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UNEXPECTED

BUT NOT

UNWELCOME

2017–2018 WITS Student Chapbook

Writers in the Schools (WITS) is a youth program of Literary Arts, a community-based nonprofit literary organization centered in Portland, Oregon, whose mission is to support writers, engage readers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.

925 SW Washington St. Portland, OR 97205 www.literary-arts.org

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Unexpected But Not Unwelcome 2017-2018 WITS Student Chapbook

Copyright © 2018 Literary Arts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This book may not be duplicated in any way—mechanical, photographic, electronic, or by means yet to be devised—without the written permission of the publisher, except in the case of a brief excerpt or quotations for the purpose of review.

Literary Arts Staff Andrew Proctor, executive director Maggie Allen Amanda Bullock Lydah DeBin Alanna Faelan Megan Gex Jennifer Gurney India Hamilton Hunt Holman Ramiza Koya Allegra Lopez Susan Moore Liz Olufson Chelsea Querner Joanna Rose Dao Strom Mel Wells Wits Intern Cassie Duncanson Board of Directors Thomas Wood, chair Jill Abere Mike Barr Amy Carlsen Kohnstamm Ginnie Cooper Alice Cuprill-Comas Amy Donohue Theo Downes-Le Guin Marie Eckert Susan Hammer

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Betsy Henning Karen Karbo Deidra Miner Anis Mojgani Katherine O’Neil Ramón Pagán Amy Prosenjak Jon Raymond Bob Speltz Amy Wayson Youth Programs Advisory Council Ginnie Cooper, chair Carmen Bernier-Grand Alex Dang Jacque Dixon Joan Fondell Diana Gerding Andre Goodlow Jonathan Hill Susheela Jayapal Joaquín Lopez Manuel Mateo Anis Mojgani Nancy Sullivan Catherine Theriault Kristin Walrod Tracey Wyatt Sharon Wynde Designed and edited by Mel Wells Published by Literary Arts, a 501(c)(3) in Portland, OR First Edition 2018 Printed in the USA


2017-18 WITS COMMUNITY Writers-in-Residence Britt Ashley, Alex Behr, Arthur Bradford, Leslee Chan, David Ciminello, Jeffrey Denight, Lisa Eisenberg, James Gendron, Courtenay Hameister, Brian Kettler, Cari Luna, Monty Mickelson, Amy Minato, Laura Moulton, Jules Ohman, Brian Parker, Mark Pomeroy, Emilly Prado, Joanna Rose, Claudia Savage, Matt Smith, Zulema Renee Summerfield

Visiting Authors Reza Aslan, Francis Ford Coppola, Mohsin Hamid, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Claudia Rankine, George Saunders, Jesmyn Ward

Participating Teachers Margaret Appel, Scott Blevins, Matt Boyer, Susie Brighouse, Ilsa Bruer, Breanne Carlisle, Ellie Collum, Bryan Dykman, Jennifer Edelson, Amanda-Jane Elliot, Crystal Hanson, Emily Hensley, Keith Higbee, Melissa Kennybrew, Stephen Lambert, Eric Levine, Michaela McNairy, Doina Moldovan, Renee Mitchell, Elena Overvold, Courtney Palmer, Joy Root, Norman Stremming, Shawn Swanson, Amy Tarramasso, Trevor Todd, Dana Vinger, Elisa Wong, Alethea Work, Ms. Zena

Participating Principals Petra Callin, Carol Campbell, Peyton Chapman, Brian Chatard, Lorna Fast Buffalo Horse, Ayesha Freeman, Filip Hristic, Molly Ouche, Michael Schaeffer, Juanita Valder, Curtis Wilson


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CONTENTS Introduction xi An Unexpected But Not Unwelcome Visitor • Leah Swan Aliens in Ireland • Hung Luu Hope • Haylee Bibler

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18

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle-K • Camilia Saulino The One That Got Away • Natalie Kollrack

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At the End of a Rainbow • Deghlan Johnson

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In a Tribe • Angelina Tyumina Abandoned • Selena Ceja

The Box • Jenny Davanh

35 37

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Colder Lies • Lolita Huddleston

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Mentally Sick • Serena Braaten

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A City Divided • Anthony Piacentini The Game • Joe Raggett

22

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River of Regrets • Noah Brown

Kate • Emerson Frost

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59

62

66

Untitled • Elizabeth Long

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The Reality of Time • Ashton Ryan Dodge Circular Squares • Evan Cady

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Cooking Lunatic • Xena Nguyen Committed • Cyrus Kagan

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74

89

Lil Lonely Boy • Kate Punches

91

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10 Reasons, That’s All You Need • Zoe Bosch Gia • Ashley Hopfer Embers • Kira Swinth

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98 100

The Darkness of Brightly Lit Corridors • Cadance Deeley Master Ninja • Tom Wagner

102

104

Nightmare of Night • Jess Orkin

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The Tragedy of the Park Portal • Teagan Rocheville-Higgins TRIP | SPLIT • Arissa Robinson

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The Portrait • Leo Floyd-Preston

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It’s Called a Thunder • Pascal Tower

WITS writers-in-residence 2017-18 Index 133 Support 134

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119 127

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Introduction Dear Reader,

Writers in the Schools asks its youth participants for a fundamental act of trust: honest communication. Across generations, identities, and beliefs, WITS writers and their partner teachers foster a shared space that allows students to find their voices and tell the stories that matter to them. Over the course of the 2017/18 school year, 1,055 high school students in Portland and east Multnomah County participated in creative writing residencies that challenged them to be brave and truthful. Writers in genres as diverse as poetry and comic arts, storytelling and playwriting, worked with youth to produce creative pieces that demonstrate writerly craft alongside humor, innovation, and lyricism. The result is two publications: our print anthology, Change Cannot Be Tamed, and the accompanying chapbook, Unexpected But Not Unwelcome. This year’s emphasis on longer prose pieces seems to speak to the depth and seriousness of the issues that young people face, from gun violence to the immigrant experience, from sexual harassment to gender identity. In many of these works, we hear the echoes of cultural debates that are changing our culture, such as the #metoo movement and global conflicts over borders. Over the past year, Youth Programs at Literary Arts also engaged youth through the College Essay Mentoring Project, Students to the Schnitz, author visits to schools, writing workshops at the Portland Book Festival, and the all-city poetry slam Verselandia! This variety

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of programming allows us to meet students where they are while also welcoming them into the larger literary community in Portland. Many thanks to all who contributed to these beautiful books: Mel Wells, who edits both, and chooses the pieces and layout with thoughtfulness and flair; our creative partners at AHA; and our wonderful intern from the PSU MFA program, Cassie Duncanson. In addition, thanks to all of our partners in the schools who supported these residencies, and in turn validated the vital role of literature and creative writing in students’ lives. All over the country, 2017-2018 was a year of upheaval—of change— in which student voices were listened to. We think this anthology shows exactly why. Ramiza Koya Director of Youth Programs


An Unexpected But Not Unwelcome Visitor Leah Swan CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

He was perplexed. He had found the crack in the wall not just a few weeks ago, completely accidental may he add, while conducting a bit of spring cleaning. Albeit it was late June but better to start late than never, especially in the state his home was in. So, he started in on the strenuous task of tidying up. It was in this way that he found the crack in the wall. While cleaning he noticed that the far wall was bare and thought to himself that it ought to be adorned with a hanging of some sort. He continued to stare at the blank wall until his face lit with recognition and he snapped his fingers as the perfect item came to mind. It was a simple, rather abstract landscape portrait that outlined sprawling hills. Yes, it would look quite nice, he thought to himself, nodding. There was only the slightest of problems; he seemed to have misplaced it. His memory wasn’t all that it had once been and it had been quite some time since the last thorough cleaning had taken place. He abandoned his task of dusting the books upon the old bookshelf in favor of searching for the picture to hang upon the far wall. It was by doing so that he discovered the crack in the wall. In his search he suddenly remembered that, upon receiving the picture as a gift, he had shoved it behind the armoire for lack of a place to hang it. Having finally remembered where he had placed it, he excitedly rushed over to the armoire and fell onto his knees and elbows, his face level to the floor so that he could see as he extended his arm. With his arm extended as far as possible he fluttered his fingers, just barely skimming the edge of the frame. After quite a bit of struggle, he sighed and admitted that this particular approach would not admit success. But this did not deter him from his vision, and so, dusting off

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his pants as he stood, he switched tactics. He took a firm hold and, with a small grunt, shifted the armoire away from the wall. It was by moving it and exposing the wall behind it that he first lay eyes upon the crack. Now in this place in time, the crack upon the wall was little more than a few spidering lines, with only a couple of crumbling pieces of plaster that fell to the floor when prodded. Nothing too serious and as the crack was not too big of a concern, he simply fetched the picture, vowed to have the crack fixed, and returned to his spring cleaning. Now here was someone who was very forgetful. He would often be contemplating one idea when his mind would skip to something else entirely, so it’s not a stretch when said that he forgot about the crack for quite some time. Now you are most likely thinking, how one could simply forget about something when it is on display every day? Well, at first it was merely that—a crack in the wall—and did not merit much concern. Every day he would gaze at it and, in no particular urgency, re-vow to have someone come to fix it, then forget this vow anew the moment he turned away. After a while the crack simply became a common sight in his household and soon enough his eyes would brush over it as if nothing adorned that wall at all. It was a few weeks past when he had first discovered the crack behind the armoire when he once again became aware of it. He would have never paid any mind to it but you must understand that this was no ordinary crack and over the span of a few weeks, the small crack had grown to become a significant hole. It was early morning and he had just finished his cup of tea when a hefty chunk of plaster detached from the wall and tumbled to the ground. Startled by the sudden crash, he looked to where it had come from only to be quite astounded to see that with the loss of the fallen plaster, an immense hole had been uncovered. But what perplexed him most was that where the inner structure of the building should have been, was instead what appeared to be a hollowed-out space. He inched his way closer until he was standing before the mysterious hole in his wall. Now, it was in his nature to be curious and so when he felt a slight

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breeze upon his cheek he did what I’m sure any of us would have done; he poked his head in and took a look around. As it turns out it was quite spacious inside the hole, or a better word may have been tunnel as when he took a look inside, he discovered that the hole was but an entrance to a long expanse of hollowed-out rock. Being the man he was, he thought only of his curiosity for the mysterious tunnel that had been unearthed and not much else when he gingerly stepped over the fallen debris and into the awaiting tunnel. Seeing as the floor did not crumble beneath his feet, nor the ceiling start to collapse, and the lack of projectiles being launched at his head, he took this as a sign to continue on. He glanced over his shoulder once and saw his home through the hole, only it looked much like he was gazing upon it from quite far away when he knew he had taken just a few steps. While this may have discouraged another, it only helped to further his curiosity and cause him to continue on. Advancing through the tunnel, he stopped short when an ornately carved wooden door appeared in front of him. He only hesitated a moment to consider what he may find on the other side before reaching a slightly wobbly hand out and rapping upon the door. He grew nervous as time went on and the door continued to stay firmly shut until, without warning, it suddenly flew open. At first, he saw no one and was confused until he glanced downward, and there, standing before him, was a rather properly dressed toad. He was a quite surprised to see a toad standing before him, and even more perplexed when it proceeded to speak to him, saying, “Hello there, would you care to join me for a cup of tea?” Not knowing quite what to do, he sputtered out the reply, “I’m quite sorry but I already had a cup of tea this morning.” The toad made a psst sound and waved his hand in a sweeping motion. “Oh, that isn’t of importance. Can you not have afternoon tea?” He had never considered the idea of afternoon tea, and so with a nod, he stepped over the threshold and followed the toad into his home, the door swinging shut behind him.

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Aliens in Ireland Hung Luu PARKROSE HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ZULEMA RENEE SUMMERFIELD

Chapter 1 Mom drove me and Marian to Sunny’s house, a buffalo farm which her father, Mr. Brown owns, to watch the arrival of a newborn calf. The calf was about the size of my dog, Caron, had no fur, eyes closed, felt warm, smelled like strawberries, and its legs were bent because it couldn’t stand yet. I went over to pet the calf while my mom and Marian took some photos. “Ain’t she so cute?” Sunny asked, smiling at me. “She is,” I said with comfort, though the calf feels wet a little bit. The calf’s mother then makes an approach to feed her food. Mr. Brown says once how his buffalo that gave birth, “Petunia is so resourceful that she had handed me my hammer as I was setting up a fence, saving me from a fall as I was unclogging my gutters, and pulling a load of logs for the fireplace. She was a great friend like Titan, her mate,” Mr. Brown recalled. “What should we name her?” I asked him. Mr. Brown then spoke in the Sioux language, with a translation, “Welcome to the world, Blossoming Eyes.” “That’s a good name for a calf,” Marian chimed. “Yes, my friend. I agree.” Mr. Brown again spoke in Sioux with a small grin. “He says he agrees,” Sunny translated for Marian, who can’t speak Sioux. “Come on Marian, let’s head right over to my house for dinner,” I promised even for the Browns to come over. “Sure, but my mom wants me to eat my veggies.” Marian groans as he doesn’t like vegetables, even the show VeggieTales as a kid, because it keeps mentioning morals of Christianity when he believes in freedom of

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religion, even as a Buddhist, refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school, earning him a detention while he does not have to say “under God,” until today where he says the pledge without “under God.” As Mom pulls into the driveway, my dog Carol barks with excitement as I get out of the car. “Easy girl, I know you’re hungry like I am,” I said as she licks me. “What are we having for dinner, Mrs. Carrie?” Marian wonders. Mom didn’t change her last name when she married Dad, who is a Lickers like I am. Moving ahead, Mom addresses, “We’re having lamb T-bones, broccoli, carrots, and some Dubliner cheese. Gene also said he will share his gyros with you. He ordered from Arby’s.” “Right, they were his favorites before his summer ghost hunting trip in Greece with his dad. Plus, I have a difficulty with saying gyro, when it’s like saying euro, not gyro like rotation or those gyrospheres from Jurassic Park,” Marian said. “It’s Jurassic World, not Park, Trinh,” Sunny corrected him while Mr. Brown brought a couple of scented candles with him for our dinner. “I know,” Marian nodded, “I haven’t seen Jurassic World in a while, but I will watch the next one when it’s out.”

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Hope Haylee Bibler ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: JEFFY DENIGHT

MOM I don’t think we can get this month’s bills in. DAD We shouldn’t have bought that car. MOM Plus the twins’ birthday is coming up.

(Bella and Ellie are picking flowers. Conner is playing with a ball.) BELLA Here, I made you a flower crown. (gives it to Ellie) ELLIE Thanks, I found your favorite color flower. (gives it to Bella) BELLA Thanks, Sis. (hugs Ellie) ELLIE Do you still have the drawing I gave you? BELLA (pulls out a little box out of her bag) It will always be in this box, I promise. (they share a smile and go back to picking flowers) CONNER (walks up to Bella and Ellie) Could you help me? My ball is in the street. ELLIE (Bella and Ellie laugh) Alright, Conner, last time. (Ellie walks off in the street where the ball is. Car brakes screech. A bang is heard.)

(Stage blacks out. On to the next set.)

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MOM (yelling) You keep saying my daughter is getting better, but you’ve kept her in here a month now!

(Dad pulls her back slowly) DOC I know, we are just running a couple of tests on your daughter to make sure she is ready. Your daughter got hurt pretty bad. MOM (Softly pushes Dad out of the way and walks over to the kids. Bella is sitting. Conner is rolling his ball.) How are my babies doing?

(Bella says nothing.) CONNER I’m good mom, just sleepy. MOM Well, let’s go get some food and we’ll go home. BELLA What about Ellie? MOM (puts her hand on Ellie’s shoulder) They said they’re running a few more tests. BELLA (turns to Conner) This is all your fault! MOM (grabs Conner) Bella, don’t say that.

(Bella walks off.) CONNER Did I do it mommy? MOM No, sweetie, no you didn’t. (gives Conner a hug.)

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Next Part MOM I’m going to make dinner. Go watch Conner please? BELLA I don’t want to watch him MOM Now, Bella, I’m not going to tell you again. BELLA (goes in the backyard to check up in Conner) What are you doing, Conner?

(Conner is feeding the ducks. Bella walks to him and sees her box on the ground open with nothing in it.) BELLA Conner stop! What are you doing?! CONNER I’m feeding the ducks.

(Bella starts crying and grabbing the paper out of the water.) CONNER What did I do? BELLA (yelling) Ellie gave it to me, Conner! MOM (comes running out) What’s going on?! BELLA (gathers all the pieces of paper and yells) Nothing! (runs inside)

Next Part (Conner and Mom are in the living room) MOM Why did you touch your sister’s stuff?

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CONNER I didn’t know it was hers. MOM Go sit down, I need to finish making dinner. CONNER (heads to Bella’s room) Bella, Bella. (Leaves a flower and goes back to the living room)

(Bella opens the door and sees her favorite color flower and smiles.)

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Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle-K Camilia Saulino CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Tap, tap, tap. I drummed my ring-laden fingers on the countertop and sighed. Somehow, time seemed warped when I worked at the Circle-K, moving about ten times slower than usual. I stared out the dusty window at the flat, endless rows of dilapidated buildings, with a few shiny new ones. This part of town was unsavory, to say the least, and the city had been doing their best to fix it—to no avail. The only reason my parents even let me work in this part of town was because they barely existed. “Lemme get somma these,” said a ratty kid, who couldn’t be more than sixteen, slamming a pack of Marlboros onto the grimy counter. “I’m sorry, I’m not legally able to sell you those,” I said, indifferent. This happened a lot. “Then why don’t cha sell ‘em to me illegally?” he grinned. I rolled my eyes. “I’m sorry, I’m not legally able to sell you those,” I repeated monotonously. His smile disappeared. “Fuck you,” he announced, tossing the Marlboros on the floor and stalking out. I sighed and made my way around the counter to pick them up again. Returning the pack to its little box, I headed back to the register, where a small old man with a walker was waiting with his bag of Ruffles. “Just those?” I asked, ringing him up. “Yes, that’s all,” he said, handing me a five. I handed him his change and his chip bag. “Have a nice day, sir,” I forced a smile. “And you too,” he replied. “Stay out of trouble, young lady.” Unfortunately, I didn’t know just how much trouble I was about to get in.

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I pulled a stick of cinnamon gum out of my pocket and, now that the store was empty, popped it as loud as I wanted. I stared out the window as the clouds rolled in with the afternoon. We rarely got rain, but when we did, it was bad. Just as the first fat drops started falling out of the sky, a man stepped into the convenience store. He looked middle-aged, and surprisingly well-kempt, but for some reason that wasn’t a red flag to me. His eyes were the red flag: shifty and flitting from place to place quickly, taking everything in. He nodded nonchalantly at me and headed into the back of the store. I dismissed the idea that there was something sketchy about this man, and stretched, telling myself to snap out of it. Picking up a pen, I started doodling on my hand, listening to the now-steady rhythm of the rain on the rattling windows. The phone rang, although it was less of a ring and more of a shrill beep. “Yes?” I answered. “Did you restock the chips yet?” It was Hank, the store manager, though he barely qualified. He was a thirty-something alcoholic who still lived at home, and how he owned a Circle-K was beyond me. “Yeah, okay, Hank, I’ll do it,” I said. “Now, missy, not later,” he badgered. I hated when he called me missy. It was gross. “Yeah, whatever,” I retorted. “I can fire you…” he threatened. He would never fire me and we both knew it. Not only would no one want to take my place, but he hated interviewing people. “Bye,” I hung up, cutting him off. I headed out of the back and around the side where the storage closet was, forgetting about the man that had walked in ten or so minutes ago. It wasn’t until I stopped walking that I heard a barely audible crunch of gravel behind me. My heart started like a bass drum in my chest and I could feel my temperature rising in fear. Slowly, I turned, but I saw nothing.

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Still very aware of my heartbeat, I shoved the key into the lock of the door and twisted it to reveal the rows of chips and soda in storage. I briefly considered hiding in the closet, but figured I’d have to come out eventually. Plus, if I left the store unattended for more than ten minutes, it would get robbed, and then there goes my salary. I started to speed-walk quickly back into the store, not only out of fear, but because the rain continued to fall in sheets. Moments before I could reach the door, I heard a man yell. “FBI! Hands up, you’re under arrest!” My adrenaline kicked in and I dropped the box of chips, my torn Vans pushing off the ground in a sprint, but I wasn’t fast enough. I felt the man’s body knock me down from behind, and my jaw connected with the ground, blinding me with pain as bits of rock were ground into my chin. The water streaming down my face became saltwater as it mixed with my tears. The metallic taste of blood, from biting my tongue mid-scream, blossomed in my mouth. Then the world went black.

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The One That Got Away Natalie Kollrack GRANT HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: JULES OHMAN

It was impossible to forget a girl like Rosalie. She was the one who laughed the loudest at your jokes, cheered the loudest at your games, cried the hardest for your loss. She had a giggle, a sparkle in her eye, a great flame that we thought would never be extinguished. She had the beauty of the stars and a wrath like the clouds. She had the voice of an angel, the dance of a ballerina. She was a star. Everyone in the village could see it. In hushed whispers at cocktail parties of elders we would say she was the one who would make it out. Often, our people in the village could hear her singing through the walls of her house, her delicate fingers gliding over the ivory keys of the piano. As Rosalie grew into her teenage years, she attracted more male attraction, from her beauty and elegance. Long hair and big eyes and a full figure. They’d talk to her and tease her, and you could tell she enjoyed it. She’d flirt and flounce and taunt them, but it was all games to her. But there was one that truly loved her. His name was Ryan. But she didn’t pay him attention. He was just an obstacle on her track to pursue life. Sometimes, they sat in the grass and made daisy chains, or sometimes just sat there. “What do you think you’ll do after high school?” Ryan asked her. “I want to go to Hollywood!” Rosalie told him. “I’m going to be a star. I love this town, but it’s too small for me. There are so many places to go and things to do in the world. I want to see it all.” “I know you’ll be a star,” he told her. And she smiled, because here with him, she could tell him all her hopes and dreams, and he would not judge them. “What about you?” Rosalie asked. “What are you gonna do?” “I don’t know, maybe go to college, see what I’m good at,” Ryan told

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her. “But I try not to worry about the future too much, because if you do that, you’ll end up missing the present.” So Rosalie did, and tried to freeze the moment in time, no worries, the only thought in her mind was to lay there and not think about anything else except for how nice it was to be there with him. Towards the end of her days in the village, she got in continuous fights with her family. They would go something like this: Her mother would say, “Why can’t you just go to college? Go here, be close to your family, get a good steady job?” “No!” exclaimed Rosalie. “I cannot stay here; I have to go places. I have to be a star.” “It’s a scary world out there, Rosalie. You don’t know anyone there. Who’s to say you’ll make it in? Wouldn’t it be better to know where your next paycheck is coming from?” “You don’t think I’ll make it?” “I didn’t say that,” said her mother. And most of the time one of them would storm out. She had similar conversations with many people. They didn’t want the girl they always knew to get hurt. but she was a powder keg that couldn’t be stopped. And she was not really on speaking terms with many villagers by the time she left. She left the day she turned eighteen. When she said goodbye to everyone, Ryan gave her a locket. As he hugged her, he told her “I’m always here if you need me.” She blinked back tears. She wanted to get out but was sad to be leaving all she’d ever known. She felt bad about not making connections with people, sometimes she was too involved in herself to think of other people. She knew that they judged her for wanting to leave. She never did open the locket, because she didn’t want to miss him even more. She booked an agent once reaching Hollywood. “Hi! I’m Rosalie. Thank you for having me.” “Tell me something,” he said.

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Rosalie nodded. “What exactly is your goal here in Los Angeles?” Her eyes lit up, for this was her favorite topic to talk about. “I want to be a star!” she exclaimed. “I want to sing, I want to act, I want to dance.” “Well, I’ve seen the tapes you sent me. You have fair acting skills, an athletic body, a strong voice. But this is a tough business to get into. Now I’m going to get you some auditions next week. Now in the meantime, we’re going to need to make some changes. I want your name to be Rosie. Rosalie is too long; no one wants to hire a Rosalie.” “Of course,” said Rosalie. “I’ll do anything.” “Well you’re a beautiful girl, I mean you have a beautiful face. You don’t know what competition is out there. I am sending you home with an exercise and a list of foods and the quantities to eat them in.” She blinked back tears as she shook hands with him and thanked him for the interview. Back in the village no one was cruel like this. Food was culture, and everyone ate their share. Sure she exercised, but it was no obsession. That interview had opened a wall. The wall plastered over the insecurities she harbored inside of her. The makeup and the fun attitude and pretty clothes were covering up her deep-rooted sadness inside. But this was her dream. So she went to audition and audition, followed the plan of starving herself and exercising constantly and worked a tedious job as a retail worker at Forever 21. Finally, after years, she got a role in a new movie musical. She was two people. One was the person who went to work every day and loved her job. The other was just an insecure little girl who sat at home and cried while eating celery sticks on the treadmill. After her movie was released it was a major fail, and since she had invested nearly all her money in it, she was almost broke. Oh, how she missed the simplicity of the village. But she couldn’t go back now. Time passed. One day, Rosalie was at the supermarket, trying to find the cheapest “meals for one” box in the frozen section. There was a man there, he looked a bit familiar to her. Slowly she turned to look at him.

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“Ryan?” she asked. “Rosalie?” he turned around in disbelief. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “Oh, just business. I-I’m a lawyer now,” he told her. “How have you been?” She began to tell him, and suddenly, she was sobbing. Finally he asked her, “What’s wrong?” And she began to tell him all that was wrong and how much had happened, and he interrupted, for she had begun to cry again. “You know what, let’s go where we always go.” So they walked to the park and sat in the grass. “Remember what I told you all those years ago?” he asked. “Try not to focus on the future too much, because when you do that, you end up missing the present,” they said together. As she lay there like she had all those years ago, she thought of two futures. One in the village, happy, where she could be who she was without fear of judgement. But she would admit they were right, admit that she failed. Talk to the people she hadn’t seen or talked to in almost seven years. The flicker in her eye would be gone. She would be sadder from the years of trauma she endured. She wouldn’t be happy because she knew had spent her entire life planning to escape the town. The glitz and glamour of showbiz would be gone. Or a second, different future, where she stayed here and sacrificed the awful socialite life for her true dream. And try and try again till she got her big break. But one thing she knew was that life is a little different than what you had hoped. She could have her dream and be unhappy or be happy but sacrifice her dream. And she still didn’t know the right answer. But it felt nice to be with someone who truly cared for her. One friend and anchor in the sea of madness. And right now she didn’t think about the movies of the agents. She didn’t think about money or rent or bills. She didn’t care what people in Hollywood thought or what people in the village thought or what Ryan thought or what her friends thought. She tried to clear her mind of all thoughts as she gazed upwards. She could

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see the tops of leafy green trees hanging over them forming a sort of canopy. Through the branches she looked up at wispy clouds against a sky of ultramarine blue. She could feel yellow daisies scratching her skin in the itchy blades of grass. She liked the smell of fresh spring flowers laced with dew. She could feel the heat of the blazing sun that was probably giving her sunburns, but she didn’t care. She could hear the soft murmur of the stream and faraway sounds of children playing. The splash of ducks in the pond. And when she listened super hard, she thought she could hear the distant voices of the people of the village singing. As she did this, she didn’t think about anything at all except for the fact that felt happy and safe and loved, and if she could, this moment would last forever.

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At the End of a Rainbow Deghlan Johnson CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

“BOOM, BOOM, BOOM,” into my room comes the loud pound of my landlord’s hand slamming against my door. I know what the problem is; I haven’t been able to pay rent this month, and I am two weeks late. I hurry over to open up the door. “Where is my money, Oliver?” He says in a low rumbling voice. He is frustrated, as this is not his first visit. “I almost have it, Mr. Bradshaw. I’ll get it to you by the end of the week. I swear.” “You better. This is your last warning.” He stumbles away. I am accustomed to him being drunk, however he looks a little more tipsy than normal. I shut the door and hurry over to my mahogany desk and sit down, getting back to work. I shuffle through the papers on my desk and sigh. I look around my apartment and see bare surfaces everywhere. I’ve had to work sixty-hour weeks for the past six months, but it is not paying off. Apparently, journalism is not the field of choice if you are trying to get all of your bills paid. After two hours of work I shut off my light and climb into my twin bed. I pull my quilt over my body. I had brought this out of the closet two weeks ago to combat the freezing weather. I open my nightstand, fish through some miscellaneous junk and grab my reading book, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. It’s not that I cook, I just enjoy the sensory detail they use while describing the different recipes. The next morning, I awake to the loud beeping of my alarm. I know this is my sign to wake up, so I slip out of my bed and into some running shorts. I make my way into the kitchen and pour myself a bowl of Cheerios. After finishing that up pretty quickly I go back to my room,

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and finish getting dressed for my morning run. I make my way out of the apartment pretty quietly as to not wake up the other tenants. After a couple minutes of stretching I venture out into the streets of New York City. I run to the nearest subway and pound down the stairs. I slip my card through the port and the turnstile parts. I walk through the station and down the stairs leading to the subway. I get on the subway and take my seat. It’s pretty empty, but I’m accustomed to that at 5:30 in the morning. When I get to my stop I hop off the subway and out into the station. I climb up the steps and into city, the rising sun shining in my face. I quickly re-tie my shoes and get going. Today I decide to run in Pelham Bay Park. I start running, the wind rushing through my hair, my feet pounding against the asphalt. With a quick glance to my right I see a puppy pouncing after a tennis ball, however with another look I see a bag hidden in the shrubs. Normally I mind my own business when I’m running, however the design on this bag really jumps out at me. The ornate design looks meticulously crafted, definitely something someone wouldn’t leave behind. I stop running and walk over to the bushes. I pull the pouch out of the entanglement of branches; the bag weighs more than I expect. I open it up and peer inside. Inside is roughly one pound of gold. I gasp, and quickly shove the bag into my back pocket. As I am about to walk away, this man approaches me. He is tall and built like a train. “Have you seen a bag?” he asks. “It was right here.” He points behind me. I turn and look at the spot where the bag had been. “I’m afraid not.” I say, looking in his eyes, trying not to show the fear and anxiety growing inside of me. “I might have something that should help.” He lifts the left side of his coat and reveals a gun shoved into his waistband. I wanted to run, but that might convey too much information so I stand my ground. “I was on my morning jog, I stopped to get a breather.” I say, hoping he doesn’t see through my blatant lie. “Can I pat you down to make sure you aren’t lying.” He says as he approaches me. I hesitate, look him up and down, and think of the chances that he doesn’t feel it. 31


“Yes,” I stutter. He walks up to me, and starts patting me down. He starts from the shoulders and moves his way down my body. After what seems like an eternity, he gets to my waist. His large hands touch the bag and I start running. My feet are pounding against the ground almost as hard as my heart is beating. After around twenty meters I hear a gunshot; it blazes past my ear. I keep on running, praying I don’t get hit. I hear another shot and then my left leg crumples. I smack against the ground and everything goes black. THE END

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In a Tribe Angelina Tyumina WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: AMY MINATO

“I mean they are not bad, even though they are drinking, smoking, and all that.” Jade put her textbook on the top shelf in her locker and looked somewhere behind me. The hallway was overcrowded as usual. Students slowly walked to their classes, talking and giggling. I wanted to join them, ask what they were discussing, but I couldn’t just dump Jade. She’s kinda my friend. So, I could only watch them passing by. “Wait, what?” I opened mine and all of my stuff fell on the floor with a loud smack. “Who are you talking about?” I bent over and picked my books up. Jade got a tape out of her striped black-and-white backpack and stuck her new “To Do List” while she kept talking to me. “Teenagers. Do you listen to me? I said, yesterday’s party…” I threw my stuff back into my locker and banged it really fast so nothing would fall again. I leaned on it, softly smiling to Jade, although I definitely didn’t want to do that. Jade was completely weird today— she talked, and talked, and talked about the party and the guys from there. I mean, she was not telling me rumors about who hung out together all the time or who was super hot. She was telling me about the party, as if it was her new article or project. I honestly expected that she would yell “Eureka!” as she did usually before telling me scientific crap that she just understood. Jade told all that crap from books that teens are just scared of their future, adults expect more than teens can actually do, and all that. Why can’t she ever have fun? Or at least could she just shut up and never say that crap to me? “Jade, you are overthinking.” I tried to say it in a most calm and kind of daily voice, although I was super annoyed.

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“I’m not.” She shut her locker and looked at me. “You are.” I replied louder. “Those guys were just having fun. They are like very happy in their lifestyle.” Students started to slow down and stare at us. They were expecting me to give them a new topic to discuss during boring class; they were expecting new gossip. Realizing that made me even angrier; I felt like I was going to explode. “But why do teens do that then?” Jade kept insisting. “They are just lost.” “No one is freaking lost, okay?” I yelled at her face. “We are just having fun.” But Jade didn’t hear me. I do not give a duck about what adults say, because I am an adult. I do whatever I want and if I want to drink booze and smoke, I do it. I do not try to forget stupid society or whatever; I am not proving that I am old enough to smoke. I just don’t want to be a killjoy like Jade. “Teens are just a tribe that is somewhere between hope and despair,” concluded Jade, looking into my eyes. I saw my classmates behind her, smiling filthily. Me and Jade were surrounded by the crowd, we were in a circle. People expected a fight. “Finished? Now shut up and listen. No one cares about your damn society. We all do what we want, because we want it! You are just a queen of killjoys! If you want to play psychologist and analyze my friends, then find yourself some nerds who’ll listen to ya! Do not even talk to me before you learn how to have fun!” Jade looked shocked and couldn’t say a word. I didn’t mean all that crap about not talking to me, but I was too angry to apologize. And that crowd…if I apologized I would look weak. There was no way I was weak. I just turned and went to my class, pushing those dumbasses away. I didn’t know if I was angry at Jade, at that crowd or at myself.

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Abandoned Selena Ceja GRESHAM HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: MONTY MICKELSON

As we were on our way to Sevilla, Suzy taps me and says, “Did you hear that?” “Hear what?” I say as I sit and look around trying to comprehend what she’s talking about. Minutes go by and all the sudden she taps me and says, “There it is again, listen, listen.” We sit quiet as I try to listen and all the sudden I hear a loud boom outside my window. I notice rain and darkness. I turn and look around to see if anyone’s noticing the weird noises. All of the sudden the lights start flickering and the plane tilts left and right a few times before a voice on the intercom comes on and says, “Everyone please come down and fasten your seatbelts until further notice.” Of course, everyone starts worrying even more. Some even start crying. Some praying. Everyone was full of terror. The plane ride was rough for what felt like forever. Then we hear another noise. This time it sounds like something was slowing down or turning odd. We all look out our windows and we see one of the engines blow up. Before we could even react, the plane starts tilting again. “Oh my god, oh my god,” Suzy says. “We’re gonna die.” “Shut up,” I say. “You’re not helping.” As everyone’s flipping out, we start to feel pressure. The plane starts falling. Everyone starts yelling and praying, hanging onto their kids. Stranger’s hugging each other. I start feeling dizzy and before I know it, I’m out cold. Next thing I know, I wake up on water. Not deep water, but like on a shore. My body aches and I don’t know what’s going on. We must’ve landed on an island because there’s sand and ocean everywhere. I stand

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up and try to gather my thoughts. When I start to realize I don’t hear any noise. I don’t hear anything. I look around and there’s no plane and no people. I start panicking and call out Suzy’s name. “Suzy…SUZY!” I don’t hear anything. “Hello?! Anyone?!” Still nothing. I start walking around towards the trees and bushes and I see someone lying on their back It’s Suzy. I shake her and wake her up and she starts screaming in pain. “My leg, my leg!” I look down and see that she has a bone sticking out of her thigh. I tell her to sit still as I try to find something to help her. I’m walking around for what feels like hours and I come to the conclusion that we have nothing and no one. No food, no water, no people. “We’re stranded.” I tell myself. There’s no way we’re getting out of here.

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River of Regrets Noah Brown CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Eric Smith felt a wave of despair as he saw the trail disappear into thick brush. He realized that he was lost. This was not part of the plan; he needed to get home before the storm hit. The rain was already coming down in torrents. He walked back to the trail that he had thought was legitimate. He soon came across the creek. What was a harmless trickle before had now become a raging torrent of muddy water from the storm. A violent gust of wind blew a bucket of rain in his face and he realized that he was stuck until the storm let up. Who knew how long that would take. Two days earlier, instead of being stuck outside in a storm, Eric was inside a nice, heated office building in a suit and tie. Eric was a tall man, around six-foot-two. He had short black hair. He lived in Portland, Oregon. He was an accountant and he often worked late evenings. He didn’t see his kids every day and he often only saw his wife in the late evenings after work was over. After having dinner in his office during another late evening, his stomach lurched in panic when he realized that it was October fifteenth. For most, this date doesn’t have any significance, but for him it was family night. Family night was a tradition in his family. It was the fifteenth of every month. He rarely ever made it home in time. However, he was scared because the last time he missed family night, Mary, his wife, got so mad that she said he could never miss family night again. He thought about going home but he had so much work to do and he thought of his same old excuse, “Well, there’s always another family night.” It was well after dark when Eric arrived to his house. As he pulled into a driveway filled with the dark shadows of the late night, he

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shuddered in fear of his wife. She had sternly warned him about his lack of commitment to his family. The door creaked open. All of his kids were asleep but his wife was still awake, reading the newspaper on the couch. She immediately confronted him. “Where the hell were you? It was family night tonight.” “I had a late meeting,” Eric responded defensively. Mary immediately argued back. “You show no commitment to this family; you just work and work and work. You always say that you will spend more time with us tomorrow but you never do. Your time is running out. What if there is no tomorrow?” Those words struck Eric like a bullet to the chest. He had never heard his wife speak to him like that. His face turned red and he broke into a cold sweat. What had he done this time? He always thought his wife wasn’t serious about these threats, but she was this time. Before things could get any worse, he stormed off. He felt bad about what had happened, but he was sure that he was right in this case. He needed to work, his family would be there any day and he could always make up lost time with his family. The next day, he decided to go hiking so he could cool off from the past night’s argument and have some time to himself. Hiking had a therapeutic impact on Eric and it also allowed him to further avoid his family when things got tense at home. He didn’t tell anyone, not even Mary. She assumed that he was just at work, where he seemed to be all the time during the past couple of years. As he got to the trail, he was immediately immersed in a rich green evergreen forest that made him forget about all of his problems. Mary would never find him here. He had nothing to worry about but himself. The air was surprisingly warm and sticky and there seemed to be a storm on the way. He didn’t care; he enjoyed this stress-free environment that he hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. The rich green forest of tall Douglas firs and hemlocks enclosed him like a cave that sheltered him from the stressful outside world. He kept walking; he was in such a daze that he didn’t see what trail he was on. The friendly

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partially cloudy sky of the morning had turned into a menacing dark sky. A cold wind began to blow the tops of the trees from side to side. By afternoon, spits of rain began to fall. It soon turned into an all-out deluge. He saw his trail disappear into brush. This was not where the trail was supposed to go. He felt a wave of panic but soon realized that he must have accidently turned off a side trail. He went to walk back on the trail when he heard a loud overpowering roar. He felt the energy go straight to his stomach. He came across a creek, now muddy and raging from the past rain. Rampaging water tumbled off logs and boulders and just downstream the water shot like a hose down a waterfall. He immediately realized that crossing the river was a suicide mission. He was officially stuck. He stood still, in a daze about the unfortunate turn of events. The rain continued to increase. Sounding like a ferocious drum solo on the forest canopy. Entire trees swayed from the wind and Eric realized that he was in a full-on storm. Suddenly his heart sank. He was stuck in the woods in a huge storm. Nobody knew where he was. He was already soaked and his fingers began to feel numb. He finally realized that he might die out here. He found a small cave to shelter him from the pounding rain and wind. As he waited in the cave, sure that he would die here, it dawned upon him that he would never be able to see his family again. Waves of regret washed over him. He had always been more interested in himself than his family. He always thought that he would be able to make up for lost time with his family later, but now it seemed that he wouldn’t have that opportunity. The last words of his wife Mary repeated in his head like a broken record player, “What if there is no tomorrow?” She had prophesied the future and Eric was too stubborn to listen. Eric huddled in his cave all night, overwhelmed with grief and regret as the storm raged outside. Trees falling in the wind broke the steady sound of rain pattering. He couldn’t feel any of his fingers or toes. He was helpless. He couldn’t build a fire; everything was soaked from the rain. Eventually the rain stopped, bringing an eerie silence to the forest.

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Eric had never felt more alone in his life. He neglected his family and now he was alone in a cave in the forest. The sun finally rose and Eric went to see if the river was still raging. He saw a dark brown torrent, even stronger than the day before; it had rained so much overnight that the river hadn’t receded to the innocent little trickle that it was before. He sank in despair. His chances of surviving were now zero. He couldn’t survive another night. He was soaked and shivering. The only to avoid freezing to death was to run around and do push-ups. He still was unbearably cold and there was nothing he could do about it. His regret also stayed with him like a virus. He couldn’t stop thinking about his selfish life choices. He decided that if he survived, he would always put his family first. He felt in his stomach the rumbling of a helicopter. The forest canopy was enclosing and no helicopter could see him. He ran as fast as he could, adrenaline pumping him to top speeds. He knew that this was the one chance he had to redeem himself of his bad decisions. His heart was thumping out of his chest, the cold was biting, and twigs and branches cut open his legs, leaving a wide bloody gash. He hurdled over logs. His legs felt like jelly and he tripped over a log. He seemed to fall in slow motion, the sharp stick below slowly coming up to swallow him. He landed right on his face and he immediately felt numb. Soon following was an intense searing pain. He felt his face and his hand was immediately covered in blood. Blood trickled down his face and neck and soaked through his shirt. He still heard the helicopter, not the overpowering roar of before, a distant noise now. He knew that he needed to continue running if he had any chance of getting rescued. He got up and ran, blood dripping off his face with each stride. He ignored the searing pain in his entire body. It was like the roar of the helicopter was dragging him, against the will of all systems in his body telling him to stop. After what felt like an eternity he broke into a clearing. With the helicopter still in sight. He yelled with every last breath he had left,

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“Help! HELP!.� The helicopter circled around and he collapsed in the field exhausted. He woke up in a hospital bed. He was dreary with fatigue but he was uplifted when he saw his wife. Her face was wet with tears. She had cared about him when he was lost, even after he was a total jerk to her. He realized that it was his turn to return the favor. From now on he was going to always put his family first. He leaped out of his bed and went to give his wife a hug.

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The Box Jenny Davanh MADISON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: BRIAN KETTLER

Kate and Lia are childhood friends. They buried a small capsule with something special in it. As they grew older, they both experience consequences and what it’s like to lose trust in each other. Is Max, Kate’s boyfriend, really innocent? Or is he just waiting to prey on Kate and Lia? Will the two best friends find it in one another’s heart to apologize? Will they ever seek what’s in the box together? KATE (kneeling on the ground holding a medium-size shoe box) Come on! I can’t wait already! LIA I’m coming! I’m coming! (runs onstage with something in her hands and makes sure Kate doesn’t see it nor the audience) LIA Hand me the box. (crouches down as Kate hands her the box and Lia puts something in the box) KATE Ready? LIA Yeah. (They both lower the box down and Lia covers the box with dirt, burying it.) Promise me you won’t open this until it’s time. KATE I promise, Lia. LIA And I promise, too, Kate.

(Both walk offstage. Scene changes. Lia and Kate are all grown up and at Kate’s house; Kate walks onstage.) 42


KATE How could you do this to me?! LIA (walks onstage) I didn’t know! KATE What do you mean you “didn’t know?!” LIA AARGH! You’re making this difficult! (slams hands onto the table) LIA I was at the library, doing my homework, and he was there with me. KATE So you just kissed him? LIA Look, it was just a kiss— KATE Just a kiss?! LIA Okay, maybe it wasn’t just a kiss, but— KATE But what, huh? You are my best friend and I trust you to do the right thing, not go out and ruin my life. (turns away from Lia and crossed her arms, leaving the whole stage silent) KATE (whispering) Bet you even went to his house. LIA (sighing) Come on now, that’s just silly. KATE (takes Lia’s phone from the table) Let’s find out, shall we? (rushes offstage as Lia follows; they both come back onstage with Kate dragging Lia) LIA What’s my phone got to do with this? 43


KATE You’ll see. (knocks at her boyfriend’s house) MAX Who is it? KATE It’s the police, now open the door, Max. MAX (opens the door smiling nervously) Oh, h—hi, Kate and Lia… KATE (lets go of Lia and storms into the house) Hey, Lia… LIA (laughing nervously) Yeah…? KATE (trying to stay calm) Give me. A perfectly. Good reason why I shouldn’t be strangling you right now? LIA The fact that I wasn’t lying? KATE Then why the hell is the Wi-Fi connected to your phone?! LIA (thinking of an excuse) Uh, it’s a friendly neighborhood. People get connected all the time around here. KATE (nodding slowly) Uh huh, like how you got connected to my so-called boyfriend. LIA Kate, it’s not what you think. KATE Oh, I know CLEARLY what I’m thinking about! (turns herself towards Max) And you!

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MAX W—what? KATE You told me that you needed to go to the library. Did you know that she was going to be there? MAX Of course not! KATE And I suppose that kiss was an accident, too?

(Max and Lia are silent as Kate slams her foot on the floor and then exists offstage. Max and Lia wait until Kate fully leaves the house and then look at each other.) MAX So… LIA Yeah… MAX You said you wouldn’t tell, LIA I didn’t! Someone must have seen us and told her or something. (pause) Look, let’s just forget about this, I never meant to hurt Kate. MAX So you lied about how you felt. LIA Why wouldn’t I?! You know what? Don’t answer that, I’m leaving. (exists offstage, leaving Max behind, then he exits the opposite way. Next scene shows Lia and Kate with a door in between them) LIA Kate? Are you home? (knocks on the door) KATE Go away. 45


LIA Kate, I know that you hate me, but…please hear me out. KATE I said go away! LIA I will! Once you listen. (can hear a thump against the door as Kate’s back is on the door, and whispers) Thank you. (pause) When you left Max’s house, he asked me why did I tell you about this affair. I didn’t want to tell because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, but now I regret that choice. I know that you probably won’t apologize back and I’ll always be okay with that. KATE The question is: why did you keep it from me? LIA (Pause) I wanted to test his loyalty, to see if he was the perfect one for you. KATE (backs away from the door, facing it) He could have been perfect if you’d left him alone and ignored him! LIA Hey! I am trying to make this up to you, don’t you dare turn this the wrong way. KATE You did what you had to do, now I’m going to do what I have to do. (turns around and walks away from the door) LIA K—Kate? Kate! I don’t want to lose you! KATE (stops in her tracks, without looking back) And neither did I…(leaves offstage)

(Next scene shows Lia standing by the door and slowly parts from it; leaving offstage. Next scene shows Max coming onstage with a phone in his hand.)

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MAX All you had to do was keep your mouth shut. (looks up from the phone as Lia enters the stage) MAX But you didn’t. LIA How can you say that when she was the one who loved you? And no, I wouldn’t lie to her. MAX Then I suppose her finding this out was an accident? LIA Was it an accident? I don’t know, you tell me. All I know is that I only kept this from her was to test your loyalty. MAX You’re a waste of time, gosh. LIA (scoffs) Are you serious?! The person who’s done wrong here is you, and you say that I’m a waste of time?! MAX (rolls eyes) I don’t need a lecture from you. Just leave already.

(Lia makes a frustrated sound, turns around then leaves as Kate enters.) MAX Well, look who it is. We were just talkin’ about you Katie. KATE Don’t call me that, ew, and it’s over. MAX (pretending he doesn’t know) What are you talking about? KATE Are you deaf or something? We. Are. Through.

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MAX It wasn’t like I would care about us breaking up anyways. KATE I trusted you like I trusted Lia, then you two had to break my trust. MAX Okay listen. Everybody eventually gets bored with one thing and finds a new thing to play with. (pause) And that thing is you. KATE (slaps Max in the face as her cell phone rings) Hello? Wait—why? What?! (ends the call and glares at Max) This is all your fault. (runs offstage as Max shrugs and then leaves the stage)

(Scene shows Lia laying down on a hospital bed, can be a table or anything, as Kate rushes towards Lia, looking scared and tearing up.) KATE Lia? Can you hear me? I’m so sorry I pushed you away… LIA It’s okay Kate. I didn’t mean to either. KATE (holds Lia’s hand) What happened to you? LIA I guess running across the streets with tears in your eyes is a bad idea. (pauses and then looks at Kate, says faintly) Hey, do you remember that box we buried back then? KATE (sniffs) Yeah? LIA I don’t think I’ll be there when you get to open it. KATE W—what do you mean?

(The heartbeat monitor starts to slow down as long beats can be heard) 48


KATE L—Lia? What’s happening?!

(Lia puts Kate’s hand on top of her chest, feeling her slowing heartbeat) LIA (light chuckle) You know damn well what’s happening, Kate. (Heartbeat monitor starts to slow down even more with longer beats.) KATE Lia no! We…(sobs a little) We n—need to open that. Y—you promised we’d do it together. LIA I know…

(Heartbeat monitor slows down almost to stopping point.) LIA Thanks…for…everything, Katie…

(Heartbeat monitor stops, showing a straight line and long tone.) KATE Lia… (puts her head on Lia’s body; hugging it and sobbing) It didn’t have to be this way.

(Scene shows Kate hugging Lia for a while; she gets up and walks away slowly as stagehand pushes what Lia is laying on offstage.) (Scene shows Kate with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and the capsule in her other. Kate walks up towards a gravestone which appears to be Lia’s; she crouches down and lays the bouquet near the gravestone, then opening the box.) KATE We both broke our promises to each other, but one promise still remains. And we will open this capsule together. (takes out a locket necklace; opening it and then begins reading a written note) I will love you no matter what. (puts down the note on top of the bouquet and opens the locket, laughs softly) I still remember the day we took this picture together

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when we both met. Feels like it was just yesterday. MAX (enters the stage, holding a single rose with one hand, the other in his pocket; he stops and looks at Kate) Awkwaaard… KATE (looking towards him and standing up from her crouching position) What the hell are you doing here? You don’t deserve to be here at all. MAX Yeah, yeah. I know that I’m the last person you want to see right now, but I just wanted to give Lia her favorite rose. KATE Okay…

(Max walks to Lia’s gravestone and lays the rose down near it, like the bouquet.) MAX and KATE (pause) I’m sorry—

(They both look the opposite way.) MAX Can we at least be friends? KATE But don’t expect me to accept you when you come crying back. MAX (laughing) I won’t. don’t worry.

(Scene ends with Kate hanging the locket on Lia’s gravestone and smiles at Max before leaving offstage with Max following behind.)

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Colder Lies Lolita Huddleston FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

It’s always like this: a normal busy, partly cloudy, sunny day in the small outside town Bakersfield for Sammy. Every day Sammy wakes up at 6 a.m. to get to her office downtown. She is always busy due to her crazy schedules of clients that need her for their next court hearing. Even though being a lawyer makes her busy, she still makes time every morning to do her everyday routine. But today was different; something about the unusually dark clouds made the morning eerie and unsettling. Sure, the city of Canyon Groove wasn’t perfect and it had its stormy days, but today just seemed off to Sammy. But what? she wondered. As she woke up today, she had realized she woke up thirty minutes late after six. It would take hours to escape traffic towards the city. Furious at the fact she had slept in, it only took her seconds to realize her next client’s court hearing was at 8:30 a.m. Hysterical and all in a bunch, Sammy was quick to dress and grab all her files. Just as she closed her door, something out of place caught her attention. The garbage cans were tilted over with trash spilled out everywhere in the parking lot. But what really made the hair stand and sent chills down the spine of Sammy’s back was the creaking door that swung back and forth as the wind carried it. Sammy knew there was something terribly wrong about the whole situation, but her real question was, was she ready to find out what kind of scene there was inside? The thought of it made her stomach turn but she was going for it; as soon as she walked in the site horrified her. GLASS! There were shards of glass everywhere from the moment she walked in, and tons of blood, but where were Mr. and Mrs. Charles? As worried as Sammy was about them, she was very quick to stay alert

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just in case the intruder was still present. As she ventured further into the back of the house, she finally stumbled upon the couple in the third bathroom closest to the master bedroom. Mortified seemed like a better word to describe how Sammy felt; their bodies had been entirely mutilated. She was no professional investigator, but she could tell they suffered extreme head injuries as if the intruder had taken their heads and smashed them against the bathroom sink several times. Thanks to that, she couldn’t tell what other kinds of injuries were inflicted, but there was way too much blood for just two people and Sammy knew she had to keep looking. And she was right. As she went into the master bedroom she found the next body, and from the looks of it, it was another female. But what made her curious was, what was she doing here? Before Sammy looked closer at the female body, she quickly whipped out her phone and called her good friend Hobbs who was the main chief of police in Bakersfield. In shock and tired of trying to stay calm, she let her voice become shaky. Officer Hobbs noticed this and immediately responded, “What’s wrong, Sam?” In fear of the unknown, Sammy struggled to catch any breath, and in disbelief her body was now trembling. As she struggled to make any sense of the situation, the only words she could get out ... “a murder, Hobbs...there’s been a murder. Please come immediately.” She gave him the address and within ten minutes the police had arrived. By the time the police had finished asking Sammy everything she had witnessed, she left for work. “Hey, Casandra, please excuse my tardiness. There was an incident in my neighborhood. I should be at the office in thirty minutes.” There was something that she didn’t tell police when they had investigated her: before they had arrived, she had found a picture of a three-year-old little boy. Months before she remembered seeing a picture of a baby boy, but she hadn’t seen any pictures of children in the home before and Mrs. Charles was way too old to have children.

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And trying to remember the last barbeque they had invited her to, she had never seen any young kids of their own, let alone any older aged children, just relatives. It didn’t make sense to Sammy. If the little boy didn’t belong to Mr. and Mrs. Charles, the only other option was the dead woman lying on the floor. Questions started to fill Sammy’s mind. Who were this kid’s parents? Was it the woman? Where did they come from, if so? And where did he go? Sammy wanted to know who killed them, but most of all she wanted to find the little boy. She loved Mr. and Mrs. Charles and there had to be some form of connection between the woman and them. Sammy knew it was a long shot, but there were little-to-no clues and she wasn’t a certified investigator. As the car rolled through traffic, Sammy picked up speed and headed off the freeway and turned back around. She was heading to Mo’s Market. When she arrived, she picked up some supplies: a few batteries, flashlight, gloves, camera, and trash bags. As fast as she could, she sped off back to the police station in Bakersfield. When she got there, she asked Hobbs if they identified the woman. With some luck they had. With the good news, in hope Sammy asked, “Could you please tell me who she was?” Even though he had second thoughts, Hobbs replied, “Her name is Erica, Erica Jenkins.” “But she has a different last name than the Charles.” “Yes, she does, Sam, but she’s their daughter.” In shock, Sammy replied, “But that’s impossible! Every family event I’ve been invited to the past couple of years, I have never met their kids.” Trying to help her understand, Hobbs looked her in the eyes. “Sam, I’m sorry, but the way the documents state it she is in fact their daughter.” In disbelief, Sammy looked at Hobbs. “That’s what I figured.” Saying nothing more, Sammy turned around. As she left she heard Hobbs repeatedly asking what she meant. As

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she started to leave, Hobbs stopped her, leaning against her car window so his face peered into the car. “Look, I appreciated your help in the last murder case a couple years ago, but Sam you can’t just decide you’re going to be this superhero kind of investigator. That’s part of the police’s job. It’s MY job, Sam.” And in a quick response, “Okay, Hobbs, you tell that to the last family’s case that you took two years on, before I came along and helped you solve it.”

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Mentally Sick Serena Braaten GRANT HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: MONTY MICKELSON

It’s 3:15 p.m. and outside the air was bitter and the clouds were gray. My window had rain droplets laid all over. It was a gloomy day, a day where I was heading to the hospital. Why? Cause I have thoughts of ending my own life. Ending the life my own mother gave me. But I wanted a refund. The drive was a long quiet ride. Driving the car was my father, and we didn’t speak once to each other. I didn’t blame him for being quiet; imagine taking your child to the hospital because he wanted to end his own life. Once we arrived, my father pulled into a parking spot and turned the car off. He turned his head and stared at me for a moment, before opening his mouth. “Are you ready?” “I guess” I replied. My voice was cold. l wasn’t ready, I was scared. We both stepped out the car and walked up to the huge white building that stood before us. All around were other people’s cars, nurses outside talking or even smoking. One lady who looked pale as a ghost walked inside the white building. I didn’t fit in, I wasn’t sick. I just wanted to end my life, that’s all. I wasn’t sick. I followed my dad as we walked into the building. The first thing that caught my eye was how many sick people sat in the waiting room. I saw a lady holding a bag towards her mouth and a child with a bandage wrapped around his small hand. My father walked up to the front desk and gave the lady working at the desk my name and told her why I was here. The lady looked over at me and instructed me to come over towards her. Once I made my way over, she held up a long band to put around my wrist. So I held up my

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wrist, and she put on the ugly band around it. The band was inscribed with my birthday, name, and some random numbers. Nothing worth looking at. We walked over to the waiting room and sat in these leather chairs that made a purring noise when you sat down. We sat there for a while, watching nurses call people’s names. We waited for at least two hours before I got called back. I followed a nurse who had red hair. Her scrubs were purple with flower designs all over them. We walked down this long hallway with rooms full of people. Full of people who needed to be here, and I felt like I was out of place. My anxiety filled my body like cold water rising. Maybe I could make a run for it. But before I knew it, I was standing in a room with the red-haired nurse and my father was waiting outside. There was a hospital bed in the middle of the room and a counter just to the right of the bed. Cabinets hung over the counter, and all the cabinets had zip ties on them. So there was no way anyone could get into the stuff. “Alright, can I have you change into scrubs? Put your clothes in the bag when you’re done.” The nurse asked me, handing me a bag of green scrubs inside the bag. I took the bag and she stood there, watching me. I looked at her confused for a moment, why was she just standing there watching me? “Oh, I’m sorry. I have to watch you undress for safety.” She answered my confused expression. I nodded, not speaking once. My mouth was dry and my chest felt heavy. I swear I could feel my heart in my back. l pulled out the big ugly green scrubs and got undressed as quickly as I could, then quickly put on the scrubs. The nurse nodded at me when I finished, then walked out of the room. I shrugged and hopped up on the uncomfortable white bed. I stared at the green walls that closed me in. I thought about why I was here, thinking how I wasn’t physically sick, but mentally I was. All the sudden, my dad walked in the room. He leaned against the

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wall and stared off into space. He was probably thinking like me. I don’t blame him, this isn’t easy. We were in the room for thirty minutes before a lady walked into my room. She had long brown hair and her figure was curvy. She was also kind of tall, but she was wearing heels. “Hi, I’m Veronica. I’m the social worker here at the hospital. I’m here just to ask you a few questions, and I’ll talk to you alone,” she said to me, as my dad nodded and slowly walked out of the room. She smiled big at me and stood in front of the bed that I was sitting on. She then started asking me simple questions. “What’s your name?” “Brent.” “How old are you?” “Sixteen.” “When is your birthday?” “May sixteenth.” “And what brought you here?” It was hard to answer that without feeling like crying. But I said what brought me here without bawling my eyes out. The lady looked up at me and looked at my arms, which had cuts on them. “You’re a cutter?” she asked me. I nodded. A cutter? God, I hated when she said that. Like it was a disease or something, I don’t know. She kept asking questions for about an hour. I felt like I was in an interview. “Well, Brent, I think we’re gonna send you to a special place for a while, where you can get the proper help and care you need right now.” She nodded at me, her bright smile beaming. I just nodded and didn’t even care. I needed to go, I was in a bad state right now. She got up and left the room, and soon after my dad stepped back in the room. “They’re gonna admit you?” my dad asked me.

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I just nodded once again. I couldn’t talk. I was too embarrassed to speak. We sat in the room for about two hours before doctors came in, sending me to another room that was an actual hospital room. I had to stay there till there was somewhere available I could get treatment. The hospital room was nice. It had its own bathroom and a huge window. It even had a TV, so I had something to distract me. I was there for about three days before I was sent to a special care facility. I stayed at the place for about two weeks. When I was there, I worked on so much stuff. Did it help? Of course. But I wish I never went. I wish I could’ve been okay enough. But I wasn’t. My life was on the line. I’m thankful for the experience, but I hated that I went. I was mentally sick.

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A City Divided Anthony Piacentini WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: BRIAN PARKER

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The Game Joe Raggett CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Sammy got up that day in a chipper mood. His big day was tomorrow, with the game and the dance. He actually had a date, a rare occurrence for him, and he was on the varsity squad for the game. The game was the first playoff game his team had been to in three decades. It was going to be a big day for him tomorrow. He was on fire at practice. He didn’t drop a single pass, he didn’t get his butt kicked by the cornerbacks, and wasn’t a step out of line on his routes. His brown curls dropped over his eyes one pass, but he still managed to scoop up the pass and hobble away unscathed from the defense. The QB, Johnny Hernandez, was a demon that practice. His throws never failed to miss their mark, and every pass Sammy caught made his hands sting. The defense attempted to blitz Johnny, and Sammy watched as the QB pummeled one of the linemen to the ground and spun out. Sammy snapped back to attention, and continued on his route. Johnny saw him, and in that instant, their eyes connected. He threw back his arm and catapulted the ball towards Sammy. He knew in that instant that that was going to hurt to catch. He jumped forward and stuck out his arms toward the ball. The corner wrapped his meaty arms around Sammy’s chest. Combine that with the bullet of a pass, and Sammy’s ribs imploded. Sammy’s fingers gripped the leather football, the mini ridges and lining sliding against his gloves. He felt the control over the spheroid and fell to the ground on top of the defender. “Good job Sammy! Excellent work, Johnny! With that type of play, we will make short work of those pigs!” Pigs were how they described their rivals, the Hampton Hogs. It was an unfortunate coincidence that they had to play their first

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playoff game in years against their arch-enemies. Hampton was the only town that was within ten miles of theirs. Football games usually ended in sore defeat for the Villa Cougars when the teams met. Sammy and Johnny were in the small handful of players that gave his small town of ten thousand hope against the history of defeat. Crowds from town were now routinely coming to games, whereas before, barely the parents of the players showed up. ••• He woke up and rolled out of bed. Twelve hours. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and his day unfolded naturally before him. He was on autopilot. One of his teachers questioned why Sammy was so relaxed on the day of the big game. Sammy snapped to attention to nod vigorously and then looked at the whiteboard for the rest of class. Five hours. After school, he practically flew home, threw his backpack on the floor, grabbed his bag full of everything he’d need for the next six hours and ran back to the school. Three hours. He was at the field before he knew it and he tasted the crisp air. Not too humid, not too dry. Perfect. It was 5:30. Two hours. He saw his friends, his brothers in arms, his teammates, trickle over the field and into the locker room. An hour and a half. He could see the fire in their eyes and he could feel the electricity flowing through their veins. Time slowed as he put his crimson and black jersey over his pads and slipped his hands through. One hour. He could hear the automated Aretha Franklin national anthem being played, and the collected thud as everyone sat back down after the song. Two and a half minutes. “And here come your VILLA COUGARS!” the announcer’s voice boomed as the crowds exploded with noise. It was deafening. Sammy ran straight to his side as the captains flipped the coin. We’re kicking, Sammy thought. Bummer. Isaiah’s leg completed a complete one-hundred and eighty degree arc to kick the ball to other side of the field. Sammy’s heart dropped as a Pig ran for a forty-yard return. 63


Damn, Sammy thought. They were going to have to fight for this one. Sammy lined up opposite some two-hundred and fifty-pound ignoramus. He could hear his chuckles and sly remarks under his breath. “How do you like losing by two touchdowns already?” Sammy tuned him out. The crowd was silent. This wasn’t the game that they had paid ten dollars to see. The first playoff game in recent memory already felt like a colossal failure. Johnny’s impeccable form was gone, replaced by a weak, ghastly, scrawny quarterback. Every pass was wobbly, and most didn’t find their targets. They needed to do something soon. Sammy sprinted past the D-line, cut in between three cornerbacks, and did a face-first summersault into the end zone. Touchdown. Suck it, Goliath. Sammy smirked at number 89. He wanted to run up and down and rub those six points in that idiot’s face, but he knew better. They were behind by five points, this had to be the drive. They had eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Sammy jogged around the cornerback and, dropped the ball. He heard the crowd deflate. They were on the road to a comeback, and they went three and out. “Get my O-line out there!” the coach screamed. They had two minutes left, but was it enough? The cougars got their own defensive shutdown, and they had a precious two minutes to make the game. The scoreboard read 35-40. “Down, Set, HIKE.” Johnny attempted a scramble, and gained them twenty yards. They were now on the Pig’s forty. Forty-five seconds left on the clock. Then, it happened. Johnny wasn’t looking behind him. The ignoramus was having his time to shine. He shoved Johnny to the ground. “SACK.” The commentator announced. The coach used their last time out. Ten seconds left. On their own forty. Do or die time. Johnny set the shotgun pass. The WRs and Tight End put their first foot on the line of scrimmage. Sammy’s tunnel vision gave him a line toward the end zone. He felt every bone and muscle in his body like a spring waiting to launch.

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“HIKE.” Sammy took off. He felt like a self-propelled missile, careening off the cornerbacks and safeties. He rotated his head to see the ball hurtling toward him at an ungodly speed as he raced down the field. He jumped over the end zone, stuck his arms straight into the air. He felt the ball collect toward his chest. He fell, extending the ball over the line. “SCORE VILLA COUGARS!!!”

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Kate Emerson Frost GRESHAM HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: MONTY MICKELSON

“We need to call in the FBI; this is the third body we’ve found this week.” “Kate, do your job; we are not getting the FBI involved,” the captain says. “But I’m telling you, this is a serial killer and they have special units for this.” “It’s not gonna happen! These murders are not related and you need to let any connections you see go and focus on solving them individually out of respect for the families,” the captain says. ••• “Kate, it’s Andrew. There’s been another murder; get here as soon as you can.” Kate arrived at the scene soon after to see a recent murder. The body was about four days into decomp and was found by hikers at the beginning of the town’s hiking trail. The scene was the same as the first body that had been found, which further intrigued and raised Kate’s suspicions that the murders were connected. Kate headed back to the medical examiner’s office to discuss the growing body count. The medical examiner’s name was Alex. She was top of her class at Harvard medical and was set to be one of the top surgeons in the country till she had a patient die on her table her first year as an attending. She reexamined her life and decided that she wanted to help track down killers. Unfortunately for her, she was blackballed from every medical examiner job in New York by a group of lawyers looking for a malpractice suit. This led her to this town to restart and make a difference. This was about thirteen years ago and to this day she has been trying to rebuild her former life. Kate walked into Alex’s office to discuss the recent murders. They discussed how all the murders had a similar m.o. in how they were

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killed. Each body had a circle shape and star inside marked on the stomach like it was printed on or punched very hard with some type of ring. Kate headed back to her office to work on the case which she had decided to continue investigating her suspicions of them all being connected. Despite what the captain said, she predicted that the killer was someone who had been harvesting anger and snapped ten years ago and began killing. Kate got a call from Alex and was informed that the same male DNA was found on all the bodies. Kate went to dig into the victim’s life to see if they had anything in common. But little did Kate know that the victims would all be tied to the captain. She called Andrew, who was still in the field, and asked him to go to the nearest crime lab and run a DNA test comparing the captain’s DNA to the DNA that was found. Meanwhile, Kate went to go look into the captain. Her suspicions were high due to the fact that he did not want her to group the investigation as serial murders. She believed that he may have started killing years ago and was just now getting caught. Then she found out that his ex-wife had gone to the same law school with all of the victims. It was a clue to Kate and led her to the suspicion that the captain may have killed them because they may have been old friends that talked his wife into getting a divorce. She got the call from Andrew where he said the DNA test was inconclusive. She didn’t have the time to care about that right now so she went directly after him and called in Andrew to come help take the captain into holding. She questioned him for hours but nothing. She eventually decided to start working on a case to press charges that would stick and left him in holding. She began to head home for the night when she heard a scream about a minute away from her house. She lived near a forested area so she pulled over and ran into the forest with a flashlight. The killer

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was tipped off by the light and Kate running and ran away before Kate got there. When Kate got there, she found the dead body with the same star shape as all the rest. She called Andrew to get a crew out there and to see if the captain was still in custody, which he was. She realized that he either had an accomplice or he didn’t do it. Kate went to the medical office where Alex confirmed everything except there was no male DNA. Alex walked out of the office for a second to deal with a phone call. Kate looked around and noticed that one of the schools Alex had gone to had the same star as their logo. It was the same school that all of the other victims had attended, too. Then Kate found the ring and knew she had to get out of there because Alex was the real killer. She suspected it was because they were the lawyers who helped blackball her from the jobs in New York. But it was too late for Kate to leave because Alex had walked in to the room and Kate knew she had figured it out.

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Untitled Elizabeth Long CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Her alarm went off at precisely 7:00 a.m.. She rose from her slightly too-narrow bed, wrapping her worn terrycloth bathrobe around her. She shuffled into the cramped bathroom, blinking at the brightness of the harsh fluorescent lights. She splashed water on her face, twice, just like always. She studied herself in the mirror. She could see a couple strands of silver in her chestnut hair, a few crow’s feet around her eyes. The water trickled down her face like tears. She heaved the heavy tea kettle onto the stove, the water splashing inside. The early morning sunlight danced on the gleaming white kitchen tiles. She turned on the radio, twirling a bit as a song she liked came on. She put a pat of butter in the frying pan, followed by two eggs and three pieces of bacon. Two slices of bread were popped in the toaster, and orange juice was poured into the little glass from Naples. She had done it so many times before, her mind could drift as her hands worked. Then the song ended, and her moment of quiet happiness was over. She trudged up the steep Victorian stairs, towards his room. She could hear him already, speaking to someone who wasn’t there. She pushed open the door, bracing herself for the worst. He had dressed in the clothes she had laid out the night before, except he had put on his little red cardigan backwards and was wearing a sock on his hand. He started as she entered, looking at her with fear and suspicion. Then his features relaxed, and he smiled at her with all the innocence of a child. “Good morning Jean-Marie,” he chirped. That was the name of his sister, dead twenty years. She smiled back. She fixed his clothes as he sat, singing a nursery rhyme from childhood. The doctors had said he could hang on for up to ten years, lost in the dreamworld of his past, occasionally surfacing to reality. She held his 69


hand as he stumbled down the stairs, his bones almost bird-like in their lightness. She led him to his chair in the kitchen, and he sat quietly, watching her. The radio was still going, playing a pop tune from the eighties. Then, as she turned to get the jam he liked out of the fridge, he erupted. He wailed, tears streaming down his face. His limbs flailed wildly, one hand knocking over his tea cup, the other his plate. He slammed into the table, overturning it. The sound of breaking glass and his screams intermingled with the bubbly radio song. She rushed to his side, then jerked back as his hand accidently smacked her face. Her cheek smarted, and she held back tears of pain and betrayal. She knew he didn’t mean it, that he couldn’t control himself. He probably didn’t even know who she was. That didn’t make it hurt any less. She grabbed him around his waist, heaving him up. He threw himself to the left, towards the kitchen counter. It happened so fast. One minute, the room was full of sounds. His incoherent screams, the sound of glass crunching underfoot, her own panicked breathing. Then it was quiet. His body hit the ground with a soft thud. She saw the red on the corner of the counter, matching the small splatter on his head. She kneeled by his head, listening for his breath. All she heard was the radio. The kitchen was dark now. Someone’s TV was blaring and the neighbor kids were happily screeching in the street. The egg yolk had spattered on his white shirt, staining it a bright yellow. It seemed so wrong, so demeaning. He had died among the remains of his breakfast. His mouth was still open in a silent scream. The blood had pooled around his head, staining his fine white hair a rusty red. It gleamed dully on the still-shining kitchen tiles. She cradled his head, rocking herself back and forth. “I’m so sorry, Dad, I’m so sorry.” It looks like we’re gonna have a beautiful week, Jerry. Five days of perfect sun. Thanks Marv. Now how about those Mets? In the game last Saturday...

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The Reality of Time Ashton Ryan Dodge WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: AMY MINATO

One day a boy walks into a room. He is bored of looking for stuff to do; he looks around at the toys and games and thinks to himself, One of these days I’ll grow up. I won’t need these toys or games, but I want to play and run and jump until that day. But until it comes, the clock ticks a slow tune, tick tock tick tock. The days draw to a close as my story goes on and on and on who knows when it will all be gone. All I can say is just one more day. Time, my friend, is the sand that flows down the hourglass. How long will it take a minute, a second, an hour, or maybe even years, but when my hourglass empties, I will not know. For only time keeps track of all the minutes to the days and nights. Time only moves in a straight line. It does not wrinkle, it does not fold, it does not bend, but when my time is up the only thing I shall hear is time ticking away like a clock that ticks a slow tine. It is a melody of sound that floods my ears full of sounds like echoes of those forgotten by the past. For when time comes to claim, no one hears it, no one sees it, no one knows the answer and if you do, don’t speak. We can only ask for more time, another minute, another second, another day, month, just one more year, but time does not stop. Tick tock tick tock, you hear the clock. Tick tock. The sound echoes down the hallways. Tick tock the sound fades away; you get up to check why the clock stopped. Tick tock 11:00, you look inside the clock. Tick tock, but everything is in order; the sound is still there. You turn around to see a man is standing behind you. Tick tock. “Who are you?” you ask the man. Tick tock. “Who am I? You should know, young lad. I am born no sooner or

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later, yet I still devour all.” Tick tock You notice a watch on the man’s wrist. Tick tock. “How did you get in here?” Tick tock. You notice the watch’s clock is not moving; it’s not working. Tick tock. “The time is near. Let me ask you a question young one, what is harmless but can kill you?” You turn around and see that your clock is gone and the man has disappeared. Tick tock. The sound of a clock floods the hallways and rooms of your house. Tick tock. “My, oh my, how does the time tick away?” you hear a voice say. “What do you mean?” you yell out. “Time’s up, my boy.” Tick tock tick tock. The house lay quiet, the house lay still, the house lays empty. Tick tock tick tock tick tock.

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Circular Squares Evan Cady CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

It is about 8:45 p.m. on a cold and crisp night. He leaves the house promptly. He walks down the busy street and turns the corner at the small café at the end of the block. He passes by the old brick school where no children play, only old ravens crow. Through the intertwine of streets, Adam reaches the center, the center of the web. Five seemingly deserted streets mingle around a circle of gardens with one single bench in the middle of it all. That bench is of much interest to Adam. He once heard that if you sat on the bench in the rain and the temperature was just right and you thought very deeply about the future, you would teleport into another world, the future world. He waits until 10:03; the weather is just perfect. At 10:02, he sits down on the bench, takes one deep breath, and then begins to ponder the future. He begins to feel dizzy, unable to remember exactly where he is at. Then all goes black. A short while later, he awakens in an intertwined web of streets, but something has changed very much. There is traffic, lots of it, and the vehicles are whisper-quiet as they float above the white surface of the street. The bench is now a single sheet of bent glass floating above the Astroturf that was once a rose garden. The “trees” in the square are wonderful, wonderfully plastic. The iPhone that was in his pocket is now a sheet of glass, so thin it is hardly visible—the content floats as a hologram above it. Adam gets a strange text message, or so he thinks. It is actually a strange hologram of a man, probably in his mid-forties and robotic. The strange man tells Adam that he is in the year 3285. Adam is informed that he must go meet a friend across the city. He asks the man in the phone how he will get there.

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Cooking Lunatic Xena Nguyen MADISON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: BRIAN KETTLER

LUNA Why don’t you hate me?! (drops to the floor, squeezing onto her head) KAYN You’re not that bad. Just...try not to hurt yourself. (squats and pats her back) LUNA I don’t get how you’re still positive, you’ve seen so much I’ve done... KAYN I’m sure we’ve all been in situations like this before. LUNA Not everyone has, some people are born with skills you know! (voice breaking) KAYN I know, I know.

(Luna dives in for a hug, startling Kayn a bit but Kayn hugs back.) KAYN (feeling pain rush through) Whoa, okay. You’re hugging me too tight, Luna. I’m starting to feel pain. LUNA (realizing and quickly lets go) Oh! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! (tears up a bit more) KAYN Calm down. I’m not dead or anything. LUNA Sorry, I make a big deal about everything, don’t I, Kayn?

(Silence between them, Kayn stares without giving an answer.)

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LUNA I’m really selfish... I’m just wasting your time. (stands up and walks away with a sway) KAYN Hey! Don’t just walk away! It’s not a big deal you know, we all make mistakes! LUNA (stops and turns around slowly with an enraged expression) Not a big deal…? KAYN Again, just calm down. LUNA No! I won’t calm down! You saw me struggle through the process! I wasted my time trying to succeed at this! KAYN It takes time! You need to stay positive and keep on going! LUNA But I— KAYN We can deal with this together. Alright? LUNA (trying to keep her voice calm) …Okay. (silence passes; she sighs and sounds disappointed) I can’t believe I burned them all. I’m terrible at this! KAYN Yeah. (walks over to the counter) LUNA Wh—you’re just going to agree?! KAYN (looks at her and raises a brow) Do you enjoy pity? LUNA …No.

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KAYN Mmm, thought so. You know you’re gonna have to eventually pay me back for those eggs you burnt. LUNA (voice going higher, staying in shock) Wait, you never told me that! KAYN I couldn’t when you were moping over them. You wouldn’t shut up... LUNA Well I’m sorry for being a failure! KAYN You barely started cooking today, quit overreacting! LUNA I used two full cartons of eggs and burned every single one of them! I even ruined your pans! KAYN Oh yeah, you’re paying for those, too. LUNA KAYN! KAYN It’s not like they cost much. LUNA Ughhh! KAYN Speaking of eggs, there’s no more. You ended up using them all. LUNA Oh my god. Can we just try making something else? KAYN Alright. but you’re still paying me ba— LUNA I KNOW! 76


(Scene transition: Moving on to cutting tomatoes.) KAYN Hold the tomato like this. (gently holds the tomato and cuts through it slowly—sound of knife cutting on the board) LUNA (on her phone being distracted—sound of taps on phone and texting) KAYN Luna? (takes a look at her, stares for a moment, then snatches Luna’s phone away) LUNA H—Hey! My phone! (tries to reach for her phone) KAYN (takes a look at the text) Luna, are you serious? LUNA (silent) KAYN I told you to stop talking to him! LUNA I can’t help it! KAYN He’s not good person, Luna, and you know that! LUNA Everyone deserves another chance! KAYN No! You’ve gave him enough chances. Stop trusting him! LUNA (shaking voice) But there’s no one else I have… KAYN What about me? LUNA What about you?? 77


KAYN I was always here for you, since fourth grade! Until you decided to run away with Ace! LUNA It’s not my fault. He’s just so amazing! KAYN Amazing at what? Using you every time you trusted him? LUNA No, he treats me good, but you obviously never do! KAYN (frozen at the what Luna had just said) …I know what he’s done to you. I’ve seen how he’s treated you! LUNA So what?! KAYN So what? (starting to yell) He’s left you these wounds that won’t heal as long as he’s near you! LUNA (muttering) Shut up… KAYN (questioning her like she’s stupid) What? LUNA (voice bursting out with agony) I SAID SHUT UP! KAYN (silent as she’s shocked by her sudden outburst) LUNA (yelling) Why can’t you just mind your own business for once?! KAYN …I’m trying to help you! Can’t you see?!

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LUNA No I can’t! The only thing I’ve seen is you pointing out the mistakes I’ve made! KAYN (sighing and calming down her voice) You’re supposed to learn from mistakes, Luna. You’re twenty-three. LUNA (voice breaking) I know. (tearing and sobbing up like she had before) KAYN (cautiously tries to hug Luna) Please just do what’s actually right. For yourself and your mother. LUNA (sobbing louder as she hears the word “mother” while she muffles her voice into Kayn’s shirt) Okay. (hugs back tighter) KAYN Hnnnn, no no no, you’re squeezing me again. LUNA (still sniffing her tears away) KAYN …Alright, let go of me now. We need to make the tomato soup. (slips out of the hug) LUNA (stammering as she speaks and her voice gets smoother) O…Okay. KAYN (demonstrates and holds the tomato down) Hold down the tomato like this. Then— LUNA Can I just try cutting it? KAYN ...You sure?

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LUNA Yes, I’m sure! KAYN …Good luck. LUNA Hmph. (holds down the tomato and attempts to cut through it—sound of knife cutting on the board) LUNA Did I do it right? KAYN No, try again. LUNA Ugh. (cuts through again—sound of knife cutting on the board) KAYN Firmly grasp the knife and tomato. It looks like it’s about to explode to way you’re holding it. LUNA (cuts through again—sound of knife cutting on the board) KAYN Firmly grasp it. LUNA (slices the tomato viciously and impatiently—sound of knife banging against the board with force) KAYN (walks behind her and leans to her ear) FIRMLY. GRASP IT. LUNA I can’t do it! I can’t I can’t! Especially when you’re breathing down my neck! KAYN Your hands were shaking too much. You need to concentrate, it’s like you’re an upset puppy. 80


LUNA We just had a discussion about my ex who you hate and lecture me about! I’m suuuure I’m not upset. KAYN …Apologies. LUNA Stop talking to me like that. KAYN Like what? LUNA You talk to me like you’re my butler! I’m not your useless mistress! I’m only a year younger than you! KAYN (confusedly staring at her) ...I’m sorry? LUNA You should be! (crosses her arms aggressively) Ugh! KAYN …Okayy missy. LUNA (taking in a deep breath) Okay, I just need to calm down... KAYN No kidding. LUNA He... Ahem. (quick seconds of silence, then she faces Kayn innocently with a smile on her face) ...Can I get my phone ba— KAYN No. LUNA Ugggh. (bangs her hands on the counter) But if I cook, I’m gonna use all your food and burn it again...

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KAYN Well, it takes practice, Luna. LUNA Why am I so bad at cooking… KAYN You never cooked for yourself. That‘s a reason, don’t you think? LUNA I cook for myself! KAYN When was the last time you did before begging me for help? LUNA …Well— I— Uh— KAYN (mocking) WeLL— I— uH— LUNA (softly hits her jokingly on the side) Ugh! Stop mocking me! KAYN (laughing along with Luna) Alright, alright.

(An atmosphere of complete silence fills the air) KAYN (coughing away the silence) Well, since you’re the one who’s trying to cook, try cleaning the mess too. We don’t have time to make a meal. LUNA (laughing) Aww, come on! KAYN Ahehehe... (points at the mess) I’m serious. LUNA Oh... I mean. It’s better than cooking.

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KAYN …Why’d you become so interested in cooking? LUNA (looks away as she dumps the wasted food) KAYN Don’t just ignore me. You’ve told me plenty of other…disturbing things. At least from what I can remember. LUNA Kayn. KAYN Yes? LUNA My mother died. KAYN …What? LUNA A few months ago. KAYN I see… LUNA Sorry, that was so sudden. KAYN Don’t apologize. I should be the one apologizing. LUNA I just wish I could’ve told you sooner. KAYN Why didn’t you? LUNA We haven’t talked in over a year. I can’t just suddenly text you randomly about my mother dying. 83


KAYN Aren’t you kind of doing the same thing, but in person...? LUNA That’s not the point. KAYN Sorry. LUNA (takes a deep breath in) It’s…alright. KAYN Does this take any place in your interest of cooking though? LUNA Well...honestly, it’s stupid. KAYN I’ve heard plenty of stupid things from you before. It’s been a while anyway, go ahead. (sound of putting on rubber gloves) LUNA (puts on rubber gloves and turns on the faucet) I just don’t know. All my mom said was, “You’ll be a great cook one day. I know it.” That’s all. She never said it again after that, it was a one-time thing. (chuckling while washing the dishes as they clank together—sound of clanking dishes) But, it’s been in my head ever since. KAYN (clenches onto her shirt heartfully) Aww… That was... kinda cute. Especially since you’re normally bitter and complain about Ace a lot. LUNA Oh shut up. I’m still learning. (turns off the faucet, sighs) It’s weird how I can’t get over someone who’s hurt me so much. Then he acts like he never did anything… KAYN He’s quite an Ace-hole, isn’t he? (laughing at her joke)

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LUNA …No, stop it. You’re horrible with your jokes. (laughing softly) KAYN Well, that was good. Don’t you think? LUNA Haaah, sure. KAYN Pfft. LUNA You know, I tried telling him I wanted to be a professional chef like you. He didn’t take it so well… KAYN He’s Ace. He couldn’t even ace for a C. LUNA Heh...honestly, my confidence just fell into a pit of fire after that. He never takes a chance to believe in me. KAYN Luna, you’re really gullible when it comes to Ace. LUNA Well I’m sor—Owh! (a dish breaks and cuts her finger through the glove) Oh, god, okay, I’m bleeding. I’m bleeding. Where are—(Kayn appears behind her) SWEET CHOCOLATE YOU SCARED ME! KAYN Band-Aid? (pulls out a Band-Aid) LUNA ...Do you just carry Band-Aids with you everywhere? KAYN When I’m with you, yes. Also this is my house. LUNA I know it’s your house! Do you think I’m just that clumsy? 85


KAYN Yes. (unwraps the Band-Aid and wraps it around her cut) LUNA Hey, I can put it on myself, Kayn. KAYN Well, you need help with everything, so I should be doing it for you. LUNA God, you’re so rude. KAYN Your point? LUNA Wh— …hmph. KAYN (finishes wrapping the Band-Aid) You know I’m here to heal your wounds for you Luna. Not Ace. LUNA What? KAYN …Nevermind. LUNA (looks at Kayn’s hands and then back at hers) You know, your hands are really soft. KAYN (nervously laughing) Thanks? LUNA Oh—sorry that just came to my mind. KAYN Hey, Luna. LUNA Huh? 86


KAYN Can you promise me that you won’t ever go near Ace again? LUNA I… I don’t know yet. KAYN …Don’t leave me again for him. We haven’t seen each other in two years because of your obsession with him. LUNA …I know. KAYN If he hurts you again. I’m here. (holds out her hand for Luna) Promise me you won’t do anything wrong again. For yourself, and your mother. LUNA (hesitantly stares at Kayn’s hand and then slowly grabbing it) I...promise. KAYN Your mother is going to be proud of you and is proud of you. I know that. (smiles and chuckles at her) LUNA (starting to cry) I miss her so much… KAYN Luna... it’ll get better. (gives her an attacking hug) LUNA You...you always tried being here for me and I pushed you away…I don’t want it to happen again. I’ve missed you so much, I miss my mother so much. I just can’t— KAYN Shh, shh. I know I know. (strokes the back of her head) I’ve missed you too. LUNA You’re like, the sister I always wanted. (sniffing)

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KAYN (twitches slightly) Right… LUNA (lets go of her and quickly runs off) Sorry, I need to freshen up! KAYN (watches her run outside and stares onto the ground) Like…a sister…? (stands there for a while, then scratches her head confusedly as she waits for Luna to come back)

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Committed Cyrus Kagan CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

On the corner of 14th and Lowe, just outside of Medford, John looked around desperately in the cold morning light. The world was silent and desolate in the hour before sunrise. Some sixth sense tipped him off and he turned his head just in time to see Lucious round the corner of the jewelry store. He was wearing the best clothes he had—an old button-up flannel made in the 80s and torn-to-hell Levi’s—and carrying nothing but a beat-up old backpack. John breathed a sigh of relief, but the knot of nervous uncertainty in his stomach stopped it cold and it died in his throat. He looked around one last time before getting into the car. A little reluctantly, he turned onto the freeway, driving away from the only home he’d ever known. John quickly banished those thoughts from his head. He knew he needed to get away, needed to see the world, desperately needed some change in his life. “Why Vegas?” John inquired, turning his eyes off the road towards Lucious. “Opportunities,” Lucious replied, his voice calm and level, still looking out of his window. John wasn’t so sure about that, but he kept this to himself. He trusted Lucious. Lucious was the only one in Medford who truly understood him, understood his need for adventure. Fifty miles out, John was seriously starting to doubt his decision to leave. He’d just realized that he had absolutely no idea what he would do outside of Medford. His old life had been boring, but at least there were no uncertainties in it. He’d known how everything would play out. On the other hand, John didn’t want sit around doing the same old thing until he dropped dead. His stomach clenched and his chest constricted

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as his panic rose. His mental struggle was tearing him up inside. “I’m not so sure about this,” John whined, trying to keep his breathing steady. “Why?” Lucious asked, a little surprised. “What am I doing?” John blurted, hysteria rising. “You’re changing things up,” Lucious replied, calm and level as always. “That’s what you wanted, right?” “Let’s turn back,” John pleaded, and suddenly there were tears blurring his vision and his heart was fighting to break free of his chest. “We can’t turn back now,” Lucious argued. “We’re committed now. Let it happen.” Lucious fell silent and switched on the radio. Static filled the car. John seemed to have calmed down, but his breaths were still coming fast. John switched the station to the local news. Lucious reached over, trying to change it, but John slapped his hand away angrily. After a bout of indistinct chatter, a crackling voice shattered the tense stillness. “Breaking news,” the voice announced. “There’s been a heist. Local jewelry store broken into earlier this morning. 14th and Lowe.” The voice talked on, but John wasn’t listening. He’d gone into shock. “We need to go back now,” John whimpered. “They’ll think it’s suspicious that we left town the same time the robbery happened!” John was panicking again, voice shaking with terror. “We can’t turn back,” Lucious repeated, a sad smile on his face. Terror turned to rage, and John whirled to face Lucious, making the car swerve dangerously. John’s furious retort died in his throat. As the car swerved, a little gold ring fell from Lucious’ battered backpack. It lay there on the floor, glinting maliciously. In John’s mind, everything clicked into place. Lucious was right. They could never go back.

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Lil Lonely Boy Kate Punches GRANT HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: JULES OHLMAN

It’s always fun being rolled around in a wheelchair because they can’t have me trip and fall and sue the whole goddamn hospital. My room was an uncomfortably empty space; there was a golden-brown chair that turned into a bed in case anyone wanted to sleep the night. No one did. The walls were covered with wires and cords, and one of them had a whiteboard with my meds and our plans of action, and around it was doodles to ‘cheer me up.’ My bathroom was small and had a curtain for a door and a metal mirror, just in case anyone tried to get desperate. There was a camera at the corner of my room pointed right at me; they said they had them in every kid’s room just as a precaution. I hated how they literally watched us round the clock. I mean, tell me that’s not a little creepy. My room also had a hospital bed, one of the ones that can move any which way, so sometimes when I got bored I would mess around with it and see if I could end up upside down. Other than that, the room was empty. I did have a TV and I could watch movies but I got bored of that pretty quickly. And everything else was locked up and put away, including my clothes and phone. Which was a drag, but it was just another one of three million precautions. Like I wasn’t allowed to wear shoelaces? Like I would rather have nails shoved up my own nails rather than go buy a shoelace. One thing about my room that was amazing though was it had this stunning view of downtown, and at night when all the lights were on, I would just watch it for hours. And when it rained it was even better, the sound of the water hitting the bulletproof glass while you hear the faint honks of people trying to get home. I mean it was incredible, better than anything on TV.

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April 11 About once a week we would have a meeting with all the depressed kids and try and talk about our feelings and why we were there. It was terrible and I loathed going every goddamn time. I walk in and there were a dozen new kids; it happened every once in while—they sent out all the kids that got better in chunks and then replaced them. I never left because my parents thought if they just stuffed me in there forever they wouldn’t have to deal with me. None of the kids looked particularly interesting in any way to me. I sat down and they called to start the session. I usually just zoned out and didn’t participate in these things, but right before it started, a girl, a pretty-faced girl sat down across from me. Her long brown hair bounced whenever she moved her head and it was unbelievably distracting. Everyone basically had to dress in PJs here but I could tell she was fairly skinny. She had dull skin, if that makes any sense, I don’t know, it was just kinda, well, dull. At this point, the section had to start and the woman was talking. I wasn’t listening, too distracted. I never really focused on girls ever, just didn’t see anyone interesting enough to deal with. But this girl, this also-depressed kid with big dimples and soft brown eyes, she interested me. Next thing I knew everyone was standing up and giving each other hugs and introducing themselves. It’s something they did, they said hugs lead to happiness and every damn time you greet someone in a session you have to hug first. I never stood up. Just watching them be cheesy and awkwardly hugging one another left a sour taste in my mouth. But this girl, this stupid stupid girl had to walk up to me. “Wait, do we not have to participate? Cause I don’t know how comfortable I am with hugging a bunch of strangers.” She did an awkward laugh and looked back at the scared kids giving half-hugs and forcing themselves to laugh at the awkward small talk. “I never have. They get kinda mad but it’s not like they’ll do anything,” I said as calmly and coolly as I could. I was having anxiety

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but refused to show it in any way. That’s what you get when you have social anxiety and meet pretty-faced girls. “Good.” She plopped down next to me and slouched down. I was too spooked to say anything more to her, like what would I even say? What are you in here for? Oh, depression? Me too! Let’s kill ourselves together! Stupid. July 29 I’ll be honest with you guys. The past couple weeks have not gone as planned. You remember that girl? The pretty-faced one with dimples and dull skin? We actually became friends, which was something I would’ve never imagined. Her personality was amazing and not trying to be cheesy or anything, but I was falling in love. She killed herself about a week back. I’ve officially been in here for six months, and I think being stuck in this stupid place is making me want to kill myself more than my depression. I’ve had one friend the entire time and the nurses just try and make small talk which is worse than not talking to anyone, in my opinion. It’s summer, so the rain is gone and it’s too goddamn hot. I hate Portland. If I don’t kill myself before college I’m getting the hell out of here.

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10 Reasons, That’s All You Need Zoe Bosch CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

I was fighting with all I had; it was as if I was fighting for my life. No matter what I did or said he wouldn’t stop. He was at the point of no return. Carter started to punch me in the face, while I attempted to protect myself. He forced my legs to open, as he ripped my shirt off, and that was just the start of the horror. A few months after the incident, Carter and I broke up. Then I went to a counselor to talk about it to see how I should handle this. She wanted to know about how we met and what he was like, etc. I started with how everything happened, in as much detail as I possibly could. I remember when I first met him. I was walking into the café with my friends when I noticed the infamous senior playboy Carter staring at me. This was my first year at University of Virginia, and when he started to walk towards me it felt like love at first sight. The feeling of joy and warmth surrounding my whole being, when he looked into my eyes. His piercing cobalt eyes, hitting me like a meteorite crashing into earth. “Do you have a pencil? Cause I want to erase your past and write our future,” Carter said as if it would work on me. I laughed so hard it hurt. I didn’t say anything. “You know we have the same math class, with Ms. Smith in room 470,” he stated. “Oh, yeah…that’s right…cool. Well, I am going to go, so see you in math class,” I said backing away from him and running towards my friends. This is how we first met each other, and we started talking in math class. Soon after, we started dating. One day we decided to go to his apartment, to hang out and chill. The smell of his apartment was earthy, outdoors-like. His whole place 94


was clean and organized to the point where everything was blindingly shiny and sparkly. We walked into this bedroom, there was a cold feeling down my spine, it felt as if I had just walked into a really nice jail room. There weren’t any photos of him and his family or friends. There was only a large bed, and a nightstand with his textbooks and a lamp. Nothing more, nothing less. We quickly left the room and walked around his house, and every part of the house had the same feeling, cold and distant. After a few dates, he wanted to go back to his place. This was when it happened. When he started to demand things from me, to have me do things that I continuously said no to. I don’t particularly want to go into detail with it. Just after it happened, we broke up. I started to become really depressed. Not wanting to move from my bed, because it was my only little piece of heaven. I did not really eat anything, because everything I ate tasted horrible, like dirt. About a week after falling into depression, I was starting to self-harm and nothing was appealing to me. The only thing that would make me get out my bed was school, and going to class and the appointment with my counselor, however those stopped working, so I stopped with the appointments. The depression was becoming too much. I couldn’t do it. So I found a solution. I was walking in the forest when I found a cliff. I started to walk closer and closer the edge of that cliff, inches away. My steps wobbly from the thoughts that were running through my head. This is what I deserved, right? I am not worth anything anymore. My ex-boyfriend raped me, and the funny thing is that everyone thinks it’s my fault. No one is talking to me anymore, unless they want to get some, which is disgusting. Avoiding all the looks that I would receive, and all the whispers that weren’t even whispers. I need to do this, it will end all of the pain and suffering. My heart in my chest pounding like a death march, thump tha thump tha thump tha thump. It’s the only sound that I can hear. Thump, a step closer. Thump, almost there. Thump, we’re going to

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do this. It’s happening. This is real. The next step is the last one I’ll ever take. “WAIT! Please don’t jump, it’s not worth it. I know it seems like it but it isn’t,” someone screamed towards me with worry in their voice. “You don’t even know me, so what do you know about me? That I am an easy person to get with?! I was so close, so damn close!” I turn around, screaming my anger at him. I stare at him afterwards for about a second and realize that it’s Leo. Leo was sorta popular, mostly he was best friends with someone who was the leader of the in crowd, and Leo was nice. No one said anything bad about him. “I might not know you but you must have at least ten reasons to live,” he said, walking towards me. Every word that came out of his mouth was cautious and thought-out, as if I was an antique vase that the slightest breeze would shatter. “No, I don’t! I really don’t,” I yelled with everything I had in me, while tear streaked down my face; I just couldn’t stop crying. I was so lost in my own world that I didn’t know that Leo had wrapped his arms around me, rubbing my back. “It’s okay. I am here for you. I can prove to you that there are ten reasons that you have to live. I’ll give you two reasons a day for five days straight, as to why you shouldn’t kill yourself. And you can be happy in the future if you don’t. Okay? If you don’t think that’s a good enough reason, then you can jump off that cliff,” Leo says quietly and carefully. I stood there in his arms, thinking this over. It would be a bad idea, but he probably couldn’t think of any good reasons so why not? “Okay, fine. Five days. That’s all you get.” Leo started to find reasons. The first reason was my love for writing. We started to talk about what we wanted to be when we are older. I said a writer. The second reason was for my pet dog. When he came over so we could study for chemistry, he saw that I had a pet in my apartment. He really found Taylor cute; he said that I couldn’t just abandon her, that would be too cruel, and I knew that he knew he was right. The third was for how well I play the cello. I have been playing for

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about thirteen or fourteen years, and I really enjoy it. It’s something that can calm me down in just moments. Reason four was because of how much how much we had fun baking, that one time. We were hanging out at his place, and I wanted to make some cookies. It ended in a food fight. The fifth was I enjoyed volunteering with the little kids who are at the hospital that are sick. The kids are just so cute and small. So fun to be with, I just forget my problems with them around. The sixth was because of the new friend that I made in our chemistry class. Her name is Serena; she was so sweet, and also funny and crazy at the same time. The seventh reason was because if I didn’t I would get to know all of his secrets. I wanted to know why he wanted to help me. Why he was so persistent on being there with me. The eighth was everything that my mother, who has taken care of me, has done so much for me since I could remember. My mother was someone who adopted me when I was really young, and everything she did for me. How much time she has put in for me. The ninth reason, which he didn’t need, was how badly I wanted to travel around the world. However, before the day ended he handed me something and said to open it tomorrow. On the last day he forgot about me. I don’t know what happened. I opened the letter, but all it said was to meet him at the cliff. When I went to there I saw him. Not about to jump, but with a picnic basket, and a blanket with candles around it. It looked so sweet of Leo to do this for me. I sat down, and we talked the whole time, about anything and everything that came to mind. In that moment I forget about why I wanted to die, I forgot about why I was sad. “I don’t have a tenth reason yet, you know,” he said sadly. “It’s okay, you don’t need one. I am happy with where I am right now,” I said looking up at the stars.

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Gia Ashley Hopfer WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: AMY MINATO

Bred from abandonment and hard work, Gia was bound for tragedy. With a face sculpted by saints, her own demons shaped her future. Attitude fueled her mystery. Beauty defined her pain. Pressured to become everything she had created, Gia had fallen into her own poison. Thick red poison made from impossible measurements and toxic jealousy. Fame from beauty can be the hardest to accept. Sacrificing your personality in order to reflect a false image can be emotionally defeating. Modeling is both physically and mentally exhausting. “If you scare the shit out of people, then they don’t see how scared you are.” —Gia Carangi When Gia first began to model, she despised being photographed. Scouted in her own habitat on rustic street corners of Philadelphia, she made her own mark with fire-lit hair and a vulgar expression. In the beginning, it was so magical, but in the face of a reality filled with careless souls and bitter designers, the pain cannot help but spread. Her pain sustained with use of all types of drugs; consumed in her addictions she could not escape the substances, nor did she want to. Buried under industries’ expectations grew the mold of her soul. “Fashion is not art, fashion isn’t even culture. Fashion is advertising, and advertising is money. And for every dollar you earn, someone has to pay.” — Gia Carangi Imagine a life where every day you’re poked and prodded from sunrise to sunset, and only then, when the moon lights the allies of sorrow, Gia would lay alone. Alone with only her thoughts and worries of tomorrow. Gia didn’t find this life; it found her. As a child,

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her mother would teach her how to put lipstick and blush on, along with all the accessories that came with becoming a woman. When her mother left Gia and her family, Gia despised her lessons. Running from what she had lost, it found her in a different form. As much pain as her parent’s divorce brought Gia, she never lost the love for her mother. Modeling was her attempt of making her mother proud. Naïve intentions are traumatic for fame. Before anyone enters an industry built on falseness, you must know your own truth. Gia had no truth; she had betrayal. When those whom she loved, loved her back, the madness bustled. Desperate for emotional survival, Gia was furious and bitter to watch her loved ones go. Selfish with her pain, she always strived to press onto success. “Life and death, energy and peace, if I stop today it was still worth it. Even the terrible mistakes I’ve made and would take back if I could. The pains that have burned me and scarred my soul. It was worth it to be allowed to walk where I’ve walked, which was hell on earth, heaven on earth, back again, into, under, for, in between, through it, in, and above.” —Gia Carangi Every photograph takes a piece of your soul, eventually it will all fall, and nothing will be left but a legacy. In 1986, Gia Carangi was diagnosed with AIDS. Admitted to Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, she never recovered from her illness; on November 18th, we lost the first supermodel in the fashion industry. “Sex was everywhere, it was never about sex. But love, love was hard to find.” —Gia Carangi In the absence of Gia, her presence in the fashion industry still upholds. Through look-alike supermodels like Cindy Crawford, her legacy carries on. Anger lit her soul black, but her heart always remained whole. As her mother once said, “Always different, but always the same.”

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Embers Kira Swinth CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

I could feel her. The energy. The urgency. The words between us simply existed. I felt and she received. She felt and I listened. I asked for forgiveness. For the years that passed too quickly and the time that slipped away. But she begged that I take it back, for it was my childhood. She begged that I forgive her. Forgive her for the childhood lost inside of me. But I couldn’t accept it. I thanked her. She handed me emotions that only exist for those who let them in. She loved me enough to hand me pain. I cried heavy tears that seeped into my jeans and spread between the fibers like wildfire. She wiped them off my cheeks before they burned me alive. A memory of her escaped with each tear. Gone forever. I cried for time to slow, but it only made the tears come faster. I cried for time to relax, but it only made the tears come heavier. I was losing her even as she sat with me. I dreaded to let her in. To let her down. To show the struggle that existed without her. But I always knew that she lived in the struggle and the pain. She lived in the triumph as well. She would not be let down by the strength she bred. She was silenced from sharing her whole story. But I felt the chapters of our twelve years. I feasted off those twelve years. I reaped the significance of those twelve years. I bathed in the tears that threatened to take those twelve years away from me. She left me with pieces, and I cried for more. She said it was the unknown that would fuel me. Curiosity would drive me. She said it was in my blood to fight. She was the purpose. Her hands were hot with fire as she held my heart when it hurt. She burned a desire. She stoked a flame.

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She could feel me. She could see me. She could understand me. She was me. Feeling transcended linearity. Feeling defied reality. For the ghost of my mother was within me.

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The Darkness of Brightly Lit Corridors Cadence Deeley ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: JEFFY DENIGHT

TERA This cold seeps into my bones. ART I know. TERA My stomach claws up my chest. Ripping me open. Feeding on my breaths but air will never be sufficient nutrients for his thing inside me. ART (beat) I know. TERA (silence) ART (silence) I know. TERA I want to go back. ART (silence) TERA Feel my toes warm by fire. I don’t want to be here. (beat) With you. ART What do you mean? TERA These monsters living inside me that I keep fed and alive with my every breath even though they are your dreams. I give them everything. We

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live in this house, and I am here, freezing in the large rooms. Shivering in the darkness of brightly lit corridors. ART Then leave. TERA You can’t support yourself. ART I’ll manage. TERA I…won’t miss you. ART I know. (silence, almost comforting) I know.

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Master Ninja Tom Wagner CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: LISA EISENBERG

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Nightmare of Night Jess Orkin CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Each time my red converse smacks the wet pavement I feel a jolt run through my body. It feels like my heart is leaping out of my body, physically trying to leave me. That feeling of emptiness in my chest fills my body. My fingers and toes tingle with nervousness and goosebumps run up and down my bare legs. That unfathomable time between my foot rising and hitting the grimy concrete once again felt like years. The pavement in front of me blends in to the darkness of the night. Just the possibility that the ground could shift from under me made me hesitate. Maybe the ground of the once-busy street will open if I blink for too long and I will fall in and disappear and no one will realize I’m gone. Anything can happen at night. It’s like the familiar world around me shifts and what once was 12th Street is a jungle full of danger and possibility. The tall buildings loom over me blocking out any light from the moon. I could fall off the face of the earth right now and no one would see. I don’t know if being alone or the possibility that I’m not scares me more. I hate how men prey on teenage girls while they are ambivalent to their stares. My body tenses at the thought of men lurking and gazing in the shadows of the night. Suddenly every corner hidden without streetlight shining from above becomes darker and deeper. I see eyes glowing in the reflection of the moon on the shiny curb. I feel figures watching me above dim windowsills. I stop at a red light on 11th Street and stick my wrist in front of my face to check the time, but all I can make out is a blurry hour hand far past the ten. The night fell faster than I expected. I planned on strolling home at 9:30 p.m. just after the slow summer sunset. The Brooklyn Library is just a ten-minute walk from my house, so I go there

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a lot to finish up projects, or just to get out of the house. Sometimes it just gets to be too much. I guess I just got distracted and didn’t notice the time passing until the sour librarian told me, “Doors are locking in fifteen minutes. Get out or stay the night.” She never did like me much. I quicken my pace, dodging dark patches in the sidewalk. I set my gaze on the ground so I can see my feet falling onto the wet sidewalk. I feel the ground moving quickly under my feet and I see I am nearing 5th Avenue. I should be home soon. The night is like a warm blanket over the city. Once the sun sets the city changes. People who are too afraid to show their faces in the light of day creep out in the safety of the darkness. Their safety is my nightmare. The once-alive buzzing streets full of familiar faces shut off after 10:00 p.m. The too-familiar stores turn eerie and silent. Park Slope is normally filled to the brim with moms pushing strollers and men with beards carrying little dogs. Between the overpriced coffee and the aggressive cars, I never did fit in much. The only thing I love about living here is being close to the park. I feel my hands shaking and a bead of sweat drips down my neck. I hate the summer. The air is thick with humidity which is making me breathe harder. My quick breath becomes a pace for me walking. In-step-out-step. I pass by 8th Avenue without noticing and after 346 steps I am home. I lock the door behind me and I can finally breathe. I leave my dirty sneakers by the door and look around the tiny apartment to see if my mom is still up. None of the lights are on so I guess she fell asleep. The apartment is technically the basement of the brownstone above, so it’s a dump in a pretty nice area. My mom likes it because it looks like we really live here when her boyfriend, Mike, drops her off, and the rent is low for Brooklyn. My feet are cold on the concrete floor so I tiptoe to my corner of the room, leaping over my mom’s pile of clothing. I reach for the doorknob to my room and hear a loud click behind me. The small apartment lights up and I can finally see my hand reaching out in front of me.

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Surprised at the sudden burst of light, I turn around. I squint, my eyes adjusting to the light. I see a large figure standing in my living room. I rub my eyes. The blurry man becomes clearer and the nervousness fills me leaving me frozen in the face of fear. How did the nightmare of night follow me into the safety of my apartment? I thought all my fears ended in the light, but there is his face. He is barely recognizable without a beer in his hand. “Mike?” I spit out without thinking. “Do you have any idea what you put us through? Lu, your mother was worried sick. She’s out looking for you. She must have called you thirty times. How could you be this stupid?” He inches towards me. I hate when people call me Lu. “I’m so, so sorry, I just lost track of time and it was really dark and—” “How could you do that to her? What are you, almost seventeen and can’t keep track of time? Learn to be responsible so all your stupidness doesn’t fall on me. You think your mother likes it when we had plans to go out but instead we have to worry about where your dumb ass is? I’m not here to take care of you.” I see his face getting red, which is never a good sign. I slowly slide back, putting my hand of the doorknob behind me. “I forgot my phone and—” “You stupid idiot,” he yells. His voice echoes off the concrete walls and his feet hit the ground fast as he leaps towards me. Suddenly he’s standing over me creating a shadow over my weak body. I close my eyes so I don’t have to see his grizzly hands waiting to pounce. I can smell alcohol in his breath as he yells, “Look at me!” Without looking I turn the doorknob behind me and with a whisper of, “I’m sorry,” I fade into my room like I was never really there. I realize I’m breathing hard again so I leap into my bed without even changing out of my stiff jeans. I pull my covers up to my neck and breathe in the warmth and safety of my bed. I hear Mike pacing outside the door. He will calm down once my mom comes home.

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I take a deep breath before reaching over to turn off my light. The darkness creeps into my cluttered room like a spider, leaping from corner to corner until the only light I see is the shadows cast from my window. The cracks of light through my blinds shine onto my red carpeted floor surrounding my bed. It is the only way I can see I am still in the safety of my room and not floating into the abyss. I stare at that patch of light as if it is my life vest in a pool of blood. I can feel myself floating away every time I close my eyes. I fall deeper and deeper until I am too far to swim to safety. I feel trapped under my eyelids, pushing hard as I can to open them but I am frozen. Slipping away without control.

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The Tragedy of the Park Portal Teagan Rocheville-Higgins CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

Eliza felt a light breeze as she stepped into the neighborhood park with tears slowly rolling down her face. It sent a chill down her spine and spun her chestnut brown hair in circles around her head. Today had been rough; it seemed like no one really cared about her opinions at all. Whenever she spoke up it was as if she was on mute and no one could hear the brilliant ideas spilling out of her mouth. Eliza wondered as she glanced around the park looking for a place to de-stress, if she were to leave, would anyone even notice? She didn’t think so. Eliza’s eyes suddenly found what they were looking for: a stump glistening against the light of the sun. She slowly walked over there, entranced somehow by its presence. Eliza bent over the stump and stroked it with her hand; it was smooth to the touch and cool. She thought to herself, This is the perfect place to find after a day like today, a small smile creeping across her face. However, as she turned to sit down that smile transformed into a face filled with terror, as the top of the tree stump disappeared underneath her. Eliza let out a piercing scream as she fell into the dark oblivion beneath her. She frantically turned her head around, but as expected, she couldn’t see a thing. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths, trying to keep herself calm and to wake herself up, because she was sure that this had to be a dream. Suddenly the freefalling sensation stopped and she felt the pressure of moist fallen leaves on the ground surrounding her body. Eliza, feeling once again safe on the ground, started to open one of her eyes, but what she saw from that peek immediately made her close it again. The trees above her were no longer brown, green, and lively; they were pale, slightly translucent, and slowly dying. Everything around her was

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different than the lush green of Portland that she knew so well. Eliza laid there for a few minutes before she decided that there was nothing she could do but to find a way out of this place herself. After making her decision, Eliza’s mind cleared and started handling the task at hand with ease. The first thing that she decided to do was look up at where she had fallen from. What she saw amazed her. It was almost identical to a black hole that you would see in space. It had a spiral design made from the deepest purple you could ever imagine and occasionally when you looked into it the right way you could see a shimmer of white reflecting off of it. It was at least fifty feet off the ground and almost impossible to get to without some sort of ladder. That crushed her first ideas of escape back to the universe that she was supposed to be in. So, after an idea based off of intellect came one out of fear, to just walk forward and hope that she could find someone or something to help her achieve her goal of returning home. After a few hours of walking, darkness came and ate most of the light that was getting through to the dismal forest, leading Eliza to be left once again in darkness. However, this time her eyes were allowed to adjust so she could see the shadows of the trees moving to the song of the wind. Eliza was slowing down, her eyelids drooping over her eyes, threatening to stay there forever if she didn’t find a spot to rest now. She hadn’t yet been able to find another living creature the whole day but suddenly she saw two piercing yellow eyes in the distance of the forest; this caught her by surprise and she froze in her tracks. Eliza could see nothing about the body that owned those eyes, no height, size, or facial features. The eyes had the same entrancement that the stump had, which made her a bit more guarded than she expected she would be when finding another living being. She blinked, and with the brief disturbance in eye contact, when she looked back to find the eyes, they were gone. She swore to herself, how could she have let that happen? It was the one shot that she was looking for all day, and she blew it.

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Eliza sat down on the ground, which absorbed her defeat with pleasure, and she started making her plans for tomorrow. However, she could not shake the feeling that she was still being watched by those eyes. Eliza ignored it, though, thinking it was just regret eating at her conscience and decided to go to sleep. Eliza woke up three hours later to the rustle of brush in the forest. She had been noticing something getting louder throughout the night, but now it sounded as if the thing approaching was right next to her. She sat up and turned around but by that point it was too late. The creature’s large monstrous hands had grabbed her body and were pulling Eliza into a huge burlap sack that was lying open on the ground. Eliza, once again, was submerged in darkness. Only after the top of the bag was sealed and her capturer had started walking along, did Eliza’s brain start to think about what this could mean. She could either be headed to her escape from this world or to her demise. The creature kept walking for hours until it came to the spot where it was heading. It set Eliza down and walked away. She could hear the creature tinkering at something a few feet away. Eliza noticed the top of the bag had loosened a bit so she decided to stick her head out to get her bearings. What she gazed upon were machines of all shapes and sizes with gears covered in blood and crushed remains of other living creatures. Eliza also got the first real look at the creature that had taken her; it had shaggy grey fur and the longest tail that you have ever seen. It had two long curving horns sticking out of the top of its head, and when it turned around she got another look at those bright yellow eyes that she had seen earlier. It was that same creature, who else could it have been? She hadn’t seen another life form out there at all, and now she knew what had probably happened to them. The creature turned its head and said, “Ah… I see that you decided to join the party a little earlier than I expected. Come on in, take a seat. I really do hope you enjoy the entertainment I have planned for you tonight.”

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At this point the creature had already sauntered all the way over to the burlap sack and had her in its grip, smiling so wide that you could see all of its sharp pointy teeth. The creature carried Eliza over to one of the machines and set her down inside, strapping her in so that she would not be able to run away. Stepping back to admire its work it said, “Yes, this looks like it will do nicely. I think before entertainment we should have appetizers, don’t you?” Before Eliza had time to get even one word out, the sound of crunching bone and cries of a sealed fate were all that could be heard.

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TRIP | SPLIT Arissa Robinson FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

“Wake up! It’s your big day,” exclaimed Joanna. Joanna is much better known as Johnny’s grandmother. It was Johnny’s eleventh birthday, and the sky was such a bright blue that one could call it a blue sun. Johnny’s grandmother made strawberry pancakes and had just taken out his favorite corduroy overalls out of the dryer. “So, what do you want to do today—it’s your big eleven?!... Here, I’ll tell you what, you name the place, and we’ll be there!” Joanna butts in her own sentence and adds, “Except the park.” As Johnny attempted to latch his overalls, the metal button was so hot it burned his thumb. His face and hand were redder than a fresh tomato. “Ouch!” Johnny cries. While Johnny scrounges in pain, Johnny’s grandmother is doing something very questionable. She is biting down on her teeth to hide her laughter. Once she goes over to make sure everything is fine, Johnny pinches her arm very hard. Johnny smiles like a felon, yet he responds in a pouty voice. “Well, there is one place I know you will not want to go because it is scary… Uncle Larry took me before though. I’ve only seen the top...” Wiping the tears off of his red face. “And…well, would you like to go, and have a little lunch meet around it?” “Yeah, I mean I really wanna go! Bu-ut…” Joanna replies in frustration. “But what? Choke it up! This is not eleven-year-old behavior.” “I wanna take a submarine deep down in the abyss!” Johnny exclaims rapidly.

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Johnny’s grandmother sums it up with an, “Okay, fine, let’s give it a go!” Johnny and Joanna set out for this great long trip at 2:00 p.m. By time they arrived, it was 11:00 p.m., almost midnight. Once they had arrived there were mounts of gnats flying around, and the air was humid and extrasolar. They had their submarine hitched on the back of the blue station wagon. They drove to the bare mountain that had gloomy cracks and crevices. The blue station wagon arrived to a dark, remote mountain with streams of water surrounded by other hills. They unlatched the submarine. Joanna was readying the space within the submarine. It was time. They put the submarine into the water and began their journey into the dark abyss. They were heading south into this unusually large, unmanifested hole when Johnny croaked, “You know the only reason I chose to come here for my birthday is because you have a submarine, and it has turbo jets and rockets alongside…” They looked near each other and began laughing. They laughed and sang familiar tunes the rest of the way. They rose to the surface and took turns looking out the periscope. They recalled the sky’s color shaded like a dark green. They shot a flare up from the rockets of the submarine, and the water pressure was so strong it turned the flares the other direction. Joanna broke the silence. “Are we that deep? Ahaha.” Johnny replied. “Gosh, Grandma, how deep would you say we are?” Both began laughing nervously. They continued cruising until they began seeing large dark blotches in the water surrounding them. At first they saw past it, but as it continued they became afraid. Eventually they realized they were in the middle of a black hole. Joanna said, “This was a terrible idea.” Johnny became defensive and replied, “Well, you are the one that asked me where I wanted to GO! It’s my freaking birthday, gosh, you’re acting like we’re gonna die!”

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Joanna looked at her grandson in disgust. All the commotion calmed down right after the argument. Surprisingly, a humongous wave of darkness rushed over them, next vertically between them, strong enough to split the submarine apart. The submarine instantly closed back up after that precise slice. They were now split apart from one another in a frantic mindstate. Johnny said to himself, “Thank god I’m away from her; now I can find the fish park and play with the fish children!” Joanna said to herself, “Thank god I’m away from that no-good bastard.” The truth between Johnny and Joanna is that they were sworn enemies. The reason Johnny came to his grandmother’s house was for punishment. At Grandma Joanna’s house there was only fields, and no neighbor children. On the other hand, Joanna was a racist older white woman, and she disliked Johnny because his father was black. One part of the submarine went east-west, and the other went north-south. They never ended up seeing each other again. From an unbiased perspective that’s the best part.

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The Portrait Leo Floyd-Preston CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: ALEX BEHR

A small light entered the room, barely enough to see. It grew closer, revealing the source of the light—a small candle. Wax was dripping off of it, the hot liquid splashing on to the hand holding it, but no curses or grunts of pain broke the silence that pervaded the room. As the figure walked forward, candles started igniting in its wake, revealing parts of the dark space. The figure stopped, kneeling down, and held the candle forward. From the tip of the candle, fire spread over a pool of oil. The light revealed a rugged man, with unkempt, dirty hair, and a few days’ worth of stubble. He looked worried, as if all the world’s troubles rested on his shoulders. In the middle of the oil, there was a picture, ornately framed, of a small, young boy with short, dirty blond hair and an innocent expression. The man stared at the picture and started to weep. “I’m sorry,” he wept, collapsing to the ground. “I had to. I had no choice!” The picture was silent, but its expression seemed to change, asking, “Why?” The smell of trees came to him, mixed with that of flowers. The feel of grass on his bare feet. Suddenly, he was back at the field he used to play at. He saw everything as it had been. The old wood bench by the trail, the lily pond, the old oak tree. It was all how it had been. A small boy was playing beneath the tree, with familiar dirty blond hair. The boy was accompanied by a man, sitting on the bench, a man who looked familiar. It was the man from before. The boy ran up to the man, crashing into him with a hug. “I love you, Dad,” said the boy to the man.

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“I love you, too,” said the man back, smiling softly. “I promise I’ll always be there for you.” The scene changed, just as suddenly as before. There was now a room, colorfully painted, with a small bed against the wall. In the bed was the same boy as before, peacefully sleeping. The man walked into the room, and sat on the bed. He leaned over and kissed the boy’s head and whispered “I’ll never let anything happen to you. I promise.” The scene crumbled away, slowly this time, pieces falling away like a puzzle, until it left a small, white-walled room with a small bed in a corner. There was the same small boy, lying on the bed, an IV hooked up to him. He was sleeping, not aware of what was going on around him. The man slipped into the room, silently watching the boy sleep. He burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably as he walked up to the bed. “I’m sorry,” he sobbed, stroking the boy’s hair. “I have to do it. I can’t live like this. I am so, so sorry, but I have to.” He reached into his coat and pulled out something shiny and metallic. He lifted the gun, held it up to the boy’s head, and pulled the trigger, collapsing onto the floor a moment later, sobbing. The scene cleared, leaving the man back in the dark room. He looked up at the picture, quickly glancing away, afraid to make eye contact with the photo. “I know, I need to let go. But how can I?” He made eye contact with the picture, squirming nervously. But the picture’s expression only seemed to say, “It’s okay.”

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It’s Called a Thunder Pascal Tower WILSON HIGH SCHOOL WITS WRITER: BRIAN PARKER

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Writers in the Schools Writers-in-Residence 2017-2018

Britt Ashley makes poems and biscuits. Born and raised in Texas, she now lives in Portland with her handsome husbian and their small animal circus. Her writing and artwork has appeared or is forthcoming from cream city review, Filter Literary Journal, juked, Winter Tangerine Review, The Offing, and elsewhere. She has taught courses in composition, creative writing, literature, and publishing at Western Washington University, Indiana University, The Monroe County Correctional Center, Thames International College in Kathmandu, and Bent Queer Writing Institute in Seattle. Alex Behr is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. She’s taught eight WITS residencies throughout Portland and is looking forward to her ninth. Her writing has appeared in many online and print publications, including Utne Reader, Propeller, Nailed, Salon, and Tin House. Her debut story collection, Planet Grim, was published in 2017 (7.13 Books). Arthur Bradford is an O Henry Award-winning writer, Emmynominated filmmaker, and Moth GrandSLAM winner. He is the author of the books Dogwalker, Benny’s Brigade, and Turtleface, a 2016 Oregon Book Award finalist. He directed How’s your News?, a documentary series for HBO and MTV as well as the film Six Days to Air, about the making of South Park, for Comedy Central. He’s currently shooting a feature documentary about Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park and the musical The Book of Mormon. Leslee Chan earned an MA from Miami University of Ohio, and an MFA in fiction from Florida State University. Born and raised in Eastern Oregon, she now lives in Portland. David Ciminello is a Portland-based writer and educator. His fiction has appeared in the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City, The Frozen Moment: Contemporary Writers on the Choices That Change Our Lives, the literary journal Lumina, the online anthology Underwater New York, Nailed Magazine, and on Broadcastr. His

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poetry has appeared in Poetry Northwest. He is a 2011 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and a proud recipient of a 2013 annual Table 4 Writers Foundation grant. His original screenplay Bruno appears on DVD as The Dress Code.

Jeffrey Denight is is a playwright, educator, and theatre artist happily stuck on the planet Earth. They are a core member of Portland-based theatre company, Playwrights West, where they produced and co-wrote Last Broadcast: A Reading of New Works and are currently commissioned to write a new play for the Teen West program, premiering at Wilson High School in 2018. They are also a two-time Waukegan Theatre Festival playwright fellow with Three Bros. Theatre, where they developed their play Pictorial Anatomy of an M—– and premiered Daddy Daughter Dance. Jeffrey’s work also includes Cirque Du Tomber, C.O.P.E., and Postpartum. Jeffrey has been the editor of multiple creative journals, including Voicemail Poems and Proscenium Journal. They received their BA in theatre and BFA in creative writing at Truman State University. Lisa Eisenberg is a cartoonist and teaching artist based in Portland, Oregon (by way of the Garden State). She has self-published the print and webcomic series I Cut My Hair, a collection of fiction and nonfiction comics. Her work has appeared in a variety of comics anthologies, including Papercutter, Love In All Forms, The Strumpet, and Digestate. Lisa’s current projects include comics for the online magazine The Nib and the graphic novels Middle and My Plath Year. She teaches comics-making throughout the Portland area with Young Audiences, Right Brain Initiative, and at her studio located in Comic Cave PDX—the comic shop jewel of St. Johns. James Gendron is the author of Weirde Sister, Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) and the chapbook Money Poems. His poetry has appeared in Tin House, The PEN Poetry Series, Fence, The Fanzine, and Pinwheel Journal. Courtenay Hameister is a columnist, playwright, and screenwriter whose projects include co-writing the web series The Benefits of Gusbandry and the satirical stage adaptations Roadhouse: The Play! and Lost Boys: Live!. She also created the storytelling series True Stories and SEED, and was the host and head writer for the nationally syndicated radio show Live Wire for a decade. Her first book, Okay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went From Being Afraid of Everything to Only Being Afraid of Most Things, was published in July 2018 by Little, Brown.

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Brian Kettler earned his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas-Austin, where he studied under Steven Dietz. His fulllength plays include Poor Boys’ Chorus and Lyla School, both of which received full productions at UT-Austin. His short play, Clown Room, was selected for the 2014 Theater Masters National MFA Playwrights Festival, with productions in Aspen and New York City. Recently, Brian was commissioned by Orphic Theater Company to write an original adaptation of Euripides’ Iphigenia Among the Taurians. In Portland, Brian has worked with the August Wilson Red Door Project, the Right Brain Initiative and PlayWrite, Inc. He is a former recipient of the Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama.

Cari Luna is the author of The Revolution of Every Day, which won the Oregon Book Award for Fiction. Her writing has appeared in Salon, Jacobin, Electric Literature, Catapult, The Rumpus, PANK, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Bettina de León Barrera is a joyful, bilingual writer born in Los Angeles, California of Guatemalan descent. In addition to being a community activist, she is a Graduate of UC Berkeley and attended graduate studies at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her poetry recently appeared in New American Writing and was chosen as a finalist for the Boston Review 2014 Discovery contest. Monty Mickelson is the author of the novel Purgatory (St. Martin’s Press), for which he received a Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship. Mickelson’s short fiction has been published in Loonfeather, Minnesota Monthly, and The Whistling Fire. His creative journalism and essays have been published online at Gently Read Literature and Salon. Two of his YA feature film scripts have been produced for cable television. Mickelson has an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside. Amy Minato is the author of a memoir, Siesta Lane, and two poetry collections, Hermit Thrush and The Wider Lens. Amy has been a recipient of both a Literary Arts Fellowship for her poetry and a Walden Residency for her prose. She teaches writing through Multnomah Art Center, Fishtrap, and at Breitenbush Retreat Center as well as a community service course in sustainable living at Portland State University. She holds both an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.

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Laura Moulton is the founder of Street Books, a bicycle-powered mobile library that serves people who live outside in Portland, Oregon. She has taught writing in public schools, prisons, and teen shelters, and is an adjunct professor at Marylhurst University and Lewis & Clark College. Her social art practice projects have involved postal workers, immigrants, prisoners and students. She earned an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Jules Ohman is a writer and teacher based in Portland. She co-founded the nonprofit the Free Verse Project, which teaches creative writing in juvenile halls. Her chapbook of stories, Vertical Streets, was awarded the Merriam-Frontier Award, and her work has been published in Willow Springs and Camas. She earned her MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana. She has completed her first novel, and is represented by Dan Conaway and Taylor Templeton at Writers House. Brian Parker grew up in Alaska, then Mississippi, and has always been in love with storytelling in every medium. He earned a BFA in graphic design & illustration and an MA in writing & publishing, and now spends his days working in youth publishing (so cool, right?) through his company, Believe In Wonder, which he co-owns with his wife. He is the author of Crow in the Hollow, You Can Rely on Platypi, and The Wondrous Science. Mark Pomeroy’s first novel, The Brightwood Stillness, was published by Oregon State University Press in 2014. He has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship for fiction, and his short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Open Spaces, The Wordstock 10, Portland Magazine, The Oregonian, NW Book Lovers, and What Teaching Means: Stories from America’s Classrooms. He holds an MA in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he was a Fellow in Teaching. Emilly Prado is a writer, photographer, and library assistant living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in over a dozen publications including Marie Claire, Remezcla, Bitch Media, Travel Portland, and the Portland Mercury where she pens a weekly column called ‘From Slacktivism to Activism.’ She is the recipient of a 2016 Spectrum Scholarship through the American Library Association and was awarded a 2017 Professional Development Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to attend a month-long writing residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art & Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico. Selected creative nonfiction works

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that explore themes of identity, biculturality, and family history can be found in her bilingual zine, Con las dos manos/With both hands. When not writing or teaching, Emilly makes zines and homemade pinback buttons under the moniker of Sludge Judy.

Joanna Rose is the author of the award-winning novel Little Miss Strange (PNBA Fiction Prize). Other work has appeared in numerous literary journals. Her story “A Good Crack and Break” is in the Forest Avenue Press anthology, The Rain, and the Night, and the River, and an essay, “The Thing with Feathers” (Oregon Humanities) was listed as a Notable in 2015 Best American Essays. She started out with the Dangerous Writers oh so many years ago, and now she and her teaching partner Stevan Allred host the regular Pinewood Table prose critique group. Arab-American writer and teacher Claudia Savage’s latest poetry collection, Bruising Continents (Spuyten Duyvil) has been called “a love story that reveals that eros properly seen is a force as monumental as continental drift.” Her poetry, interviews, and essays have been published in numerous journals such as The Denver Quarterly, Columbia, Nimrod, Water-Stone Review, BOMB, and Drunken Boat. She has been a Pushcart and Best New Poets nominee, is a member of the performance duo Thick in the Throat, Honey, and a co-founder of the poetry-music label Thrum Recordings. She’s been awarded honors at Ucross, Jentel, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and RACC, and taught throughout the country. Her collaboration, reductions, about motherhood and ephemerality with Detroit visual artist Jacklyn Brickman, is forthcoming in Chicago in 2018.

Matt Smith grew up in Iowa and Arizona. He earned his BA in English Literature from Arizona State University. He spent the subsequent four years after college in South Korea as an ESL teacher. His short fiction work centers on the intersections of race and identity. He is currently working on a collection of short stories focused what it means to be multi-racial in America. Matt was a 2017-18 WITS apprentice. Zulema Renee Summerfield is a writer, educator, and creative coach. Her first novel, Every Other Weekend, was published by Little, Brown in the spring of 2018. She is also the author of Everything Faces All Ways at Once, a book of flash fiction and dreams available from Fourteen Hills Press. Her short fiction has been published in a number of literary journals, including Guernica and The Threepenny Review. A MacDowell colony fellow, Zulema lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Index Cleveland High School Bosch, Zoe 94 Brown, Noah 37 Cady, Evan 73 Floyd-Preston, Leo 117 Johnson, Deghlan 30 Kagan, Cyrus 89 Long, Elizabeth 69 Orkin, Jess 106 Raggett, Joe 62 Rocheville-Higgins 110 Saulino, Camilia 22 Swan, Leah 13 Swinth, Kira 100 Wagner, Tom 104

Parkrose High School Luu, Hung 16 Roosevelt High School Bibler, Haylee 18 Deeley, Candace 102 Wilson High School Dodge, Ashton 71 Hopfer, Ashley 98 Piacentini, Anthony 59 Tower, Pascal 119 Tyumina, Angelina 33

Franklin High School Huddleston, Lolita 51 Robinson, Arissa 114 Grant High School Kollrack, Natalie 25 Punches, Kate 91 Gresham High School Braaten, Serena 55 Ceja, Selena 35 Frost, Emerson 66 Madison High School Davanh, Jenny 42 Nguyen, Xena 74

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Youth Programs Support 2017-18

Beverly Aldinger & Kirk Gibson

Ellyn Bye

Brijesh & Ann Anand

John & Kathryn Cochran

Linda & J. Scott Andrews

Howard & Rosemary Cohen

Autzen Foundation

Joan Corcoran

Bill Bagnall & Clayton Lloyd

Marian Creamer

Kim & Rosie Batcheller

Marian Davis & Peter Librizzo

Robert & Leslie Bentley

David Dearborn

Kim & Daniel Bissell

Justin Dune & Carol Sanders

Sam & Adriane Blackman

Ann & Mark Edlen Family

Kim & Randy Boehm

Tina Edlund & Sydney EdlundJermain

Broadway Books Julie Bunker

134

Wayne & Sandy Ericksen


Miriam Feuerle

Jeanne Newmark

Laura Ford

Wendy Beth Oliver

Bob Gass

Alfred & Eileen Ono

Diana Gerding

Irja Orav

Sarah & Kurt Gibbon

Nancy Orr

Susan Fry & Sarah Felix

Karen & Marvin Pemberton

Maruta Haas

Kelly Perlewitz

Susan Hathaway-Marxer & Larry Marxer

Bonnie Pomeroy Stern

Joanne Hodgdon Barbara Jennings & Richard Teutsch Teri Jensen Freeman Laura Jones & David Livermore Aphra & Richard Katzev Stacy Lewis Carter & Jennifer MacNichol Linda Maletis Gail Marten Marsie Martien Robert Matheson Katherine McCoy Pete McDowell Sally McPherson Ruth Metz Sarah Miller Meigs and Andrew Meigs

Diane Ponti & Ward Greene Dell L. Rhodes Mary Rodeback Ruth Roth Gayle Seely Laura Stepp Stimson-Miller Foundation Herbert A. Templeton Foundation Vera H. Vacek Stephanie & John Volkman Carl Wilson and Evan Boone Lisa Wyatt David & Sharon Wynde & many more generous donors, including 177 Portland Arts & Lectures subscribers who raised over $22,000 to Send Students to the Schnitz

Gary Muller Multnomah County Cultural Coalition Lynne Naughton 135


2017-18 Writers in the Schools Chapbook  

This collection of poetry, prose, and comics by youth who participated in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program explores the upheaval an...

2017-18 Writers in the Schools Chapbook  

This collection of poetry, prose, and comics by youth who participated in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program explores the upheaval an...