening on the overused winding roads.

Every year around this time after the eaves have already fallen from the trees they call home. When the air turns brisk, and it likes to sting your bare skin with its unbearable gusts. When those first we, white flakes fall from above your head, and makes everything outside temporary color become white. The first snowflakes are the sad tears of the sky mourning the loss of the warm. I’m over come with sadness with memories of the warm sun that used to kiss my skin. Losing it to me is like the loss of the person that you love. However, it must go on it is as if I’m searching for something that cannot be found. The longness of the terrible chill that will not leave is the loss of my soul. After so long of being gone the warmth, and color of everything will be rightfully placed back where it should have never left.

it waits in a state of depression, gloomy and silent, its only company is the untamed foliage that grows freely against the exterior. until, suddenly, soft sounds build collectively by the door the sounds move through every room, pressing against the walls, the guests it has come to know have finally arrived, each settling in like they have every time before. this little building is drawing it all in, as the sun sets it grows brighter and its inhabitants grow louder, bouncing of the walls like fireflies in a glass jar. it is overjoyed to house these speckles of life, keeping all the memoires away in its walls holding them in for they are its only possession. it is Singing with delight knowing the privilege of company basking in this rare opportunity. the Thunderous sounds that filled the building start to calm, the blissful lights begin to dim, the festivities shockingly come to a halt, now it sits restlessly, hungry for more knowing the wait ahead ecstatic and exceedingly impatient. It sighs through the night as the moon taunts its loneliness, Waiting for the first sign of movement, So it may live again another day.

Do I Know You? Elizabeth “Lizzy” Cobb Only Yesterday Kara Gruber

I don’t know you, but I want to.

I remember only yesterday, We were the best of friends, But then you went and found a girl, And fell for her instead.

You understand the pain that lies behind my eyes.

I remember only yesterday, We thought this would never end But now you’re off with her instead, And my broken heart must mend. I remember only yesterday, Things didn’t look this bleak. I thought I had you forever. I never felt this weak. It’s hard to believe that it was only yesterday.

You wipe my tears and lift my fears. You put the pain at rest, put me in a happy mood. My blues are temporarily gone, but I know you’ll later leave me in the dark.

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Never Ending Rush Jacob Sell Tree treetree treetreetree treetreetreetree treetreetreetreetree, buzzing by fast. Flying through the northern trails at 50, 60, or even 70 miles an hour, your common sense screams to slow down!!! But your racing heart is pounding for more, more, MORE!! Representing Team Ski-doo, dressed from head to toe with a blue glossy helmet with yellow racing stripes, a blue reflecting snowmobile jacket, black heavy snow pants, and warm boots that hug your feet like a mother wraps her newborn in a blanket. While smashing through snow banks and climbing over snow hills, the wind bashes against your body and pulls you back. It whispers throughout your helmet, “Come with me.” Your body screams No!! So with a heavy, furious thumb, you slam on the throttle, and rev the engine as it shakes the entire woods, and rooster tails loose snow up into the air, with you out of sight. It’s not all about the speed and the heart-racing, through. There’s wonderful nature all around you that swallows you up into a pit of peace and tranquility. Before you rev the Ski-doo MXZ 700, the wildfire is completely still and silent. Squirrels searchi for their lost treasures that they hid a season ago, cardinals creep over your shoulder while your preparing your sled. They’re looking to see what this strangely dressed human is doing, remembering to keep a safe distance away. Once you give the recoil a quick tug from its frosty slumber, the beast will roar through the trees, knocking the heavy, wet, concrete like snow off the weltered pine trees, relieving them so they can stand up straight and stretch their backs out.

tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree tree

tree

tree,

The trees are moving slower now. The sky is a dark black tunnel of endless space. From in-between the crotch of trees the lights from the cabin lasso your attention. Finally you’re in the driveway! You drive the sled with only one whimpering arm, because riding all day has rocked the other one. The sled has come to a halt. Being so exhausted you don’t even turn the key off. The trembling, 30 ton left arm reaches over to the kill switch, and your fist slams on the orange switch. Dead… you sit on the snowmobile, just listening for the final breath from the overheated metal machine. You get off the sled, having to teach yourself how to walk again, because your shaking legs are made of Jell-O, You still believe that you’re riding at 60 miles per hour. Approaching the ‘Sell’s Sleepy Hallow,” you can see the smoke coming out of the chimney, When you see that, your body reacts, creating goose bumps all over. Stepping into the cabin is like sleeping with your clothes on. Immediately you break into a sweat with as much layers that you have on, so you strip down to nothing but a pair of shorts and a cut-off tee. You drag your lifeless body into your bed, saying that you’re never to ride a snowmobile again because of today. You close your eyes, to dream of where to next!

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Days Drag on Slowly... Kasey Jahsman

Goodbye Hannah Kennedy

I understand life less...

You turned the light off when you left. Now I’m sitting in the dark while the clock ticks. Tick…tick…tick… It makes me sick. You’re fading away, The space at my side has grown cold, vacant. It hurts, I can still smell you here, and I can hear your voice around me. You were my armor; I’m now defenseless to the cruel world I forgot about. Now I’m standing in the dark while the clock ticks, Tick…tick…tick… And it makes me sick. I can see your shadow under the door. Unknowingly torturing my aching mind, Preying that that door will open, Leaving all the doubt behind. Now I’m pacing in the dark while the clock ticks Tick…tick…tick… It makes me sick. It’s not your fault, you know. I let my walls down. I got lost in the undertow. Smoke got in my eyes, love. I spoke in riddles; I was unclear, but I never lied. About what I wanted. And you always knew what I needed. Now I’m waiting in the dark. For you to turn around, and come back to me. I won’t be able to tell you how long. For the clock has stopped ticking.

And life becomes difficult... Each day presses me with new temptation, new challenges, and new disappointments... Each day, my head spins faster, my heart beats slower, and I continue to die inside... Everything inside me continues to fade away... But as I hear your whispering voice, it all disappears. Slowly, but willingly, I am taken to the past... I watch as our hands slowly become intertwined, as I lose myself in your eyes, and as your voice drowns away the pain I giggle as I remember how we met... and I can’t help, but wonder... what if we hadn't? Where would we be now? Would I be in this world of existence? Would I be what makes me who I am today? Would I have the same beliefs? The same habits? Would I even like the same music? I wonder... who would I be today? Would I be happy with my life? Then I wonder... Does he wonder?

The Wonders of now Andrea Arvizu The hot burning sun is gone leaving us with the cold, chilly winds. The evergreen grass has been replaced, waving a good bye to the hot summer air. A white blanket of snow covering the earth covering the trees from bottom to top making them shiver and very cold. for the sun we shall wait until summer comes back but before then the low temperatures await. to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate is the best thing there is.

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His Majesty Melissa Kasper

The Night Ryan Otto

How silent it is in the woods. Like an assassin I sit still and immobile looking out a hidden window. It smells of clean fall air all around, as a scented breeze tussles the trees. Leaves of orange, yellow, and red are falling to the ground like multicolored feathers swaying down. Birds and squirrels provide a chorus of singing to break the silence. The choir stops to a loud branch being broken. A large creature, as triumphant as a king, steps into view. The kings’ crown is christened with twelve points. I glance at the 30-06 rifle resting to my left. Back and forth my eyes move anxiously. Slowly and cautiously I reach for the gun. My jacket rustles nosily in the quiet. The deer freezes and juts its heads my way. I freeze in return making unknown eye contact with the animal. We are still for what seemed like an eternity. The rifle now settles in my shaking hands. I bring it up to my shoulders and take aim. The unsuspecting king’s assassin was ready for her duty. With finger on the trigger, I let it rip. The bombing sound shudders the atmosphere as his majesty plunges to the ground like the leaves. The assassin’s mission was a successful one.

I’m getting paranoid. I’m losing my mind. I feel like that guy, From the movie, “The Fourth Kind”.

No One To See Jenny Wolfe The lonely Christmas tree stands in the blustery snow, with not one eye to capture it beauty, No one to see the star on the tippy-top that glows like the stars in the sky. No one to see the shining lights that hug around the tree that are there to keep it warm. No one to see its big, shiny, red circles that hang on, like apples on a tree. No one to see the shiny garland that glistens in the snowy night. No one to see the golden bells that make a small shy ring in the gusty blowing wind. No one to see the moon shaped ornaments, so perfect in shape that reflect the lights that shine so brightly. No one to see the fresh forest green branches that are so perfect in shape, and so lively in color hang off the tree. No one to see this magnificent beauty is a shame upon the whole world, but even with no on to see it stands there showing its beauty to the world.

The clock is standing still. It’s been 11:07 for an hour and I can’t see straight, same as every other night. Shadows flicker on my wall. The flames from the candle slowly dance. The cool breeze whistles through the trees. Tonight I’m being brought to my knees. What seemed like an eternity was coming down to a few seconds. I just want this to end. I need this to end, “Words need not to be spoken” I whispered to myself. I have before without your help. One last glance around the room. This is it I guess, the end of my poems Forget this, take me home. So let this be a lesson. Don’t procrastinate. You’ll end up like me, Always turning stuff in late. Feeling Like No Other Anonymous Your hands engulf mine, so cool and tender, I feel so secure you have no idea. This perma-grin I swear’s been here for days. Oh what can I say? It’s a feeling like no other. You got me hooked. Like a drug you leave me craving for more. I yearn for your touch and that tingly feeling that accompanies your gentle caress. I hate to leave the warmth of your embrace. It’s in your arms I sleep the best.

21


Time Ryan Otto

Always Allison Van Someren

This is it. This is the time. In just a little bit it will be my time to shine.

To me, you’re like a Gentle Breeze, Constant, Soothing, Breath taking.

We all have our pads on then we start putting on cleats. I can’t wait this long. It’s time for the captains to meet. We hear all the rules. The zebras flip a dime. We gather around it like a bunch of fools. It’s heads. It’s almost time. We finish warming up and the captains get everyone to gather around. They all sit down and listen like little pups. We talk about how we need to protect this ground.

To me, you’re like a Door that never opens, Locked and Hidden from the world. To me, you’re a Hidden Passage, Mysterious and Dangerous. To me you’re like my coffee, Cherished, warm, Delicious! Your body is a Statue, Straight and Perfect. Your eyes glisten like Stars, On a starry winter night. Your arms are Vines, Reaching for comfort.

We talk about all our nights in the weight room and all of the running we did for being late. The team is a bottle, and we just shook it to make it go boom. It’s time to go. We all have a date.

Your voice is the Wind, To which I hear in my sleep.

We run off the sidelines and take our spots. The players stare at each other with fear. It’s time for this to happen. I’ve waited lots. The whistle blows, and we’re here.

To me you’ll Always be mine.

Your heart is Universe. So extreme and large.

Who, What, When, Where, Why, How By Allison Van Someren Christmas Season Taylor Schultz It’s freezing outside, but we’re anxiously waiting for the first snow fall. The city is lit up with Christmas lights and it is oh, so bright. It feels like we are on New York City. Parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles rush in and out of numerous stores, and dash out with bags full of presents. Families put up their Christmas trees with delicate, homemade, and colorful ornaments, and top it off with a bright star on top. They decorate their houses inside and out, with colors red and green, snowman, and sparkling Christmas lights. Mothers and daughters are in the kitchen whipping up a batch of Christmas cookies. The aroma fills the house, and soon Christmas will be here. Everyone continues preparing and anxiously awaiting for Christmas.

When you’re behind a closed door and you’re crying like rain, Who’s watching over you? When your fingers touch blade and the blade rips arm, What do you do? When you’re feeling the Devil pulling you under the surface, When do you stop? When you’re dragged straight down, but you long to go up, Where do you run to? When you’re relieving your feelings to people you trust, Why do you do it? When you’re caving on death, When your heard skips a beat, When you’re crying your tears and nobody hears, When you’re screaming for help and yet you’re still silent, How do you break it?

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13 Ways of Looking at a Rose Spencer Dobbe I.

II.

She buries herself in the crumbled dust, hiding from any unwanted guest. The rose is born. She gets brave in early spring. She reaches through the darkness, slowly emerging from the emerald surface.

Go Pack Go Taylor Schultz Packer football is Lambeau Field, the beautifully renovated stadium, with gigantic press boxes, huge scoreboards, and all the glory that lives within.

III.

It’s nearing the season’s end, she has grown tall. But still so shy, the rose holds her cloak tightly together.

Packer football is the legacy of players like Bart Starr, Brett Favre and coaches like Vince Lombardi who have left their footsteps behind for all of us to remember.

IV.

A blinding light heats her body, illuminating her soft veil. She’s curious, the veil slowly lifts from her wondrous face, only for her see a raging ball of fire in an ocean of blue. The intense sight keeps her half shut from the world.

Packer football is tailgating, with brats and hotdogs cooking on the charcoal grill, the scent swimming into your nose.

Her sisters around her are all in their scarlet dress, she is jealous, but becomes fearless. Her veil opens beautifully as summer begins, joy overwhelms her, she screams in delight.

Packer football is the fans, crazed people wearing green and gold, sporting their cheese heads, and bare chests no matter what the weather.

Her sister beside her is cut at the waist, taken by aliens. She cries out, but none hear her plea. The sky has turned gray with sadness, tears fall incessantly down the roses’ body.

Packer football is the players, watching Donald Driver, A-Rod, and Clay Matthews run out of the tunnel, and play every Sunday.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII. IX.

Autumn wind blows through her family, she decides to dance to the wind, the rose is happy. She is like my loves beauty. The fiery spark of loves beginning, Ice has tinted the fields, her siblings are dying. They fall one by one. The rose bows faintly with respect.

X.

Shadows get longer, and nights get colder. Her red dress turns black as the darkness folds her.

XI.

Old she has become, the nights freeze her. But still she escapes deaths fingers as winter begins.

XII.

XIII.

The rose sighs and falls onto her once living sisters. The solstice moon shines bright in the black sea above, she smiles.

Packer football is the frozen tundra, below zero degree games in December and January, but it never fazes us! Packer football is hot chocolate warming every inch of your body That was frozen before from withstanding the relenting cold. Packer football is the Lambeau Leap, players jumping in the stands after scoring a touchdown, as ecstatic fans pat them on the butt. Packer football is chanting “Go Pack Go” during every Sunday afternoon. for our favorite team no matter if they lose!

A sheet of fluffy white covers her frozen body, she moans faintly as light fades from her soul. The rose is in peace.

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The Celebration of Happiness Andrea Arvizu

Happiness is friends. It is the sound of laughter from friends.

Happiness is family.

It’s telling each other secrets and asking for advice,

It is a Christmas Eve with family

a girl’s only shopping day helping each other

Enjoying good times and exchanging gifts,

what to get and what looks good or bad.

It’s sitting around in the kitchen table

Talking about boys and dates,

and sharing things about their day

and upcoming dance

a cry It is giving each other advice.

Happiness is love. It is the taste of sweet and not salty tears a girl drops when her boyfriend proposes to her

Talking to each other about “girl’s stuff.”

it’s sharing a laughter or

It’s the taste of buttery, hot, crunchy popcorn Enjoying them the theater with family and many friends eating together. It is a girl’s first kiss that races her to the sky. It is the smell of roses on a summer day.

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Happiness is life.

Happiness is being worry-free.

It is a mother’s first touch at her first baby,

It is the smell of clean pure air when walking through the woods having nothing to worry about. It is forgetting about the real world and having your problems fly away, from your soul. It’s the aroma from my grandma’s kitchen cooking many kinds of

family to enjoy.

mother hugging her son after coming from war.

I

It is having someone’s arms around you, when you most need it giving you that support that you need to live. it’s having a

Release your stress and enjoy things nature has to offer.

shoulder to cry on.

delicious food for all the

It’s a

25


Elegy to a Monster Anonymous Where are you? I convinced myself you’ve been dead all this time. You change from head to toe into some kind of an inflamed beast. I don’t remember what life was like before all of this, and I try to forget what each day has to bring. Your bipolar screams flood house to another with a manic depression. The women with their ironed blouses and men with their buttoned plaid shirts peak out their perfectly painted, white picket fence to shoot glares, I stand tall and challenge each stare that comes my way, with my innocent, teary, brown eyes I try and convince them all you are the only insane creature that lives here. We move house to house, hoping and praying to escape the horrendous memories that you have trapped within each wall, the frequent outburst that lead to counseling, broken appliances from your attempts to throw objects at us. As soon as we think we found our new ‘happy house’, you quit your act and it soon becomes your battle field all over again, while we, your own family, try to dodge the lamp. Before all of this, Your soft, tan hands helped me learn how to hold the softball bat, dribble the basketball, and how to figure out the impossible on my math homework. The only thing that your rough, dry hands are good for now is to crush up your crystals, roll and fold your strength. Your hands filled with white residue, give you comfort with the tingling sensation, that your own daughter, son and wife have no spot in this life you made for yourself, All we’ve became is a distraction. You left us for the sensation you get from your white, hopeless powder. The hazy past, will fade darker in my life, with everything you taught me, I teach Your son, I teach him the right way, the right from wrong. I force myself to be the better person so he has a REAL person to look up to and go to, Not a monster. Mom thought she found the one and only, I wish she would have known. You acted, and captured her in your lies. Now you’ve become her one and only regret. I still love you, but I guess that’s what unconditional means. What have you become? I lost something that meant a lot. But I guess I only lost the monster in my house.

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Good Ol’ Diaper Days By Allison Van Someren

Punishment Spencer Dobbe

When you’re little and you’re young, you don’t care what people think. You wore clothes, just like a rainbow. You skedaddled naked around the house, as a streaker would during a football game.

We’re walking down the pavement, It’s so dark, we’re all alone. He said he loved this moment, Ever sense, we left his home. He told me he loved me, And that he wanted me close. But I could see he saw through me, As he looked at my clothes. He then gave me the rose, So red, and so pure. The touch made me froze, For it filled me with fear. I looked into his eyes, As they were filled with desire. My heart started to cry, My blood hot like blue fire. He tried to touch my breast, But he got a smack instead. I cried and held my chest, As he told me, “you’re dead.” He whispered alright, As he threw me towards gravel. I knew I couldn’t fight, As my blouse came unraveled. I first felt his breath, So soft, and so warm. Then I felt the cold death, As blood ran down my arm. I tasted sweet blood, As the scent rose to my lips. I cried out a flood, As my clothes became rips. The hour past like ice, My screams became silent. I begun to know the price, For being so violent. He had his way with me, What more can I say? Thru my tears I could see, My life ended this way. As death reached my soul, The rose, I could only see. My life he had stole, But at least I’d be free.

You would be a black bear during hibernation, sleeping the whole day through. Your crib would comfort you through the night. Your “bankie” would hold you tight. After nap time it was play time and you know what that means? Pull-up shmear and Diaper toss! Make sure you duck down low. Splat! Woosh! Dodge! Toss! Slam! Against the wall. Thumb! Thud! Boom! Bash! Up would march your daddy with a frown upon his face. Luckily you’re too cute and your daddy can’t hold a grudge. He holds you tighter than a straight jacket. He carries you downstairs with lots of love; sets you inside your highchair and plays “Choo-Choo train.” Once you’re laid in bed again, with no care in the world, times flies by, sixteen years later, and all you remember, are those Good Ol’ Diaper Days.

27


Fairy Tale Days Cassee Francart

Dream Awake: MLK, Jr. Tou Yang

Oh, how I miss those summers chasing butterflies, and dancing like a princess, Prince Charming waited behind purple lilac bushes.

I’d like to speak of the satyagraha, the practice of non-violence. I’d like to speak of Martin Luther King Jr. how he addressed society’s silence. Because blind eyed they were to the hate, closed minded they were quick to discriminate. King Jr. pleaded his followers to participate in his movement of non-violence to end hate.

Days filled with frog princes, a beautiful princess, and a kiss breaks the witch’s curse. Bedtime stories of damsels in distress, being whisked away into pink sunsets by knights in shining armor. Fairy godmothers and a flick of a wand, no wish too big or too small, dreams came true if only for a night. Flowers for a crown, imaginary gowns swishing with each twirl, wearing mommy’s heels, hands floating in the air where strong shoulders should be, head tipped back, grinning like the sun. Castles and fortresses resting on mountain ridges. Kings and queens sitting in large velvet thrones. Princes and princesses falling in love at first sight. Curses broken by a single kiss of true love. Fancy wedding in flowering fields, white doves released, she said, “I do,” and he did too. Everything’s perfect, nothing can go wrong.

I’d like to speak of evil actions, there are no evil persons. I’d like to speak of overcoming anger, forgiveness results such better visions. Because the greatest challenge is to resist a fight. We all know two wrongs don’t make a right. A thousand dead bulbs still won’t emit light; understand, another fisted hand won’t end a fight. I’d like to speak of believing in one’s dreams, imaginations, wishes, prayers, it’s all free. I’d like to speak of pursuing the “impossible,” all things are honestly probable however low that chance may be. Because it’s those who believe in the odds that help us grow. King Jr. lead a revolution of freedom 60 years ago, but in that moment it was something no one would know. Faith is important for life and love to grow. I’d like to speak of speaking out. I speak here only in my mind to black ink on paper. So quiet it is while my emotions grow old. I dream of this passing on forever with remembrance of it’s maker. Lastly, I’d like to speak of recognizing he ho have spoken, Martin Luther King Jr. and the footprint on society he was able to make; that equality be brought upon all, and all live freely with such open opportunity to dream awake.

Nightmares of dragons and sword fights end with tokens of gratitude, followed by mornings of sunshine and daydreaming and butterfly chasing. Yes, these are the days I miss. The days where fairy tales were real and dreams came true.

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Free Racism Tou Yang I wake up every day seeing racism around me. It feels like I’m locked up wishing to be free. This judgment, this hate is like the darkness I always see when I close my eyes. Everywhere I go I hear the racist words being sung like prayers. Just because some people think what happened is unfair. Racism is like my heartbeat I will always hear it till I die. I try to fight racism but it’s not something only one person can defeat. Over hundreds of years people been fighting and they still got beat. Racism is like my conscience that I always fight against, trying to get the right outcome from it. I try to run away from it, but it’s something you can’t run from. Just look at how I’ve been trapped with racism and how I have become. Racism is like swearing, most people do it as if it was free. As I go to sleep I wonder why people still discriminate and hate. I just hope when I wake up again that I am free and out of this cage. Racism is fate just don’t try to believe it and do it, but change it. Racism is a feeling; it’s what might physically hurt. This thing called racism is not just about you and I, it’s someone who hates any other race. Life Like School Tou Yang We respond to the ring of our alarm clocks, like the ring of the bell at school. We rush out of our beds and out of our house, to make sure we aren’t late to school. It’s like how we rush out of our seats and out of our classrooms, to not be lat to our next class. We wait and work in class like a job and a store, while glancing at the clock waiting for lunch or to be free. We use the bathrooms at school, as if it was like a bathroom at a store. We wander around the halls for fun, like how we wander around the mall with our friends for fun. We try to sneak our texts to our friends during class, like how we sneak out of our house to our friends. We creep around in a line during passing time, making sure we get to our next class safely. We try to waste as much time as we can, to be free from boredom. Like what we do at home so we aren’t so bored. We go to school to learn and have fun. Like for most of us in life is to learn new things and to have fun. School is like another life.

Summer Evening Rachel Losselyong I am a child again, without a care. The world seems to pause. The setting sun is the only way I know time continues. The sun descends upon the sky. I sit at the end of the pier, dangling my toes in the brisk water below. Slowly the sky changes, from brilliant blue, to yoke yellow, to ormolu orange, to pale pink to pomegranate purple. The sun begins to turn off its light. Only half of it remains. Soon only the tip remains. Then it is gone. The sky is black and empty Time continues to go on. I stand up and wander home.

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Dreamers Brianna Holzschuh Dreamers Wish. Dreamers Cry. Dreamers Kiss. Dreamers Die. This is why I don't dream. When you dream, you wish. Wishes make hope and hope cannot see The twisted truth behind the dream. I don’t dream because I don’t cry. When you cry you care, when you cry you find pain comes more, the longer you try. Try to hide the sad truth inside. Dreamers Kiss. When you kiss you care. Allowing more pain a place here and pain can never see the fear inside of me. Dreamers Die with a broken heart comes broken dreams. This is something hope cannot see. It sits, cuts you inside, a broken memory. Dreamers Wish. Dreamers Cry. Dreamers Kiss. and Dreamers Die. I don’t Dream, yet I wish. I don’t dream, but I’ll admit I cry. I don’t Dream, yet I kiss I don’t dream, yet I will one day die.

One Year -Dedicated to Wade Yohr Jazmine Haygood Boogity-boogity-boo! I'm here to cast some Voo-doo! Haunts, spooks, gore galore; Halloween's filled with so much more! Tricks and treats; the night's full of sweets! But there's only one treat that I want; it's YOU i want to flaunt. Won't you agree to be with me? Either way, you'll me mine; for you have no opine. Because I’m putting you under my spell Hun, but I’ve only just begun! For though Halloween's such a thrill; we have our whole lives to fulfill. For the only one i see... Is right in front of me... On this wondrous night; we're beneath the glorious moonlight As it shines upon your face, I know no one else can replace This spot in my heart you have taken, my love's been awakened. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and ghouls; Goblins, trolls, witches, and costume fools. The moon is almost full now, and it's almost time for the last vow. This is not only a rhyme and we're running out of time. For the bewitching hour is almost through, that means my spell will be too. Because my magic lasts only for one night and now i must swiftly take flight. I'll be back sometimes soon; along with the next full moon. I'll cast my spell one more time, and now i know you'll always be mine. For in truth the potion you have drank, was really all just a prank. I'd never force you to be mine; because my dear you're so divine. But you've chosen, that i can see; lucky ducky it was me. I hope you've enjoyed a night so fine, you've really been much too kind. With thoughts of a night so grand, know I’ll always hold your hand. You've got my heart and my soul; hope it plays a significant role. Here's a kiss, a hug too; now I’ll bid you, adieu. Belonging Kourtney Fischer Planet Earth. So vast and wondrous with its infinite cultures. They say we all have a place where we belong. Yet all one can wonder is “what if?” What if we don’t belong? The horrifying nightmare of being all alone. No one to understand you, No one you can share you ingenious idea with No one who is anything like you. You travel the high school halls, All the while hearing the silent call, The stares, the whisperings, the rumors. Then an angel appears, someone like you. Just when you’re getting used to this new self, yet another angel descends upon you. Soon you find a whole group of people like you. Someone understands you. Someone who is just as eager to share their ingenious ideas with you, someone like you. And you realized that these people were always there, you had to just be searching too hard. And now, you belong.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Foster Bush

Harmonics David Pietila

The holiday season is here. Family for everywhere coming near. Joyful smiles. That extend for miles. Food of all sorts. Grandpa sleeping on the couch in his short shorts. Little kids running around like wild animals. Dreaming of unwrapping toy soldiers and super bouncy balls. The grownups chat. While my cousin harasses the cat. The turkey is in the oven. And the new baby is getting some lovin’ Pies and treats galore. And we can still hear grandpa snore. Mom and her mother making a fuss. All the men have much to discuss. Then we hear those glorious words. “Time for dinner.” I hope I can stay for thirds. Soon the dining room comes alive. This environment that I thrive. All those lovely mashed potato clouds. The stuffing is all gathered in crowds. I thrust my fork into the nearest piece of meat. I devour it all without skipping a beat. Everybody eats all that they can handle. The only thing left on the table is the candle. We all make our way to the living room. No one even bothering to look at the broom. Soon I have crashed. My tummy filled with those mashed potatoes. I love the holiday season, and the family and feast are the reason.

Upon a wooden neck, fingers lightly press into silver strands. Each one, a heavenly sound of its own, complimenting each others’ voice. Fingers lightly press into silver strands. Vibrations filling the room around me. Each one, a heavenly sound of its own, with each and every strum. Vibrations filling the room around me. Sweet melodies soften the air. With each and every strum, I am at peace again. Sweet melodies soften the air. A harmony balances small imperfections. I am at peace again, drifting into a serene dream. A harmony balances small imperfections, creating sounds indescribable by words. I am drifting into a serene dream where the silver strings speak to me. Creating sounds indescribable by words upon a wooden neck. The silver strings speak to me. Each one, a heavenly sound of its own.

Blue and White Blood Kourtney Fisher Fierce. Proud. Strong. The teams collide in an explosion. Ghosts are returned to their graves. They try to move past us, but we are a ghost busting brick wall. When it’s our turn we crush them. Their wispy fingers slide right off. Our blood trickles blue and white in our veins. A beating drum, a swift river, a powerful substance. Their flow lessens, exhausted, crushed. Defeated. The battle ends. Menasha conquers Kaukauna.

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Adversity Foster Bush

Lambeau Lights Rachel Losselyong

Tonight is the night that we have all been anticipating. My brain filled with overwhelming thoughts of the battle soon to come. Standing tall, adorning my white away jersey. The bell rings and all my senses suddenly focus. On the ride over the bus is as silent as a morgue. WE soon pull into a place I have never liked, where red Ks are all I can see. The cold rain slams into my face. Seas of red and neon are all I can see on either side of me. But soon none of the hype will matter. It is time to play the game that I love.

Standing outside section 138 I can hear the low rumble. I smell Johnsonville brats simmering on the grill. I round the corner. There it is, ready to consume me. I march towards it.

We kickoff to start. The opponent’s offense is too much to stand. Our defense does not hold and soon the enemy leads. Now it is my time. Blocking every play as if I were a frightened rhino. We score, They score, We score, They score, Back and forth all night. Until the fatal mistake is made. My heart sinks when our quarterback slings the ball into the enemy’s arms. Soon they have control. We gave it our all and left it all on the field. It just was not our night. Next time will be different. Simply put, I need you Shannon M. Gonzales I don’t need empty promises and a meaningless, “I’ll be there.” I need someone who loves me and someone who’ll care.

Lights illuminate 70,000 fans and the field below. Looking around I am surrounded by thousands of Aaron Rodgers and Donald Drivers. On the field I spot him, he’s next to the bench. He is a small action figure standing there. Number 52, Clay Matthews. He bends down and whips his head up like Taylor Swift. His gallant, golden locks fall back into place. Twenty two men take the field. Eleven sporting gorgeous green and gold, and eleven bearing that putrid purple and gold. A loud tweet from the referee, the game has begun. Suddenly a muffled groan surrounds the stadium. The Vikings have scored. A hammered man stammers, “That’s a penalty!” To my amazement he is right. The dazzling yellow flag soars across the field. The touchdown has been confiscated by a foul! Bright white towels create a blizzard in the stadium, there is a deafening cheer. Hope is still alive.

I don’t need another “Sorry,” or “I’ll try harder next time.” I need someone who’ll be here when life gets kind of rough. I don’t need another liar, or some insane, possessive jerk. I need a guy to rely on. Someone to protect me from harm. Love is what I need, NOT a fake, little lead on, or playing games. I need true love to keep me sane.

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The Four Years Of High School Pebhawm Yang When I took the very first step towards this old high school, knowing the next four years I was going to be here. I could not believe nine years have past in my life. I searched but never found where my classes were, I was nervous seeing upper classmen, blocking the hall as if protecting the quarterback in football. I tried to look for my close friend, to compare schedules to see what classes we got together. During spirit week we were green, it didn’t matter what type of green as long as it was green. We heard upperclassmen screaming “Go Home Freshmen” repeated ten times. Next year looking down towards freshmen as they gather around causing traffic in the hall, I look at that wondering was I like that? I was still wondering where part of my class was inside this amazing old school. I hoped this year would pass like the last one. I wore bright red at the assembly, and finally got the chance to laugh and scream ,“Go Home Freshmen!” repeated ten times. Making a fool out of the poor freshmen made you feel like you were on top of the world, This year I had the chance to see who’s in what grade, and got the chance to meet new people I haven’t ever seen before. One Year later— Wow, three have past now. Finally we have the chance to rip even more on the freshmen. Now is the time to focus on college and decide where I want to go. This would be the time to make sure I pass with an amazing G.P.A. Searching but never finding the right place, this year is the last year that really matters as college comes to find you. It is my last year of high school, no one is above me because now I am a senior. Looking down on freshman, my memory brings me back walking in the front door I don’t know what my life is going to be. Since it is my last year I’ll try to make this the best year Now I am saying goodbye to my friends. One question must be answered How am I going to leave something behind for the others?

With you by my side Shannon M. Gonzales As I sit with little to do, Thoughts always turn to you. No matter how hard I push away, You always seem to come my way. You’ve broken down the wall I built and offered me a hand, to try and pull me out of my bed. I was too shy and was just so scared, I simply said, “No,” and left you behind. Given some time and given some space, I finally said I’d join the race. You held out your hand, I took it with grace; I stepped out of my security and walked out of the maze, Our hands clasped tight, my mind full of fright. We walked for so long; I thought that it’d never end. But then I suddenly realized that I must have been dead! I let go of your hand, you looked so hurt And equally confused. I turned around and ran, not wanting to look back. I ran and kept running, Then believe for a second that you’d come after me. But I knew you wouldn’t, It was just a lie, a lie I believe all my life. With no one coming to my aid, I tripped and stumbled; fell with no grace. I couldn’t believe it, my world was now gone; All around me, my life is now over, Turning to ash and not being reborn once more. I open my eyes, thinking about what I have just seen. I suddenly sit up and realize that it was just a dream, A horribly, life-like dream. I lie back down and try to sleep once more, but the nightmare is stuck in my head, Tears are what I soon begin to shed. I can’t get the dream out of my mind, no matter what I try. It seems as if I always go right back to it. I try to distract myself throughout the day, but its visions of you that come my way, I sit down and cry, letting all the pain our out, wanting you here with me now, but knowing that you won’t come just adds to the pain. But then when I see you, it all seems to melt away, Just the sight of you can make my day. Make me forget all about the pain in my life, I’m at peace with you by my side. You have helped me to let go of it all, to stop worrying about everything so bloody much; You’ve helped me to realize that all things have to get worse before they get better. I’m just at peace with you by my side; helped me to be me… for once in my pitiful life…

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Darkness Shannon M. Gonzales

Broken Shannon M. Gonzales

Darkness consumed me as I watched you walk away. You were the light that brightened up my day.

Vengeance piercing through my heart as I watch you kiss the dirt. It’s a little hard for me to continue to love someone who has caused me hurt. My life has been filled with hate and pain most of the time, but when I met you, that all seemed to fade away. But then you left, like all the rest, it all came flooding back again. Why would you do that to me? I told you things that no one else knows; I’ve done things with you I’ve never done with another; I gave you my heart, my life, my world! ….and you seemed to just give it back to me broken; shattered. How could you?! I told you I loved you, and you threw it all away like a rotten piece of garbage. Can you not see the tears that lie behind these brown eyes…? These tears I cry are for and because of you…

You didn’t understand then and you don’t understand how these are my reasons for loving you now. I’ve tried to explain to you time and time again, but it’s hard to even attempt to begin. I have to tell you, I have to try, but something inside me won’t let me, no matter how hard I would like you to see. You make me feel like someone different; when I’m with you. You constantly lift my mood. You’re always so true. You’re always there when I need you; you’re always there to comfort me. You always help me with my problems; no matter what they may be. You always had (and still do) such a gentle and loving touch. You never held me way too much. So, now why can’t you see these are reasons I want you to be with me? All I want to say is that I love you. Are you able to say you love me too?

Brink of Insanity Jazmine Haygood So close to the brink of insanity yet it dances just out of reach. Maybe one more teasing remark or snotty comment

Siblings Elizabeth “Lizzy” Cobb A little boy, twelve years old. All alone to raise himself. Only one person left to care. Sixteen year old girl with black and red hair. In the winter, cold white snow, the father leaves him; it’s fourteen below. Only one person left to care. Sixteen year old girl with black and red hair. Siblings fight, siblings love. In the end, it’s only us. No one left to care. Brother and sister, all alone, we raise each other to be strong. Smiles, tears, laughs, fears. We’re through it all, hand in hand. No one can break this bond again.

will finally push me over the edge? Plunging me into this sweet darkness which toys at the edge of my vision. Dulling my mind to the sane thoughts and actions of others. Sealing me off from all humanity. Locking myself in this cold empty mind; a hell of some sorts in its own way, Nothing in every direction only the blackness of time surrounding me. It sounds as if there are noises far away, but it's not true. As I sit here, rocking back and forth, in eternal frustration. Waiting for the last of my sanity to gently slip away and leave me an empty shell of what I was.

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She Has Been a Shelter-a Poem of Lament Kristy Ely Barefoot in the vibrant green grass. A slight prick here and there. Puncturing the sole of my feet, with the needles that have fallen from the giant. Babies from the mother ship. My black cat escapes from her prison she is in held day and night Excitement radiates off her shoulders every prance she takes, closer and closer to the needles. The mother ship provides a sanctuary for many souls. She has been a shelter. Then a spinning wind whipped through her home and left a mark. A mark of no return. She has been hit hard and there is no going back— back to the way things were, back to when she gave shelter to many different souls. My black cat escapes from her prison once more. Excitement radiates off her shoulders every prance she takes, closer and closer she gets she realizes... Leaping and hopping over broken branches from other torn shelters, she searches and searches. Maybe my shelter is behind the she., Maybe my shelter is around the corner. Maybe, just maybe my shelter is still there. My shelter, my play ground, she is gone. Both my cat and I look in amazement. Amazement in that she disappeared. Amazement that she could have even disappeared. She has always been there. From the beginning of my memories, to the beginning of my sisters’, to the very beginning of the house, seventy years ago. I looked down the block all my life

and all I saw was the top half of Mrs. Pine. I look down my block now and only see an empty space, an empty space in the air and an empty space in my heart. The whirl winds hit and had no pity, She went down because she had small roots. She went down because of who she was. She was a giant Pine Tree.

Death of the Spirit Julian Riegler I stand back and see Its heartbeat is dead. No emotions! Nothing to feel— Just a big fat corpse And a dark blank stare. This once living breathing business Changed for the worse. Killed off by the corporate scum, Those greedy bastards who took its soul. Now it just exists as a brain washing device. Hearing those electronic sounds and metallic voices, The thoughtless give in And never think twice. Putting in actual hard work Is now looked upon in shame, Taking out all human qualities, Only in effort to gain fame. What happened to the days Where people gave a f---? When music was alive And not used only to make a buck. Bring back the creativity. Bring back the true musicians. No more of the fake, Watching from their high up positions. The godly shredding of guitars And eerie wailing of voices. Sounds so much better Than all of today’s choices. Every day I lose more hope As I watch music’s demise. In this new world Where the wrong Continues to rise.

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Kimberly Lynn Swick Caitlyn Hills I couldn’t help you. I knew the struggles you were put through by your mother’s drinking and your father’s tendency to ignore the obvious. That’s why you did it. You. Did. It. You used to stab the ideas of healthy living into my head. Drugs were bad, they were useless. The worst part is knowing you were so against them, yet you killed yourself with them. Life was too much to bear you needed you leave. You. Left. Me. I still pass the trees we used to sit under with the wind swaying the long grass along. You taught me to write at that very spot. You inspired me to tap into creativity I didn’t know was there. It still stuns me. After walking out of your funeral I heard the song “Your Guardian Angel” My eyes dripped their liquid pain onto my lap. It was you saying you’d watch over me. It. Was. You.

Spring Caitlyn Hills The River’s waters lick the sides of the shore bank. stretching from their cage. The trees sway to a unknown song no one can hear. They have sprouted life. The flowers stretch to the Sun’s warmth, begging to be caressed with its love. The grass no longer freezes under a blanket of white torment . The butterflies flap their wings and then float upon a cool, calming wind. The mud attaches itself to the first unknown victim, taking joy. The skies cry wet tears. Though no one shall complain now for it has brought life.

My summers would never be the same. We no longer are able to scan through your books of religion, finding a new one to practice with the day. You didn’t call me for help. I didn’t even know your mind was spiraling Down Down Down I would have been there had you relied on me. I would have saved you.

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Warm Spring Day to Bed Cassee Francart

Missing The Bus Nate Stigen

In the ancient woods of timber and moss carpets, we walk hand in hand.

I dashed to the stop, but taste exhaust, and suck slicing oxygen into my spastic throat.

Petals on closed buds perfectly fit together, fingers intertwined, moist mud squishing cold. Rain fresh in the evening breeze, goose bumps up my arms. Spring babies sing loud, fresh foliage tickles nose, blooming buds surround. Arms around my waist, your fingers tickle my sides, I squirm, you hold tight, looking out at pinks, shimmers of purples, setting sun behind the bluffs.

I caught it yesterday, preemptively hunting my prey. It’s granny sweater seats reminiscent of Sunday mornings where nothing’s awry, and cookies are aplenty. The chubby blue taxi trotted down the lane, wagging its tail in my down-trodden face It’s obese hips listed destinations I couldn’t pronounce, yet longed to set voyage all the same.

Warm spring day to bed, dusk falls in the sleepy woods, we head back down paths,

The passengers broadcasted gaudy tourist flags, as bright as the blinding flash of snow on a bright winter morning

rounding bends and curves, down moist hills, up rocky cliffs. Muddy toes grow cold.

They had their mouths on flash, But my emotions were portrayed grayscale.

Dragging feet, slow paced. Broken twig breaks through my heal, so I stop and stare out into the night, out over glistening moon refection, peaceful. Darker and darker, more stars begin to surface, holding us silent. A turn of my head, hazel meets dazzling blue, gentle kiss, sparks fly.

Seconds from the enticing tropics and basking in the blanketing stale AC, I plop onto a frigid bench. The icy breeze slaps me like a nun with a yardstick, disciplining the tardy fool I gazed upon the blue blob until it took a left, and slipped away, along with the chance of basking in the mellow, calming, sun Oh Well, I don’t care that much.

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Ode to Hot Fudge Sundaes Cassee Francart Bright fluorescent lights beat down, illuminating my options on the DQ menu before me. My taste buds crave for the sweet feel of Hershey’s hot fudge sliding over their bumpy terrain and down my hungry throat. I scan the menu board with its endless choices, in desperation for the perfect treat. So many decisions. So many delicious pictures of delicately decorated ice cream towers, with sticky warm fudge melting the snow it covers. My mouth waters. My tummy grumbles. Oh Sweet Hershey Fudge, what do I choose? Do I get your hot fudge brownie sundae, with the sweet chocolate bite-sized brownies? Or your mountainous caramel pecan sundae? The creamy mounds of frozen bliss you rest upon all look so delectable, so satisfying.

I skip with your sugary perfection. Lounged on a bench, I take my first heaping bite of your Sweet, Chocolaty Goodness. The warm fudge drips down my throat, mixing with the chilly vanilla ice cream. My taste buds go wild like a summer lightening storm, until the last bite of Hershey’s cooled fudge. Damn, that sundae was good.

Watching the Dogs Nate Stigen Yip! I hate yip! this. Yip! It’s yip yip! It’s like yip! trying to yip! give a yip! speech about yip! Water reservoirs to yip! A litter of yip! toddlers

Your wardrobes, so appealing to my hazel eyes, all sound so appetizing, but my mind is now made up, no crunchy nuts, or moist brownie-bites, no sugary sprinkles with their rainbow colors, for all the extra condiments would over power your Sweet Hot Fudge.

Come equals yip! go. Go outside equals pee yip! everywh- yip! everywh- yip! SERIOUSLY! SHUT yip! UP!

So I place my order.

I have no yip! idea how their owners can take this torture day after day.

Two scoops please, with extra hot fudge. I take a step back and watch as the cashier fills a clear plastic cup, with two scoops. I swear, he’s taking his sweet time, I can’t wait any longer. Or maybe I can.

everywhere but outside.

Yip yip! Yip yip! I hate yip! dogs. I’d yip! rather have a yip! colonoscopy than own a dog.

I stare with desire as he slowly pours steaming fudge over the medium vanilla hill. The anticipation’s killing me with each of his snail-like movements. A bright red spoon is grabbed and shoved into your cool-warm body. Smiling, he hands me my Hot Fudge Sundae. “Three-fifty, please.” I slide him a crumpled five, I don’t need the change. Into the cool night’s air,

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To the Creation of Chocolate Chipsters Sheena Rohr Good ‘ol chocolate chipsters, how I long for you. Crunchy, chewy or in between, you always satisfy my cravings. Your over powering level of fat and bountiful supply of calories, are no concern for me. Butter and sugar, brown and granulated, start the process of your soon to be mouthwatering yumminess. The eggs come next, a perfect hairline crack is created to prevent shells from being added. Then comes vanilla extract, sweet and pleasant to the nose. I mix and mix until perfect consistency. Flour, baking soda, and salt are next, forming your sticky dough. last but not least, chocolate chips complete your magical mixture.

Your gooeyness dries and rises into a pillow of sinful deliciousness and I swing the oven door open, snatch a pot holder, and pull the sheet from the oven. Your mesmerizing chocolaty aroma fills my nose. My taste buds water uncontrollably. I wait a few minutes for the circular, amazing treats to cool. I gently pick up one cookie, making sure not to break it. Slowly move it towards my mouth And CHOMP. The flavor is unbearably delicious. I can’t help myself but to grab another. And another. A full stomach comes quickly and I polish off my last cookie. Yummm!

One heaping cup of chips are needed. Which will it be… creamy, milk chocolate, bitter ,dark chocolate, white and dark swirled, peanut butter, white, mint, or even bitter sweet? My stomach grumbles. I made up my mind. Milk chocolate! Simply the best. No other flavor can compare to the rich, creamy taste of Nestle milk chocolate chips. I scoop a cup of chips and pour their goodness into you. Not enough chocolate, I secretly dump the remaining small bits of heaven into your bowl. Spoonfuls of dough plop onto the greased, square cookie sheet, tossed in the scorching hot oven, and baked to perfection. Ten minutes have slowly passed.

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The Television Program Nate Stigen A program plays on the television. They rest together like docile Siamese twins. The adoring duo dwell within each other and sing optic serenades.

My father wanders aimlessly into the living room just as the treasuring twosome were close upon firing off Cupid’s fireworks, gawks at me, and turns on the television. Shoot. I wanted to see how it ended.

Hmm… a romance. My thumb taps upon the channel button, but the image remains. The shoddy Romeo caresses his breathtaking Juliet from her supple, smooth shoulder down to her buxom, waved hip as he meddles with a TV remote. I’ve spied this scene before while channel surfing. Must be a re-run. My eyes lock onto the alluring woman on the screen. Alighted golden streams lay upon her rosy, rotund cheeks. Her sparkling periwinkle eyes trace the knight in rusted armor, cradling her in his lanky arms – He just preserves his lackadaisical grin like a fool who’s gotten his way. Jeez! What a lucky schmuck.

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The Men’s Room Nate Stigen The Kentucky Fried feel of the door handle Worries me. I walk in, snag the paper towels, and place them on the mysterious potty puddles. Time to play human Frogger. “What’s behind door number one?” “Oh jeez.” “Door number two?” “How ironic…” Wipe both sides, no liquid surprise. The Kinks play on the radio

There’s someone here!

“Should I stay or should I go now?” My sentiments exactly. The warm, purifying water rushes over my hands. I run them through once, twice, three times.

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Ode to Nature’s Relief Caitlyn Hills His jumbled thoughts spin dizzily— his mind is free from the sick nausea that controlled him and now there’s… Peace. Serenity.

You are the answer to some people’s suffering. Your charity is freedom, like the first rain fall after a torturous drought, giving the dehydrated vegetation their lives back. You are sacred.

She’s now outside of her worries. She can freely play her banished thoughts she once felt too catalytic to share. Putting one foot in front of the other is no longer an agonizing chore. Your mesmerizing crystals perched upon each stem glisten. They show the pure beauty nature can create. They’ve banished you yet put man-made chemicals through the blood stream, the life line of the human race, but you’re put to shame though You are the purest of them all… Blasphemy! They cry. It’s a foul of the morals true medicine men cherish. Yet ‘pot heads’ hold Pious thoughts in their hearts, for the herb brings them silence… The man undergoing chemo therapy is relieved from the nauseous fog that incased him for so long. He almost forgot what it was like to feel GOOD for a full day. The woman with chronic leg pains is no longer put through the agony each day provided. It’s a crazed world in which the pain didn’t control her. You were created long before a man’s Beating Heart. You were put ablaze before man’s first Remedy. You are all that is natural, All that is pure. The earthy flavor spins through their lungs, engulfing them in bliss. The spicy smell encircles itself around a deserted living room. They’re amazed that the settling funk brings them harmony.

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Ode 2 Txting Cori Clay Oh, how I luv txting. Txting on the weekends. Txting on the week days. Txting in my room, the living room, the bathroom, even the classroom. I can't always have my phone on loud, but when I do, I just can't help but to jam out like I am at prom dancing with my friends. For normal texts, my favorite song would be “Bow Chick Wow Wow” by Mike Posner. I get a txt and the words I always hear are.. “I hear you knock, knock, knock, Baby, come on up I hope you got, got, got something in your cup cause I'm three shots deep.” Then for the picture msgs the song for those r “Picture” by Kid Rock. I get these txts and the words that always come up are.. “I put ur pic away, sat down and cried 2day I can't look at u, while I'm layin next 2 her.���

fun teacher who hears, and sees just about everything, always recognizes me texting. She don't really yell or have a angry look but I know if I do she will say “Put that phone away,” every time. Oh, how I luv txting. From the smileys (: to the shorten words like lol when something is funny. Sometimes u do get tired when all u can say is ok. I could never leave my phone for just 1 sec knowing I have a txt waiting when I come back. Txting is like my crack. I do it every day and every where no matter who is watching. I know I won't be able to live w/o it ever. Ttyl (:

When I am anywhere else, besides then the classroom, and it’s not the weekend it is on the usual 3 time vibrate. That makes me happy like when a little kid gets a piece of chocolate. When I am in the classroom and since every teacher hears everything from a click on a key board to a phone being shut, is the most plain setting of all silent. When I am in the blank classroom I check my phone every 5 mins, which is more then I should. I could be learning instead. I usually don't get in trouble but... once I get into 8th hour I better not txt anymore, bec my young, blonde,

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Elegy to My Hair Carley Holewinski

Summer Day: a sestina Allie Lappen

Cells that were always dead, take true spirit disappearance. Put through harsh torture, Pulling. Tugging. Burning. Your beauty first ruined with a sharp edge snip, leaving awkwardness of a sideburn.

The full fluffy clouds partner with the hot sun. My mouth waters with the anticipation of a tall strawberry popsicle. The cool breeze blows the crisp summer grass that tickles my back. My skin turns to red and I know I’ll feel that tomorrow. I feel so lucky to be here on this beautiful summer day.

No looking back or other options, you went under the knife again. A golden waterfall that once trickled down my silhouette, now rests on a salon floor. To fix what has happened, multiple inches were added to you. Applied with glue. Fragile and messy, not much improvement. Seasons change, and glue turns to cement. Leaving you in your worst state. Ripping you out dry from the scalp, hurt the most. You were left thin, bald in spots, and dry. Now in desperation for your operation, Ceramic pigs were sacrificed. Family did anything to make it better, even if you cost more than some cars do. After a ten hour procedure, you look better, but never the same. Only could keep the new you for a few short months, until it also had to come out. Facing reality had to happen. The winds blow, and I feel what remains of your soft ends, brush against my chin.

I hold on to the moments, not wanting this day to end. Knowing that this hot bright sun will go to sleep not waking until tomorrow. The white clouds each look like a different creature as I lay flat on my back with my long hair blowing in the breeze. The tall green trees lightly blow in the warm breeze. I embrace everything around me, because this day is one I’ll never get back. The light blue sky is filled with the bright sun and fluffy clouds. A small squirrel accompanied with a acorn runs across the grass, hoping for tomorrow. As I lay here all my worries are put away for tomorrow. I know that this wonderful summer breeze will soon go away, and we will be cursed with a midnight storm. Night will come and day will quickly end. I saber every ray of the sun hoping that it will soon come back. The clouds roll in and I feel a Small chill run down my back. The small wonders of this beautiful day are over. Now all I can do is look forward to tomorrow. The warm air turns to a frigid breeze, and the clouds sweep over the sky hiding the sun. The sun is now gone and a storm rolls in. The cool breeze is a shiver down my back. And I hope that tomorrow is like today.

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To a Lost Life: an elegy Amanda Danielson It was just a game, you were in the lead. Too much at stake, but I bet it all anyway. Who was to know you would cheat, And throw my whole life away. You silly little girl, you may be on the verge of womanhood. But you are merely a child. You are losing your loyalties, Your best friend, Your life.

I can no longer play in the rain like a child instead I must be showered with hatred for what I was blamed. I lost it all and I’m sorry for that. I lost my son. I lost my wife. But most of all I lost my life. There’s no replacing the time that will be taken from me. No going back, and I have you to thank for that.

Remember the times you had together, the parties, movies, and all those guys. All the pictures you took all the texts and calls when she made you look. No more nights to remember and cherish together. But all is lost because you lied. So much time that I cannot get back. Something so horrible, something so full of lies. There is no bargain, no compromise. The time has passed for you to tell the truth. My son, only five years old with that smile I will never forget. I can only imagine the secrets and the lies he will be told. No more parks on days when the sun is shining. No more school concerts, or lunches with dad. No more making pictures with our favorite crayons. These things will be missed. But most of all the memories that cannot be made. My wife, a beautiful woman. Her long brown hair and color changing eyes. So young, and an amazing mom. No more arguments or our little fights. No more making dinner or dancing in the moonlight. Why would this would happen to me? There’s no use. Why bother trying anymore? You took my life, you took my time. There’s nothing left for me here. Why should I bother? Why should I care? You played a trick on me and you won. The drugs, the alcohol it was all a test. I could have gotten you everything, all the best. You took advantage of me and that’s where I lost. I can no longer see the sun come up in the morning, instead I see the gloomy grey bars that hold me from my freedom.

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The Last of the Time Lords- a sestina Forrest Pelech He travels on, looking for wounds to heal. The scars of so many people reflected in his young face. He has been at his task since the beginning of forever. From the dawn of time to the dusk he runs. His eyes are aglow with an ancient fire. He travels on through space and time. His enemies strike at innocent hearts all through time. Creating wounds that never heal With a fury of alien weapons’ fire they live for a fear on those little faces. But, when he arrives, the evil runs. He will not let their acts go unpunished forever. He knows all of history, since the start of forever. But knows that soon it will be his time. There are only so many times you can run, so many deaths you can heal. And when he wears his final face, he will be in the flames of the final fire. And the Lords who have survived the fires, who have seen the whole of forever were swept from the universe’s face to end the last great war of time and The Lords of Time made their only foe turn heels. And from the war he fled. But it was not he alone that ran. His old friend too fled the world engulfed in fire. But the damage to his mind would never heal And his friend became the Master, the one who would rule forever. And so they fought, their battle tearing a hole in time. The Master was brought down, choosing to die rather than to wear another face. There was one more challenge he had to face. And this time there was no way he could run. His people had come back from the war of time To destroy Earth with their mighty fire. He sealed them off forever. Their exile left him a heartache that would not heal. To heal what he could never could, he changed his face once more. The cosmos his backyard, he had forever to run. And though he can see the fire he is free. The last lord of Time.

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Childhood Neil Busse Oceans of frozen white fluff swallow patches of dead grass, the grass that was teasing us, saving us from everlasting winter. Unforgiving Gods thrust their mighty storms upon our elevated lands of crops and cows. Birds fly within their shelters, chirping….telling me secrets that we all need to hear. A bird peaks out watching snow flow by, becoming afraid of not finding food. Grass patches sneak out, playing with our emotions of our motherhood towards summer. I ease and lean, wondering if I could relive my memories. Stories passing from house to house of old memories, playing outside enjoying the freshly poured spring, as we sit inside with burning hot chocolate and blankets. A sense of denial spreads among us. Next door neighbor, come out and play let’s make fun of the shade, shadows, and parents laughter. Let us venture into our own world, and discover our own fantasies. Our childhood games and laughter have passed, but memories of this unforgettable time haunts us, for we had a life of no worries or responsibilities. All have changed for the better, or worse… Who could say how memories change our inner most workings? Can we help our change? My cheek becomes cold from leaning upon the window for a little too long, and I lean away slowly closing my shades, for once again I have tasted the forbidden fruit….

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ESSAYS

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A Mother’s Anguish Abby Adams No woman really knows how to be a mother the first time she has parenthood thrust upon her. It is entirely unlike anything she has ever experienced before. People, especially children, tend to forget that she does not know everything there is to know about being a mother; consequently, she feels more and more detached from her children every time she makes a mistake. In the short story I Stand Here Ironing, by Tillie Olsen, the narrator laments the choices she made in raising her first child, Emily. Teenage Wasteland by Anne Tyler follows Daisy, the mother of Donny, as she struggles to reach her son and help him. In both stories, Donny’s and Emily’s mothers feel distance grow between them and their children, and ultimately are unable to rebuild their relationships, though they still hope for their children’.

Teenage Wasteland began with Daisy describing her son’s appearance as a child: “…very blonde hair—almost white… [and] a little cowlick always stood up to catch the light.” The narrator in I Stand Here Ironing also described her child when she was young: “…a beautiful baby…the first and only one of our five that was beautiful at birth.” Both descriptions are rather angelic in their word choice. Each mother went on to say that, as her child grew older, he or she became darker in hair color and thinner in build. The word choice used in these passages is somewhat hesitant, almost disappointed. This suggests that the mothers reveled in their children’s beauty at first, but were disoriented by the changes they underwent. The families of Emily and Donny went through change as well. Each mother bore another child not long after having her first. The new babies brought more responsibility on the mothers, so Donny and Emily were shunted off to the side—Donny because his mother devoted more time to the baby, and Emily because she had red measles. Though each mother meant no harm by her actions, she forced a larger wedge between her and her child. After the new babies, each mother continued to broaden the gap in her relationship with her child. Donny’s mother, Daisy, tried to help him with his schoolwork, but he got into alcohol and smoking. She sent him to a tutor, but that only increased the rift; the tutor’s sessions led Donny to grow more rebellious toward his parents and less conscientious about school. Finally, Daisy pulled him out of the tutor program and sent him to a public school, but at this point, it was too late. Their relationship was too strained, and Donny ran away. Emily’s mother, even before the baby, had sent Emily to live with her father’s parents until she could find work and save enough money. When she got Emily back, she barely knew her. Their relationship was further stretched when she left Emily home alone at nights, prompting her to have nightmares. Emily’s stay in the convalescent home to recover from red measles did nothing good for the relationship, either. Throughout her life, her mother was unable to be there for her (though through no fault of her mother’s own); they hardly knew one another. Though it seems like Donny and Emily have suffered terribly, at the end of the stories, their mothers still had hope for them. Donny’s mother “look[s] for him in every crowd of awkward, heartbreaking teenage boys,” and Emily’s mother hopes that Emily knows “that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.” In both I Stand Here Ironing and Teenage Wasteland, each mother makes mistakes, and cannot reconstruct her relationship with her child, but she still wants her child to succeed, despite her mistakes.

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Memoirs

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The Shot Brady Laurin When I was born, I was born without my left forearm, yet I grew up playing sports all day, every day. I would play catch with a football with my dad when he came home from work. I used to shoot buckets with my big brother after school. Sports were and still are my life. In grade school when I asked kids to play basketball, baseball, or football at recess they always said no because I have one arm. They thought I wouldn’t be able to play because they thought it was going to be hard for me. After I walked away, I heard them laughing at me and saying stuff like, “What a freak. He has one arm. He can’t do anything with that stub for an arm.” Despite these actions toward me, I have lived by a quote by my favorite baseball player of all time, Jim Abbott. “Find something you love, and go after it, with all of your heart.” That inspired me to play the sports I want to play, which are baseball, basketball, and football. Like me, Jim Abbott has one arm, and he found something he loved and went after it with all of his heart. That made me think I should do the same thing. While I’ve shown my love for sports by being a three sport athlete, this year’s basketball season showed me again that with drive and dedication, no matter what people say about you, you can still be successful and prove people’s judgments wrong. ****************************************************************************** It is the last two minutes of our game against Oshkosh North. We are losing by more than ten points. Our coach puts me in the game to play defense on Oshkosh’s good point guard. So when I go in, we just scored, and now it was their ball. When they inbounded the ball, everybody backed off, so it is just me and the point guard. After he got past half-court I try to strip the ball from him, and I got the ball! Once I did that, I ran down the court with the feeling of two opponents breathing right behind me. One of the guys catches up to me around the free throw line, and I fake him out. The other guy is on the other side of me so I shoot the ball up on the glass…. ****************************************************************************** It was January 25th, 2011 on a cold, cloudy night in Menasha around 4:30 p.m. It was so cold that I was feeling like an ice cube walking from the car to the school. Everyone on the team had to be ready by 5:00 p.m. The game was very important to our coach. He was very upset because we already played Oshkosh North earlier in the season, and we got crushed. Everyone on our team was getting pumped for this big game. Our coach was giving us the talk that we hear almost every game, “We need to come out strong and play tough. We need to dive on the floor for loose balls and box out. I want to see a box out foul tonight.” After the talk we got from coach, it was pretty obvious that everyone wanted to get a win tonight, not just for themselves but for our coach. We were getting all fired up for the game, and it was now time for our warm-ups. Before every game there is a 20 minute warm-up so teams can get loose, shot around, or go over their plays. At Menasha, we do all of those warm-up activities. As I was standing there on the floor waiting for my turn to play a 3-on-3 warm-up game, I looked around the gym, and all I could see were parents, grandparents, friends, and students to cheer on either Menasha or Oshkosh North. After I got done with the warm-up game, I looked at some Oshkosh North kids laughing and pointing at me while they talked to their friends. I already knew why they were doing that, because I have one arm and am playing basketball. At that point I told myself that I will give them something to laugh about. After I told myself that, the sound of the buzzer went off like the sound of someone using an Airhorn next to my ear. It was finally game time at Menasha High School. As the crowd from both sides stood to jump up and down and scream at the top of their lungs, the ref blew his whistle. I felt like I was at a Wisconsin Badger football game at the start of the 4 th quarter. The ref tossed the ball in the air for the tip off. A kid from Oshkosh North got the tip. He was very tall and was wearing white Nike shoes with black Nike socks. He had very skinny legs. They were like legs made out of twigs glued to his thighs. I wondered if he had ever broken a leg. Around the end of the 3 rd quarter, more and more people started showing up for the varsity game, which was right after our game. The score was really close at the beginning of the 4 th quarter. At around the five minute mark, they were up by 15 points or so. Oshkosh North’s point guard was their leading scorer in the game. At around three minutes to go, he had 20 plus points in the game. Finally, my coach said my name, so I went over by him, and he said, “Go in there and shut that point guard down!” I said, “Ok, coach,” and went by the scorer’s table to check in. At the two minute mark there was a dead ball, and the ref called me in. I told myself it was my time to shine and make those Oshkosh North kids think twice about laughing at me because of my arm. We were in our full-court press because we needed a stop and needed to score. The first time that we did it all game was at this point. As they passed the ball in, they broke our press and made a lay-up, so then we brought down the ball and scored a little jumper. As they passed in the ball against our press, the guy that I was guarding had the ball and said, “ISO” (that means clear out everybody), so it was just me and him: a great ball handler against a great defender. As he dribbled up the floor and got past half-court, I striped the ball from him and ran down the court dribbling as fast as I could. All I could hear were people from Menasha screaming and cheering, saying, “Go Brady,” or “You got this, Brady!” I told myself, this one is for the people who say or think he can’t do it because of his arm. As I was at the three-point line for us, a defender tried to take the ball away, but I faked him out, and that player fell on the ground to my left. The point guard caught up to me on my right side, so I just threw up the ball from the right side of the paint, and it bounced off the glass

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and went in. The crowd went crazy! I never heard so many people cheer for me, and as I looked at my coach I saw him fist pump and smile. I knew I did something good. We still lost the game by more than ten points. As we walked back to Mr. Brown’s room for our post game talk, my teammates were saying good job to me. It made me feel good to hear that coming from people on my team who played in the game and who had to guard that point guard for Oshkosh North. After the talk, when I got changed, I went to my mom, and she hugged me and said that I did very great tonight. I thought so too. That night was one of the best nights in my life because of how I played in the game, how people congratulated me, and how I made kids go from laughing at me to being nice and keeping their mouth shut. Even though we lost, I felt like I won the game.

Forgiveness of a Different Kind of Heartbreak Sara Gilbert Sarah Paddison once quoted wisely, “Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.” As we get older we learn that there is a deeper meaning to the words, “I’m sorry.” They’re not just the simple words we automatically spit off after we bump in to someone, and forgiving someone is a way of letting go and moving on. Forgiveness relieves and releases us, allowing our hardened soul to become tender and fall back into the pure and gentle state it once sat at before. There have been times in my life were I have felt hurt and broken down. It’s not a good feeling. To be honest, of all feelings there are to be felt, this is the most horrid one of all. When we get hurt many times it’s from the people we are fond of the most. There are a handful of people in our lives we keep close to our hearts because we think they would do no harm. It is there that we are mistaken, because everyone makes mistakes and never can we assume. When they hurt us it’s all the more painful because they were that much closer to our hearts. I’ve realized over the years and through past experience that forgiving someone who hurt me can be a very challenging process. It takes a lot of courage, patience, and stick-with-it-ness to accomplish. I now understand that when I hate or envy someone the only person I am truly hurting is myself. When I found the strength to forgive the one who caused me a different kind of heartache, it made me a better person over all, and when a deep injury is done to us we never recover until we forgive. My name is Sara Gilbert and this is my story. She moved into our neighborhood when we were three, and I vaguely remember. We brought them down pie, so smiles and hellos were exchanged. That was it: the beginning, and I’d say about where our lives began. Me and Ash go way back, best friends since we were three. Well, until now. Truth is I don’t ever remember not knowing her; it’s weird, like we just were a part of each other and thrown into each other’s lives, not sure when it started. Just that we were here now and together. We used to be inseparable; we couldn’t spend a day without each other. We lived exactly ten houses down from each other, and that’s how we would spend our summer days, at one another’s houses and to and from the park on which we live across from. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked that walk from my house to hers and hers to mine. It’s like a memory lane. Different scenes and parts of our lives have all been witnessed by that sidewalk happening as bicycles, skateboards and most all, our dirty little feet scampered across as it watched beneath. I grew up on that side walk with her by my side dragging dolls, toys and who knows what else. We would call the other one, the numbers memorized. She would always say, “Meet me half way?” I never thought Ashley would hurt me. I knew we would have a fight here and there. Those are just disagreements and everyone has those, but I never thought she would hurt me. But, like I said before this was not the case. ************************************ Minutes before, I had played a basketball game. I am selfish in a way because I was never one to care about the ending result of the game, just the factors that got us there, like how I played, or how we communicated, and even the ref. All the details play a part. I had a good game that day. I was in a good mood. The sweat rolled down my forehead as I was in the process of catching my breath. My chest was heaving as my heart within pounded, but it was declining. The locker room was blue with cement floors. Just being in there put you in a determined mood because it had a game atmosphere. I started to notice that it smelled like B.O; that happens after every game because who notices that when we are all concentrated on basketball. I picked up my phone and opened a text message from “Keemosabe.” “Since Claudia can’t work with us, I’m just going to work by myself too. “Wow”, I replied. “You’re just going to hang me out to dry?” She ditched me, and I wouldn’t get that upset if it was anyone else. But Ashley wasn’t just anybody, and I was allowed to have higher expectations. Just like that I was in a bad mood, but that was only the beginning. It wasn’t the incident as so much the after math; not the raindrop that is so small it can go by without being noticed but the ripples in the puddles that carry on for a while. I am not one who has a big group of close “best friends.” It’s one of my weaknesses, and I guess it will forever be. I always thought there was something wrong with me, but then I would whisper to myself reassuringly, “You only need one good friend,” and Ashley was it. It was the first day back from break, and Ashley and I had first hour together. Heading around the corner I didn’t know what to expect. I had hoped that there would be conversation. I started to walk slowly. Was she there already? Would we arrive at the same time? I made the turn as I felt my face get hot. She was just standing there, her hair now short, and I wanted to squeal, “Cute hair!” But then I remembered and stopped myself. She knew I was there, and she looked up from her phone. For a moment she looked like she wanted to say something but looked down to her phone and back into her own world where I wasn’t. Ashley knew I was mad at her, and she acted like it didn’t affect her or that she didn’t care to fix it, and that’s what was killing me. With that, I began to second guess, and I think that is when we become the most vulnerable.

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There had been tension building up between us for a while, and one day it all blew up over texting. “No… we honestly said we can’t have more than two. Then you asked Munig, and she said that was fine, and then you assumed it was fine with us. But it’s not even a big deal. It’s happened enough times that I don’t care,” she stated. I asked, “What’s happened enough times?” I didn’t understand where was this coming from? She replied, “You inviting yourself into everything.” I was in shock. “Who says that?” I said beginning to get defensive. Then she said, “Ask anyone. You do it all the time. I just asked Brooklyn, Pedro, and Grade, Bryce, Michael, Jenn, and Taylor now to name a few.” She named them off like a roll call. I don’t hang out or talk to any of them often enough for them to have a say in this. “What the heck!” I thought. That’s not fair. If they agreed with Ashley, they don’t even know what they’re talking about. How would they know they weren’t there? “They clearly know you enough to know you have that trait. And really if you’re going to go by who you hang out with, I’m not going to have anyone cuz you never hung out with anyone but me,” she sent. “WRONG” I thought. She hit me again, “All the time to both of those you seem to always want to hang out with people that I have just stated hanging out with.” She thought I mooched friends off of her too, she didn’t know the story behind it. Like how I met all the freshman at Olivia’s birthday party a few years back, and some even before that at a camp. She didn’t know. My phone buzzed again on the art table hidden by the soft murmur of the radio. “Seriously you’re being a fag and starting pathetic fights. You completely started this. I never said you couldn’t talk to them, but it fricken annoying when you constantly try to hang out with me and my friends cuz you can’t make your own. Sara, this may be a huge shock to you, but people hate you probably more than they hate me. People hang out with you cuz they feel bad for you.” “That’s not true.” I said; because it’s not. I didn’t cry or panic or do any of the things I thought I would if something like this happened to me. I saw it coming. I sat in the art room, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt like I should cry right? But, no tears would come, and I just felt numb. I looked down at my hand, and they were miraculously still working on my art even though I couldn’t feel them, and I wasn’t there mentally. The room started to spin like I was in a dream. I was getting all these low blows, and I sat and pondered with a blank expression like I was hypnotized, and I felt like a doll. Maybe it was because this was only the last of a series of unfortunate events. I had already been beaten, so this only felt like a tap, and it was the last thing I needed. But, Ashley didn’t know that. I had nothing left in me; I was worn out. The voices and the colors in the halls all blended and slurred together making an echo in the fog. The only thing I could hear was my own heart beat, and the only thing I was aware of was the weight of my phone. Everything happens for a reason, but this cannot be so easily explained. Forgiving is hard to do; it’s actually one of the hardest things you can ever do. Jesus died on the cross for our sins to be forgiven. It has a price. They’re so we can be saved. Forgiving is like a savior, if you think about it, because when we forgive we find ourselves saved from hatred. It is so evil, it’s like a sin, and often times we save ourselves from things we don’t want to become. When I forgave Ashley it strengthened my relationship with God; forming my faith was part of the healing process. If we don’t forgive those who do us wrong in our lives and hold grudges against them and feel hatred towards them we will destroy who we are and what we believe in. Jealousy and hatred are all powerful things and can eat us alive to the point of no return, like a virus we must get rid of. They can control you, and letting them take over our minds only shows a weak soul and confidence. The only cure for this is forgiveness. Harriet Nelson once stated, “When you hold resentment towards another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” It is easier said than done, but if we don’t forgive then what will that make of us? What will we have left to show when our dignity and self respect is demolished? Forgiveness is a funny thing because it warms and calms the heart and soothes and cools the sting. Forgiveness stands above all, letting kindness flow through the body instead of envy, plants power in our hands. Its power you can go to great wonders with. A way to help us forgive is to drop any resentment on a person. We must focus on the good qualities he or she possesses. If a person doesn’t accept the forgiveness we are offering it doesn’t matter because it isn’t about them. It’s about what we’re are going through and getting over an unfortunate event. It’s making it over a hill that seems huge and impossible at the time, but in the long run is just a bump in the road. Forgiveness is something we all have to acquire in our lives at some point because we all get hurt; it’s part of life. The hard times you have to be grateful for because it will make you stronger in the end. Through this all that is what I’ve learned. This experience has been painful for me, but yet I’m grateful because it made me a stronger person. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen fast, but if I came out of this alive I can overcome anything I desire. I saved those text messages for something I didn’t know at the time and now I do; for this. I think this is the final step in my healing process, and I’m deleting the texts now as I type. Delete. Delete. Bing. Delete. They are only now a distant memory, and one I never will forget. A painful reminiscence I might wince at when I recall, but I look back at it as something that helped build me into the person I am today. Everyone thinks forgiveness is about the other person, but look deeper and you’ll find it’s about ourselves. Sometimes it’s not someone else who has done something to hurt us but ourselves as well. It’s not only important to forgive others, but we must forgive ourselves for past mistakes. When we let go of the negative feeling we hold against ourselves, it frees us from our past and often we find it was holding us back. If we really think about who we are or what we want to be, we become bigger than the problems we’ve created, and we can be more than the choices we’ve made. As for me and Ash, the memory is not finished. History is still being written; we are only at a pause in time, but I forgive her.

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Things Have To Get Worse Before They Get Better Shannon M. Gonzales

“This for all you girls about 13 High school can be so rough Can be so mean Hold onto, onto your innocents Stand your ground When everybody givin' in … This one's for the girls Who've ever had a broken heart Who've wished upon a shooting star Your beautiful the way you are This one's for the girls Who loved without holdin’ back Who dreamed with everything they had All around the world This one's for the girls (This one's for all the girls)” “This One’s For the Girls” by Martina McBride My life has been a living hell since my seventh grade year. Ever since then, things seem to take a turn for the worse. From 9 March 2008, when my Grandma Ida died, to the incident of my father walking out on my step-mum and me during the summer of 2010; things are just not right anymore. They say everything has a starting point; well, everything, for me, started on the day I found out about my Grandma Ida’s death… I had just been dropped off by my father at my mum’s house in his dark blue Malibu, Darkfall. I enter through the side door and headed down into the freezing basement, where my Grandma Gail and my Grandpa Russell are staying. They’ve been babysitting my elder sister, Shawn, and I while my mum and step-dad, Michael, were on vacation in Mexico with Michael’s three brothers, Carl, Rich and Josh, and his mum and step-dad, Stan. I walk into the spare room, which was where they were staying; all is silent except for the TV. My Grandma had a dark and gloomy look on her face as she looks up at me. I knew, instantly, that there was something wrong and whatever it was, I wasn’t going to like it. “What’s wrong, Gran?” I ask her, already regretting my question. “You know how your momma and Michael are in Mexico with Grandma Ida and the family?” she asks me hesitantly. “Of course, Gran,” I reply. “They wanted Grandma Ida to spend time with the family before she died,” I stare her dead in her eyes; they are full of fear and remorse. “Gran, what is going on? You’re starting to scare me.” “Grandma Ida passed away this morning...” she replies in a barely auditable whisper. I stand there, glassy eyes and stunned. ‘Did she really just… No, it’s not possible,’ I think to myself. ‘She can’t have died, just can’t have…’ “She passed away in her sleep; Grandpa Stan found her and told the boys.” she explains. I can tell that she didn’t want to be the one to pass on this news to me. You see, I may not have known my Grandma Ida for a long time, but sometimes it felt like I knew her my entire life. That night, I barely slept; all I think about is what the boys did when they heard the news. I was mostly worried about Uncle Josh, the youngest of her sons. He was, at the time, living with Ida and Stan because of his accident. I cry myself to sleep that night, thinking to myself, ‘Why did she have to die now? Couldn’t God have given her just a little bit more time here on Earth before He called her up? Why did He do this to my family and me now, of all the time in the world, why did He choose now to take her from us?’ The next day rolls around and I don’t know what to think, let alone what to do. I go through the day talking to no one. My friends got really worried and sit me down at lunch, asking me repeatedly what was wrong. “I don’t wanna talk about it.” I tell the girls, laying my head in my arms, face down. This was one of those times in my life where I didn’t like talking to people about what was going on in my family; I always just kept it to myself then. “Shannon, we know there is something wrong, we can all see it,” I pick my head up. My friend Lizzy looks over at Sammy and the rest of the girls to confirm. “What’s wrong, honey? We wanna help.” “There’s nothing you can do to help, so just stop.” I tell her, starting to get a little annoyed. I understand that she and the others are all worried but there’s nothing they can do to bring my Grandma Ida back. “You don’t know that; just tell us what’s wrong,” Sammy presses on. Now being extremely ticked, I scream at them, “My Grandma Ida just died yesterday morning! If you can somehow bring her back to life, then do it!” Everyone in the lunch room gets dead quiet, but I don’t stop there. “You can’t help me, the only way to help is to bring her back and last time I checked, none of you are able to bring the dead back to life! You just don’t seem to understand; she died while she was on vacation with her darn kids and her husband! Just leave me 54


the alone!” Tears stream down my face as I bolt out of the lunch room, all eyes on me as I go. I run into the bathroom and sat there till the end of lunch. Sammy and Lizzy, however, walk in a few minutes later. “I thought I told you guys to leave me alone!” I spit at them, crying harder now. “We’re so sorry, Shannon. We had no cl-” Sammy starts, but I cut her off. “Well, no duh, you didn’t have a single, stupid clue! You guys didn’t know because you didn’t need to know. It’s my family’s business, nothing you have to worry about.” I bark, hiding my puffy red, tear-stained face from them so they can’t see me. “Oh, honey, we are so sorry.” Lizzy says as she kneels down in front of me. “Come here, Shan, things’ll turn out alright, you’ll see,” she says as she and Sammy sit down next to me, one on either side, hooking one of their hands in mine and placing their arms around my shoulders. I sit and cry harder than before, so hard that it hurts. They sit there and whisper calming words into my ears trying to get me to calm down. Soon the bell rings, lunch ended, and it’s time to get back to class. That was the first time anyone had told me that, basically, things have to get worse before they get better. They did get better… For a time being, but it didn’t last forever…

“It's like one step forward and two steps back No matter what I do you're always mad And I, I can't change your mind I know it's like trying to turn around on a one way street I can't give you what you want And it's killing me And I, I'm starting to see Maybe we're not meant to be” “Not Meant to Be” by Theory of a Deadman

The day was 26 August 2009, a few days before school started. I woke up and walked into the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. “Megan,” I call through the house. “It’s time to get your lazy butt out of bed!” She grumbles in response. Somehow, even though we are on opposite ends of the house, I can still hear her. “Megan, I won’t say it again, get your butt up, or I’m coming in with a bottle of ice cold water.” At that, she’s up in an instant. She may not want to get up, but then again, she doesn’t want to sleep in a wet bed. “Morning, Princess,” I say sarcastically. “Sleep well?” “Eh…” is her response. “Well, suck it up, Meg. We’re going into Menasha today, so eat up and get dressed.” I tell her as I finish cooking up breakfast: eggs and toast. Twenty minutes later, Megan and I finish eating and are on our way to Menasha, and since we live in Neenah by the police station, we have to bike everywhere if we wanna go somewhere during the summer. “Meg!” I yell over the roar of the wind. “Did you leave Dad and Tami a note telling them where we’re going?” “Yeah, I told them we’re going to Fritze Park, over by the school!” she yells back. About forty-five minutes later, we’re picking up our friend, Sarah, and are on our way to the park. Sarah is a grade younger than me, like Megan, and is a lot like me; same hard to manage hair, same color eyes, short attention span, major anger problems, and just an all around lovable person. “Hey, Meg, can I borrow your cell a minute?” I ask my sister as we cross the empty street to the park. “Why?” she asks. What a dumb question! “So I can play a game on it,” I say sarcastically. “No, so I can call someone, dumies! Jeez, you make blondes look dumb!” She hands me her phone, and I walk a ways away from them and dial my number. “Hello?” a voice on the other end of the line asks. “Hi, is Jared there?” I ask politely. Jared is my current boyfriend. “Yeah, just a sec,” Shawn, Jared’s dad says. “Jared!” He pauses. “Phone for you.” “Thanks,” Jared replies to his dad. “Hello?” “Hey, Jared,” I say. “What’s up?” “Hey,” he replies. “Not much, playing video games.” I sigh. “You’re always playing video games.” “Yeah, I know,” he answers like any other time I say that. “I was wondering, you wanna put the video games down for a bit and hang out with my sister, Sarah and I at the park today?” I ask him. “Ummm… Not sure,” he pulls the phone away from his mouth. “Hey Dad,” a pause. “Is it alright if I can go to the park?” another pause. “Umm, Shannon’s there with her sister and her friend.” one more pause. “Okay, thanks. Yeah, I can,” he tells me. “Sweet, were over by the swings behind the hill,” I tell him. “Alright,” “How long will it take you to get here?” I ask him. “A few minutes at most,” he tells me. “Alright, you already know where we are.” “Yep.” “‘Kay, see you then.” “Yep.” “I love you,” I tell him. “Love you too,” he says before we hang up. 55


It’s almost four o’clock and Jared is a no show, I had called him at like noon, if I’m correct. I ask Megan if I can use her cell again, and I call him up once more like before. “Hello?” Jared answers “You coming to hang with us or no?” I ask, feeling a little hurt that he hadn’t shown up. “I went to the park and you guys weren’t there,” he answers me. “Umm, yeah we were; we’ve been on the swings the whole time… you didn’t even leave, did you?” I ask him hesitantly. “No, I didn’t… You know, this isn’t going to work…” he tells me with a mix of hesitance and urgency in his voice. “What are you talking about, Jared? I don’t understand,” I question him. “What I mean is us; we’re not working out…”

“It's never enough to say I love you No, it's never enough to say I try It's hard to believe That's there’s no way out for you and me And it seems to be the story of our lives” “Not Meant to Be” by Theory of a Deadman “Are-are you breaking up with me?” I ask, not believing that that is exactly what he is implying. “Yeah…” he answers simply. Then we both fall silent for a few minutes. After a while of silence, I pipe up. “Give… me…” I start, fighting off tears. I don’t want him to have to hear me break down, not now. “One… good reason… of why you a- why your… breaking up… with me…” I try and keep myself calm but it’s hard, I had to fight myself mentally to make sure I didn’t break down then and there. He stays silent for a while then replies with, “I just don’t want a girlfriend anymore… I mean, we never get to see each other, we never hang out, all we do is talk on the phone.” “Jared, I’ve been coming into Menasha from Neenah, mind you, for the past three weeks just so I can see you… I’ve been going through a lot lately, Jared, you know that. Trying to deal with Grandma Ida’s death last year was hard and now you’re putting this on my shoulders, what did I do to make you do this?” I ask, almost scream at him. “You didn’t do anything to influence my decision, this is my own entire mind thinking, nothing you did pushed me to it,” he told me. He gave me the whole ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ line basically. As any girl knows, that hurts more than anything, because you know that they’re lying, you know that it’s your fault, they just don’t want you to feel guilty about it. “So, what now?” I ask him. “I guess this is good-bye…” he says hesitantly. “I guess I’ll see you at freshmen orientation then?” I say, stalling for more time, not wanting to say good-bye just yet. “Yeah, I guess you will…” he tells me. “So, I guess this is good-bye?” I ask, a single tear falling from my eye. “Yeah… Good-bye, Shannon…” “Good-bye, Jared…” I say, I hear him hang up and to the dead air, I say one last time, “I love you, Jared… so much…” Then I hang up myself. Being who I am, I resorted to music to calm my nerves. The first and only song that came to my mind at the time was “ Not Meant To Be” by Theory of a Deadman. Thankfully, my sister had it saved on her memory card. I found my ear buds, plugged them in, and lay down in the grass, and cried. What felt like never ending hours was only a matter of minutes. It took a while but, eventually Megan and Sarah saw me just laying there and came to my side. “Shannon…?” Sarah said timidly. “Are you alright?” “No, I’m not,” I say with a mix of anger and sorrow. “What happened?” Sarah asks. “Jared just broke up with me…” I cry harder, knowing that saying it means that it’s true; and that just cut through me. Like before, Sarah told me that things have to get worse before they get better. Well, that’s twice in my life that I’ve been told that and it just got worse from there…

“Father's a name you haven't earned yet You're just a child with a temper Haven't you heard "Don't hit a lady"? Kickin' you’re a** would be a pleasure” “Never Again” by Nickelback

This took place in the summer of 2010, so just last year. My friend, Lizzy, was sleeping over and we fell asleep on my dad’s couch watching TV. I had fallen asleep in between her legs, so I was semi lying on top of her. I thought nothing of it; my parents, on the other hand, had a fit when we woke up. They yelled at us for sleeping on the couch, for leaving the lamp and TV on all night. As most teens, we really could’ve cared less. “Come on, Liz,” I say. “Let’s head back to my room, at least there we won’t be bothered.” We walk down the long hallway that leads to my room; walked in and closed the door. “They seemed happy, didn’t they?” I say sarcastically to Liz. 56


“Yeah, totally,” Liz says, with a laugh. We, then, both burst out laughing. “Ha-ha! Hey, what time did you say you have to be home at again?” I ask, trying, but failing, to control my laughter. “Connie says I gotta be home at four o’clock,” she says, finally controlling her laughter. “Should we pack your things now or should we wait?” I ask her. “Nah, we’ll just wait till later to do that. Now, let’s just have fun with the time we have left together.” “Sweet!” Later that day around fifteen-hundred thirty (three-thirty p.m.), Lizzy and I start packing her things. We’re done with that within a matter of minutes. We walk out of my room, down the hall way and into the living room. “Dad,” I say. “She’s gotta be home at four o’clock.” This was before I started using military time. “We gotta go.” “Just hold on, I wanna cut my hair first,” he says, a little too happily for my liking. “Dad, you can do that when we get home, let’s go,” I say, getting a little aggravated. “No, no, I wanna do it now,” he says like he’s five. “Fine, but hurry it up,” I roll my eyes. At that point in time, I feel like I was the adult and he was the child. He didn’t want to leave when we had to leave, he just had to cut his hair at that moment, like he was gonna die if he didn’t. Because he was drunk, he had us cut a foot off his hair. In knowing my father for fifteen years, I knew that if he was sober, he would have never cut that much off. After his stupid hair was cut, we all (Tami, Lizzy, Dad and I) climbed into the Malibu and drove into Menasha to drop Liz off. Now, when my father drives, he barely talks, and when he does, he’s very quiet, like he’s whispering. Not this time, he was talking loudly, and just being all around annoying. I was getting pissed. “Dad!” I yell at him. “Shut up!!” “I don’t have to shut up, you shut up,” he says, taking his eyes off the road. “Great,” I think to myself. “Now he’s basically playing the ‘I’m-not-touching-you’ game with me. How bloody brilliant!” “Dad, shut up! I have a fu- a fricken headache!!” I yell at him from the back seat. I didn’t really have a headache but I was gonna if he didn’t shut up! The rest of the drive is in silence, though he eventually turns the radio on but kept it quiet for me. How courteous of him! We pull up to Lizzy’s house and I walk her to the door, but before she goes in, I grab her arm and say in a low whisper: “Liz, you gotta stay up tonight ‘cause I guarantee that I’m gonna be calling you later- No, don’t ask questions, just stay up for me, okay?” I say, fear clouding my eyes. She nods her head and pulls me in for a hug. “I love you, sister. With all my heart,” I tell her, tears forming in my eyes. “I love you too, sissy. Stay safe and Blessed Be,” she replies. I let her go and head back to the car, knowing that my drunken father is risking our lives so that he could feel no pain. We get home, and I go straight to my room, but before I can even get my door open, Dad slams his keys on the counter top, and thumps on the couch; he’s in a bad mood now. “What the hell is wrong with you?” my step mum, Tami, says to my father from the back door, lighting up a cigarette. “Nothing, nothing is wrong,” my father growls at Tami. “Don’t talk to her like that! She didn’t do anything wrong!” I yell at my father from my bedroom door, coming down the hallway so I don’t have to yell. “You stay out of this, Shannon! You’re not a part of this conversation!” he yells back at me. “Well, she didn’t do anything to deserve getting yelled at!” I say as I walk back down the hall, mumbling to myself, “You low-life jerk think you can yell at my step-mum and get away with it, I don’t think so. You are so lucky I don’t beat the living snot out of you for yelling at her; she didn’t do any-fucking-thing wrong!” As time passed, Tami closed the back door and went into the living room. She and dad started talking. Being who I am, I cracked my door a little and started eavesdropping on their conversation, though I can’t remember what they all said. I do remember when Tami came into my room and brought me into the conversation. I was glad she did too, because I had some things I wanted to tell my father, and I had Tami on my side to back me up this time. Normally, she’s on dad’s side, but this time the tables have turned and us women are in control. “What the hell were you thinking driving Lizzy home drunk, Dad? You could’ve killed us all!” I scream at him from the black love-seat. He’s just sitting there, saying nothing even as I scream and holler at him. “You’re just being a dumb jerk, you act like you could really give crap about this family! We Could Have Died Because Of You, Dad!! But do you care? No, you could care less!!” I scream, tears streaming down my face. It hurts to cry but I let the tears flow, I need to get out this anger I have towards my father. I bet that if he would have had a few drinks more, Tami, Lizzy and I wouldn’t be here today, and neither would he. I scream at him more, for almost an hour, before he cracks, “Stop Yelling At Me!!” he yells. “I Don’t Deserve To Be Yelled At!” “Dad, you almost KILLED us today! How can I be calm about that, huh? You tell me how I can stay calm and NOT yell at you for almost killing your wife, YOU’RE ONLY DAUGHTER! Whom you can’t ever get back if she dies!! And her best friend! Tell me that, You Drunken Bastard!”

“He's drunk again, it's time to fight Same old shit, just on a different night She grabs the gun, she's had enough Tonight she'll find out how f**king Tough is this man Pulls the trigger just as fast as she can Never Again”

57


“Never Again” by Nickelback I was so pissed off at him; I barely remember what happened after that. I had had years of anger built up because of him that I had to let out what I could at that time. What I do remember is him and I yelling back and forth for a long while, saying thing we would have never said if we weren’t in this situation. I remember it was around eighteen-hundred thirty (six-thirty p.m.), my father got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen. At this point in time, I’m getting up and sitting by my step-mum, tears staining both of our faces. “Where are you going?” Tami and I ask my dad as he goes through his work bag. He doesn’t hear us, just keeps muttering to himself, “I don’t need this,” putting his cell phone on the banister. “Or this,” putting his wallet next to his phone. “’Cause no one’s gonna care if I get hit by a car,” he says as he walk out the door. At that moment, Tami and I are already in the basement and bringing up all the liquor, pouring it all down the drain. Ten minutes later, it’s gone. All of it, there was none left in the entire house. Around twenty-one-hundred hours (nine o’clock p.m.), Tami goes and looks for him, not even five minutes after she left, Dad and my Uncle Buzz walk in the door. I call Tami, tell her Dad is home, and she turns around and comes home. But the rest, I cannot remember any of it, it’s all just a blurred memory. After that day, I was always depressed and paranoid when he drank. To this day, I’m still paranoid and depressed; we never do anything together, and I like it that way because I don’t wanna spend time with a drunken bastard who tried to kill my family and friends. But also with him pulling that stunt, I learned to open up more to my friends. I’ve started telling them what was going on at home, and they help me through it. I thank them for that, but I’m always gonna have problems with people drinking. But this time, no one told me things have to get worse before they get better, because that was the worst for me. Even now, almost a year later, I’m still waiting for things to get better, maybe one day they will…

58


Short Stories

59


Meeting You Taylor Lang This is my favorite place, especially at night. The shadows of the stray cats move as they roam the cobblestone streets. The street is covered on both sides by stores that used to be lively, bright, and joyful. Now, boards cover the broken windows and darkness covers every inch of the stores. Only two stores remain: Fred’s Grocery, and Gran’s General Store. I have lived with my Gran for eleven years, ever since my dad died. Gran and Fred have been neighbors forever; they both own their own store and live above them. Ah yes, I love this place. Well, I used to. Now all I see are red and blue lights reflecting off the dark shadows of the run-down stores. A gurney is being rolled to the waiting ambulance, a person covered by an off-white sheet. That person is Gran. Eleven years ago, it was eight o’clock at night. Dad was working late at the office, and I was getting ready for bed. Then, the phone rang. I leaned up against the worn, white painted bathroom door and listened as the babysitter answered it. “Yes, this is the Wright residence, how can I help you?” Sarah said. Then, she stopped talking. She didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, the silence was broken and I heard the phone click back into place on its base. I wandered down the stairs and walked into the kitchen. Sarah, a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed girl was crouched in the corner next to the refrigerator. Her make-up slid down her face like melted ice cream on a plate. Her eyes were swollen from crying, and her hair was twisted around her face. She summoned me with her hand and pulled me into a tight hug. That was when I knew something was wrong. A couple hours later I received the worst news of my whole life. Although that was horrible, now I am stuck in the present and as cliché as it sounds, I have no one to turn to. No cousins, aunts, or uncles. The man in the dark grey suit was talking, but I wasn’t listening. They were all staring at me with that look, the “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” After my dad died that look was all I saw. People knew. Everyone knew, all of my friends, teachers, and neighbors. Right after his funeral I was sent to live with Gran and my life changed radically. Now, it was changing again. I was pulled out of my own little world when the man in the grey suit said one word, Mom. My dad had never talked much about my mom. All I knew is that she was an aspiring actress who got pregnant by accident. Nine months later, she had me and ditched. She never even came home from the hospital. She was released and left for L.A. immediately. Of all the topics in the world, I never wanted to hear or talk about my mother. She had left us. She had left me. But, here she was again, popping up in my life like an unwanted virus that I got every year. “We found your mother; she lives in L.A. You are going to be sent to live there with her,” said the man in the grey suit. “Please tell me you are kidding!” I screamed. “How am I expected to live with someone whom I have never met, not to mention someone who left me right when I was born?” I screamed again. “We understand that this will be hard for you,” said the man in the grey suit. “You will leave tomorrow,” he said. “Pack your bags and say your goodbyes; tomorrow you have a noon flight to L.A.” ****************************************************************************** I have never liked planes. I was on one once when I was ten, when Gran and I went to Disney World for my birthday. That trip was fun because I was with her. Now, I was alone with a man sitting next to me that only watched action movies with Jackie Chan in them. Although, it was kind of entertaining because he would attempt to do the moves with his arms right there in the plane. I am sure that he has seen all of these movies at least twenty times because he has all of the lines memorized. I think he has too much time on his hands. Luckily, I got the window seat, and I wasted time by looking out at everything that we passed over. A couple hours later, green covered every surface I could see. Then, it changed to the tops of mansions and big highways, pools, and perfectly trimmed lawns. “We will be landing at LAX in approximately five minutes, please buckle your seatbelts as we begin out decent into L.A.” said the pilot. “The landing is the worse part,” said the man next to me as he grabbed the white barf bag that was supplied. I turned away making a face and watched as the ground became closer and closer. After I received my luggage, I began to walk toward the entrance. The halls were stuffy, over-crowded and people surrounded me on all sides. The entrance of the airport was filled with people greeting their loved ones, but there was no one there for me. My search took me outside where the bright sun glowed in the sky and made me squint my eyes. A man in a black suit was standing by a limo, holding a sign that said Wright. I walked up to him, and he spoke to me. “Miss Wright?” the man asked. “Yes, that’s me,” I said. “But please call me Amy.” “I am afraid I am not allowed to do that, strict orders” he said. “Strict orders from whom?” I questioned. “From your mother, and please call me Edward,” he said. Thinking about my mother having a butler, made me very confused. Wasn’t my mother an aspiring actress? I thought she never had made a name for herself. The inside of the limo was black as night, a small TV in one corner, and drinking glasses were arranged in a cupboard along the side of the limo. As Edward drove, I wondered where we were going, what my mom was going to be like. ****************************************************************************** An hour later, Edward parked the limo up to the curb on a sunny street, right next to the ocean. I opened the door and looked up at a white house surrounded by beautiful green trees and colorful gardens. Large, rectangular windows covered each side of the house, and a large staircase lead up to the double doors in the center of the house. Large trees and bushes were perfectly arranged 60


around the front lawn. The beach was visible just beyond the house, gleaming in the sunlight. Edward was pulling out my bags when more men came out of the house and carried all of my bags up to the house. I walked up the stairs with Edward following close behind. The door was pulled open for me, and I walked inside. The floors were white and were shining like they had just been waxed. Inside, there was a huge spiral staircase leading upstairs. Everything had its place, and nothing was to be moved. A short, plump lady hurried toward me. “Hello there!” she said. “My name is Martha, I am the housekeeper, and Edward is my husband.” “It’s nice to meet you,” I said. “Um, I’m Amy.” “Oh, we have heard all about you from your mother,” she said. “Really?” I asked. I was mad; my mother hadn’t been around for sixteen years. She knew nothing about me. “You’re here!” a woman yelled! A small, blonde woman had appeared at the top of the stairs. She was wearing a white sweater, with a pink tank top underneath it. She had Capri pants on and pink heels. Her hair was perfectly hung around her face, pearl earrings hung from her ears, and a pearl necklace laid gracefully around her thin neck. I stared at her. She came running up to me and pulled me into a hug. I felt like an animal being choked. I just stood there, my arms hung at my sides and my eyes became huge. When she finally released me, she just stood there and smiled at me. “Let’s go, we’ll show you your room,” she said. I slowly followed her up the stairs to the second floor, then up another set of stairs at the far end of the hallway. “This whole floor is yours,” my mother said. “Take your time and get yourself settled, you will meet the rest of the family tonight at dinner,” she said. What, the rest of the family? A small, metal spiral staircase led up to the third floor. The first room was a sitting room; the sitting room was the size of my old apartment back home. There was a lime green couch, a couple chairs, a floral rug, a TV complete with DVD player and game systems. The next room was a bedroom and there was a bathroom off of that room. The bedroom had a large double bed with end tables, and a huge walk-in closet. The bathroom was like a picture out of a magazine. There were French double-doors in every room and a white deck wrapped around the whole top floor. It was amazing. It was a house that was only seen in movies, and I was going to be living in it. I silently sat on my overly large bed and tried to figure out what to do with myself. This place was amazing. Amazing was the only way to describe it. The house was placed right off a private beach in a neighborhood that was full of houses that looked the same as this one. A pool with aqua blue water sat between the beach and the house. Gardeners and workers were everywhere making sure that the house was in tip-top shape all the time. Trees and flowers covered every space that might seem empty and patio furniture that cost as much as my old apartment was scattered around the back lawn. I decided to unpack my belongings. My clothing filled up about a fourth of the closet, and my pictures were placed here and there. It barely looked like anyone lived here. This was not my life. I wasn’t used to this much, and quite frankly, I would trade it all to have my life with Gran back. But I had to accept that I would never have that life again. Now, I just had to learn how to fit into this life. The next thing on my list was dinner. At exactly 6:29 I headed down the stairs all the way to the ground level. Dinner. I could handle this. I could learn to like my mom’s new family. I could even learn to like my mom. My stomach growled, and I remembered that I hadn’t eaten since before the plane ride. I followed the scent of fresh food and found a long table, set with china and candles. My mother walked in followed by a man, a girl about my age, and a younger boy following close behind. They were all dressed very nicely, in button down shirts and ties, and my mom and the girl in dresses. I glanced down at my ripped jeans, and converse tennis shoes and felt more out of place than ever. “Amy, this is David, my husband, Brittany, his daughter, and Charlie, our son,” my mother said with so much enthusiasm I thought her head was going to explode. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” I stammered, feeling nervous. “And, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” David said back. Brittany walked right past me, and Charlie ran up and gave me a hug without saying one word. “Brittany, say hello,” her father scolded. “Hello,” said Brittany purposely showing her sarcasm. She looked me up and down, stopping for an extra second on my torn jeans, “we ALWAYS dress nicely for dinner on Sunday night,” she said as her ice blue eyes stared into my dark chocolate brown ones. “Oh, ummm I didn’t know,” I stammered. She made a rude snorting sound, turned on her heel and took her place to the left of her father. Luckily, Charlie sat next to her, so I took the open seat next to my mother. The rest of the dinner was filled with conversations, including the details of everyone’s day, shopping, school, David’s business, and Charlie. I just sat there and took it all in, I learned that David produces movies, and my mom is a stay-at-home mom. I also learned that Brittany is in the same grade as me, and that we will both be attending Sierra High School, where we will both be juniors. “Brittany, why don’t you tell Amy about Sierra,” my mother said. “Basically just your typical high school, nothing really special about it,” Brittany scoffed. It seems to me that my whole new life just got a whole lot harder. ****************************************************************************** Beep, beep, beep! I awoke from my deep sleep with a jump. Despite the fact that my bed is huge and probably way overpriced, it is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I turned off my alarm clock and forced myself out of bed. My feet hit the cold, tile floor and walked me to the bathroom. Forty-five minutes later I was walking into the kitchen smelling bagels and French toast. Charlie and I were sitting at the counter when my mom walked in, looking as radiant as ever; I still didn’t like her though. She seemed like the perfect person, perfect mother, and perfect stepmother, perfect everything. But, she definitely was not any of that to me. “Good Morning!” she said cheerfully, kissing Charlie on the head and giving my shoulder a squeeze. “Morning,” I mumbled as Charlie gave her a hug. Then, my mother and Charlie left on the hunt for Charlie’s backpack that he had seemed to lose. As they walked away, the faint sound of high heels became louder and louder, and then I heard a voice.

61


“No way! No way! No, that is not possible. Shut up! Shut up! Ugh, she is so making that up, that never happened. She just wants attention,” Brittany’s voice seemed to carry throughout the entire house, I’m pretty sure the neighbors could hear her. The clickityclank of her shoes echoed throughout the hallways as we walked out to the waiting limo. I checked out what she was wearing. White skirt, pink sweater, pink heels, pearls hanging from her ears, a pink and brown Coach bag was draped across her thin shoulder, and there was not a long blonde hair out of place. “Ugh, you should see what she is wearing, it is atrocious,” Brittany said staring at my t-shirt and jeans. Now, I am starting to get sick of this. “Wow, atrocious, I didn’t know that you even knew that word, I guess your vocabulary is bigger than I thought,” I said staring right back at her. For once, she didn’t know what to say back. She just turned and got into the car with a flourish of her blonde hair. Sierra High School was nothing like I had imagined. The building was huge and white with big stone pillars marking the entrance. Students were scattered all over the stone steps, some reading, some doing homework, but most just socializing. What I noticed the most was how they were dressed. Sweaters were everywhere. I had never seen so many sweater vests in one place, and yet none of them looked odd. They just looked preppy. As soon as Brittany stepped out of the car, two girls dressed very similarly to her took place on both her sides. “Is that her?” the one on the right said. “Wow, you were right,” the one on the left said. Brittany just laughed and began to walk up the stairs. “Hey Brittany, hi Brittany, what’s up Brittany?” everyone she passed said something to her, but she just kept going. Saying things only to the people that she thought deserved it. “Hey, you new here?” a voice startled me. I turned to see a girl with wild, curly red hair, freckles, and funky glasses staring at me. “Um, yeah…how did you know?” I asked “Everyone knows everyone here,” she said. “I’m Riley.” “Amy,” I said as I introduced myself back to her. “So, what’s up with Brittany? It seems like everyone worships her.” I said. “Basically, Brittany rules this place, and trust me, she knows it,” Riley said. “I could tell,” I said. “So, find your locker yet?” she questioned. “No, I haven’t even walked up the stairs yet,” I said. We laughed and began to walk to the entrance. Riley helped me find and open my locker, then took me to my first class. “We have second hour together, so I’ll see you there,” she said as she left. “Try not to get lost!” She yelled down the hallway, which made everyone turn around and look at me. My face turned bright red, and I could hear Riley laughing all the way down the hallway. I grinned and looked down to study my schedule. I began to walk into my first hour, still looking at my schedule, when I rammed right into the person in front of me. “Whoa, better watch where you’re going,” a deep voice said. I looked up and found myself staring at the most good-looking boy I had ever seen. His brown eyes stared at me with a questioning look in them. His short, curly brown hair was tousled just enough to make it look like it had been done professionally, his dimples looked like they appeared even when he frowned, and he had a crooked grin that showed off some of his perfectly white teeth. Of course, I couldn’t say anything. I just stood there. The last bell rang as people rushed to get around me and into class. The teacher walked over to me. “You must be Amy, I am Mrs. James. Please take any open seat.” The only seat I saw was in the far back corner, which I wasn’t complaining about at all. I took my seat and turned toward the front and caught the boy that I ran into looking over his shoulder at me. When he saw me, he flashed me that sideways grin and turned back around. The bell to end first hour ended, and I bolted for the door, only to find myself standing face to face with him again. “Seriously, you have got to watch where you are going,” he said with a laugh. “You are going to really crash into me one of these days. First day huh?” “Yeah, how did you know that?” I asked. “Everyone knows everyone here,” he said, and I laughed. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before,” I said as I slid past him into the hallway. “So, where are you from,” he questioned. “Ummmm…” I said, distracted because I was searching the hallway for Riley. I turned to find him staring at me again. “I don’t know,” I said. “Sorry, I have to go,” I said after I had spotted Riley smiling at me and waving. “Okay,” he said and smiled that lopsided grin at me again. “HEY! What’s your name?” he yelled after me down the hallway. “AMY,” I yelled back. When I walked up to Riley she had a weird look on her face. “What. Are. You. Doing?” she said, shifting her eyes toward the boy. “Just trying to get to second period,” I said as I stared at her. “What’s with the face?” I asked her. “You were just taking to Nate Collins,” she said as if I just had to know this fact. “Nate Collins?” I said. “Yeah, he’s only the most good-looking guy in this school, every girl has a crush on him,” she said. “He’s also the only guy your stepsister has never dated. Not for lack of trying that is.” “Whoa, he has never dated Brittany? There must be something good about him then!” I said with lots of enthusiasm, and Riley laughed. “Yeah, yeah you just watch yourself, all the girls he dates end up heartbroken and crying in their bedrooms for weeks,” she said, staring her bright blue eyes into mine. “Date? You have lost your mind, a guy like that would never date me,” I said.

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“You never know,” she said just as the second bell rang. Throughout all of second hour that was all I could think about. Nate

Collins dating me, hah. That will never happen.

****************************************************************************** Three Weeks Later I think I am finally starting to get the hang of this life. On school days I get up, get ready, and I am out the door by seven o’clock with Brittany following me, blabbing into her phone, her heels clicking as she takes each step. Then I spend my whole day with Riley, gossiping and laughing, I have a best friend again, and it feels great. I also spend my day trying to avoid Nate Collins, because apparently Brittany’s little spies told her that I like him or something, which is making her hate me more. Even though I slip into first hour right when the bell rings and avoid him in the hallway, he always seems to find me. Today, he found me again. I was stretching outside, getting ready for track try-outs, when he popped up next to me. “Hey there,” he said, letting that adorable grin cover his face. “Hi,” I said, trying to make our conversation short. “I didn’t know you ran track,” he said, turning to face me. “Hurdles,” I said, again trying to keep it short. “I won state last year.” Oh now I’d done it, I’ll never hear the end of this. “State, wow impressive,” he said. “And, in what state?” he asked. “Ohio,” I said. “Hah, you finally answered the first question I ever asked you,” he said with a smirk. He winked at me and jogged away to the boy’s team that was on the other side of the field. I stared after him, a confused look on my face. He remembered a question he asked me three weeks ago? Weird. Riley looked at me and smiled from her spot on the sidelines. I made a face at her and looked away. I will never

date him. I will never date him. Family first. Fix things with Brittany. I will never date him. Never.

****************************************************************************** Two Months Later This is it. My moment. It’s my time to shine. I stare down at the gold line, listening to my even breath. I can see my competitors bouncing up and down, preparing, in my peripheral vision. It is silent. 5, 4, 3, 2, BAM, the gun goes off , and I am running in a swarm of other girls trying to beat me. I push myself until I see the first barricade, and then I jump. Then I run and jump. Run and jump. Run and jump. Three more. Run and jump. Run and jump. Run and jump. The crowd’s cheer breaks the silence in my mind. I look back, a huge smile on my face as my family stands there cheering for me. First place was mine. “So, you going to agree to go out with me now?” I turned around to see Nate standing next to me in his track uniform. “No,” I said and began to walk away. “Come on, just once, to celebrate your victory,” He said his dimples showing more than ever. “How many time are you going to ask me out?” I said with a huge smile on my face. “Until you say yes,” he said as if it was totally obvious. A big smile covered his face and he held his eyes on mine. “Come on, it will be fun.” “Okay, just once,” I said. After he left Riley came running up to me. “What did he say?” She asked as she quickly pushed me toward the girl’s locker room. “We’re going out on a date…” I began but Riley cut me off. “WHAT? I told you that was a bad idea. I don’t want you to get hurt like all the other girls,” she yelled after me. “I’ll be fine,” I told her as I disappeared into the locker room, a victorious smile covering my face. ****************************************************************************** Saturday It was six o’clock, and I was in my room staring at my closet, which had greatly expanded in the last couple months, trying to find something to wear on my date. I was just about to try on a third shirt when there was a small knock coming from the sitting room. I turned the corner to see Brittany standing there, looking apologetic, which was not her at all. “Look, I am really sorry for the way I have been treating you ever since you moved here, I think I just became very jealous of how much mom wanted to bond with you. I thought she was going to forget about me,” Brittany said as she stared at the ground. “Hey, don’t worry about it, I wasn’t always nice either,” I said looking her in the eyes. “So…are we okay then?” she asked. “I’ve always wanted a sister.” “Yeah, were okay,” I said , and I smiled at her. “And, I’ve always wanted a sister too.” “So, do you know what you are going to wear? Do you need some help?” She asked. “Help would be great,” I said, smiling. At exactly seven o’clock, Nate arrived. He was wearing dark jeans, a button down shirt and a sweater. His hair was as perfect as ever, and his smile was bigger than I have ever seen it. He glanced at me while he talked to my family and played with Charlie. Then we left. Here we go, my life has finally begun.

63


He took me to a cute little Italian restaurant, and afterward we took a walk on the beach. He grasped my hand and held it tight, like he never wanted to let go. “Do you know why I like you?” he asked me. “No, why do you like me?” I asked back. “Because you are different, you are not like the other girls at my school,” he said. “Actually, if you get to know some people other than your group of friends, you would see that there are people just like me all around our school,” I said. “No. There is no one else like you,” he held my gaze for what seemed like centuries, and then he kissed me. It was like a kiss from a movie. One of his hands was on the back of my neck holding me close to him. I felt like I was on fire. I had never felt this way about another guy before throughout my whole life. I could feel the cool sand beneath my toes, and the water rushing over my feet. I never wanted to leave this place; I could stay here forever. ****************************************************************************** A Couple Weeks Later I absolutely loved my new life. My mother and I were starting to get along, Brittany and I never fought, and oh yeah, I had the hottest boyfriend in the entire school. When we walked down the hallway hand-in-hand all the girls stared at us, they were all very jealous. Prom was in one week, and we already had it planned out. Nate and I were going with Brittany and her date. It was going to be an amazing night. It was amazing. We took pictures on the beach and went out to a big fancy restaurant to eat dinner. Nate had bought me a necklace; everything was perfect. At the dance we slow danced, and he whispered in my ear. “Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. It was the perfect night, or so I thought. About an hour later I was searching for Nate. I had gone to the bathroom and when I came out he was gone. “Riley! Have you seen Nate?” I asked her. “No, I’ll help you look for him,” she said. We walked all around the dance floor and in the common area. No Nate. “Maybe he went outside,” said Riley. We walked outside where there was a gazebo decorated with beautiful twinkle lights. We were admiring the lights when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. A beautiful, thin, blonde girl was making out with a boy to the side of the gazebo. Get a room; I don’t need to see the PDA. Then I heard Riley gasp , and the boy and girl split apart. I locked eyes with the boy and instantly felt tears fill my eyes, and I ran. I had never been so humiliated in my life as I was that night, bolting from the room as fast as I could. ****************************************************************************** I was one of them. The girl I said I would never be. The one who stayed in bed for hours and watched movies and ate more food than I ever thought I would. Brittany brought me food, watched movies with me and brought me my homework. Riley came over too, helping me get out of my funk by making me play board games. Then one morning Brittany came into my room with my Saturday breakfast. “It’s been a week, you are done sulking,” she said to me as I just stared at her. “He’s just a boy, a boy that made a big mistake.” I looked at her. “Come downstairs when you are ready,” she said on her way out. On the tray there was a white envelope with my name on it. I opened it up. Dear Amy, I understand that you are angry with me and why you are not returning any of my calls. I get it. I would be furious too. But you have to understand that what you saw was not what you think. That was my old girlfriend Tiffany. She used to go to school at Sierra but then transferred. She just showed up at prom, and I tried to get rid of her. I know that this sounds stupid but it’s true, she kissed me and I will admit that I kissed her back. I am sorry, truly for what I have done to you. Of all people you never deserved to be treated that way. I wanted to let you know that my dad is planning to open up a new chain of stores in Europe so I will be moving there next week. I am so sorry for all of the pain I have caused you, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Sincerely, Nate P.S. Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to me. P.S.S. I love you. ****************************************************************************** One Year Later Standing up here made me feel like the queen of the world. I felt like everyone was looking at me and that everyone envied me. As I scanned the crowd I saw my mom and David cheering and telling all the people surrounding them that I was their daughter. Brittany stood at the sidelines, showing off her new hobby while she held her brand new digital SLR camera in her hand. Next to her Charlie stood with a hand-made sign with my name on it. Everything was perfect. Winning state again was the thing I needed to make my life complete , and it had happened. After the final awards were given I walked out into the parking lot and leaning up against a green Jeep was a boy. He had perfect brown hair; eyes that made my heart melt, and a crooked grin that can’t be ignored. 64


“Congratulations,” he said to me. “You deserve it.” “You’re here,” I said keeping my eyes locked on his. “Look…” he began. But I wasn’t listening. Instead, I ran up to him, wrapped my arms around his neck. “Meeting you was the best thing that ever happened…” but before I could finish, his lips were on mine, and we were back in time. Back to the night when he first kissed me and told me that I was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and I knew that it would stay this way forever. Our Beginning Michelle Barden June, 2010 The whistle blows and I plunge into the icy water. 15, I fill my lungs with fresh air and hold it. I peer down at the blue and white square tiles, hoping I’ll win. 14, I hear the roar of the crowd. Rooting on their loved ones. Their cries and cheers echo in this humid, vanilla Aquatic Facility. Is he cheering for me? I cannot hear his deep husky voice in my water filled ears. 13, almost there. I lift my head up from the water to inhale a new breath. While I look up for a brief second, the sun from the big window blinds my Hershey eyes. 12, I’m back to the tiles now, and I push my arms and legs to go as fast as they can. 11, my arms and legs are getting heavy like boulders. 10, I flip, and my feet catch the wall, and I start to soar like an eagle. I take in a new breath. 9, so close. The girl next to me is soaring like me. 8, getting closer to the tiled end. 7, I can now hear him. My heart races faster. 6, as I take in the final breath and listen to his voice, I think back on everything that happened over the past few months. 5, you made the right decision. I’ve been telling myself this over and over again. 4, I can feel the adrenaline run through my veins as I race to the finish line. 3, I’m inches away from victory. 2, I reach my hand out. 1, I touch the tiled wall. First place, baby! I lift myself out of the pool, breathless. He approaches me with a grin that always makes my heart skip a beat. He pulls me closer to him and lifts my chin up. “Congratulations, Chloe. I’m so proud of you. I love you,” he said. Then he gently kisses me on the lips. As our lips touch, everything came back so clearly. ****************************************************************************** September, 2009 As I stood outside the hundred year old brick building, I felt some familiar emotions starting to resurface; dread, misery, and hatred. Those were the same exact emotions that I had felt since my first year in Menasha High. Two years later those emotions hadn’t subsided one bit. As I dragged my feet towards the prison, I groaned on the inside. Just get it over with. Strolling down those familiar tan hallways, I passed friends, enemies, and unknown faces. Finally I passed my best friend in the whole world. “Allison Johnson!” I yelled in a high, squeaky voice that only a mouse should have. “Chloe Wilson!” she yelled back, matching the squeakiness of my voice exactly. We ran to each other and hugged as if we hadn’t seen each other all summer, when we actually just hung out the day before. “I love that shirt! It’s so cute!” Allison complimented. I looked down at the black and white striped shirt that I was wearing and thanked her. She had been like that since the sixth grade. Complimenting everyone and everything they wear. I looked at the big clock, I had fifteen minutes to get to my locker and get to first hour study hall. “Where’s your locker?” she asked realized that we didn’t have much time to just talk. I smile an apologetic smiled at her for interrupting her enthusiasm. But she just smiled back, she knew that I had always been like that; always paranoid that I would be late for everything. “1022, the second floor,” I said. “1018! Our lockers are right by each other again!” she said with excitement and surprise. I wasn’t that surprised to be honest. Our lockers had been by each other since the sixth grade. The first time I saw her chocolate brown hair and her Hershey kiss bug eyes I fell for the friendliness of her personality, and we have been best friends ever since. After she was done freaking out, we went to our lockers. I was just about to leave my locker when a hand caught my waist; my heart started racing. “Hey, beautiful,” he said in a soft whisper. “Well,” I said sarcastically “I hope this would be my boyfriend Brandon and not some creeper.” Brandon and I had been together for a year and a half, but before that we were the best of friends. I had always had a thing for him, but I never thought that he felt the same way about me. However, in sophomore year he had asked me to the homecoming dance, and I accepted. We had gone with Allison and her date from another school. While we were at the dance he asked me if I wanted to slow dance with him, and I said yes. I couldn’t believe that he had asked me While we were slow dancing he looked down at me and told me that I looked beautiful and that he couldn’t picture his life without me. I said the same thing to him while I looked into his eyes through that dim light. He then bent his head down and kissed me softly on the cheek. That was the beginning. “Well would a creeper do this?” All of a sudden he whipped me around and crushed his lips against mine, bringing me fully back to the present. It took my breath away and made my heart skip a beat. It always did that when he kissed me, everyday for the past year and a half. His lips then pulled away from mine, and I gazed into his green eyes. While I ran my fingers through his coffee brown hair all that went through my mind was, How did I get this lucky? “I would hope not. Otherwise I would be running to the office to report you right now,” I said while laughing. 65 “How’s your day going so far?” he asked all of a sudden changing the subject.


“Well, it was good before, but now I think I’m having fun,” I said while he was bent his head down to peck my forehead. “And yours?” I asked with a smile. Then I heard a gasp behind me. I turned to see Allison gaping at me. “What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned, “So before you weren’t having fun? It seemed as though you were,” she said teasingly. My concern went away as soon as it had came. “Allison, I always have fun when I am with you. But you don’t kiss me so I don’t have the highest amount of fun,” I said with a chuckle. “Well I wouldn’t mind that,” Brandon volunteered. “I wouldn’t hold your breath for that one, dude,” Allison said to Brandon. “Well Chloe, I’ll see you in fourth hour,” she said while walking away waving. Just then the warning bell rang, and I quickly kissed Brandon and darted to Study Hall, a little dizzy. ****************************************************************************** The last bell of the day finally rang. I hopped out of my Spanish seat and all but skipped out of the door. Brandon was waiting right outside room 127A. “Well, isn’t someone just chippie today,” Brandon said as he walked me to my locker. “It’s the end of the day,” I said with a smile. Allison just got to her locker when Brandon and I did. “Hey Allie!” I said while I entered my combination. She looked at me with a shocked expression. “Why are you so happy?” she asked. I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s the end of the day, and I am going swimming later tonight,” I said with a huge smile. “You would get…” she started but was cut off in min-sentence. “What?” Brandon asked in a shocked tone. I just stared at him, confused. “What?” I asked. He just stared at me like I betrayed him. Allison just stared at both of us; just as confused as I was. “Why the heck are you going swimming? I was going to ask you to hang out with me and the guys,” he explained but his tone definitely sounded angry. “I’m pretty sure that she’d rather go swimming than hang out with you and your dumb guy friends,” Allison said. I just turned and looked at her with my mouth hung wide open. Brandon stared at her too; not in shock but in anger. He started to shake. “I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t talking to you. But I am sure you’d love to come, wouldn’t you? A whole bunch of football guys will be there. That is like a dream for you, huh,” he said with a smug smile. That was over the line. “And I’m pretty sure that you shouldn’t talk to my best friend like that. Come on, Allison, let’s go,” I said as we started to walk away but Brandon grabbed my arm. “Hey, I’m not done yet!” he shouted. “Well I am!” I started to walk away again but he caught my arm again. “What do you want?” I shouted at him. “To talk,” was all he said. I looked at his forest green eyes and couldn’t say no. I turned to Allison and just sighed. She rolled her eyes at us. “Right. You do know that this is getting old,” she said as she walked away. I turned back to Brandon and sighed. “You know she’s right, right?” I said honestly. “I know baby,” he said as he took one step towards me; I took one step back, away from him. I couldn’t look at him. I knew that it would just make me feel bad when I had nothing to feel bad for. “Is that how it’s going to be? All because of your lame swimming?” he said, the anger had returned in him and in me. “My swimming is not lame!” I began while the anger boiled up with every word. “Why can‘t you just support me in what I love to do?” I could feel the tears coming. “I support you in football even though I think it’s stupid.” The tears started to roll down my flushed cheeks. “Why can’t you do the same for me?!” I was so infuriated; Brandon was too. He hated it when I yelled at him, no matter the circumstances. “Well I’m actually going to get somewhere with my football. Where will your swimming get you?” he asked, the same smug smile that he had before had come back again. I stared at him in disbelief. “See yah,” he said as he walked away. I couldn’t say or do anything. I just stood there, while the tears poured out of my eyes. I didn’t know how long I stood there but after a while I heard footsteps in the hallway. I didn’t want to turn around to see who it was. Whoever it was stopped right behind me. I felt a hand on my shoulder and a sigh. I turned around and found myself staring into a huge set of brown eyes. “What happened?” Allison asked with complete concern. “Brandon and….” I started to say but I couldn’t finish. Allison pulled me into a hug and started to soothe me. “You don’t deserve this Chloe,” she whispered. “You deserve to have a good guy who treats you good and supports you in what you do. And doesn’t say hurtful things to you,” she said. I cried even harder because I knew it was true. “And a guy who treats your friends like angels because that could make or break a relationship,” she said with a chuckle. I couldn’t help but laugh. She pulled me out of the hug and wiped the leftover tears away. “I’m sorry he said that to you,” I said to her through my stuffy nose. “Oh, it’s okay honey. It’s not your fault he’s a jerk,” she said. “Anyway, let’s go to your house for a bit before you go swimming,” “I don’t think I’m going to go anymore,” I confessed. “Yes you are!” she said in a sarcastically demanding voice. I laughed with her. This is why I loved her. “Come on, Chloe,” she said as she grabbed my arm and we started to stroll down the hallway, leaving all bad memories of the past half hour behind us.

66


****************************************************************************** While driving down London Street with all four windows of Allison’s dark purple Dodge Neon rolled down, all I could think about was Brandon. Passing the gorgeous red-orange leaves on the giant half naked oak trees, all I could think about was my jerk-of-aboyfriend while I was in this beautiful scenery. Allison could tell that I wasn’t quiet because of the scenery. “Forget about him for a while,” she said to me. I chuckled. “It’s not as easy as that Allie,” I informed her. “Not for me at least,” I whispered. “Why? What is so different about this fight than the one you had two days ago, or last week, or last month?” she asked with a hint of frustration. I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t even know why I let it bother me so much. I sighed and looked at her. “Maybe it’s all getting to me,” I started. “All of it; the fighting, the bickering. Maybe I am just sick of it all,” I said. Allison just stared at me through her big black sunglasses. “Maybe I just want him to change,” I said. She turned back to the road. “Hopefully,” she whispered so low that I didn’t know if she meant for me to hear it. Then we came to a sudden halt and I realized that we were at my house. Allison had already got out of the car and I could tell that she was still upset about our conversation. So when I got out, I ran up to her and jumped on her back to show her that the conversation hadn’t bother me. We ended up falling over in the fresh green grass. We laughed for almost five minutes before we finally got up and strolled inside. Once we were inside, the smell of onions went through my nostrils and made my eyes water; liver and onions tonight. “Well, I know I’m not staying for dinner,” Allison said in a hushed tone. “You know, you would like it if you tried it,” I said with a smile. She just rolled her eyes at me and walked into the kitchen. “I thought I heard you two knuckle heads out there,” my mom said as she chopped and sliced the onions. Allison and I just chuckled. My mom was the mom that everyone loved to be around because she didn’t really care what you did as long as you owned up to your mistakes; which is precisely why she hated Brandon. In my mom’s opinion, I could do better and deserved better, but she put up with him for my sake because she knew that I loved him. “Allison, are you going to be joining us for dinner?” she asked as she marinated the liver. Allison made a disgusted face and answered her. “No thanks ma, I have plans with my mom and dad for dinner,” she smiled an apologetic smile at my mom. My mom, however, knew her better than she thought. “Okay,” Mom said with a sigh, “But you do know that you’ll never know if you like it if you never try it,” she said with a smile. Allison’s face went cherry red as she looked down. “It’s okay, honey,” she said with a chuckle. After Allison’s face went back to normal and I stopped laughing. Mom’s curiosity got the best of her. “So, how was your first day back at school?” she asked while she tossed the salad. I just turned to Allison with a should-I-tell-her look. “Well, I am assuming you and Brandon got into another fight since he has been calling every ten minutes since school let out. In fact,” she looked at her watch, “He should be calling any minute,” she said. I knew my mom on the inside was urging to yell at me, but the only reason she resisted was because Allison was there. So I just stared at my mom’s too familiar dark brown eyes and sighed internally,

why couldn’t she understand?

“Oh,” was all I could say. What would I do when he called again? Would I answer? Would I let it ring? Would I answer then hang up? I looked to Allison for advice, but when I looked at her she shrugged, which gave me the idea that she was on the same boat as my mother. “So? Are you going to tell me?” Mom asked. My mother and I had always had a close relationship; no matter what I did I could always tell her. When I broke my brand new bike because I was going over too many rocks, I told her straight away; that didn’t stop her from getting mad at me, but she said she was glad that I had told her. But stuff about Brandon was always so much more complicated. She didn’t understand us, no one did, which made it hard to talk to anyone about us. But in the end, I told her about Brandon, but I left out the remark Marcus left. I knew that she would agree with him. When I was done Mom just shook her head. “I don’t know how you put up with it,” she said with a concerned tone. I couldn’t meet her eyes. Just when she opened her mouth to add more, the phone rang. I got up so fast to answer it so I wouldn’t have to look into her painfully sad eyes that I forgot who it probably was. I hesitated to even answer the phone, but I knew that I’d have to face it sooner or later. “Hello?” I answered. I heard a sigh of relief through the phone. “Chloe, I am so sorry,” Brandon said. I could hear the desperation in his voice. “God, I am such an idiot. Please, I am so so so sorry.” “Okay?” was all I said. I still couldn’t decide if I should forgive him or not. “What’s wrong?” he asked, confused. “Oh, I don’t know,” I began with an attitude. “My boyfriend was mad at me for no apparent reason, and now he thinks I am going to forgive him so easily,” I said without losing the attitude. “Well, I sort of just assumed,” he began but I cut him off. “Yeah, well, not this time!” I yelled. “I am so sick of being treated like this,” I continued to yell. “Chloe, look I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. I promise. Please forgive me,” he pleaded. I hated it when he pleaded like that. It used to hurt me so much that I would eventually stop being mad at him just because of it. “Brandon,” I began in a whisper with all anger out the window. I then began to feel sad. “Please do not do this to me,” I pleaded. “Let me come over and make it up to you. Please,” he asked. “No Brandon,” I started. “I can’t see you now because then I will forgive you,” I explained. “So? That is what I want,” he said with a chuckle. I couldn’t help but laughed silently. Once I had control of my voice I replied. “I don’t. I always forgive you so easily, and I want it to change. So please just stay away tonight,” I begged. “Too late,” was all he said before he hung up. I was so confused. Then I heard a horn beep outside. I hung up the phone and pulled the blinds back; I couldn’t believe my eyes. 67


Brandon’s 2008 green Saturn Ion was sitting in my driveway. Brandon was smoothly leaning up against it. He glanced up at me and beckoned me with his finger. My heart was racing and I could feel my face going red. “Chloe?” I heard from behind me. I turned and saw Allison looking at me with a curious face. “What’s up?” she asked. “Um..,” I said. My eyes glanced toward Brandon then back to her so quickly that I didn’t think she saw me; I was wrong. She slowly walked over to where I innocently sat. I looked down because I knew what was coming next. I knew that Allison was going to stare at me with a disappointed look, and she was going to sigh and shake her head; I was right. I never did look up fast enough to see that reaction; she left so quick that I didn’t even know if it had happened. But the next think I heard was a car’s tires squealing at the end of my short road. I sighed and wiped the corners of my eyes. I got up to open my white front door when I heard my mom approaching me. “She okay?” she asked, concerned. “Hope so,” I said as I walked out. I closed the door behind me and took a deep breath as I approached Brandon. I could tell he was holding something but it was partially covered. When I got closer, I saw that it was daises; my favorite flowers. It took my breath away “Hi,” he said in a soft voice “Hi,” I said even quieter. I didn’t know whether to be mad at him or to forgive him. I just looked at him and then the daises; undecided. Should I forgive him or make him work for it? The silence must have been too much for him because he sighed heavily. “Chloe,” he started “I am sorry I want you to know that things will be different. You mean the world to me; you always have and you always will,” he said with passion that I had never heard before. “Brandon” I said while tearing up. He just grinned at the tone in my voice He knew he won when my tears escaped my eyes “Oh, I got these for you,” he handed me the bright yellow daises “I thought you might like them,” he said as he took off his glasses. I brought the daises to my face and inhaled their fragrance deeply. “Thank you,” I said. I took a step toward him and kissed him on the cheek. “Welcome, “he said as he gazed into my eyes. He lifted his right hand and put it on my cheek. “I really am sorry,” he said. “I know,” I said while I nodded. “You promise things are going to be different?” I asked while looking at him with a penetrating glare. “You have my word, babe,” he said as he leaned in and kissed me on the lips. Everything was going to change for the better, or at least I hoped. ****************************************************************************** “These first two weeks at this crumby school have sucked monkey butts,” I complained to Brandon and Allison one day while eating lunch. “No kidding,” Allison agreed. “Two essays and a novel already. It’s only two weeks into the school year, and I already feel like I’m failing all my classes,” she whined. “Not to mention that this school food looks like dog poop,” Brandon said while he picked at his school lunch. “Tuna Surprise.” I turned away disgusted. “Well, I think we’ve complained enough. We should talk about something else. Got any good gossip, Allison?” I asked teasingly. When she didn’t respond I got worried, but it’s not like she didn’t know that she was the gossip girl of Menasha High. When I looked at her I saw that she was gazing at someone or something in the distance. When I followed her eyes, I saw what was holding them. A guy with brown hair and tan skin was sitting by himself five tables away. His apparel was casual: blue jeans, white shoes, and a black shirt. He was reading the novel that Allison and I were reading in English. Was he in my English class? I turned back to Allison who was still peering at him. “Who is that guy?” I asked in a very curious tone. I saw in my peripheral vision that Brandon had raised his eyebrow at the tone in which I asked the question. “New guy,” Allison said but wasn’t really paying attention to anything but him. “His name is Marcus Shaw,” she said still not looking away from him. “I heard he just got out of juvie. He, like, beat some kid up with a screwdriver or something,” Brandon said in a snobby tone. I gave him a weird look out of the corner of my eye; he wasn’t usually that snobby to newcomers. All three of us stared at him as if he had purple skin. As we all stared at him, I saw his shoulders go down like he just sighed and he looked in our direction. Brandon and Allison looked away awkwardly but something made me hold his eyes. Our eyes met and then for some reason I couldn’t look away. It was something in his eyes held mine and it made me feel like we were the only ones in the cafeteria. I was off in my own little world when I felt something shaking my arm. I turned and it was Brandon looking at me with a sort of annoyed expression. “Sorry. What?” I asked innocently. “I’ve been trying to get your attention for about a minute now,” he said. Now I was positive that he was annoyed. “Sorry I was spacing out,” I lied. I didn’t know why I couldn’t look away; it was something in his eyes. Something that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Something that wasn’t even in Brandon’s eyes anymore. I felt a sudden surge of determination to find out what it was. ****************************************************************************** After the weirdest lunch so far that year, Brandon walked Allison and I to our sixth hour English. As we were walking I could tell that he was still annoyed with me. So when he pecked me on the cheek before strolling off to Chemistry with his best friend John Remter, who was checking out some freshman, I was a little worried. That paranoia left my mind as soon as it came because when 68


Allison and I walked into English and we took our seats the annoying bell rang. Mrs. K shut her pine wood door and called the class to order. “Okay, class, today we will be discussing the first chapter of…” she stopped mid-sentence when the door opened and Marcus Shaw strolled in. She glared at him; Mrs. K was very strict on tardiness. He handed her a sheet of paper; she looked it over and nodded. “Well, Mr. Shaw, glad you could join us. Next time, however, be here on time. I am giving you a break since it is your first day. But know that I do not tolerate tardiness in my class,” she said with a serious tone. “Yeah, okay, whatever,” he responded in a deep but rude tone. Mrs. K sighed with anger and frustration. “Would you like to introduce yourself to the class?” she asked, attempting to be polite. He rolled his eyes and sighed heavily before he looked at the whole class straight on with penetrating eyes. “Hi, I’m Marcus Shaw, and I’m new here,” he said in a sarcastically happy voice. “But I’m sure you all already knew that,” he said as his eyes glanced over by Allison and me. I tried to hide my scarlet face from him but I had no success. I risked a peak at him and he was still looking at me with a sort of smile on his face. Then Marcus looked away at Mrs. K with an annoyed expression. “Is that good enough or would you like me to tell them my life story?” he asked with a sarcastically rude tone. Mrs. K gave him an indescribable look and sighed. “No, Mr. Shaw, that won’t be necessary. Thank you. You may now take your seat; it’s right next to Chloe,” she said while pointing at me. I saw the same sort of smile spread across his face as I had before. And as he walked over to the vacant seat next to me that smile did not fade. He plopped in his desk with another heavy sigh. I kept my face to the front of the class and as composed as possible. I, however, could not keep it from going from my regular peach tone to red. In my peripheral vision I saw that he was eyeballing me. So just to be polite I turned my face to him and smiled back. The rest of the hour was pretty awkward. I felt bad for looking at him the way I did at lunch, and he seemed to notice that and he seemed to find it amusing. The bell finally rang and I started to put my things into my bag. “See you later, Chloe,” Allison said, with a smile on her face. “Yeah, bye,” I replied while I rolled my eyes. When I looked up again I saw Brandon waiting for me with a weird look on his face. I tried to smile at him, but he didn’t even seem to be looking at me. I hadn’t notice that Marcus hadn’t left yet either. So it startled me when he got up from his seat. He looked from me to Brandon and back and then chuckled. “You could do so much better,” he said quietly as he strolled out of the classroom. I sat there with my mouth hung wide open. Who does he think he is? And when I looked back at the door, Brandon was gone. Okay that was weird. He usually waits for me. Why would he just leave? Maybe it was because he didn’t want to be late for his next class. The final bell rang and I found myself rushing to my math class. ****************************************************************************** The rest of that day pretty much sucked. The remark Marcus made was branded in my head for the rest of the day and Brandon seemed to be giving me the cold shoulder. So when Allison met me at my locker, I was a little sour towards her. “Hey girly,” she said in a bubbly tone. “Hi,” I replied with zero emotion. “Are you ready to hit the books tonight?” she asked in a sarcastically joyful tone. I just smiled at her. “Hey, you okay?” she asked with more concern. “Not really. People are just dumb,” I answered. “Who?” she asked. But just as I was about to answer her question Brandon walked up with John. When I didn’t say anything to him, Allison knew who I was referring to. “Hey,” Brandon said in an I-don’t-really-care-if-she-answers-me tone. I turned and scolded at him. “Oh, are you talking to me now? I was under the impression that you were ignoring me,” I said sourly. I’m guessing Allison could sense that Brandon and I needed to talk or yell. “John, will you come with me to… do something?” she asked. He looked at her with a what-are-you-talking-about-face. Eventually it dawned on him what she was trying to say. “Yeah, I need to go do something too,” John said while he and Allison went to do whatever it was that they were going to do. “Okay, so would you like to explain why you’ve been ignoring me? Or should we just start yelling now? Either way is fine with me,” I said. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t usually act like that, and Brandon knew that. “Okay, what’s up with you?” he asked with attitude. “Well let’s see my boyfriend has been ignoring me and… people are just dumb,” I said changing my words mid-sentence. “Including you,” I added. He just looked at me and sighed. “Look, I just didn’t feel like waiting today. Okay? I’m sorry, babe,” he said somewhat sincerely. He always does that when we fought; he’d say that he was sorry but the way that he said it always had me second guessing myself. “Well, that sounded very sincere,” I said while slamming my locker. I knew that I had hit a nerve. He never liked it when I gave him attitude, especially when we were fighting. “Well, I’m hanging out with John and the guys tonight so I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said without looking at me. I hated fighting with him because he always made me feel bad. The tears started to well up in my eyes, and I could feel them about to spill over. “Okay,” I whispered. He kissed me on the forehead and walked away. I’m so stupid. I stood there for I didn’t know how long, but it seemed like hours. After I cried a little, what Marcus had said to me started to run through my head. “I told you,” someone said behind me. I jumped and turned to see Marcus standing behind me with a smirk on his face. Then he walked in front of me and didn’t look back. My eyes followed him all the way until he turned the corner to leave. I was going to yell at him and tell him to bud out, but deep down in me, I knew he was right. 69


****************************************************************************** “It’s been an entire month, and it’s still bugging the crap out of me,” I confessed to Allison one day while studying at her house. After the whole Marcus scenario, I met up with Allison and told her everything. I was angry and needed to vent. I was also frustrated with Brandon, thank God that’s over. “I still don’t understand why you’re letting it bother you so much,” she said. “It was stupid and really none of his business,” she said. I just pretended to do my work; this was something that I kept to myself. I hadn’t told Allison that I thought Marcus was right because I didn’t want her to judge me. But the truth was I knew that I could do better, that I deserved better than what Brandon was giving me. But I loved him enough to put up with it. When I was done pretending to be doing my work, I looked back at Allison and her mouth was hung wide open. “Oh my God,” she said like she just realized something. “You like Marcus!” she said while she put one hand over her mouth and pointed the other one at me. “I do not!” I shouted back. “Yes you do,” she said. “No, I don’t. See I have a boyfriend named Brandon,” I told her. “I know. But that doesn’t really mean anything,” she said. “Allie,” I said with a stern tone. “Okay, okay sure whatever you say,” she said while smiling. “I don’t,” I said in a serious tone. “Well, we’ll see,” she said slyly. And I had a feeling she was right. “What is that suppose to mean?” I asked her. “Well, the way that I look at it is that you must care what this guy thinks because I have told you that you can do better and deserve better to your face and you didn’t care. But this guy that you don’t even know tells you the same thing and you go all haywire,” she explained. “That is just it though. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me. Why would he even say that to me if he doesn’t even know me?” I said to her. “Well, that I don’t know. Maybe he just thinks you’re cute,” she said while she made an “O” with her mouth. I just giggled. “I don’t think it’s that,” I said to her. “That’s what you think,” she to me with a matter of fact tone. The next day in English class Allison was proved right. According to Mrs. K, Marcus wasn’t doing so well with the current novel that we were reading. She wanted me to tutor him, but I didn’t think that I would have been able to hold my tongue with him. He had made me so mad with that little comment he made over a month ago, and I knew that if I were in a room, or any place, alone with him for a certain amount of time, he would have ended up getting on my bad side. “So what do you think? Will you do it?” she asked in a pleading voice. By the way her tone sounded, it sounded like if I didn’t do it that she would have to do it, and it didn’t seem like she wanted to do it. “I don’t know, Mrs. K,” I said. Could I actually do it? Could I actually help him without losing my temper first? After about a minute of awkward silence I decided. “Sure, I guess I can do it,” I said with a little grin. She returned the smile. When I went to sit back down at my seat I felt something nudge my shoulder. I turned and it was Allison smiling at me with an I–told-you-so kind of smile. I just rolled my eyes and turned back forward. Mrs. K then called Marcus to the front of the class and told him about me tutoring him. A huge smile broke across his face. Oh, fantastic. When he came and sat at his desk again he was a little too smug about it. Just breathe. “Okay,” I said but there was an edge to my voice. “If I am going to help you there are going to be two conditions,” I said. “Okay, what are the two conditions?” he asked honestly curious. “One is that if I am going to waste my free time with you, you are going to have to work hard. If you start slacking off then I will just tell Mrs. K that she can find someone else to help you,” I said to Marcus with a serious tone. He just smirked. “Okay, what’s the second condition?” he asked. I looked him right into his eyes and did not hide my irritation. “Do not voice your opinion on what you think is better for me,” I said. He just looked at me with fierce eyes. “You have my word,” he said to me with an honest tone. “Good,” I said surprised; I didn’t think that he’d go along with it. “Okay, we will start this Saturday at Jefferson Park,” I said, trying my best to be stern. “Deal,” he said in a tone that I couldn’t recognize. I think it had a hint of happiness. Oh boy, do not get your hopes up. ****************************************************************************** As I followed the wavy cement pathway through Jefferson Park, curiosity flowed swiftly through my brain. Why would Marcus even show an ounce of happiness about me tutoring him? And why would he say that I could do better? He doesn’t even know me or Brandon, so how could he judge our relationship so easily? All that was going through my head, while I listened to the young Mourning

Doves sing with perfect melody. To be honest, it actually sounded more like complaining. It was as if their hunger had gotten them best of them and they were whining for their mother to bring them food. I tuned them out and beamed at the bright blue sky. It was going to be a good day. At least weather wise. The sun was out, and there was not a white fluffy cloud in sight. I smiled to myself. As the old wooden picnic table came into view my smile dissolved. I saw Marcus sitting on the picnic table with his school things. The sun reflected off of his black sunglasses as he looked at me and waved. Just like the first day of school, I groaned. Just get it over with. “Hey, Chloe. Beautiful day,” he called to me as approached the table. I smiled at him as I say down across from him. 70


“Yeah,” I said with little enthusiasm. “Now I guess we can start…” I started to say but he interrupted me. “So how are you on this gloriously sunny day?” he asked. Did it actually sounded like he cared? I sighed. “Okay look, it’s nice that you are trying to make small talk with me, but you don’t have to pretend to be nice to me,” I said. He took off his dark sunglasses. “Why would I pretend to be nice to you?” he asked seriously. I just stared at his gorgeous hazel eyes that I had never noticed before. Was he serious? He kept looking at me with a confused look. “Never mind,” I said quickly. “Um… what was I saying?” I honestly couldn’t remember what I was about to say. I was sure that it was something snobby. Why was I giving Marcus this much attitude if he really was trying to be nice to me? I looked at him. “I’m sorry,” I began. “It’s just that I always think that you are trying to get on my nerves on purpose. Ever since you said that thing about me and Brandon…” I trailed off. I didn’t know how to finish the sentence. “I know, I shouldn’t have said that to you. Who am I to judge you and your relationship? I don’t even know you,” he said. “I am sorry that I said that to you and sorry that it upset you so much,” he said. Was he honestly sorry that he upset me? “It’s okay,” I said in a monotone. “Let’s start over,” I stuck my hand out and said with a smile “Hi, I’m Chloe. I think we have English together.” “Hi, I’m Marcus. And yeah, we do have English together, I sit right next to you actually,” he said while he shook my hand. It made me happy that he was going to play along with it. We busted out in laughter. I can’t remember the last time I laughed like this. Not even with Brandon. Does that mean something? No, no. After we stopped laughing we locked eyes for only a moment. Once again, I forgot where I was, like in the cafeteria. “So where did you move from?” I asked while I tried my hardest to look away from his eyes. “I am from New York,” he began while I shuffled through my bag trying to distract myself. “My grandma and I moved here because…” he trailed off. I looked at him when he didn’t finish his sentence. He looked like he was thinking about something that made him sad. Why did this make me sad? I tried to change the subject, again. “Do you like it here? I mean, have you made any friends?” I asked while I looked into my backpack. “Actually, I just started liking it here,” he said while he smiled at me. “And I have at least one friend,” he said still smiling. I looked up from my bag and smiled then returned to my bag. “At least I hope,” he said. “I think you might have at least one,” I said teasingly but in my stomach I felt butterflies flopping their wings around. What was

I doing? Why was I getting so involved with Marcus? I had Brandon, and that was enough. Right? Then why did I feel like I wanted to know more about him? Why did I feel like I wanted to know why my question made him sad? Why did I want to know every single thing about him, even the bad things? “Well that’s good to know,” he said. “So how are you and your boyfriend?” he asked. I just looked at him. Why would he want to know? According to him I could do better.

“Um…” I started I was completely baffled that he asked. “Well, to be honest, I don’t know. We have been fighting a lot lately and it is always over stupid things,” I said while I realized that the words were truer when I said them out loud then they were in my head. “What kind of stupid things?” he asked as he looked through his backpack, but I had a feeling that he knew what one of the squabbles were about. I just looked at him with an are-you-serious kind of look. “Really?” I said. He laughed. “Well, I kind of figured he would get mad about this,” he said while he gestured to both of us. “But I mean what else? I cannot be the only thing that has been brought up in a fight,” he said. “Well, a couple days ago we fought about what movie to watch. And a week ago we got into a fight because I always ‘choose swimming’ over hanging out with him,” I said. “Swimming?” he asked curiously. “Yeah,” I said a little embarrassed. “Some girls want to be a model when they grow up; I want to be a professional swimmer. I want to go to the Olympics and win a medal,” I explained. “Wow,” he said surprised. When I looked at him, he explained the reason for his reaction. “Well you just don’t seem like the type of girl that loves to swim,” he confessed. “Yeah, I know,” I blushed. Was I literally blushing? I never blush! He laughed at the redness on my face which just made me turn redder. “Since you told me what you want to do in the future I will tell you what I want to do,” he paused, I loved how he was making me feel better. “I want to be a police officer. I want to be the cop that stops drunk drivers from killing innocent people. And since I’m in Wisconsin, I guess that would be a good thing,” he said jokingly but there was an edge to his voice. “Yeah, but I mean drunk driving accidents happen everywhere,” I said to him. He just looked down and sighed. The sadness that came over him before came back again. “Marcus, are you okay?” I asked concerned. He just looked up at me and smiled. “All good,” he said but there was still a hint of sadness to his voice. I looked at him. I want to know why he acted sad! Well, I

am probably going to regret this.

“Marcus…” I trailed off. He looked at me with cautious eyes. “Can I ask you something?” I asked in a low voice that I could barely hear. He just nodded. I exhaled hard and looked him in the eyes. “Why did you act like that? When you were talking about becoming a cop?” I asked. He just stared at me. Did his eyes just tear up? He sighed. “My parents died in a drunken driving accident back in New York. That’s why my grandma and I moved down here,” he said but he choked on the last word. I gasped. Yup, instantly regretted it. I reached for his hand and sighed. “I am so sorry that that happened to you. No one deserves to lose their parents, especially someone like you. And I am sorry that I brought it up,” I said sincerely. “No, it’s okay. I like having you know about me. I don’t know why either,” he said as he looked deeply into my eyes. He pulled his hand away from mine. “But yeah that is what I want to do in my future,” he said like the past minute didn’t happen. 71


“Well ,that’s good because that means that you will be in Wisconsin for awhile,” I said before I knew what I was saying. He just looked at me shocked but it faded and a smile replaced it. What was I doing!? “Yeah, I guess so,” he said. A couple of minutes passed by in silence. But when I looked at Marcus, he was looking at me. He had this look on his face like he wanted to ask me something but knew he shouldn’t. “Um…” he started. “Yes?” I said, eager to know what he was thinking about. “How long have you and Brandon been together?” he asked shyly. His question caught me off guard. Where did that come

from?

“About a year and a half,” I said. “What makes you ask?” “Do you love him?” he asked. I laughed and thought that he was joking but when he didn’t laugh, I realized that he wasn’t kidding. After about a minute of thinking in silence he sighed. “Never mind, it is none of my business,” he said. “No, it’s okay. Yes I do love him,” I started. I saw that when I said that he winced. “But I don’t know if he loves me,” I said. He looked at me confused, so I explained. “Well, you see, he has been distant lately. I don’t know if it is because of all the fighting or what but…” I trailed off when my voice cracked at the last word. Had this really bothered me that much? I felt my eyes start to sting and my vision blurred. “Oh Chloe,” he said as he got up and came to sit by me. He put his long muscular arm around me and soothed me. “Its okay, it’s okay,” he said. I sighed in what seemed like relief and just started to cry on his shoulder. Was I really crying about this? After about five minutes, I turned away from him to wipe the tears away and tried to get control of myself. I turned back to him and his expression was pained. Like he was feeling what I was feeling. “I’m sorry about that. I don’t know why I did that,” I said with a stuffy nose. “Don’t be sorry, Chloe. I know that we just started being friends, but you can always come to me if you need someone. My shoulder is always yours to cry on,” he said. I started at him with wide eyes. The tears started to come back in my eyes but for a different reason. No one had ever said that to me before. Not Allison or Brandon or even my mom. The tears streamed down my face like a river. Marcus took his hand and wiped them away for me. After there was no trace that I had cried except for the redness around my eyes and the swollenness, I sighed. “Thank you,” I whispered. Trying to distract myself I wanted to ask him something. “Can I ask you something?” I looked down at my hand, embarrassed about what I was about to ask him. “Did you really beat up some guy with a screwdriver?” I asked. He laughed. And let his arm fall. “No, I didn’t. Everyone around here thinks that I am a bad guy just because I haven’t lived here my whole life. Truth it, my record is spotless and in New York, I was on the A Honor Roll,” he said with pride. “Really? Huh, the things you can find out when you actually listen to the facts,” I said in a matter-of-fact tone. But then something occurred to me. “Wait, then why aren’t you doing well on the novel?” I asked. He turned away with embarrassment and then sighed and turned back to me with a red face. “I do know the novel. It is my favorite,” he said. “Then why…” I trailed off. “Because I knew that if I told Mrs. K that I didn’t understand it that she would ask you to tutor me. And I was just praying that you would say yes,” he confessed. Oh my god. “Oh,” was the only response that I could come up with. “So in the cafeteria on your first day, when you were reading the book that was your own copy wasn’t it?” I asked with sudden clarity. “You are quick,” he complimented me. “I remember that day,” he said while he looked at me. Oh, I wish that he had forgotten it. “You and your friends were looking at me like I was purple or something,” he said while he chuckled. “Yeah,” I blushed. “I don’t know why I couldn’t look away from you. It was something about your eyes. Something in them made it so I couldn’t look away. I still don’t know what it was,” I confessed. I looked at him and he was just looking at me. I looked into his eyes them same way I had his first day of school. “I think it’s the color. Looking into them… it’s like going into my own comfort zone,” I said as I gazed into his hazel eyes and I suddenly felt calmer. He leaned closer so out faces were only inches apart. “Well,” he whispered. “I’m glad you like them. I like looking into your eyes too. They remind me of maple syrup. And I love pancakes,” he said teasingly. I laughed quietly. He leaned even closer so our noses were almost touching. I just started to like this guy today, and now he was inches from my face, and I couldn’t be more eager for him to close those few inches . But then there was a sudden ruckus. We both jumped and turned. I froze right where I was. It was Brandon and his group of football friends. Marcus just looked away and then got up and moved to sit across from me again. Brandon must have noticed us because he and his gang started to make their way over to Marcus and I. “Hey, Chloe,” Brandon said. “What are you and screwdriver boy doing here? I thought you were going to the Library to do this tutoring thing with Allison,” he asked. “Change of plans,” I said. I didn’t like how he was trash talking Marcus with him right there. “What are you and brainless buttheads doing here?”I shot back at him. He didn’t like that but Marcus laughed. I could tell that he was about to explode. “Chloe,” he said, attempting to be calm. “Can I talk to you alone for a minute please?” Now I was afraid. But I got up and walked over to him. He grabbed me arm and pretty much dragged me away from the crowd. We came to a sudden halt and he just looked at me with fury in his eyes. “Would you mind telling me why you are making fun of my friends and not that criminal?” he shouted. “He is NOT a criminal! But you wouldn’t know that since you have never talked to him!” I shouted back. “Oh, but you have? One day with him in a park and you all of a sudden know his life story?” he said. “No, I am just saying that maybe you should talk to a person before you start spreading ridiculous rumors about them!” I shouted I was infuriated now. “What’s with you? Huh? Do you like this guy or something?” he asked seriously. I gave up. I was not going to sit here arguing with him. I started to walk away when he all of a sudden grabbed my arm and yanked me back over be him. 72


“OW!” I screamed. Brandon was never been one for violence. What was up with him? “Brandon, let go of me!” I screamed. Then out of nowhere, Brandon was on the ground. I didn’t understand what happened. I looked to my right and I saw that Marcus was breathing heavily. I looked at his right hand and his knuckles were gushing blood. “Oh, my gosh, Marcus,” I gasped. I quickly turned to cater to him. I heard Brandon moan on the ground. “Come with me,” I told Marcus. I turned to head towards the picnic table; did I still have those Kleenexes from when Allison was sick? But we ran into the crowd of people that Brandon had come with. I pushed through them. I rushed to the picnic table and dug through my bag and found the Kleenexes, Thank the Lord, and put them over Marcus’s knuckles. I heard Brandon screaming at the top of his lungs. I saw something moving quickly towards us and I flinched. Marcus was in front of me by the time Brandon got there. I peeked round Marcus and gasped. There was blood from his nose all the way does his chin. I suddenly felt horrible. Brandon was that one that I had been with for a year and a half. Yet, here I stand behind a boy that I just met, cringing away from him in fear. How did we get to this point? I could feel the tears starting to come out of my syrupy eyes. “So that’s how it’s going to be?” Brandon asked. I heard a hint of hurt and betray in his voice. “A year and a half thrown away over this freak?” he shouted. When I didn’t say anything back he stepped one step closer. Marcus went tense, I could feel it. “Back the hell off,” Marcus said. “I hit you once and I’m not afraid to do it again,” he threatened. Brandon just looked at me and sighed “Okay,” he said sourly. “I was going to break up with you anyway. I cannot be seen with such an ugly girl anymore. We are done,” he said hurtfully. More tears dripped out of my eyes. So that’s what I was to him, ugly? Then Brandon and his buddies walked away without a second glance back. ****************************************************************************** Watching the blood as it ran down the drain in my bathroom sink did not take my mind away from what Brandon said, and blood usually makes me woozy. The tears still came rolling down my red cheeks. I didn’t say a word and neither did Marcus. He just stared at me while I cleaned his hand. The tears were coming down harder and faster every minute. I put some anti-infection cream on it and put some put gauze over his knuckles. I was about to throw away the bloody tissue when an involuntary gasp escaped out of my lips. Marcus exhaled sharply and pulled me into a huge bear hug. I started to cry even harder. I was crying like a baby cried when her mom leaves. He was smoothing my hair as I made his shirt damp with my tears. “Shhh, Chloe. It’s okay,” he said with pain in his voice. I tried to calm down without success. Then all of a sudden I felt a vibration come from my left back pocket of my jeans. I sighed and reached for it/ ‘ALLISON [BFF]’ Oh grand. I might as well get this

over with.

“Hello?” I said with a high crackly voice. “Oh my god! What’s wrong Chloe?” she asked with one-hundred percent concern. Obviously Brandon hadn’t called her yet. “Brandon,” was all I had to say. “I’ll be over in five minutes,” she said right before she hung up. That was why I loved her. I pushed the red button on my dark blue Razor and put it back in my pocket. “Should I go?” Marcus asked, hurt. My heart started to race. I didn’t want him to go. “NO!” I said a little too loud. I took a breath to calm myself down. “No, I don’t want you to go. I need you here,” I said while I stared into his hazel eyes. As always, sudden comfort. But I started to cry hysterically at the thought of him leaving me now. “Okay, okay calm down Chloe,” he said but it didn’t work. “Please calm down,” he pleaded as he grabbed my face with both of his hands and turned my face so it was looking at his. After about five more minutes, I finally stopped crying and sigh heavily. “I’m sorry,” I told him. “I didn’t want to cry that much but…,” I trailed off. I just shook my head. I couldn’t even say it without going into another outburst. I turned my head a little to the right and realized that I was looking in the mirror. I looked at myself a completely different way after what he said. I stared into the mirror and the tears started to well up again. “Chloe,” he whispered to get my attention. I couldn’t look at him; I didn’t want him to say the same thing that Brandon had just said to me. But he wasn’t having that; he gently grabbed my chin and made me look him straight in the eyes. “Chloe, you are NOT ugly. You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen in my life,” he said as he leaned in and kissed me on the lips. I put my hands around his broad neck and left the there, pulling him closer to me. That was unlike any kiss that Brandon had ever given me. It felt right. I would have kept kissing him but a pound on the door made us both jump. We laughed and he kissed my forehead and nodded to the door. When I answered the door Allison’s face was flushed red and wet, and she was out of breath. “Did you run here?” I asked surprised. “In the rain?” I added. “Of course I did. My best friend was crying, and my mom wasn’t home,” she said. “Now let me in,” she said eagerly. I let her, and she hugged me right away. “What happened?” she asked while she pulled me down to the couch. “Well…” I started but I couldn’t finish. I started to cry, again. She pulled me into a bear hug and soothed me. This wasn’t like when Marcus was soothing me, but it still felt nice. “Chloe,” Marcus said quietly. Allison jumped and yelped. Apparently she hadn’t known that Marcus was there. She just stared with her mouth hung wide open, just like the first day she had seen him. Marcus and I laughed. She pulled herself together and got up from the floral couch. “Hi, Marcus, I am Allison,” she introduced herself. She held her hand out like I had done early that day. “Hi, Allison. It’s nice to meet you,” he said while he shook her hand. She turned to me with a confused expression. “Um… Chloe I think I should go so you can talk to Allison,” he said. I could tell that he didn’t want to go. “No, please stay!” I pleaded. “Allison doesn’t mind that you are here. Do you Allison?” I asked as I stared at Allison. “Not at all,” she said. She said it like she actually meant it. “Please stay.” 73


“Are you sure? I don’t want to be a burden,” he said politely. “I insist. Stay,” she said. I love this girl. “Okay,” he said. He came and sat on the floor in front of me and grabbed my hand and put it between his. It felt so warm. I saw that Allison was staring at us with the same confused expression. “What’s the story?” she asked. So I told her what I could. Marcus had to take over when I started to cry so hysterically that I couldn’t even finish my sentence. ****************************************************************************** June 2010 The first two months of school flashes before my eyes during a thirty second kiss. I pull away and look Marcus in his hazel eyes. Like the first time I looked into them, I feel the sudden comfort was over me. I sigh and smile. I’m so happy with my life now, and I wouldn’t change anything that happened in the beginning of the school year. I love Marcus more than I ever loved Brandon, which says something about Brandon, not me. In the beginning of my and Marcus’s relationship, I used to cry on his shoulder for hours because I used to beat myself up over Brandon. I always thought that it was me that pushed him away. But after about the twentieth time that I cried, I realized that he started pushing me away long before Marcus came along. I wish that wasn’t true but it is. Brandon knows that it is true, too. The Monday after we broke up, he pulled me aside and apologized to me and told me that he wanted me back. He said that he missed me and that he was sorry that he ever said those things to me. I looked at him straight in the eyes and told him that I forgave him, but I wasn’t going back to him. All this was going through my head while I stare at Marcus. “What are you thinking about?” he asked curiously while his hand went through my now damp hair. “Our beginning,” I said with a smile. “Even when we weren’t together,” I said. “Do you want to know what my favorite part is about that story?” he asks with a smile. I raise my eyebrows insisting that he tell me. “The day in the park,” he tells me. I nod and laugh. “What?” he asks as he chuckles with me. “Well, it’s just that that’s my favorite part, too,” I said. “I remember that you said that my eyes look like maple syrup. Now every time I look in the mirror I want pancakes,” I said while laughing. He starts to laugh too. “I love you, Marcus,” I said with a passion. “I love you too, Chloe,” he said to, matching the passion exactly. He pulls me into his arms. Then he bends his head down and pushes his lips against mine. I could stay like this forever. KILLER DARKNESS Sam Goldben

PROLOGUE

Screams pierced the air of the basement, and it seemed that the blonde had an endless supply of air to keep up the stream of shrieks. Her nude chest kept rising and falling with them and it took so much control to not shove the eight inches of steel into it, just to stop the endless screaming. She was tied spread-eagled on the long table and dark bruises had formed from the thick ropes that bound her to the table. The tips of her fingers were bloody and most of the ten nails were destroyed. If looked at closely, splinters from the wood were easy to distinguish and probably hurt like heck in the open wounds. There were other defensive wounds from when he first took her, carved into her forearms and hands, and highly infected. “Shut up!” he growled. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” A large hand came across her face and hit it as hard as he could. “If you don't shut up this second, I'll chop you up while you're still alive and let the rats eat your face.” The wails ended almost instantly, but her crying didn't. Now that her eyes were wide with fear and she wasn't screaming, it was clear she had been crying the entire time. Eyes that had once been a clear moss green were now bloodshot and full of tears. She was trembling from head to toe and he could see the beginning of begging forming on her lips. “P-P-Pl-Please,” she stuttered quietly, “l-let me g-go. I promise I won't tell an-anyone... Just please, don't k-kill me.” He wrapped long fingers encased in black leather around the black and silver handle of the blade. “I can't take that chance, Melissa.” Her eyes widened just a tad bit more when she saw the blade and her mouth barely opened to scream. The shriek didn't get out of her lungs before he drew the knife heavily across her throat, right to left. The blood flowed nice and thick and the beginning of the scream turned to gurgling. It took maybe thirty seconds for all the blood in her body to drain onto the table, into the crevasses on the side, and into a deep bucket. He took the knife and slid it under the four pieces of rope, releasing her from her holds, though it didn't matter. He brought a black body bag to the table and pulled her inside, zipping it up and closing it off. He threw the bag over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and walked up old and creaky wooden stairs, walking through the house and exiting out the back door. Once out of the house and in the garage, he threw the body into the trunk of a dark colored Daewoo and climbed into the driver's seat. He peeled out of the driveway and drove the twenty five minute drive from the Bronx to Times Square. He parked near the ABC screen and pulled the body from the trunk of his car. It was three in the morning when he finally started to climb all the way to the top of the screen. It was surprisingly quiet, the only time in New York City when only the occasional car would drive through various blinking yellow lights. At 3:27, he opened the body bag and tied a rope under Melissa's arms and secured the other end to the leg of a GMC billboard. When it was tied as tightly as humanly possible, he pushed the body off the building with the toe of his foot and watched it plummet thirty feet and end up in the middle of the screen. Pleased with where it ended, he left. Once on the ground, he looked up to admire his work. After several minutes of staring at the dead body and feeling happy, he climbed back into the Korean car and drove back to the Bronx.

74


ONE The sirens of my car turned silent when I parked half on the sidewalk, half in the street, and I climbed out of the tiny black Pontiac on the morning of August twenty first. I shut the driver's side door and crossed the sidewalk towards the crime tape. An officer in blue started to hold out his hand to stop me, but I had my badge out before he could. “Detective Alice Rowley, homicide.” I stated, just like we'd been trained to at the academy. Officer Jones, as his nameplate said, lifted the tape and let me pass under it. As I grew near a lump under a white sheet that would be the body, a tall man dressed in a black suit and trench coat met me halfway. Detective Louis Backer had been my partner for seven years, and he still looked the same as he did back then. At six foot six, Louis was the tallest black man I'd met in person. His eyes were a dark brown, almost as black like his skin, and his hair was no different. Currently, his waist length hair was captured in a tight braid that cascaded down his back. “Took you long enough to get here,” he teased in an almost scarily deep voice. “Thought we'd have to keep the square closed off all day.” I rolled my eyes at him, playfully elbowing him in the hip, where my shoulders barely passed. “Oh, haha, very funny, Louis.” He gave a deep chuckle that was cut short by our captain. William Toothman was six feet even and had more of a bark than a bite. He wore a dark blue suit and matching tie. William was a forty-something, twenty-year police veteran who liked his women short and red-headed – like me. Since the two of us started working together in 2003, he'd been hitting on me and trying to get me to go to dinner. Politely, of course, I turned him down. Now, after eight years, I was getting a little tired of his flirting. He'd get it one day when he asked me out at the wrong time and he'd be on the ground and wouldn't get back up. “Something funny, Backer?” he asked coolly. Louis sobered. “No, Captain, sir.” “Then shouldn't you be showing Detective Rowley the body?” “Yes, sir,” he said. Louis took my elbow in his huge hand and pulled be towards the body. He drug me the last ten feet to the body and the coroner, who was kneeling next to it, lifted back the sheet. I crouched next to the body, Louis following my movements. “Melissa Jordan, sixteen, missing for three weeks,” he said, reading from his notepad. “Died from exsanguinations, from this six inch cut across the neck. She has some defensive wounds on her hands and forearm. There are signs that she was tortured before she was killed and ligature marks are on both wrists and ankles.” I gave a light nod, looking over the rest of her body, from head to ankles and back. “Do we know when she died?” The coroner spoke up and gave me the answer. “I won't know for certain until I do the full autopsy but, from the coloration around the slit across her throat, and liver temp, I'd say roughly five to six hours ago.” “Any suspects?” Louis shook his head. “No, but forensics found a couple foreign hairs on the rope. Hopefully, we'll get lucky, and it belongs to the killer.” “And witnesses?” “Everyone who stayed behind said they didn't see anything. Said they didn't even see the body until the first person screamed,” he explained with a shake of his head. “All right,” I said, standing, feeling both of my knees pop as I straightened out of my crouching position. I gave a slight wince but ignored it. “I suppose we should go notify the parents. Wanna tag along?” Louis nodded and stuck his hands into the pockets of the jacket. “You drive. I tagged along with the captain.” “Sounds good with me.” I crossed to where William was talking to the officer who had been first to arrive. “Excuse me, Captain. Detective Backer and I are going to go notify the parents, if we're no longer needed.” He turned from the officer for a brief second and, after his eyes did a once-over on me, nodded. “Go ahead. Meet back at the station afterwards.” Louis and I were silent as we walked to my Pontiac, though that changed when we climbed in and the doors were shut. Right after I turned the key over and the ignition started, Louis gave a slight chuckle. “You know, he's got a thing for you. It shows.” I sighed and pulled away from the curb. “What's the address?” I heard the very audible sigh I think he meant for me to hear. “965 Leggett Avenue, apartment 4C, over in Woodstock.” I gave a small nod but didn't say anything, hoping he'd take my hint. Of course, I was wrong. “You avoided what I said, Alice. What is it that you don't want me to know about Bill and you?” I wanted so desperately to sit, cross my arms, and pout and I don't know why. I didn't, seeing as I was driving. “He's heavily attracted to me, and he has been since I started working with this unit. Even after I've turned him down, he doesn't get that I don't want anything to do with him in a sexual manner. One of these days, he's going to look at me the wrong way when I'm in a bad mood, and he's not going to like what I'm going to do to him.” He was quiet for a moment before he nodded. “I see... you couldn't have just said that?” “Louis, if you don't drop it, I'm going to hurt you.” At the dark look on my face, he stayed silent. The rest of the drive to Leggett Avenue was silent, and I didn't have to talk about Bill Toothman to my partner, thank God. I parked the car in front of the red brick building. It was six stories high, which meant we'd be going to the third floor of the building. I climbed out of the car, and Louis and I walked into the building. We walked up three flights of stairs and walked down four apartment doors. I raised my right hand and knocked on the door three gentle times. A woman in her late thirties, early forties, answered the door. She was dressed in a light pink summer dress with matching slippers. Her hair was the same wheat color that her daughter had, but she had lighter moss colored eyes than Melissa's. “Can I help you?” I showed my badge. “My name is Detective Rowley, this is my partner, Detective Backer. Are you Alexis Jordan?” She looked a little hesitant to answer but she nodded. “Yes...?” 75


My heart sank, just a little. “We're here about Melissa. Can we come in?” By the look on her face, her heart sank with mine. She nodded, gave a gentle, “Yes,” before she led us further into the house. “Herald! The police are here about Missy.” Herald Jordan came out of a room down the hall and went to his wife immediately. He was of medium height with brown hair that was graying and thinning. “Have you found Missy? Where is she? Is she with you?” It was Louis who broke the news. “I'm sorry, Mr. Jordan. Your daughter was found murdered this morning in Times Square.” Alexis gave a soft gasp and her eyes filled to the brim with tears that rolled quickly down her face. “No!” Herald wrapped his arms around his wife and held her against his chest while her body shook violently. She screamed wordlessly into his shirt and he walked her across the room to a floral couch. They both collapsed on it, and Herald gestured to two matching chairs for us to sit in, to which we obliged. “We've got some questions for you, Mr. Jordan, if you're ready,” Louis asked, pulling out his notebook and a pen. Herald nodded. “Y-Yeah,” he said, voice thick from holding back obvious tears. “At the time of your daughter's disappearance, was she acting any different? Or strange in anyway?” He shook his head, petting a hand down Alexis' hair. “No, she was acting the way she usually did. Missy got ready for a night out with her friends, said she loved us, and when she didn't come home, didn't call, we knew something was up.” Making a note on the page, Louis nodded. “Was there anyone hanging around here that may seem suspicious?” Although Herald shook his head, Alexis sat up and nodded, rubbing her eyes. “Yes,” she said. She got a confused look from Herald but kept talking. “There was a man hanging around the building for a couple days before the night she disappeared. I thought it was weird but I didn't think anything of it.” “What did he look like?” I asked. “Um….” She closed her eyes, trying to remember that far back. “He was tall, African-American... short hair, I think... He was wearing black clothing and... he's a smoker. He was smoking every time we saw him.” “We're going to have to ask you to come down to the station with us, so you can get a description to our sketch artist,” Louis said. “Is there anything else you can remember? Piercings, tattoos? His car? Anything that can help us find him?” She shook her head. “Nothing that I can remember.” “Okay.” I stood, handing her a white card with my name, desk number, cell phone number, and house number on it. “If you think of anything, you can call me at any time of day. Come down to the precinct later, and we'll start that sketch.” Alexis took my card and nodded shakily. “Thank you, Detective.” We left Alexis and Herald mourning in silence and went back to the car. “I always hate notifying the family,” I said gently when we were back on the road. “It's always the hardest part.” Louis nodded in agreement. “It is.” I sighed softly and silence once again reigned in the car for about fifteen minutes before Louis' phone rang. “Backer,” he answered. There was a pause on his end before he nodded. “We'll be right there.” He hung up and looked at me. “Lab found something with the foreign hairs. Says to come down right away.” TWO The lab was four blocks west of the precinct, so we wouldn’t be going out of our way to get there. We walked into the lab and up to the second floor, to the forensics hallway, and went through the second door. There were four people in white lab coats bustling around, looking into microscopes or testing something. The coat that greeted us was short, five foot five, about my height and weight, and young, only a couple years out of college. He had light blond hair that stood up just a little in the back and light blue eyes, clearly from a Norwegian background. “What do you have for us, John?” Louis asked, crossing the room to where he stood. “A couple of those foreign hairs you found belonged to the victim,” he jumped right in enthusiastically. “But we did find a black hair and I tested it.” “… And?” I prompted impatiently. “And,” he said, “we’ve got a match.” He pushed his chair on wheels to a computer and pressed a couple keys and clicked a few things. “His name is George Larson. His last known address was 204 Euclid Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey. Also, we don’t have a picture of him but it says he’s… around six foot four, African-American, and somewhere around two hundred and thirty pounds.” I gave a slight nod and said, “Thanks.” It was my turn to answer my cell phone when it rang while Louis kept speaking to John. “Rowley.” “Hey, Alice,” came the familiar voice that belonged to Detective Eric Wilson. “We’ve got something to show you that will help with that Melissa Jordan case. You might wanna come down here A.S.A.P.” “We’ll be right there,” I said with another slight nod. I hung up and turned to Louis. “Wilson’s got something for us, too. He said to get down there, A.S.A.P.” “Thanks, John,” Louis said, grabbing the manila folder with the report in it. “Call us if you find anything else out.” Wilson was almost jumping with anticipation when we walked into the squad room. His gray hair was cut close to his head in a buzz cut, and it showed he was nearing the other side of forty, getting a little old for his job. Blue eyes twinkled out from behind square glasses and were wide with excitement. “Alice, Louis, you won’t believe what I found!” “What’d you find?” I asked, coming to a stop near the main computer screen. There were six desks in this particular part of the precinct, one belonging to me, Louis, Wilson, and three other detectives, all of which had a private computer and phone on each. Then there was the main computer, shared by all six of us. Wilson had three autopsy photos on the screen, side by side. I frowned hard at 76


him. “What’s this? What has this got to do with Melissa Jordan?” “Ah, you see, Ms. Alice, these three girls were all killed by a man named George Larson. John called and said that that was who the foreign hairs belonged to,” he said, completely beside himself. My frown grew and I ran my hand through my hair. “So… you’re saying we have a repeat serial killer?” “Exactly,” he said with a nod. “These other three victims were killed the same way: exsanguination, throats slit, same brand of rope used, found completely nude, same hair found on the rope. There’s also a pattern; they’re all two years apart. One’s nineteen, one’s twenty one, and the other’s twenty three. Adding to that our newest victim, who’s seventeen, it fits.” “Huh…,” I said softly. “Maybe we should go down to Jersey and pay Mr. Larson a visit, see what he’s got to say about this.” The drive to Trenton, New Jersey was about an hour and a half long and it was the longest drive I’ve ever had to do with Louis in the car. We stopped about half way there to get a bite to eat, using the drive-thru a McDonald’s, before we continued on, eating on the way. 204 Euclid Avenue was a small, one family house with a brown finish. It was two stories, with white shutters on the windows and dark brown shingles on the roof. The grass was over-grown, so it was hard to see much of anything, and the house looked like it was falling to pieces. Louis and I stood standing at the building for a moment before we sighed simultaneously. “I don’t think Mr. Larson lives here anymore,” he said. I shook my head. “To be honest, I don’t think anyone's lived here for a while.” “What makes you say that?” “Well,” I said slowly, “the grass is about as tall as I am and turning brown. The house is falling to crap. No lights are on, the mailbox is overflowing… Unless, of course, the person who’s living here is taking horrible care of the grass. Then maybe it’s a good thing we came down here to check on them.” “You and your sarcasm,” Louis chuckled with a shake of his head. We walked up to the door of the house, fighting our way through all the grass. I was the first to the door and raised my hand, knocking on the door three times. “Mr. Larson?” I called loudly, in case he couldn’t hear me. “NYPD Homicide, open the door please!” We stood there, breath in our throats, waiting for the serial killer to open the door. After about thirty second, no one came to the door. I raised my hand to knock again but my knuckles never met wood. Louis’ size sixteen shoe busted the door in and the old wood crashed heavily to the floor of the house. “We had probable cause,” he stated. “He could be in the middle of another crime. And anything we find in the pursuit of a crime-” “-is completely legal,” I finished. I drew my nine millimeter pistol, police issued, and walked in first, going around the corner into the living room. The room was completely bare; there was no furniture, no collectibles, nothing. The dark green wallpaper was peeling and looked charred in some places. “Clear,” I called. Louis had gone into the dining room, and he gave a loud and heavy sigh. “Clear.” The two of us met up again in the foyer. “You check upstairs, I check the basement?” I asked, subconsciously turning the safety off on the handgun. After a brief and almost indistinguishable hesitation, he gave a slight nod. “Sure. Call if you find anything.” Louis and I parted, and I went past the stairs he went up. The basement door was right inside the kitchen. This room, too, was bare, completely void of any furnishings, no coffee pot, not even a plate. When he left, he must have just left with everything and not told anyone he was leaving. I turned to the door that led to the basement, and opened it one-handed, pointing my gun down the staircase, in case he was hiding or something. Of course he wasn’t, and I continued down the stairs, slowly and using caution on the old wood. My nose was assaulted immediately, and I used my free hand to cover it. I finally came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, and I found the source of the smell. There were four and a half milk cartons, full to the brim with blood, sitting across the room in a large pool of blood; I found the disgusting source. From the ceiling hung the corpse of a brutally mutilated Mastiff. All of its fur had been shaved off and there were portions of the body that had scars that formed where the razor cut into its flesh. The body had been cut into and some of its organs had been removed. The intestines had been pulled out of its anus so it was inside out and the fecal matter had spilled out onto the floor. The eyes had fallen out onto either side of the dog’s face and sat there, wide eyed and frightened. I heard someone screaming, and I didn’t realize it was me until I felt Louis wrap his large arms around my shoulders and heard him whispering, “Shh, Alice, it’s okay. Let’s get out of here.” I shook my head, frozen to the spot, and he lifted me into his capable arms. He carried me up the stairs and, at some point, I passed out in his arms. There was not one point in my life that I remember passing out because I saw something so brutal; the only time I remember passing out was when I received the news my parents had died. I had been sixteen and my father was a daily drunk, even though he was a devote Christian. He drank whenever he could and didn’t care who saw him, as long as it wasn’t people he went to church with. I had been at a home with a friend, studying and eating popcorn, and my parents were out picking my twin sisters, Abigail and Gwen, up from ballet practice. They’d been gone longer than expected, though sometimes they did that and would pick up pizza or something for dinner if they knew they’d be late. Usually, though, they called and I was surprised when they didn’t. It was around ten that night when I was extremely worried, since they still weren’t home yet. Seconds later, when I decided to pick up the phone and call my mom’s cell phone, to ask where they were, there was a knock on the front door. I went to answer it, phone still in my hand, and found myself face to face with two police officers. “Can I help you, officers?” I asked. “We’re sorry, Miss Jordan,” the female officer said sadly. “But your family was in a car accident… no one survived. I'm sorry.” My chest ached, and I felt my breathing grow radical. “T-They're... d-dead?” I repeated. I leaned against the door. “I...” “Do you have any family you can stay with?” Officer Martin asked. “Someone we can call?” “I'll... stay with my friend, Charlotte Abernathy.” I don't know what came over me. My ears started ringing, and I couldn't get 77


it to go away. My heart started beating erratically and my breathing started to grow rapid and out of control. “Miss Jordan?” Officer Sanderson asked, coming forward. My vision grew spotty, and then I crashed to the floor, the one and only time I passed out in my entire life. I later found out that my father was the cause of the accident and that he’d been extremely drunk when they crashed into Lake Erie. My stomach hurt for ages after that, and I was absolutely disgusted. I knew he was a drunk and disliked his habit, but I didn’t think he would ever do this to his family. I didn’t think he’d climb into a car, being legally intoxicated at .16%, and let the rest of my family climb in with him. If he weren’t dead, I certainly would wish he was. I did miss my mother and my sisters, but I was sure as hell glad he was dead and gone. He definitely deserved it. After my parent’s death, though, I learned to deal with things better, learned to deal with horror and hardship better, and learned to hide my pain. THREE When I came to, I found myself staring at the sky. Clouds had come in and blocked out the sun, even though it still hurt my eyes to be staring into the white sky. I lay on the ground, covered by a warm jacket. It took a bit for me to remember what had happened before I fainted and I kicked myself internally for remembering. I sat straight up and the McDonald’s that had been in my stomach poured out, landing on the grass beside me. Bile mixed with it and the smell swarmed up from the warm vomit, slapping me in the face like a dead fish, and I just threw up until I was dry heaving and nothing else was coming out. “It’s okay, Alice,” I heard Louis said faintly just before his hand started to pat my back. “The Trenton PD is on their way. Once they get here and we give our statements, I’ll drive us back to the precinct.” I wiped the back of my hand across my mouth and nodded gently. “Okay,” I mumbled. I pulled his jacket further around me. “How long was I out?” “Five minutes,” he said thoughtfully after a moment. “You were shivering, so I covered you up. Don’t know why, though, its seventy five degrees.” “Well, thanks.” The sound of police car sirens silenced us, and the sirens went quiet when the three police cars and ambulance came to a stop in the middle of the street. Both of us knew the whole process of giving statements like the backs of our hands, and it took about half an hour to get both of us down and another fifteen for the EMT's to make sure I was okay and didn’t pass out because of anything other than the macabre scene in the basement. When they cleared me, Louis helped me to my car. “I’m gonna lay you back,” he told me, doing so after he got my seatbelt secured. “So why don’t you sleep on the way back to the city?” I nodded, liking the idea more and more the further back I got. “Sounds good,” I said, giving a gentle yawn. “Wake me when we get there.” “I will.” Louis hopped into the driver’s seat and drove away from George Larson’s old home. I was almost asleep when I heard my cell phone ring again, this time alerting me to a text message. “Here, I got it,” he said when I opened my eyes to take the phone out. “It’s probably from Wilson, anyways. Maybe he’s got a lead or something.” I gave a gentle smile. “Thanks, Louis,” I mumbled, closing my eyes. “You’re a good friend.” I fell asleep before we got out of the city limits and stayed asleep the whole time. Something in the back of my mind, though, kept me from full sleep. It was saying to stay alert and not go to sleep; something was weird about Louis. When we had gotten the description of George Larson, he’d tensed, hadn’t he? He’d been acting weird since we notified the family. He was African-American, Alexis’ voice rang through my head. Tall. A smoker. Then John’s voice followed, Around six foot four, two hundred and thirty pounds. Louis was just two inches taller, about that weight, and AfricanAmerican. Could he be the one who was the murderer? No… He couldn’t be. I drew the coat closer to my nose, trying to get rid of all these thoughts that doubted my partner and pointed the finger at him as the killer. I frowned at a slight disgusting smell and took in a deeper breath of the jacket. The scent was musty and stale and smelled faintly of grapes. I gasped as realization hit me, and I sat straight up in my seat, grabbing my phone from between the seats and stuck it in my chest. I knew that, in most situations, the best thing was to have a phone on person at all times, especially in a car with a psycho killer. “Oh God!” Louis glanced at me. “What is it?” he asked, eyes hard and cool. I looked at him, moving the seat back into a sitting position as I spoke. There was no way I’d be sleeping again anytime soon. “It was you.” He raised an eyebrow. “What was me?” “You’re the one who did all those horrible things to those girls!” I gasped. “You’re the one who tortured that poor dog! YYou’re… George Larson.” Louis sighed softly. “I didn’t want to have to do this.” Before I knew it, I heard the sound of his gun leaving the leather holster. He moved too fast for me to comprehend what he was doing. He brought his hand and the gun around, and it hit my temple. Pain exploded on the left side of my head. Gray stars grew in front of my vision and then I slumped, unconscious, against the side of the door. The gun had been swung so hard against my head, blood surely had to have been flowing and there was a strong possibility that maybe Louis had fractured my skull. I slowly opened my eyes shortly after I came to, feeling extremely nauseous, and they hurt so much, they snapped shut once again. I took a deep breath and opened them again, blinking several times into a dim light. I found my hands were handcuffed together under my bent knees. My ankles were chained together, and the chain went from my foot to a pole five feet away. I took a deep breath, and I could taste death on my tongue; death and decaying body parts. My stomach churned, and I swallowed the urge to throw up again. I’d barely had time to access my situation and think of a way out when a brighter light flashed on above me and heavy footsteps came down a set of wooden stairs to the left of me. I blinked several times, fighting the new pain, and came face-to-face with my partner. “Louis, how could you do this? Your own partner?” I gave a gentle shake of my head and from it blossomed a headache. 78


“You’re sick, Louis. Really freaking sick.” He was silent for several minutes while he walked forward, shaking his head. “You really don’t get me at all, Alice.” He aimed a strong kick at my ribs and hit dead on. I felt at least on rib fracture. I gave a gasp in pain, closing my eyes tightly. I rolled to the floor, back facing him. If I could get my cell phone, I could get help. I curled into the fetal position, so I could reach the electronic device in-between my breasts. “Those girls deserved to die! They were practically begging me to kill them!” He kicked me again, just as I managed to press speed dial number five – Eric Wilson’s number. The kick hit my back, and I managed a small scream, arching against the pain. “The one we found this morning? She was a hooker! And those other girls? All slept around! All of them begged to be killed! I did us a favor, Alice!” After I got my breath back, I shook my head. “You didn’t do us anything,” I said painfully. “You just lost your badge and your job! How can you say you did a favor to anyone?” “Because I got those nasty women off the streets!” He shook his head, shaking with anger. “We don’t have to deal with them anymore! I killed them and ended their disgusting lives!” I licked my lips. “Why would you do that, Louis? Or George, whoever you are.” He sat down on the stairs. “Because my mother was a whore,” he said. “She sold her body to whoever would have it and did as many drugs as she could. She was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a nymphomaniac. When I saw all of those girls, with their cigarettes or their Bloody Mary’s, I saw my mother in them. I had to kill them. If I didn’t, they would have ruined someone’s life, like my mother ruined mine.” I closed my eyes, trying to imagine a woman who would do this to her son, as he claimed. “You could have done it legally, Louis. You could have arrested them or ticketed them or something. You didn’t have to kill them.” “Yes, I did!” he yelled. He got to his feet and came to me. He rolled me over and moved my knees down, so I was fully on my back. In the process, my shoulders popped out of their sockets because my arms weren’t supposed to go underneath me from the front. I screamed, loud and wordless, and writhed beneath him while he got down and straddled my hips, pinning me to the ground while I screamed. “Oh, shush, Alice,” he said. “It’s not that bad.” He put all his weight into pulling my arms back into their sockets and it hurt worse than pulling them out had. My screaming intensified. After a few seconds, I felt a cool blade press against my Adam’s apple and the shrieks ended abruptly. “I said be quiet.” I gave a gentle whimper, one that automatic and involuntary. “I-I’m sorry.” “No, you’re not,” he said darkly. “You’re like the rest of them. You flaunt everything you have and when men want a taste, you back off, claiming you don’t want them. But I see it in your eyes, Alice. You’ve wanted me to make a move on you since we became partners. And I can see the way you look at Bill. You want him to force you to go out with him. You’re a whore, just like the others.” I felt my already pale skin pale further. “Are… are you gonna kill me?” I asked quietly. He didn’t directly answer my question. “It’s gonna be more creative than I was with the others. More painful for you and probably more enjoyable for myself.” “What? What does that mean?” This question was answered, not in words, but in actions. He raised the blade he had to my throat and it went through the white shirt I’d worn to work and dived into my flesh, carving me up like a slab of brisket. I gave a gasp of pain and then I tried to draw in a breath to scream but something stopped me. My sub-consciousness went through my body, looking for the damage, and found that he had pierced the bottom part of my left lung. Then I did start screaming. “I said shut up!” The blade slid into my skin fourteen more times, mostly in the chest and stomach area. He climbed off of me, the entire front of his body from neck to waist was covered in my blood and I was sure I wasn’t too far off from looking the same. I felt my head start to get lighter and knew exsanguination couldn’t be far away. I’ll be dead in a couple minutes, my head said, surprisingly calm, it’ll be okay. You’ll never have to go through something like this again . I found my voice, soft and slowly fading. “Louis, I thought… I thought we were friends…” “We were,” he said, looking down at me. “But that changed when you-” A shot rang out in the small basement and a bullet came out of Louis’ forehead, spraying my face with brains, skin, and bone. The hole that the bullet left behind was about a centimeter wide, but I couldn’t be sure because I had squeezed my eyes shut. My ears were ringing and I didn’t know if I’d gain my hearing back before I died. He stayed on his feet for about another few seconds before I felt his heavy body land on top of me. After about fifteen seconds, I felt someone touching my face lightly and knew it couldn’t have been Louis. Distantly, I heard, “Hold on, Alice.” My savior shoved the body off of my chest and I opened my eyes, finding myself face to face with Wilson. “The paramedics are almost here. Hold on.” I felt myself smile like an idiot. “Erik, you got my call. You came. You saved me.” It seemed he couldn’t help but smile, just a little bit. “I did,” he said. “Just hold on, okay? It’ll be okay. Just need to wait until the paramedics get here.” “Okay…,” I mumbled, closing my eyes. “Stay with me, Alice… Stay… with… me…” He wasn’t slowing down his voice purposefully; I was fading into unconsciousness as the sound of an ambulance drew close to the house. I didn’t hear anything that he said after that. To be honest, I wasn’t even certain if the paramedics were going to get there in time to save my life. Half of me hoped that the paramedics would reach me in time. The other half hoped they didn’t make it. It wanted the pain to stop and figured that death would be an easy outlet, easy to reach with no going back. I just felt pain and knew instantly that I wasn’t dead, that the paramedics had reached me in time. My chest and abdomen hurt like a thousand knives had pierced me. Oh, wait. Only one knife had pierced my skin fifteen times. I groaned and found an oxygen tube in my nose and a needle in my hand. I remembered the fractured ribs and that multiplied the pain. All the beeping noises from the machines were giving me a headache and I opened my eyes, looking into the lights of the hospital room. “Oh, hey, you’re awake,” Erik said, moving his chair closer to my bed. “It’s been a while since I saw your eyes open. How’re you feeling?” “Like my partner just tried stabbing me to death,” were the first words out of my mouth. I sat up a little. “How long have I 79


been out?” “A while,” he said. “When the paramedics got there, you were almost gone. We thought we'd lose you. Then we got you here-” “Where's here?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “Mercy Hospital,” he clarified. “Anyways, we got you here and you went into respiratory arrest and it took ten minutes to get your heart beating on its own. Finally, after like, five hours of surgery, your blood pressure was at a normal level and your bleeding had stopped. So... yeah, a while.” I gave a gentle nod and sighed softly. “Erik...” “I don't think you're ready to hear about Louis yet.” I glared at him and sat up. “Tell me. Why did you shoot him?” “Because if I didn't, he would have finished killing you,” he sighed softly. “We could have talked him down!” I said, exasperated. “You could have at least arrested him or something! God, you...” My eyes started to water beyond my control. Even though he had tried to kill me, I still was upset, still sad. I'd miss him, I definitely would, but there was no doubt a part of me was glad Erik had shot him. “He was my partner, Erik. I...” Before now, he had never made advances on me or showed me he cared for me more than a fellow officer. But now, he sat forward and ran his thumbs over my cheeks, catching the tears that had fallen. “I'm sorry. He was my friend, too, Alice, and I really wish I didn't have to kill him. But it was either kill him and try to save you or lose you both, one to the morgue, one to Rikers. I'd rather have you both alive but you can't always get what you wish for.” He stood and kissed my forehead. “Alice, just get some sleep. You deserve it. Plus, you probably shouldn't be awake for such extended periods of time. I'll come in and see you later.” I nodded. “Thanks, Erik.” I closed my eyes and, shortly after he left, I was back into unconsciousness. When I finally got out of the hospital, Louis’ death had finally sunk in, and I was just a mess. I had to give my statement to Wilson, and explain to William why one of his best officers was dead and how. After I gave my statement, I took some time off. I couldn’t go back to work otherwise I may break down, so I left New York and went to America Samoa for a well earned vacation. About three days into my trip, they got word of the ‘brave New York police officer who died in the line of duty’. I seemed to be the only one there who didn’t believe it. A day or two after that, they got word that the police officer who had died had been a psycho serial killer and that a fellow officer – me – had been the victim. I couldn’t stay there; I needed to get away from all the looks and the stares. I left for a place that didn’t get American television: Tokyo. After three weeks of a vacation in Japan, I finally had to go back home. I do go to therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder, and it took me a while to go back out into the field. I haven’t gotten a new partner yet, and I’m pretty sure it’ll take me a long time to trust anyone like I did Louis. I still have nightmares about him, and I thank God I have therapy to help me. Infatuated with a Celebrity-a flash fiction Molly Hendries “Tina! You have to come see what I bought! Call me,” was the message left on my phone by my best friend, Michelle. I went over to her apartment and saw a massive 8x10 foot poster of Dallas Cains on her bedroom ceiling. With his dark brown, curly hair and chocolate brown eyes, I could fully understand why Michelle seemed to love this guy. “Now I can just lie down on my bed like this and stare at him. Isn’t that wonderful?!” she said to me, a little too excited. “Yeah, cool,” I told her sarcastically. Wow, she seriously is in love with this boy. I mean, at first I thought it was just a celebrity crush like everyone has, but this is real. I have to do something about this. What can I do about this? Maybe I could write him a letter….

Dear Mr. Dallas Cains, My best friend is totally in love with you. And no offense, but it’s kind of annoying. She won’t stop talking about you. She has about 50 pictures of you on her phone and is always singing your songs. But the truth is I’m worried about her. She is so set on you that she has turned down multiple guys, just because she thinks you are the one for her. I keep trying to tell her that she’s never going to meet you, but the poor girl is too stubborn. Is there any way you could help me? Could you write her a letter explaining how wrong you are for her? If you write her a nice letter, she’ll just fall even more madly in love with you. We want her to forget about you! So if you would be so kind to explain how wrong you are for her that would be amazing. Sincerely, Tina Lauren I walked out to the mailbox in midst of the freezing cold. But before I put the letter in the mailbox, I hesitated. I’m not sure why though. Maybe I was thinking Michelle would be mad at me; maybe I was worried I wouldn’t get a response. But whatever it was, I got over it and sent the letter. He probably won’t even read it. I’m sure he gets thousands of letters each day. Maybe it’s a good thing I sprayed some perfume on the letter. Later that day Michelle called me, “Tina! There’s a half hour special on Dallas tonight! Ahhhhhh I’m so excited!! Aren’t you?” “Yup. Super excited. Can’t wait.” Oh my goodness! Seriously? She needs to calm down. I don’t understand how incredibly interested in this boy she is. I get bored with celebrities after a while. Apparently not Michelle though.

80


The day after next I waited until the mailman came and ran out before he even got a chance to put the mail into my mailbox. Not that I was truly expecting to get a response this early, but I was still anxious. I grabbed the mail and saw an envelope with a stamp on it that read “Expedited Shipping.” Quickly I ran back inside while I ripped open the envelope. Dear Miss Lauren, I am so sorry you feel this way. I am also sorry your friend is in love with me, but I guess it is not my fault she cannot handle my sexiness. I am just too charming, too good looking, and too awesome for her to control herself. I will, of course, send your friend a letter, but I cannot promise to break her heart. You see, I have very few flaws; and I am sure no matter what, she will not be able to resist my handsome smile, sultry smooth voice, and stunning shades. So, if after my letter, your friend is still in love with me, I am sorry but I can do no more. Sincerely, The Supermegafoxyawesomehot Dallas Cains Well then! Doesn’t he have a big ego?! Does he really think that highly of himself? What a snob. He’s not even all that good looking. I mean, a little, I guess. But he is certainly not supermegafoxyawesomehot! I can’t even imagine being that stuck-up. Like, really dude? Really? Immediately I began to write him a reply.

Dear The Supermegafoxyawesomehot (not) Dallas Cains, Thank you for your return letter. But when you write to my friend, please do not talk like that. She will just stay in love with you if you do. And that is not what we want. We (well, mainly I it seems) want my friend, Michelle Herms, to forget you! So if you could please write her a letter that is basically the opposite of what you wrote to me that would be spectacular. If it is really that hard for you I can write the letter for you, send it to you, and then you can send it to her. But I would prefer if it really came from you, plus it would be legitimate. So please, for my sake, send Michelle a letter saying how horribly disgusting you are. Thank you, Tina MoreawesomethanDallasCains Lauren I wrote Michelle’s address on a piece of paper and stuck it inside the envelope. I wonder what he’ll say in response to that letter. Unless he’s too immature to respond; which I’m sure he is. But, I’ll just have to be patient and see. Three days later I got a return letter. I was very grateful for the letter because it gave me something to do other than listen to Michelle obsess over Dallas. Which was getting more and more annoying every second; and I didn’t think it could get worse.

Dear Person Who Thinks She’s More-Awesome-Than-Me-But-Really-Isn’t, How about if I write a letter to your friend Michelle that says things totally different than what I really believe? Would you be okay with that? I am sure you would, so here is the letter I will send to your friend (if you approve it). Dear Michelle, Your friend Tina has told me how much you love me and let me just say, thank you. I really appreciate your love, and the truth is I do not blame you. However, it would be wise if you stopped wasting your time on me as we will probably never meet. As much as it kills me to tell you that, because it means I’m turning down a girl (which I never do), it is most likely the truth. While this probably won’t convince you, you must understand that you can’t be so focused on me. I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there who are just as good for you as I would be. Not as handsome, funny, and charming as me, but still good. And there is no man on earth who can sing as well as me, so that fact you’ll have to accept. But again, we will probably never meet so truthfully, you should not bother with me anymore. With love, Dallas Cains “So how’s that, Tina? Good enough for you, or not? Well, too bad. I’ve already sent it to her. Deal with it,” was written on a sticky note attached to the copy of Michelle’s letter. What a jerk! Michelle better get over him. Just then my phone rang; it was Michelle. “Hey, girl! How’s it going?” I answered, expecting her to be in a great mood. “Umm….what the heck? Did you seriously write a letter to me pretending to be the love of my life, Dallas Cains? Did you really think I would fall for that? I’m not stupid you know.” “Michelle, I didn’t write that. Dallas legit did. I wrote to him, he wrote back, I wrote back, then he wrote to you and back to me. You’re the one that’s being stupid,” I said, annoyed. “Yeah, sure. I am not going to believe you, Tina. Good bye,” and she hung up. Revealing the Truth Tia Meigio I go up to a dead stop, looking out the window. I get out of the car to check out the house. I walk up the stairs to the front door and go inside. As I’m looking around I am in a big living room on my right is the stairs to go upstairs. In front of me is two entrance ways on the left is the kitchen and on the right is one of the bedrooms. I walk into the kitchen and see a door on the left that went outside and a door on the right that lead to the basement. In front of me was the dining room I walk up to it and check it out and see another door to the right, it turned out to be another bedroom. Between the two bedrooms was the bathroom. I head upstairs with my suitcase with my bed all set up and boxes of delicates in them. I sit on my bed unpack my suitcase, as I am doing that I look around my room. I look at 81


the pictures of myself hanging on the walls. I see a girl with Blonde hair with a pretty smile leaning against a tree, in the frame and I think to myself what happened to that little girl and what changed her. I was only five months old when it happened, living at my Dad’s with my mother Rachael and my older brother Adrien. My father was taking care of me in the kitchen while Adrien was in his room watching television, and my mother was at work. I do what all babies do and cry; unfortunately, my father couldn’t handle it. He starts to clench his hands into fists while I’m still crying. Finally, he lost it he clenched his hands one last time then WHAM! He hit me on the right side of my head. Everything goes black, while I was out my dad called my mom at work and explained what happened of course he didn’t tell the truth. “Rachael! Rachael! Something is wrong with Serenity!” my father explained. “She’s barely breathing, I tried to help her breathe but nothing happened.” “Did you call 911?” my mom asked concerned. “No, I did not,” my father replied. “Call 911 right away! I’m on my way!” my mother said in a rush. She was getting ready to leave and she told her boss what was going on and said it was an emergency. Good thing that her boss let her go. My mother cruised home to see what happened to me. However, she was lucky that the police didn’t catch her and give her a ticket. When she got home she zoomed in the house, but everything was the same after she got off the phone with my dad. “Where is she? What happened? Did you call 911?” my mom questioned when she found my dad with me. She threw her keys on the counter and same with her purse and looked at me and started tearing up. “Did you call 911?” she asked once again. “No, I didn’t call them at all,” my father replied. “What! Why not? I told you to call them right away; you should have called them right when Serenity started to barely breathe!” my mom demanded while getting the phone and dialed the number. “I didn’t call them because I thought she started breathing again,” my father lied. My mom gave him the scariest evil look. She had a feeling that he was lying to her, and she answered the operator that picked up her call. “Yes, I need an ambulance. My baby is not breathing,” answered my mom. She also gave the person our address so that they knew where to go. While my parents were waiting for the ambulance to come, my mom kept asking my dad how it could happen and what actually did happen. All he would do was lie to her, since all he was in his bones was a manipulative liar. He kept with his story, of how I just automatically started to breathe with no reason what so ever. After a while there was a knock at the door. Both my parents answered the door to see who it was even though they knew who it was. The rescue squad came in and so did a few other people that looked like detectives and a gurney with them. “Where is the baby?” asked one of the rescuers. “She’s in here,” answered my mom when she showed them where I was. They all followed her to the kitchen. When they were all set to go, one of the rescuers picked me up very carefully while another rescuer was getting the gurney ready. The rescuer that was holding me put me on the gurney and started walking to the door. My mother stopped them, though, to look at me one last time before they went to the hospital she was tearing up so much you could tell she was about to weep. Then, the rescuer took me out of the house and put me in the ambulance truck. My mom watched as I was leaving. “Ma’am, my name is Detective Randy Monroe, and I would like to ask you a few questions. Do you think you’re up to it?” asked the detective. “Um, yea I am, I’m pretty sure I can handle it. Can we make it quick, though? I want to be in the hospital with my daughter,” mom said while wiping her eyes to clean them up. “When did your daughter start to not breathe?” asked Detective Randy. “I am not sure about that. I was at work when it happened. My husband Jack was here watching my kids,” replied my mother rubbing her head. “Alright, my partner will talk to him about it. Is there anything that Jack told you before, like what happened while he was taking care of her?” asked the detective. “No, all he told me is that Serenity could barely breathe and that he didn’t help her because he thought that she was breathing again properly, but she wasn’t,” explained my mom. While my mother was talking to Detective Randy, his partner Detective Carson Akins came in. Detective Akins was very bold, he had short brown hair close enough to where he had no hair. He had brown eyes and was about around 5’9. He was getting ready to question my father. “Sir, I am Detective Carson Akins, and I would like to ask you a few questions,” the detective introduced. “Alright, go ahead,” replied my father. “Your wife said that you were watching the kids while she was at work is that correct?” asked the detective. “Yes, that’s correct; my son is upstairs watching television in his room, and I was watching Serenity down here in the kitchen,” answered my dad. “What’s your son’s name?” asked the detective whiling writing notes down. “Adrien,” replied my father. “And he was upstairs the whole time when this situation occurred? He didn’t come down for a snack or drink, not even to go to the bathroom?” asked the detective. “No, he was upstairs the whole time,” replied my father. The detective was writing down what my dad had said and when he was done he said, “Alright, that’s all the questions I have for you right now. Don’t leave town. We will be keeping touch.” My mom was finishing up with detective Randy as well.

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“Listen, ma’am, if you have any questions or concerns just give me a call. This card has my cell phone and my work number on there,” Detective Randy finished up and gave her a business card. She grabbed for it and replied, “Thanks.” Both of the detectives left after all the questioning. My mom was getting ready to leave to go to the hospital to check on me and be with me. She went and got my brother from his room and told him to hurry. Adrien was so scared that he turned off his television and jumped out of bed to put on his coat. He and Mom ran downstairs to meet up with my dad by the front door. “Is everybody ready?” asked my mother. “Yes, I believe so,” replied Adrien. My father opened the door, and they all rushed to the car to get there. It took a little bit to get there. With my father driving, he passed every car that was in front of him. Some cars honked when he passed them so fast. After about ten minutes they finally arrived at the hospital. It was called St. Terry’s. All three of them got out of the car and power walked inside. When they finally got inside they walked up to the administration desk. “Hello, can I help you?” asked the girl at the front desk. “Yes, we are looking for the room for Serenity Blake,” my mother answered. The counter girl types on her computer to see where I was. “Oh yes, she is in the E.R. right now, are you her family?” she announced. “Well, of course we are,” my father demanded-. “Jack, please,” my mom insisted. “Okay, the E.R is down the hall and to the left,” replied the girl at the desk. My parents and brother started heading to that direction right before she even finished her sentence. My brother had to run a little bit to catch up with my parents walking. They found the room of where I was and just look through the window. The doctors were moving everywhere to keep everything in check and making sure how I was. There were so many doctors around the gurney you can barely see where I was. My mother started tearing up again and holding her hands to her mouth to keep it all in. They all sat on the chairs that were right across from the room. A few minutes later a doctor came out of the room. He was about 5’5 with short, spiky, black hair, and he’s Asian. “Mr. and Mrs. Blake?” he asked holding a clipboard. “Yes?” asked my father standing up same with my mother. “Your daughter has a swollen brain, and there is blood in her spinal fluid. We are not sure if she is going to make it through the night. Be prepared of what might happen. Do you understand what I am telling you?” the doctor explained. “Yea, I understand,” my mother replied. The doctor left after that, and my mom looked at my father and said, “I swear if you did anything you better tell me now.” “I didn’t do anything to her!” my father told her. My mother called one of her close friends Adalina, and her brother Jalen and her sister Mabel. They were devastated when they heard the news; they both tried to come as fast as they could. After a few hours went by and the planes landed, Jalen showed up first to the hospital. When he did he found my parents and Adrien in the family room waiting for more news to come. My mother hugged Jalen and told him what the doctor told them few hours ago. My mom was going insane crying and screaming hoping that I would wake up soon. They all gathered around to pray to God to make sure I will live. After a few more hours passed by Adalina came and supported every single one of us. She took Adrien out of the family room and got him a soda while my mom was screaming and crying. When they came back, my mother was the same way going crazy. So Adalina took him back around the hospital again. “Where’s Mabel?” my mother asked weeping. “She couldn’t make it; she had to work,” replied Jalen. “Mabel couldn’t get of work for this?” screamed my mom. “No, I’m sorry,” answered Jalen. It was getting late and everybody slept in the chairs in the family room. Almost everybody could sleep, but my mom woke up over and over again throughout the night. I was out of the E.R and into one of the regular rooms that regular people are when they are sick. My mother was walking around to check up on me to see how I was. When she got there she looked in the window and saw a crib with machines all around it with tubes going into the crib. She walked in the room to get a closer look of me. She was already crying and shaking all over. She walked up to the crib and saw me lying there peacefully with a respirator next to me to help me breathe and a monitor to keep my heart going. My mother started rubbing my little stomach to help her and I feel better. Back at the family room my father woke up and noticed my mother was gone. He looked at Adrien sleeping on my uncle’s shoulder, and Adalina was sleeping in the chair right next to Jalen. My dad wondered where my mother was, and he started walking. He had an idea of where she was, so he walked to my room. He finally got there and he opened the door and saw my mother rubbing my stomach very gently. “How are you?” he quietly said when he stopped right next to her. “How do you think I am? Our daughter is in a crib at a hospital with machines doing the breathing for her. You’re asking me how I am,” cried my mom. “I am making sure that you’re okay; it is not easy for me either you know. She is my baby girl,” answered my father. “Come back to the family room.” “No, I am not leaving her here by herself; I am staying with her until she wakes up. How can you be so calm about this?” whispered my mom. “You can go back if you want, but I am not leaving her alone.” My mother sat on the chair that was next to the bed and looked at my father. They looked at each other for a while then he left to go back to the family room to check on the others. He arrived at the family room a few minutes later, and everybody was still sleeping. In my room my mother was staying close to me, and she whispered “I’ll never leave your side Serenity; you will be back in my arms very soon,” she whispered with her hand close to mine. My mother looks up and prays to God, “Please don’t let her go. Give her 83


life and give my family another chance of taking care of her. I will be the best mother in the world. Who ever hurt her will never be near her again!” my mother prayed. She fell asleep right next to me just so she can protect me. The next morning everybody found my mom still sleeping right next to me in the chair, and my brother ran up to her to hug her, but Adalina stopped him and said, “Let her sleep honey.” He looked sad and asked “Is Serenity going to die?” Everybody looked at each other and Adalina answered him a little bit afterwards and said, “No.” Twenty minutes later Mom woke up with everybody in there with her and they were looking down at me. Adrien ran up to her and gave her a big hug and sat on her lap. She wouldn’t let him go one bit. “Any news?” Mom asked yawning. “No, none yet the doctors are still doing tests,” replied Jalen. Mom was sad yet again. As the day went on everybody went out to lunch, and my parents stayed at the hospital to wait and see if I would ever wake up. They have not been the same at all. My mom would not leave my sight, and if she wasn’t in the room then she would be outside the room looking through the window watching the doctors do work on me. After lunch and everybody was fed, my father tried to get my mom to eat, but she wouldn’t touch anything. All she would do was drink coffee and soda. While the doctors were working on me to make me stay alive, Adalina took my mother to the cafeteria and made her eat something. They were talking and Mom was worse than ever; the doctors told her that they were going to pull the plug if I didn’t make it over night. She would stutter while talking and all she was doing was crying. So Adalina was comforting her and holding her tight. “Rachael, she is going to pull through. She is in good hands right now. All we can do is hope that God will bring her back to you. He will bring her back to you because he knows how great of a person you are and that you will be a great mom,” Adalina comforted. “I have been praying day in and day out that I could hold my daughter once again, and I could raise her. I hope that he answers my prayers. It will mean the world to me,” mom cried. All of a sudden doctor’s start running towards my room. My family followed. They all rush to my room and look through the window. All the doctors are surrounding me, so the family can’t see. They were running around and doing things for a while; then the same doctor from before came out of the room and stood in front of the family to tell them the news. The family and Adalina stood up right away. “We did a lot of tests, and worked a lot on her to keep her alive. We did not think it could happen; it’s a miracle she’s alive. She may be paralyzed when she grows older,” the doctor explained. My mother hugged Jalen the longest when she heard the news that the doctor told. “Can I see her?” asked my mother breathlessly. “Yes, you can,” replied the doctor. All the doctors left when they were done to give my family room to see me, lying on the bed breathing on my own. My mom was finally smiling again nobody could stop smiling. One of the nurses came in to put a new blanket around me. She picked me up and handed me to my mom. She had the biggest grin on her face nobody can imagine. Her prayers were answered, and she was so gentle with me and so grateful. She looked up to the sky and said “Thank you.” As things were getting better two people came in the room with cards showing that they were social workers. “Excuse me, ma’am, my name is Paris Sevan, and this is my partner Tai Lake . We are from the child protection program, and we are here to take your baby. Your daughter is no longer yours,” stated Paris handing my mother papers. My mother looks at her in shock. “I am going to do whatever it takes to get my child back, insists my mom. The child care people walked out of the room and disappeared. There was a ton of work to be done to get me back; she would have to go through court and everything else. First, she went to the state house and saw pictures of me with marks on my head. Her mouth went wide open when she saw. The state house told her that they believed that my father did this to me and that she should leave him. Also, they told her to testify against him and prove to the court that he would never be near me again. There would also be a hearing in two weeks to see if my mother was allowed to have me back in her arms. My mom went to a few other places to see what to do. She then got a lawyer and the lawyer handed my father the paper work. One day, Mom went to the bank and found out my father closed the accounts and left no money for my mom. Then she headed home and saw a disconnection notice on the door for no electricity. She put the car in the garage and went inside with my brother. The next day she went outside and found the garage broken into with the car door opened so the battery would be dead and a hole in the door. She went to the cops, but they didn’t prove that he did it. Dad got supervised visitation with Adrien, but after two visits he declined visitation and wouldn’t see my brother no matter how much Adrien begged. While I was in a foster home, mom took me in for the doctor to get my speech and movement right. However, it was a very difficult thing to do. She would take me to the doctors three times a week. In court mom was proving her hardest that my father abused me, but all he would do is change his story each time he was questioned. Nobody really knew what the truth was when he told his story. He even tried to bring my mom down with him, but it didn’t work. Then, he finally gave in and told the judge with everybody else that he had done it the jury fined him guilty. Unlike the other people who would abuse their child and get years in jail, my father only got two months. He also got ten years probation with held judgment, intense supervision, intense therapy, and a 10,000 dollar fine to the victim’s impact panel. He had 100% full responsibility of medical bills and such. My mother couldn’t force the medical bills on my father since the probation officer liked my father, even though he abused his own daughter. The judge decided to give my mother full custody of Adrien and I and the only way my father was able to see us was with supervision. We moved out of there right away after all the stuff that went on. When we did we lived with my grandparents until we got back on our feet, then we moved to Grand Rapids for a few years. Then, we finally decided to move by the rest of the family and moved to Kalamazoo . I wake up from thinking and still staring at the girl in picture frame, and head downstairs to meet with the rest of the family to help pack. 84


Being abused is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly; it’s a big thing that happens in a person’s life. It can happen at any age and anytime. Sometimes it is hidden by the person that is abused. To truly see it you have to look into our eyes, and see the pain we hide, or look for the signs we show. I have felt so much hurt and pain, bruises all over, and I’m paralyzed on my right side..and now, its finally time to take a stand and show who I am. Dark Hope: Dolan Buried Alive Jimmy Wagner “Scream. That’s the counter-proposal. That’s what I want. Scream for me. If you scream loud enough, I’ll let you go,” the voice said calmly. I screamed, emptying my lungs. More dirt pinged upon the roof of the Cadillac, rolling down the windshield. I filled my lungs and screamed again. My voice cracked, and my throat tightened. “Five million,” I pleaded, but was shot down without a second thought. I continued to shriek, straining my vocal cords to their breaking point. Dirt continued to rhythmically fall on the car. Slowly the windows grew dark and light more scarce. My vocal cords felt like they were being ripped out of my throat. I desperately tried to continue, but a distorted grunt was all I could manage. The light had been completely dissolved. I finally let go of my attempts at screaming and just sat in the dark. The ground began to tremble above me, gently shaking the Cadillac. Suddenly, I began to laugh violently and uncontrollably as the dirt piled on top of me in larger heaps. My mind was weary and all train of thought was gone. I just laughed. After what I can only guess was about ten minutes, since I couldn’t see my watch, the earth ceased trembling and my laughter with it. “Robinson!” I shrieked. No answer. “You f***ing pr*ck, answer me!” Silence. I flailed and cussed, punching at the ceiling until my knuckles bled. My breathing was heavy, and my heart was clawing at the inside of my chest. The heat swelled, and it was harder to breathe. I was sweating profusely. I leaned forward and turned the keys in the ignition until the battery turned on. I reached and flicked on the cabin light. I shoved the bodyguard’s shoulder. “Get me the f*** outta here!” I said angrily. His lifeless eyes stared blankly at me through the reflection in the windshield. “Do your job, your worthless piece of sh**!” I snapped. No reaction. My heart jumped, and I quickly shut the light off. I was alone. Once again I sat in the dark. My strained breathing was the only sound. As I slid my hand onto the seat next to me, my hand bumped something. I blindly gripped the object. It was the revolver. I slowly raised it to my temple and, without hesitation, squeezed the trigger. Click. I was still alive. Tears swelled in my eyes. Click, click, click, click. I screamed and threw the revolver in violent frustration. There was no escaping. Once again, I sat in silence. Slowly, breathing became harder, the temperature rose, my mouth dried up, and I lost the ability to sweat. My mind was empty. I had lost all perception of time. I had no strength, barely keeping my head up. I could feel myself slowly slipping away. I fought it, trying to maintain consciousness. It felt like the Cadillac was lying on my chest. Finally, I stopped resisting, stopped caring that I lived, and ceased pathetically clinging onto hope. I let my eyes close and slipped away, accepting the Cadillac as my coffin. Letters of Affection- a flash fiction Julian Riegler It had been a long day at work for Susan when she arrived at her apartment complex. She was going through her typical after work routine and decided to get her mail. Today’s postage was extra light as there was only one letter. How odd there’s not even a return address on it, she thought to herself. Curiosity was getting the best of her and she had to open it. Slipping her finger under the fold in the envelope, Susan tore it open. When sliding out the letter and reading the content of it, looks of panic and fear held a tight grip on her face. Dear beautiful, luscious Susan, You don’t know who I am, but don’t fret for you will discover the truth soon enough. I know who you are and have seen you around many times before. Some days you like go jogging in the park by your apartment. Whenever I watch you jog and your gorgeous body is dancing around in front of my very own eyes, I get very excited. Some days I like to watch you through the window sitting at your office desk. Seeing you work very hard makes me realize that you are ideal for me. I love a sexy hard working woman more than anything. My reason for writing is quite simple; I think we’d be good friends. In fact, I intend to make this happen. No reason to be scared now. I’m a nice guy, so there’s no need for you to worry. Just relax and think how fun of an experience this will be. Well I’ll see you very soon, I promise.  Love, Your secret admirer

What is this? Is this whole thing a joke or is this guy serious? Maybe It’s just someone from work playing a joke on me. I’ll just have to make sure of it tomorrow. “I think a need a drink now,” Susan uttered. She headed into the kitchen and made herself an old

fashion. Carefully sipping on it, she slowly began to think less about the strange letter and its mysterious writer. Time went by and soon Susan went to bed just thinking about her next day. Another day of work came and went, and Susan had almost completely forgotten about the letter from yesterday. The events of yesterday and the letter seemed like just a dream. Arriving at home and walking up to the mail box a shudder went down her spine. There, once again, only one letter was to be found. Susan grabbed it quickly and raced inside her apartment. Finally inside, she slammed the door shut, and she ripped open the letter to reveal its contents.

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Dear stunning, voluptuous Susan, I think today shall be the day! I’ll be arriving at a time of surprise, so be sure that you’re ready. Today’s events will be nothing short of breath taking. Do you like seafood? I find that it tastes damn good, so I hope you don’t mind if we go to grab some tonight. Well you might be a bit busy with some other things, so on second thought don’t worry about food. All that you have to worry about is looking lovely for me. Alright, see you tonight then. Love, Your secret admirer Susan quickly jumped up and bolted to the door. Ok, good, it’s locked, she thought to herself. Now to get to a phone was her next thought. She turned around and started walking towards her phone. She picked up her receiver when she felt a warm hint of air on the back of her neck. “Hello, Susan,” said the man. Susan turned around and the only thing she saw was a round golden mask that covered the man’s face. Next thing she knew a piece of cloth was shoved in her face and all thoughts fades away as her sight went black.

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Artwork

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Untitled Teresa Curtis

Teddy Bear Padra Lee

Rose Megan Kososki

Wolf Megan Kososki

Untitled 1 Carissa Kerber

Untitled 2 Carissa Kerber

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The Basket-Case of Serendipity 2011