Notes from the Underground, Fall 2022

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NOTES from the


fall 2022

Notes from the Underground: Maclay Upper School’s Journal of Creative Writing Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Craig Beaven Founder: Dr. N. Suzanne Jamir Issue 12

Fall 2022

Editorial Staff Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Copy Editors Poetry Editors Fiction Editor Assistant Fiction Editor Nonfiction Editor Art Editor Publicist Web Designer

Isabel McDaniel Sophia Krizner Diya Patel and Charlotte Siervogel Jenna Adams and Lauren Price Maddy Meeker Tanisha Petit Megan Vegas Logan Albritton Paloma Rambana Rachel Bethke

Learn more about us at

Front and Back Cover Art: Growth by Logan Albritton

A Note from the Editor Dear Readers, As you flip through this issue of Notes from the Underground, I ask you to keep in mind the idea of growth and change. Every piece of work published in this journal was created by high school students; students who have been brave enough to bare their souls to the public and allow us all to see the art they have created. To celebrate these students and their creations, my staff and I have decided that the general theme for this issue should be becoming. Becoming is something that every human being on earth is experiencing at every moment, to quote Paulo Freire, "We are all incomplete beings in the process of becoming." This idea is one that I have reckoned with throughout my time in high school, and will remain with me throughout the rest of my life. I can only hope that by reading the pieces in this book you will feel the same awareness of your own humanity. The creation of this book was quite a task, and I have been incredibly lucky to have a wonderful staff to help with every step of the process. From sorting submissions, to editing, to copy editing, and finally organizing the book itself, I have been surpported by brilliant editors who all worked together to make this journal a success. Alongside the staff, Dr. Beaven has been a vital member of this team; he has acted as a mentor and guide as we have created the journal. His endless passion for NFTU is what inspires us all to keep working and making a book he will be proud of. Thank you, as always, to everyone who submitted works of art, poetry, and prose to this semester's edition of NFTU. You are the reason this book exists, and your work is truly remarkable. I hope you enjoy seeing your creations in print. Until our next issue, Isabel McDaniel

How We Got Our Name We take the title of this journal from a novella of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The novella is an existentialist work, written before Existentialism had fully bloomed in the world of literature. The novella begins with the words "I am a sick man..." Such a statement pens the focus of the novella as one of confrontation, exploration into the darkness that all beings endure. Regardless of influence, art remains in the presence of darkness.

What is art?

Table of Contents Caged - Maria Boulos


The Knotted Spine of Your Heart - Bradley Carnes


Puppet - Maria Boulos


In my Heart - Kaitlyn Guyer


What Then? - Sophia Krizner


Ringing - Rachel Bethke


Saturday I can be Pretty, but Wednesday I must be Smart - Lauren Price


Stay Away - Katherine Gorkov


Moon Song - Maddy Meeker


Notes from the Underground Poetry Prize Winner I Will Never Forgive You for Teaching Me to Love - Heaven Ward


Can't Fit In - G Martinez


Mirrors - Dillon Williams


Moving On - Isabel Davis


Notes from the Underground Fiction Prize Winner Advance Directive - Anne Mason Roberts


A Little White Lie - Evelyn Romano


Tired - Abbie Hartmann


EYE - Ana Cebollero Fernandez

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Never a Happy Ending - Diya Patel


The Morality of Modern Music - Jenna Adams


Tools of the Trade - Dillon Williams


Pondering - Katherine Gorkov


To Burn - Diya Patel


My Dyslexic Life - Katelyn Eldred


Skin and Bones - Evangeline Oguledo


Watching - Charlotte Siervogel


Unsaid Words - Tanisha Petit


Broken Promises - Sofia Evers


Wondering - Katherine Gorkov


The Price of Praise - Sophia Krizner


I Have Felt the Touch of Death - Giada Price


Jore Well - Dillon Williams


Tell Me - Heaven Ward


Conspiring - G Martinez


Real Athletes - Kaitlyn Guyer


I Found - Evelyn Romano


Untitled - Ana Cebollero Fernandez


To Be - Megan Vegas

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Man with Fear - Jackson Kottkamp


Man without Fear - Jackson Kottkamp


Ophelia - Isabel McDaniel


Evolve - Elizabeth Bodiford photographed by Cole McGinley


It's a Good Time to be Born - Emily Hawken


The Emerald Forest - Bradley Carnes


The Little Prince - Hawa-Larai Harruna


Twilight - Dillon Williams


Limited - Sophia Krizner


Notes from the Underground Art Prize Winner Slaughterhouse - Giada Price


Survivor's Guilt - Heaven Ward


Tautline Hitch - Bradley Carnes


The Old Beach Café - Lula Robertson


A Pig - Leah Song


Trying to Write a Poem - Jackson Kottkamp


Notes from the Underground Nonfiction Prize Winner Split - Maria Boulos Passion - Ana Cebollero Fernandez

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The Last Suture - Kate Kupiszewski


Memory Lane - Anne Mason Roberts

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Inorganic - Lula Robertson


Disorder - Gray Burleson


Me Too - Diya Patel


I Used to Wish I Could Drive - Jenna Adams


Inspired - Jackson Kottkamp


Mama Can't Sing - Mya Rutledge


Denial - Saorise Corry


The Glass Box - Kaitlyn Guyer


Someone New - Maddy Meeker


The Dogs Howled - Jenna Adams


Woman - Leah Song


Apple of my Eye - Bradley Carnes


Love - Abbie Hartmann


Megara - Heaven Ward


Two Letters - Jackson Kottkamp


Metamorphosis - Caleb Heuchan photographed by Cole McGinley


Reaching - Mary Clayton Soto


Matriarch - Lauren Price







Knots in trees, Knots in flowers. Knots in ropes, Knots in children. I see many with these eyes of mine, Knots that others fail to notice. How come they are all I see? I think I know. Spot a knot here, Spot a knot there. Spot a knot in the spine, Spot three knots in the heart. What’s invisible to others is Painfully obvious to me. Crooked spines of ugliness run through them, Knotted beyond entanglement. One knot is anger, One knot is love. One knot is hatred, One knot is friendship. “It takes one to know one” they say, So, I guess I know them all. I can’t ever look down on them, ‘Cause their hearts are less knotted than mine.





Gentle sea breezes, crashing waves against pearl white sand…this is the beach I know like the back of my hand. Within every little inland creek of St. Teresa beach, hides a treasure the ocean children dream of. This is the place where my grandfather and I spent hours waiting to see what wonders we would discover. He would always tell me stories of how only those with a pure heart could experience the marvels of the ocean. One day, we became part of those lucky few. As the morning sun rose above the horizon, and the fishermen embarked on their daily voyage, Grandpa and I decided to go on a journey of our own: kayak through the inland creeks to find the perfect redfish hole. This tricky fish had eluded us for years and we were ready to finally capture it. Upon arriving at the seashell littered shoreline with our kayaks, we saw two dolphins jumping excitedly after a terrified mullet. According to my mother, this was good luck. After admiring them, we set out to circumvent the maze of inland waterways. Shortly after we entered this maze, it seemed like everything was perfect; the tide was lazily running and the water was as clear as glass. We maneuvered up, down, left, and right, waiting for the right spot to speak to us. As we passed more and more spots, I began to lose hope. At the exact moment I wanted to give up, Grandpa saw a strange shimmering beneath the surface of the water. We stopped in our tracks as our breaths were taken away; it was a pod of dolphins dancing around like in the movies. They were jumping high into the clear blue sky and flipping while spraying us with the cool salty water. One even smiled and waved its tail. As I looked over my shoulder, I saw my grandfather beaming with delight. I thought to myself, this day can’t get any better. Finally, after the majestic creatures waved their tails good-bye, Grandpa and I found a school of redfish. We caught so many of them that we had fully loaded our cooler within half an hour. 12

That was the last time I saw my grandfather; his eyes gleaming like sterling silver and his smile a mile wide. In retrospect, that was the best day of my life and I’m glad he was there with me. It reminds me of how short the time we have with each other is. I remember when Grandpa would talk about how those with an open mind could see the ocean’s true wonders. He meant that only people who come to experience the natural beauty of the ocean had pure hearts; we were there to enjoy the adventure together more than to catch fish. Deep down, I know that Grandpa left with a pure heart filled with the joy of the ocean he always loved.




if i could, i would ask you if you were okay but that leads to the question if i am and i can’t handle that right now because i'm not and you're probably not so we’d only both be in pain and if i know your pain and you know my pain then we’re only both hurt and then that leads to more more more more but what if somewhere deep in me i hope that somehow somewhere in the existence of me and you that we could share and better each other - iron sharpens iron or whatever but what if - what if - we’re both made of cracked glass then we’d do nothing but shatter into shards that cut each other deeper in pain but im not okay and you’re not okay so we can either be glass that lives in hurt or shatter each other into more more more more shards but what if from the shatters we can build ourselves into something new what if us - we - you & me - meant that we could create something that was better than cracked glass what if we were just hoping to be shattered so that we could be glued together what then?




it’s a shame we sit here only in history no, I know this is now the drone goes on in the background as our words appear in the fore the sun bleeds striped on our skin silhouetting desks dull tones but let's be honest, you aren’t here. when we walked through that door and shared our minds we smiled at the absurdity of it all we were always bound to be here and it's simple math that’s made history in both our minds when the droning stops we’ll look up in fear preparing to answer questions yet to come but in the absurdity of it all it matters not what you say, 15

but how it’s said you were always better at that than me you’ll smile easily in the face of the unknown and no one dare object to your lies it’s always that smile that reached your eyes at the slightest joke if we’re lucky it’ll extend beyond a crease on you face everyone loved that laugh, did you know that? i should hope so and if i dare play those well-known worn sounds as we drive, I know I could get a conversation started maybe it was the modernity that made our casual talk so enticing as 16

serenading tones flew and it was the same when you told me about that tool whose home was never the paper it should have been there was nothing more to say. you laughed at the absurdity of it all. i always hated that laugh. and maybe he was right, to go mad over that one dead, sullen eye. i see two in hopes they might cancel out. i see two, and hope that one day we’ll discuss the past from the present instead of the floorboards




saturday i wear a dress and feel more beautiful than i ever have but wednesday i have a presentation so i sit at the table with a bottle of acetone and peel off my nails that are still fresh because i want to be taken seriously.





I am beginning to believe that our fate as women is to love more than we are loved. We are destined to give and to care and to hope and to bleed our hearts dry, for people who are indifferent to our existence as human beings, men who are indifferent. We are sources of entertainment rather than people. We are loyal dogs, hoping and praying that this time, the birds in our mouths will be enough for the man at the door. Phoebe Bridgers, being the genius that she is, has known this unchangeable truth for far longer than I have. She has every right to taunt me for wobbling through my life blind to our fate, but instead she paints a picture of the heartbreak I will feel a thousand times over again, so I know she feels it too. In her song “Moon Song,” Bridgers sings of this experience women find all too familiar. The song begins the same way the relationship does: she’s baited. She’s tricked. She’s pushed into this relationship, not knowing how deep in the pool she’s going to fall. He’s the one who started this relationship; he’s the one who asked to walk her home, who pushed her into the pool, who stuck his tongue down her throat, but she’s the one who is stuck carrying the weight of this love that she’s drowning in. She’s the one stuck killing birds, hoping that will make him want her again. She will walk him home, and drown in a pool, and kill birds, and wait at his door, and give him the moon if that will make him want her again, if that will make him love her a fraction of the amount that she loves him. But when he opens the door and sees her with the dead little bird, he doesn’t confess his undying love for her, he cries. When he sees how she’s willing to destroy herself for him, he cries, not out of guilt for the pain he has caused her, but out of pity, out of contempt, for this poor, stupid, little girl, who doesn’t understand that she keeps on killing birds for a man who will never love her the same way she loves him. Our fate, as women, is to live this hurt over and over again. We will destroy ourselves, for men who will never love us the same way. We will sit and wait, with birds in our mouths, for men who feel no remorse for the pain they have caused. Maybe it’s delusion, maybe it’s optimism, but I can’t stop letting myself be pushed in the pool. I am trapped in this cycle, reliving my feminine destiny over and over again, because maybe, just maybe, the moon will be enough this time. And when I am inevitably hurt again,“Moon Song” will still be there to give voice to my pain. 20



“You’ll reap just what you sow.” Only what you touch and mend. By your hands comes pain and by your sword will come death. Your warmth will bring sunlight, but your winters will bring despair. If you starve and whisper the truth, then tell why you think anything more will come to touch your lips. Why would the universe give and give, To a selfish soul that feeds on the season of others. All you do is feed and spit, spit and feed and grumble. Grumble on how you have been wronged. But I hear you beg to say: Out, d*mned spot! Out! And cry as you fall from the sky, switched and turned to appear as you are from the inside. Until someone would love a beast as you are. The children cry and feel sympathy. Read about you and change their ways. And you’ve changed the path of many, just by reaping what you sowed





I don’t know how others see their faces I mean, mirrors give a false image, but I am satisfied with my edges. Are the rest satisfied? I could not know possibly, I don’t really know mine as much as I think, none of the scars left from saws and bones and mailmen. Though I think what it means to stand above the scars, is merely to Withstand and to Stand. Very few do this.




We were friends, you know, and foolishly I thought it would last. Something of mystery, anguish, and pain is the heart, but its choice is consistent. Following long entrenched patterns, it chose you. An easy choice. You trusted me, and I you. You were not of the past, but of a painless future of trust and reliance; I thought we could cling to each other, our two warm bodies against a cold, ever-shaking world. But history never fails to repeat. In heartbreaking conformity you threw me out. Yesterday’s trash, and that intricately woven friendship formed by strands of secrets and support, was torn apart by the greedy hands of neglect and rejection. I can't wait to see who will take your place.




1-3-05 Funeral at funeral home - short service A short service gives little time for sorrow and tears. It isn’t supposed to be sad; the tasteful flowers arranged on stands and the bright Saturday sun should provide momentary distraction. But some distractions are not enough - every colorful flower eventually turns brown and rotten, every sunny day is chased by the darkness of the night sky. Burial in cemetery in Greenville, Alabama Greenville was always home. It was not the place of her house, but the home of all her childhood memories. The Butler County dirt stained her nice Sunday dresses and wedged its way under her small nails. The sun shined on the tomato garden out back, which fostered many food fights between the Watts sisters. In the mulberry bushes on Boutwell Street, she played hide and seek, singing out “ti ti wee wee” to give hints about her whereabouts. Right across the road, Greenville High School was the place of her first crush, soc hops, and Friday night football games. She left the house with a touch of red lipstick, TIGERS plastered across her crisp cheerleading uniform, and the safe feeling of her small town. When she graduated and attended Mars Hill College, never to reside in Greenville again, she did not know that it would always remain her home, because her heart never left. On plot where Mother and Daddy are buried - MMR to be buried there too Love for family, love for a person that you choose to spend the rest of your life with, love for friends who are emotionally like brothers and sisters. Love enough to keep visiting your childhood home to see your parents, love enough to drive for hours 25

to get lunch with old friends, love enough to stay married until death do you part. Love enough to stick by their side even when they are in a better place. This love remains enough, as they are all together still, somewhere beyond sight. For funeral flowers, if I am 1st in our base family (5), I want 5 red roses with the stem of 1 rose broken The stem provides the water and food enough to survive; it supports the love that blossoms from the red petals. Snap. The stem becomes inefficient; it can no longer support the overwhelming, weighty love from above. But even when the flower slowly goes from red to brown to black, you know it carried brilliant red from its seed, and for as long as it stood straight, its love resembled its color.

Sign here x _____________________________




The rose was white. No, it was pink. It was red.

The paint was pushed. It got knocked. It never spilled.

He said a foul word. It wasn’t really that foul. It was never said at all.

She was killed. It was an accident. It was her mistake.

It was a little white lie. No, it was gray. It was black.

One little white lie.




tired i say day in and day out what’s wrong? they ask oh i’m just tired but i’m not tired not the body aching out of breath just ran a mile kind of tired a restless tired tired of myself tired of my life tired of trying day in and day out to result in what is left of me the 3 hours of sleep tired keeping up with the expectations tired performing for other people tired focusing on all but myself tired a burnout they call it i’m just tired.





I like to leave room at the ends of my poems, the cursor blinking, white space on the page.

Maybe you will come and erase what I have written, tell me you didn’t mean to hurt me this bad, clear up the thunderstorms of pain that drown me as my pen claws at the lines of a page. Bleeding ink, ripping into the feelings inside me that beg to be heard that scream from my chest into a soundproof throat.

I am hoping that one day you will go back, and give all my poem’s happy endings. An emotional editor.

But I know that will never happen, so I am basking in these words that hurt because they baptize me in the closest memory of you. | 30



The complete integration of computers in the creative process has sparked discussion surrounding the morality of the modern music industry. Auto-Tune and artificial intelligence both pose a threat to the creativity, humanity, and talent behind modern music that connects an artist to their listeners. However, if used appropriately, Auto-Tune can be a useful, creative tool. Artificial intelligence, though, only has the potential to be destructive. Before discussing the rightness or wrongness of using Auto-Tune and computers in music, first understand why it can be a polarizing subject. In his article “Imperfect Pitch”, music critic David Hajdu suggests that “natural voice stands for virtue; technology stands for vice. Vocal technique–specifically, the skill sufficient to produce notes in accord with the twelve-tone tempered scale–is perceived as evidence of legitimacy,” (Hajdu 28). More than that, he argues that Auto-Tune can be a contentious issue because humans have created this myth that singers have been gifted a metaphysical power. So if an artist decides they need to digitally edit their voice in post-production, listeners might feel lied to. Gifted people should not have to rely on anything but themselves. Taken a step further, if it turns out that anyone can recreate that gift, then it takes away from the magic. Even further, replace the gifted ones with robots, and the magic is destroyed completely. People think that an unedited voice represents integrity and an edited or computerized voice represents dishonesty, but the issue is not so black and white. Understandably, some people will not care where their music comes from so long as they enjoy it. They do not care about the “how” because they like the “what.” So why should anyone care? Etheridge writes,“human beings are wired to recognize the soul, the living spirit in each other. I believe the more technology recreates what the human can do, the more precious the real thing becomes,” (Etheridge 13). So, artists must monitor their use of Auto-Tune, and artificial intelligence 31

should be kept worlds away from the industry. Yes, art changes along with the times and the technology; that is what makes much of it worthwhile as it helps people relate to what they are listening to. But that should not have to take away the humanity behind art that people relate to more, that relates us to each other. When my grandfather saw me perform for the first time last year, he heard me and a piano: the way they did it back in his day. Because no matter how advanced technology becomes, there will always be something to say for the beauty of a pure, human melody that will always be distinguishable from metal alloy and computer programs.




Here are the tools of the trade: A screwdriver to be your pip boy for when things from beyond and doors and knees get dicey, the sound yet decaying teachings of a father figure like an eye for stealing silverware, cross-border and wine party sink pissing, and grease, A carpenter’s tool set, making sure the hammer is dual purpose, A vial of unknown origin which must be returned to the fountain, And some healthy respect. Prep for that day, or life, keep your mementos in mind. We are of a very human design.





I like being alone. Every time my skin touches the body of another, it leaves a residue that hides from all eyes but my own. When my hand grazes yours, I will see burns, I will watch the skin I touched fall to my feet in ashes. I am filled with gasoline and the world is burning around me. I do not want to touch anyone else, or destroy anyone how I am being destroyed. If I let you hold me while I cry from the agony inside of me, will it be arson? Will my wildfires spread to your skin too? Will it penetrate your mouth or your ears or will it burn holes into your skin and get in? I do not want to do that to someone. I do not want to ignite anyone, it is not beautiful. It is not a campfire you warm your hands around, not the flames of a sunset that whirl around your eyes, but they are pitch-black waves of heat ripping apart the chemical equations that are hammered together to make up a body. I do not want to go near anyone with this burning inside of me, I know the power it holds. I live in it, and I cannot bring it near anyone else. 35



Maclay’s campus just welcomed a new duilding called the Center for Academic Excellence. Many times, I have been told to go to this building because I have a learning disability. I was always told “this building is there to help you” or “you need to go because you need special help with something”. However, when I walk up to the big glass doors, I feel like everyone is judging me or calling me dumb. As soon as I walk through those doors all eyes are on me to see which room I will turn into. Every teacher you run into in there is judging you and wondering why you’re in there and what classes you must be failing because you’re in the Center of Academic Excellense. When you finally get to the end of the hall and turn into a room every person in there now knows who you went to see and posibly even why you are in there. Starting at a very young age we needed to learn how to reab quickly and proficiently. When you first start reading, teachers pull you aside if you aren’t reading fast enough and tell you that you need to apply yourself more and try harder. All throughout lower school I struggled to reab when other kids would breeze through books. When I would go to teachers for help all they would say is that I needed to spend more time reading or that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I grew to hate reading. During lower school my teachers were also obsessed with spelling test and crossword puzzles. I remember whenever my teacher would tell that class that we had a spelling test coming up, my heart would drop, knowing what my score would be even before I knew the words. I would go home every day that week and practice my spelling. I even had my mom give me mini spelling tests. After she gave me the spelling test, whatever words I got wrong she would make me write out 10 times. Then I woudl retake the guiz. We would do this over and over and over again until she got tired of doing them. Then it was time for me to take it in class that next day and wait for the grade I knew was coming: ‘F’, or maybe, if I got lucky, I would get a ‘D or C’. Another thing that I hated, that everyone else in the class absolutely loveb, were crossword puzzles. While everyone else was having fun, racing though their puzzles, I was stuck on the first worb, trying to find it while letters jump around the page and turn upside down. I never knew this was something that not everyone saw. To me that was ‘normal’ and I was just dumb. My teacher would always tell me how that she was disappointed or frustrated because I was never finishing my 36

crossword quzzles. Soon, news of my faluiers with the crossword puzzels reached the class. My classmates started to ask me questions about why it always took me so long to do them, but I never knew the answer. Each day I would be questioned, the more questions that were asked, the more I felt outcasted by my class. By the time we got into midle school it was time for us to pick the forigen language that we would be learning and mastering for the next 4+ years. Most of the grade chose Spanish, along with me, because we thought it would be easier than French and Latin. I was proven very wrong though. The first month or two of the class were not super hard since we were just re-touching some of the basic words that we learned in lower school. Howvere, after that we dove straight into trying to comprehend and read text in Spanish. This is where I fell into the deep end, comprehension and reading, two of the three things I was awful at doing. Each night I would go home and spend HOURS attempting to understand what was going on. And each day I would walk into class being more confussed than I was the day before. I started to notice that a few other people were also struggeling with the topic, so they went to the teacher and asked for help. This seemed like a great idea until I heard what the teacher had told them when they asked for help. The students that went to get help were shut down and turned away, told they should be picking this up quickly, or even being told that this was the easy stuff and that they needed to figure it out for themselves. After hearing what she said to other students that were also stuggeling but still doing better than me, I was scared into barely saying anything to her during class. After what felt like the whole school year, we finally moved out of that section and moved on to learning new words. Howvere, this was not the fresh breath of air I thought it was going to be. When learingin new words you must also learn how to spell them, and all I could think about is how I can’t even spell in my main language. I did not give up there though. Every night I would go home and learn new word after word and spell word after word out for HOURS until my mom would make me go to bed. Quiz after quiz, test after test, I would receive F’s and D’s and even coments on my quizzes like, “we went over this 10 times!” or on the rare chance that I finally got an answer 37

right the comment I gto was,“yay you finally got one!”. After hearing what all of my classmates got on these quizzes, I was the only one faling, and wanting to drop the class. My parents finally agreed to let me drop Spanish 1. As soon as I heard, a huge weight was lifted from me and I felt free. The next summer, my mom and I drove to Atlanta, GA for me to get “tested”. All I knew was that I was going to Atlanta to see someone that may be able to help me with my comprehension and spelling. While I was there, I learned that I had Dyslexia and ADHD. The lady that was testing me told me all about dyslexia and how it affected what I did. Whne I learned this all I wanted was for her to “fix it” and make me “normal”. Unfortunately, I was told that this would be something that I would struggle with every day, month, and year of my life. As time went on, I started to accept this new part of me and understand that it was somthign that I would be able to overcome and turn into a positive thing. However, this was not as speedy of a process as I thought. It took me many years to start to see it as anything but negative. Even today, I still struggle a lot with the frustration it causes, but try and stay positive and work around it as much as I can. One resource that has made it easier on me when teachers don’t understand my accommodation plan is to visit the CAE. So now you know when you see me walking into the CAE, I am not just someone that goes in there because I am dumb, but someone that goes in there to make sure her voice is heard and that she maintaines a positive view on the learning disabitilty she will batel her whole life. This is me. I am someone that hates reading… I am someone that has to re-read I formation in order to fully comprehend it… I am someone that mixes up my b, d, m, w, g, q and many other letters… I am someone that watches the words move and disappear off of the page while reading… 38

I am someone that will fall behind in class if I don’t take the time I need to slow down on certain material… I am someone that has to break up words in order to pronounce them… I am someone that relies on spell check… I am someone that performs better when instructions are read to me… I am someone that didn’t have to take a language in middle school… I am someone that couldn’t comprehend Spanish… I am someone that was in the Marauder Achievement Program (MAP) so I could work on my comprehension skills…

I am Dyslexic.




Oh Anna, I thought you would understand. But you left me all skin and bones. Raw and exposed to harsh critics of a messed-up world, you of all people should know. My longing for validation and messed-up soul. Yet you left me all skin and bones. Sharp and brittle, just waiting to be broke. My dearest ones whisper and spoke, harsh words my breaking point. I retreat into my dark, deep hole, Still only skin and bones. Glamorous from afar, brutal up close. Curious fingers reach to touch, Surprised when they draw up blood. Oh no, you don’t want to be like me. All skin and bones.






Jane knew her father was never coming back. She never said anything about it, though, and denied it when people told her. It was only a week after he had left when her sister, Laura, grew tired of watching her wait on the porch. Waiting for the familiar sound of a beat-up truck driving in. Waiting for the heavy steps on the porch. Laura came out, trying to persuade her to go back inside.“It’s gonna start to rain. Hard. Come in before you get a cold,” she said as she wrapped a blanket around Jane. Jane remained sitting on the steps, muttering stubbornly, “I have to wait.” After spending ten minutes trying to persuade Jane, Laura’s patience began to wear out. Her words became clipped with frustration. Then the rain came pouring. Laura’s patience snapped and she forced Jane to see the harsh reality. “Dad’s not coming back.” Jane flushed with anger,“Yes, he is, he promised that he would be back. He promised!” Jane held onto that thought for months and years. She tried to come up with different kinds of explanations for why he never came back. Some were morbid and others were pure fantasy, but they were reasons that proved her father did not leave her voluntarily. Jane even came up with reasons for the disappearance of his clothes and personal items. Maybe someone stole them, or her sister gave them away to prove a point. She didn’t know or remember when the feeling in her solidified, when she realized, deep down, that her dad was not coming back, that he lied to her that morning when he said he’d see her after work. All she knew was the denial of that feeling. How she would never say those words aloud. For years she went on, burying those words and feelings, living a twisted reality. Until one day, right before she went to bed, Jane cried,“He’s not coming back.” 42



Force feed me Blissful ignorance Only watch your Demon/angel eyes Stolen gold mantra Stolen bold woman On a pedestal; Our leader Warning/welcoming New family Relinquish my control Deny/rely on you for help I can’t live with/without Your control Let me go Hold me close Open the door Keep me from the world Your promises are shards In my hands






Some days I can sell Oooh I can sell like no ones business I can sell you my brains 10 CENT 20 CENT 50! I can sell you my voice 1 dolla 2 dolla 3! I can sell you my smile 20 dolla 40 dolla 60! I can sell you my submission 100 dolla 300 dolla 500! If I can just tuck away my opinions -$30 my volume -$50 my feelings -$100 then, man, can i sell.




Walking into my relaxed office, pictures of family vacations and friends’ graduations greet me. The dim lamp in the corner of my room is almost overpowered by the sunlight streaming in from the window, but it provides an ambient light for my patient who should be arriving right about now. As she walks in, she sits down on my sofa seeming to be worried. After the usual small talk, she proceeds to tell me about the anxiety attack she had at school today. She explains, “My chest was tight, my heart was racing, and I was just so scared.” Listening to her is making me relive the moment of my first ever panic attack; My sixth grade math class. As I start to slowly become less present in the current moment and am transported to McCool Elementary and Middle School, I can faintly hear my patient saying, “Dr Price?...” My first crippling anxiety attack led me to want to help other adolescents so they never experience the same traumatizing situation. The year is 2018, and I am fresh into middle school at McCool. As I am released from my photography class and am walking towards my math class, I suddenly get a pit in my stomach. My decent day has now turned sour. As I pass through the dense crowds of middle schoolers packing the hallways, my brain is overwhelmed by the sounds of chatter, locker doors slamming, and the stomping of feet from obnoxious boys. Usually, when I make it to my math classroom, my brain activates a routine. Walk in, sit down, take out the homework from the previous class, and relax. Except it seems that on this day, my routine has broken. The machine working the factory that is my mind has gone into overdrive. I sit at my desk, unsure of what I’m waiting on. Staring at the LED clock on the wall, I pray that time will go just a little faster. I can tell that something bad is about to happen, but what? Why? I am brought back to life by the voice of my friend. “You okay, G?”, she asks. I stare at her blankly, only registering that she had spoken, but not which words she had said. Something is wrong. 46

“Um… Yeah, I’m fine.” I absent-mindedly respond. The ticking time bomb in my head just went off. Suddenly, I felt as if a rope was being wrapped around my chest, slowly tightening, restricting my breath. Normal breaths start to turn into yawns, gasps, desperate attempts to soothe myself and get oxygen into my body. My vision blurs, a completely foreign sensation, and I hastily stand up. I am terrified. The silence of my peers is almost deafening. Why am I, the girl who is afraid to write a problem up on the board, stammering up to the teacher, out of breath, begging to leave? As I approach the teacher, all social anxiety I may have felt in the past leaves my body. I practically beg her for a pass to the nurse’s office, a little pink piece of paper that will be my ticket to relief. She could not move slower as she got out her dainty pad of pink slips and a black pen. Gliding the ink on the paper, she writes my name and the date. She hesitates at the sight of the “Concern” box. “What exactly is wrong, honey?” She asks. Going bright red, I think. I finally respond, “I-I don’t know," as I snatch the paper out of her hand and return to my desk. I hastily grab the handle of my open hot pink backpack, shoving papers and binders in with reckless abandon. She comments,“Well, alright, but just make sure you sign out befo-” I do not let her finish before I hurry out of the room, no longer caring to look back at the perplexed expressions of my classmates. And then I ran. I ran for what I thought was my little twelve year old life, ran from the touch of death. I passed classrooms, offices, posters, lunchrooms, but I did not care. I just ran. Arriving at the nurse’s office, I do not even allow her to examine me. I need to go home and see my mother. She sighs, taking me for another lazy slacker, and dials my mother’s phone number on her ancient phone. She talks for a little bit, an exchange I can only imagine as disappointed (I swear I can hear my mom say, “Really, Giada?”), and announces with apparent awkwardness that my mom would be picking me up. I wait not-so patiently until I see my mom’s white 2012 Toyota 47

“Really, Giada?”), and announces with apparent awkwardness that my mom would be picking me up. I wait not-so patiently until I see my mom’s white 2012 Toyota Highlander pull into the parking lot. Walking there was something that could appropriately be described as a walk of shame. The car ride home was full of screaming (my mother doing what any sensible mother would do, accuse me of skipping class), and upon arrival at my house I collapsed into my mothers bed. I watch my favorite sitcom and silently cry. I do not want my last day alive to be spent with my mother angry at me. As my consciousness begins to blur yet again, I can hear someone calling my name. Was it my patient, my mother, my teacher? I only knew once I was brought back to the serene setting that was my office, still decorated, still beautifully sunny, still sitting in front of my patient, who now had an extremely concerned look on her face. After a moment of silence, she finally speaks through a nervous chuckle: “I thought I lost you for a second there!” As I am reunited with reality, I smile. Looking at her, I say the words I had wanted to believe in that classroom, running down that hallway, in my mom’s car, and in the dark bedroom: “I’m okay.” Following that, I told her, “I think I have just the story for you.”




Prose ought to flow, like wine cascades down stained church glass, Or like tears in rain, washing all away.




and it pains me to say when i look at you i see my mother and father i see them in who we are when i am joyful to hear your voice, see your name pop up for simple texts dry and cold with no love, when it is confusing and i am wondering if i ever mattered or how i can be so easily forgotten, when i am walking on eggshells so as to not disrupt your peace, when you seem distant and inconsistent, but will be there for me occasionally, are you unreliable? or am i just clingy? but i have heard wise doctors tell me it is not wrong for me to want to be seen to be heard loved it is not weakness that i give my all and love ideally that i have high hopes for people who treat me like strangers but i think to when i looked at you and saw the world in your eyes your embrace would render me limp and at ease guard down and naive when i look at you i remember when i could hold on to people, until heat burn ran through my body and aches settled in my bones and feet, when the tears were soaked in my skin all because abandonment was etched in my soul but was i just a child… a child awestruck at being given a single piece of candy, a minute of someone’s time, a tilt of the head to be heard? were my thank you’s and praise a giveaway? when I’d stay and look at you, wide and bright eyed like a child wishing on a star, could you see who my mother and father were? could you see them when you looked at me? 50





Athlete: a person who is exceptional in physical exercises requiring strength, agility, and stamina Real Athletes are… Going to defy set boundaries to achieve goals Intelligent when preparing for competition Respectful to fellow competitors Long-lasting in commitment to no matter how hard it gets Spirited because motivation comes from their heart and not someone else’s *(excerpt from The Boy’s Amateur Athletic Association Magazine) * ******************* It’s the annual Freedom Springs Triathlon on 4th of July. I have been training for this race since December. I’m ready, so ready. Ready for the 72 degree water, Ready for the alligators keeping a watchful eye on me as I zoom by the race markers, Ready to push through the other hundred swimmers to the finish line. Ready to show that I’m truly an athlete. ******************* As I make my way down to the Spring, I scout my competition: the usual mob of Hard-Core triathletes, Bros who migrate from race to race. As I line up on the dock for a good starting position, they push past like children wanting to be the first to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall. The once quiet start line becomes chaotic as the mob starts to get rowdy. Their cheers, chants, and trash talking make it impossible to focus. Like the start of a circus routine, their actions become more and more intense: they now begin to loosen their muscles by doing all sorts of acrobatics. 52

Some of the older, more seasoned guys also take part in the hype, but us girls do not. The few that join me in effectively warming up also stare at these clowns. (Clearly these guys like to disrupt the peace to assert their dominance over the rest of us) ****************** “Hey. Hey. Yo BRO. How you doin’?” says the loudest of the Hard-Core Bros. His name is Jackson Fisher. Jackson’s tilted head clearly shows his confusion as to why I’m at the front of the line. “Good” I say with a short reply. I quickly give a sharp nod and a weak grin. (Bruh! This guy is messing up my routine!! Did my deep breathing and stretching not hint that I was getting in the zone? Guys like him always try to talk to me when it’s clearly not the best time!) “Whatcha doing so close to the front? Ya know the front is for us fast people, us real athletes,” Jackson sneers. He pauses to motion at his friends who are all wearing the same neon orange, skintight, Roka muscle racing suit. (All that orange makes them kind-of look like skinny traffic cones.) “I’ll tell you what, you see those signs over there? The ones with the yellow flags off to the right? Yea, they mark the different time cuts, and right now you’re in the 7-minute group. That’s pretty hard to get.” He says with the same tone as if I was here to watch instead of compete. (Well yeah, I can read. The last time I did a 400 my time was 5:40. Not bad for a girl) “Ok.” I say with the same short reply. My face begins to turn red with my rising level of annoyance. I guess my short remarks and face color made him feel like I was nervous or something because the next thing I know he’s telling me how to swim the race. (Yes me, the girl who's been on her varsity high school swim team since 6th grade!) 53

1. First, the key to any race is to not be afraid of the water. There are many people on canoes making sure that you are safe. (I don’t think I would sign up for a swim race if I was afraid of the water, bro.) 2. Second, focus on your breathing. I like to breathe every couple strokes. (Oh, good to know. It’s not like that’s the way people are taught to breathe when they first start to swim.) 3. Third, there will be a lot of people swimming at once, so try to find a little niche in the crowd. (That’s kind of obvious. This spring is not big enough to fit all 500 racers across the course with optimal personal space) 4. Fourth, don’t be scared if the faster swimmers pass you without stopping, this might happen since you’re toward the front. (Well, they’ll have to catch me first! I’m here for one reason: to win. The best chance I have is to start in front and finish in front.) I was trying to look appreciative of the advice, but this was nothing new. For weeks I have made numerous trips to train at this spring. I practiced on the course to figure out the right breathing pattern, so I could become comfortable with the race environment. After Jackson finished his lecture on swimming, all I could muster was a simple,“Thanks,” before the race horn blew and all of us rushed into the freezing crystal water. ****************** The race goes by in a swirl of bubbles and chaos! There are people everywhere, to my left, right, in front, and behind. Despite this, I find my way through the school of swimmers. I focus on the path I spent weeks practicing for this course: sticking to the rope that attaches the red course markers together. This “niche” is the best strategic place to swim along because the course is always in sight. This way I will never get lost. My strokes feel perfect, breathing is on point, and my pace is consistent. (Yes, I “found my niche” and the other swimmers did not scare me, Jackson.) In no time, I am back on dry land and ready to move to the bike. Oddly 54

enough, I don’t see Fisher and his mob of wise Hard-Core Bros. (Oh well, maybe they couldn’t “find their niche.”) The bike and run go by even faster than the swim. My transition time is flawless and thanks to the cool tailwind, my paces were faster than planned. I feel unstoppable. Rolling past the cheering crowd on mile 9 for the bike and again while sprinting to the finish makes me feel like a real athlete. In no time the race is over. At first, I thought I finished in the wrong place because there was no sign of the studs from the start line, but the inflatable arch with the words “Finish” told me otherwise. How could this be? I thought Jackson and his band of real athletes were going to finish in the front with us fast guys. Eventually I heard loud screams, whimpers, and cries from the Medical Tent. I walk towards it to see what all the commotion was about and there they are. The Hard-Core Bros lie down on the fold-out tables while the nurses push them to drink fluids. (I guess all their pre-race acrobatics and cheering is no good when they forget the most important part of prep, hydration. No real athlete skips this step) “D*mmmmmmmnnn, girl (breath) you never (gasp) told me, (wheeze) you were good at swimming (cough). I saw you take off in the front like a mermaid! I’ve never seen anyone swim that fast in my life! That’s HARD CORE!” he said. (I guess that 400 sprint was “pretty hard”. At least for him. Maybe he should have listened to his own tips.) “Oh, well you never asked,” I said with a smile. (It’s not like I’ve been swimming for 10 years of my life.) I turn to walk away at the sound of the podium winners being announced because that’s where real athletes finish. ******************* Maybe he didn’t see my signature Speedo goggles, or my $500 racing Tech suit, or my tan lines and sunspots from hours of boiling in the practice pool trying to 55

achieve the perfect stroke, OR maybe he didn’t want to see the markings of a great athlete because I was simply a girl competing in a boy’s sport. The shock on his face may simply be the result of overlooking obvious details, but nothing beats the satisfaction when they realize they got beat by a girl. Yes, a girl, a real athlete. ******************* Race Results: Athlete Time Place Michael White 4:53:80 1 Caleb Kim 4:55:80 2 Kaitlyn Guyer 4:56:74 3 Will James 5:25:00 4 Simone Williams 5:37:08 5 Nathan Jordan 5:38:07 6 Sam Vonn 5:40:53 7 Serena Biles 5:41:02 8 Tom Claremont 5:45:18 9 John Smith 6:00:59 10 Jackson Fisher -----------DNF *DNF = Did not finish *The top 5 finishers qualify for the Fittest On Earth World Triathalon Championship in November*




I found an old book in the cellar. Its cover, blood red and torn, the gold paint around the edges had faded, and the fabric tore through the word: “Wonderful.” I found an old book in the cellar. The front page, shaded with the ink of a pen now long gone away, but a scribble still persisting: “Delaney.” I found an old book in the cellar. The pages, a dull gray, some words more visible, some barely remain. One gone completely, just a gap: Unavailable. I found an old book in the cellar. Between the pages splayed, a spare sheet covered in dust and 5 letters. Nothing to say, except one word: I found an old book in the cellar.





Don’t want to feel

to think

to see

Want to get rid of the growing


and pressure and hurt

But I don’t want to go

There’s still too much I want to see

Too much I want to do

Too many people I'm not willing to leave

So I don’t want to go

But I don’t want to stay

I wish I could just BE Just exist Without the fear

or shame

or hurt






I know she wove the crown by the bank I saw the fall The slip as the sliver broke And she floated singing She fell Blinded by the sun Her limbs in the deep I watched her face warp, illuminated by light Her eyes distorted by the surface Hiding my eyes behind the page I saw her sink Her silenced melody Echoing off the glassy surface I saw the fall She did not weave She did not slip She did not sing Perhaps she floated How could I know I saw her fall






“The world is dumbing down and arming up. Said the stranger with a car full of useless stuff. He was thumbing through a magazine. Mumbling his worries out loud to me...” Hearing the melodic tunes of The Ragbirds again brings me back to why I became a music critic in the first place. I find a deep gratitude for music that I can relate to, music that gets me dancing. I am currently on the road to critique a new Indie band, and I just crossed the state line of Michigan. As the radio switches over from Indiana’s South Bend Mix 106.3 FM to 99.1 WSM, the first song I hear is this familiar tune of my childhood: Good Time to be Born. Listening to the refrain brings back the love and appreciation for music that I discovered in my teen years, which led me to a band that would impact my entire adolescence. I remember the summer, a decade ago to be exact, when I first found The Ragbirds. … I am starting to feel independent as a 15-year-old, the summer in Lake Odessa, Michigan, at my cottage. I am up in my room, on the second floor, sitting next to my new CD player, which was just delivered by mail. I decide to walk up town to purchase some CDs, and end up at the old, familiar, thrift store that I have been to every summer of my life. I quickly walk through the small rooms, scanning the booths. I come across a wicker basket lined with about 40 CDs. The CDs are old, and the colors faded, except for one. I pick it up. The words “Finally Almost Ready” are printed in big letters across the front. I buy it, not knowing what kind of music the CD holds. Back in my room, I take the CD out of the cover and gently place it into the CD player. I press start. The music blasts out in an upbeat, folky tune. “I like it”, I think out loud. I look up the artist on my iPhone and click on the website. I tap the “about” page and learn that they are a local band and have a concert in two days, at a venue three hours away, in Huntington Woods, Michigan. My older sister, who loves music and concerts, agrees to drive me. 64

On the day of the concert, my sister and I drive three hours to the venue. As we get out of the car at the location, no one is there. It is a little park, in the middle of a neighborhood. There is no stage and no musicians in sight, only a sign with the words: “CONCERT IN THE PARK ERIN ZINDLE & THE RAGBIRDS 6/28 7:00 PM BURTON.” I frantically check the date on my phone. It is indeed the 28th of June, the current time 7:35PM.“There is no way we would have missed it,” my sister exclaims, to which I agree. “What is Burton?” I ask. She has no clue. We jump back into the car and drive around the surrounding neighborhood for 20 minutes but cannot find the location. It is now five minutes to eight, and I have lost all hope of seeing The Ragbirds.“Just forget it, the show is probably over,” I say. "Let's walk around one more time to see if we can hear anything,” my sister suggests. We get out of the car and hear distant music. We trail the sound until we are outside of Burton Elementary School. On the front lawn of campus, a huge stage is set up and the band is playing. Erin is strumming the fiddle while singing simultaneously, and the rest of the band are playing their instruments. My sister and I sit down right in front of the stage. There are kids running around and families sitting on picnic blankets. I suddenly get a warm feeling in my stomach; I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I get up and start dancing. I do not care who is watching or what they think. The show goes on for another hour, and I dance to every song. After the show, a middle-aged woman walks up to me and says with pleasure,“Never let anyone stop you from dancing, never,” and then walks away. I do not even get a chance to say thank you for the kind words. As my sister and I pack up, Steve, an elderly, gray haired man, who was dancing with his wife during the show, introduces himself as a longtime friend of the band. “How did you find the Ragbirds?” he asks. I tell him the story about finding the CD three days ago at a local thrift store. He loves my story and runs to get his wife at the merchandise table. I repeat the story to her and then continue 65

chatting. Out of nowhere, Steve’s wife says,“Stay here!” and runs towards the merch table. “Okay?” I shout back to her, confused. She comes back with two stickers and two CDs. She hands one of each to me and my sister. She turns towards me and says,“For your growing CD collection.” We thank both Steve and his wife and head back to the car. I leave feeling on top of the world. .... As the song ends on the radio, I reflect on the influence of that summer. The Ragbirds hold my highest review and are the above average bar I set to critique all other bands. The way the band makes me feel is what has always made them stand out to me.“…Today is a good time to be born. Today is a good time to begin… Today starts again.”




how tall the trees are I can only guess. the uncertainty frightens my inner child. whether straight or crooked, the trees always grow upward. I strive to be like those trees, so now I see the world through a tint of emerald green and although the uncertainty frightens me, I will grow towards the sky in hopes of one day seeing the stars.






Either you rewrite yourself and live in the twilight and in-between and you are a mystery to the darkness or you are afraid of it and the dark embrace knows that you are afraid and it, knows so much more about you than you know about yourself. Guardedness is more useful when active and aware; I feel oldness creeping into my bones again, sometimes I reminisce drinking up the tides of fate, lest I be washed away now




are a w***n

“It says here that you have been convicted.” I nod. “Could you explain how you ended up in that position? I just mean, well, to be frank, you can understand how this could be a worry.” “Yes, sir. I promise that it won’t interfere with my ability to do the job.” “Hmm, ok. I’ll discuss it with my supervisor and decide on a rate later today.” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Out in the wild, a family of lions is searching for their next meal. “Brian, turn that off.” The lion must find food before the sun falls or they will starve. The two sons must learn from their father how to kill, and hunting while they are hungry is the perfect setting to begin. The father has taught his young how to demand respect from the tribe and all animals on the Savannah. Buffalo are spotted on the horizon, the perfect beginner’s target. “BrIaNnNnN” Staying low, the family of lions uses the tall blades of red oats grass to disguise their sandy fur. The young must learn how to stay hidden or they will alert their dinner 70

to their presence. Father takes the lead in their attack. In fear, the baby lions cower back as the father quickly circles the buffalo. Their hesitation could cost them their meal. Confident and strong, the father lion spots a small calf easy to attack. Another buffalo runs to protect her young, but the baby lions take charge and kill their first prey. "“BRIAN JAMES JONES. TURN IT OFF.” “Whatever, the lions always win anyway.” ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() so you support him on his sexist beliefs I JUST BELIEVE THAT MEN ARE BETTER SUITED FOR CERTAIN THINGS THAN W***N oh I JUST MEAN LIKE NO ONE COULD ARGUE THAT A MAN IS BETTER SUITED THAN A W***N TO BE A HAIRDRESSER. well LIKE NO ONE THINKS W***N ARE BETTER AT CONSTRUCTION THAN MEN. THEY JUST AREN’T.

was it too loud ** * ** * ** * ** ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *** ** ** 71

()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() HER INVOICE FOR ONE YEAR: $37,447 ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() quix·ot·ic: exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical. “the w****n had a quixotic hope that she would get paid the same as her male counterpart.” ** * ** * ** * ** ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *** ** ** HIS INVOICE FOR ONE YEAR: $45,668 ** * ** * ** * ** ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *** ** ** Out in the wild, a family of buffalo joins their herd to graze over the delectable array of grass. “Brian, turn that off.” The mother buffalo tries to keep her young toward the middle of the herd. Never knowing how close danger lurks, mother buffalo must keep her child close. Mother scans the grass nearby for any sign of predators waiting to pounce. Spotting a small path of ripe grass on the horizon, the baby buffalo scrambles to the other side of the herd just out of mom’s reach. “BrIaNnNnN” The hidden lion pounces toward the buffalo and grabs her with razor sharp teeth. Two smaller lions join in the kill and rip into the poor baby buffalo. Mom finally reaches her young but it is too late. The lions retreat with the small buffalo. “BRIAN JAMES JONES. TURN IT OFF.” [sOunD oF tV cRacKlInG oFf ] “Whatever, the lions always win anyway.”


underestimated, underappreciated, undereducated.

you may not think you’re the lion but it’s not like you’re helping the buffalo - ------–--- -–----------------------------- –----------------------


my hands shake when I’m alone in public. i pretend to be on the phone when a man looks at me in that way that way that make me want to puke &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& Try out our line of crossover leggings! 2 for only 25 dollars if you come into our stores this week! Or try out the new collection of oversized sweatshirts sure to keep you warm this frigid winter. WEAR AT YOUR OWN RISK OF RAPE. OUR COMPANY TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY ACTIONS THAT MAY RESULT DUE TO OUR PRODUCT BEING WORN. *^*^*^*^*^* ^*^*^*^*^*^*^* ^*^*^*^*^*^*^* ^*^*^*^*^* 73

that way that makes me wish i wasn’t wearing a mini skirt that way that makes me wish i had a jacket to cover up my natural being. but i don’t so i have to stay here standing (not) on the phone and pretend that there is someone on the other side to help me be a little less alone ()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()() a man turns on the news MISSING 16 YEAR-OLD GIRL A 16 year old girl went running this morning at 5:00 AM. “What idiot goes running at 5:00 AM?” Video tapes show a white van forcing her into the trunk. “I mean she was basically asking for it.” If you see this w***n: (A PICTURE OF HER OUTFIT FLASHES ACROSS THE SCREEN) “You can’t wear that and not expect something to...” ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ “Sophia, you have to bring your phone with you. How will you call me if someone is following you?” … “I don’t know, Sophia. If something happens to your car, it’s not the best part of town.” … “Sophia, you have to have pepper spray on you at all times. What if something happens?” 74

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& a w***n turns on the news MISSING 16 YEAR-OLD GIRL A 16 year old girl went running this morning at 5:00 AM. she was running. Video tapes show a white van forcing her into the trunk. she was forced. If you see this w***n: (A PICTURE OF HER OUTFIT FLASHES ACROSS THE SCREEN) that’s what I wear running. @#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@#@ help my hands not to shake help me not to show fear make sure that I make it home cause she was only running on the side of the road ` in an outfit i wore yesterday it could be me any day now ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

we are women. we are people. 75




I know how hard it is to leave home for love for happiness, to leave the storm for shelter knowing who it is you leave behind, when I walk into a life you do not accompany me, and there is a hole where your hand belongs, when they stare gawk and snare at you for daydreaming I do not know how to tell them the night keeps me restless, and nightmares haunt my unconsciousness and when the sadness floods your body, you can’t help but let the tears run down your face immobilized and silent, eventually submerged under the water, they pass confused, don’t you know how to swim? you’ve swam before? but the slightest thought of choking, the feeling of drowning, sends me into a frenzy and while I am drowning, the water does not surround me and submerge me in its cold, desolate, and suffocating arms, instead, it fills my lungs from the inside out and I turn no heads, no questions, no sounds.




The damp streets were not a very pleasant place to be walking, but the average man wearing average clothes walked joyfully down the sidewalk. The only light came from the floating signs, casting long shadows as they flashed with neon light. The man had just completed his 117th rebirth at his favorite station in all of Newland. He celebrated by taking a large handful of dopamine pills from one of the many dispensaries lining the road. 117 rebirths was not a particularly special number to the man, but every time he died and returned, he felt a little closer to the Dopechaser community. His rebirths will be displayed on his front door. His neighbors would recognize him as a good member of Newland, doing his work and enjoying the many Death-Attractions the country had to offer. As the man swayed down the street, he slowly realized he was in an Old-New section of houses, almost deserted by the hordes of citizens rushing to live in the New-Old apartments. He had recently moved from there to his new-old apartment to follow the trends. When he turned the corner, to his surprise, he saw another man sitting on a broken sign with a faintly glowing slogan that read, "Out with the New, in with the Old!". He stared at the man with confusion. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "This area is supposed to be uninhabited." "Well," said the man, "I suppose I'm doing the same thing you are." Confused, he replied, "Did you also just experience a rebirth?" "No, no," the weird man laughed, "I don't do rebirths. I meant that we are both enjoying the quiet in this neighborhood." He slowly looked around and realized where he was. Annoyed that he was awakened from his pill-induced trance, he angrily asked the strange man, "What do you mean you don't do rebirths? Everyone does rebirths." The man laughed again. "Well, not everyone. I've only lived one life. I've never felt the need to die before." That confused him even more. He took a weary step back and shook his head. He hadn't had to think this much in months. He didn't know what to say, so he asked another question. 78

"What's that strange thing you have in you're making?" The second man held up his hands and showed the first man a knotted piece of orange rope. He began to explain. "This is called a Tautline Hitch, and it's my favorite knot to tie. The more you pull, the tighter it gets, but a little slide and the whole loop loosens. I find it quite ironic these days." The first man felt uneasy, looking at the small piece of cord sitting in the other man's hand. As he took another step back, he said, "You are the strangest person I've ever met. I'll be on my way now. Good die to you." The strange man laughed a third time. He called after him, "In my eyes, the strange one is you! Maybe someday you'll find a reason for living." The first man continued to walk for some distance until he found himself in the New-Old section of town. Filled with thousands of bodies, flashing lights, and countless buildings advertising New-Old ways to die. To his left was a large sign displaying the Newlands slogan. "Out with the New, in with the Old!" On his right was a large red building. Men with loudspeakers ushered bodies towards the lengthening line. A glowing red sign above the entrance read "Comedy!" A smaller sign below it read: "Death by Laughter, the Newest Trend!" "Well," thought the man, "I might as well treat myself to two deaths in one day." Heading for the entrance, he grabbed another handful of dopamine pills. With every step, the knot grew tighter. From behind the screens of the monitoring cameras that lined the streets, sighs were released. No slip in the knot today. With the strange man from the alley already fading from his mind, he headed towards the large doors with the rhythmic, pounding music and screams of laughter coming from inside.




I say, Let’s go away, back to that old beach café. Late in the day, the Sun’s eyes close. Shutting over the delicate primrose flowers that bloom and grow from its gaze, I suppose. The waves move to touch and peck at the bluff. They tumble and fuss simply because they cannot reach us. Silently, you only stare over there. Through the thick, sticky air of the windy Brumaire. The horizon starts to bend, poking holes in the body that will not mend, from any wound, but I will still pretend you are as you were, my dear friend. So maybe I’ll see you one day looking as you were, wrapped in intricate papier-Mache, back at that old beach café.






is hard. an endless expanse of ideas and stories standing at your paper's doorstep, dangling off the edge of your pen. i never "know" what i'm going to write about, any more than i "know" that i Am. instead, i sit at a rusting picnic table, outside the bones of the tallahassee mall, breathing in the cool breeze coming off the tumult of the great wild blue, and seeing a woman holding the hand of a man who is yet to be a man. i see that, and somehow i Know. it is with that Knowledge that i draw my mightier than the sword to drag across a 12-inch ladder to nowhere. but before my weapon is unsheathed, the mother and the not-yet-man flee from me, and the Knowledge they bring is suddenly written on the flyer for john parrish's four-man gig at the bradfordville blues club as it's swept away in the earth's sighs. so instead i write:




Mes parents ont grandi dans une guerre. They lived in a third world, having to hide in bunkers to avoid bombs, and being very careful around the Israeli posts or else they could get shot just for accidently giving them a wrong look. That was my parents’ life. My entire family left Lebanon and went their own ways, now scattered across the world. Some in France, Australia, New Zealand, England, and we went to the US, where I was born. Lucky enough I didn’t have to go through what my parents did, but that only created a barrier between me and the rest of my family. I’m not like the rest of my family. Je ne suis pas une partie de ma famille. I feel ashamed that I don’t represent my family’s culture that was left in the debris that’s across the world. I grew up with their traditions, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s a part of me. “Est-ce qu’on peut faire les lentilles pour Noël?”, my brother and I would always ask. It is one of my favorite traditions that I grew up with. Even though it may be a small, unique, difference, it sets me apart from some of the American Christmas traditions that my friends may do. We would soak cottonballs, fill the bottom of a glass Tupperware with them, and sprinkle les lentilles on the cottonballs. Les lentilles would slowly start to sprout and by the end of the Christmas season, they would be inches tall. This is one tradition that anchored me in my family culture, yet it never felt like enough. 83

In Lebanon, they speak Lebanese and French. French was my first language and I was sent to Pre-K knowing no English. My mom had to explain the basic French phrases that I would use, like “l’eau” and “j’ai faim” so my teacher could understand when I needed something. By nature, humans do their best to fit into the more dominant group to survive. I lost my French very quickly. Surrounded by the English language, I was forced to fit in. Today I can only understand French, but I struggle with speaking it. I no longer have that second language, that connection I can use to form a stronger bond to my family. I grew up in the south at a private school. I was the black sheep, the outlier among all the blonde Americans. Everyday at lunch, I would be so excited to open my thermos to see what Lebanese food my mom packed for me. My favorite dish, kousa mahshi, would be the one I dreaded the most at school. It may not look like the most appetizing meal to most people, but it sure was to me. I made the mistake of opening the container in front of all my American friends and I was greeted by “Ew! What is that?!” from all of them. I was embarrassed that my culture’s food was not approved by the peers who determine my social status. It was not the bland chicken nuggets from McDonalds or greasy pizza from Dominos that they were all so used to.

My Lebanese parents were different than most normal American ones. The food not only set me aside from other children, but the information I gained from my parents, or lack thereof, was another difference. My 84

parents did not have sports or homecoming or prom in their Lebanese madraseh. Being the first generation American in my family, I never had the guidance on these social aspects of high school life. Sports were never a priority in my family. My parents were never the type to go outside and throw a football around for fun or to teach their kids how to play baseball, or any normal American family activities. They never pushed me to work harder in a sport because that was not a part of their own childhood. Homecoming and prom is practically nonexistent outside of the U.S. meaning my immigrant parents, once again, are pretty much clueless on the subject. I had no idea what a corsage or a boutonniere was until a few months ago. The normal traditions that are a part of American culture were never a part of me.

Split in two. Neither one nor the other. Never being whole. Does that make me incomplete?

Est-ce que je ne suis pas une personne? After many years of experience on the border of these two sides, these two pieces, my two worlds, I realize that no one is supposed to perfectly fit into another person’s world or culture. Being the gray area between black and white is what creates a connection between the two. Everyone has these opposing pieces that they grow up with, but it is how you fit these pieces together that determine who you are.





Two years ago, my dad’s open-heart surgery altered my understanding of the world more than it altered his heart. It was mid-June, right before my sophomore year of high school, when my family and I went to Gainesville for my dad to have open-heart surgery. The summer heat seemed to make the days pass more slowly than usual, and the Airbnb’s bad Wi-Fi certainly did not help. The hospital’s Covid-19 protocol prevented children under eighteen, like me, from going to visit patients. Understandably, I was less than thrilled about this rule. Instead of going to see my dad, I had to stay home, doing my summer reading to pass the time. The only upside was that I was able to escape from the realities of my father’s surgery… for a little while at least. While my father was in surgery, my friends asked me if I was sad or scared. They clearly expected me to say yes. However, the truth was, I wasn’t upset. In fact, I was relatively indifferent toward the idea of my father being operated on at that very moment. I would not define this feeling as apathy, though. More accurately, it was resentment. I believed my father could have done something to prevent this surgery, and I was mad that he didn’t try. In my mind, his minimal effort to stay healthy was not enough to earn my sympathy. I would later realize that was a harsh and overly critical judgement. I just couldn’t understand why he hadn’t exercised more, eaten less junk food. I know now that we can’t fight genetics with good health. This surgery was going to happen even if he had chosen the salad over the bacon-cheeseburger at lunch last week. I couldn’t admit this to myself because it was easier to be angry with him than to be scared for him, so I allowed myself to live with this delusion for as long as possible. Once we brought my father back to Tallahassee to continue his recovery at home, I had to abandon the false reality I had created. On a particularly hot afternoon he asked,“Will you take me on a walk?” When I heard this, everything in me wanted to say no. It was too hot, I didn’t want to go outside. I was about to tell him so, but then I looked at his face and saw a human being where my father stood. After seeing him like this, I decided to say yes. As we walked down our street, out of breath from the uphill stroll, I saw my father in a different light. He no longer seemed so indestructible. For once in my life, he was helpless and needed me as 87

much as I needed him. In that moment, we were equals. So, I’m glad that my dad had open-heart surgery because seeing his vulnerability allowed me to understand that he is just as human as I am. By the time his last suture dissolved, I had changed tremendously. Though I will never truly stop changing, and will continue having new experiences every day, I am very different than I was as a child. I used to only care about myself, but I’ve grown. I can finally see people on a human level, and can truly empathize with others. Now, when people hear about his surgery and tell me that they are sorry, I say I am not, because it was his surgery that made me relate to him in a different way than just daughter to father. I can now relate to him as human being to human being. My ability to connect to others through shared humanity is one of the most valuable skills I have, and that is precisely what my father’s open-heart surgery taught me to do.




I walked into the entrance hall and was greeted with a wafting smell of day-old urine. It was somehow seeping through the door that separated the main care facility from us, because it made its appearance known immediately. My mom and I signed in and agreed to presenting no COVID symptoms before the front desk lady pushed a magical button to let us in the main room. I had discovered why the door has to be unlocked by a worker one night when I came to visit my grandmother with my dad. As we were standing at the door, trying to come back into the entrance hall to go to the car, a lady determinedly asked us,“Can you take me with you?” My dad, with his gentle spirit, shook his head sorrowfully and said “No, you have a comfy bed here, you have all that you need.” Much to her chagrin, she realized she wasn’t going to be able to escape tonight, so she huffed and pushed her walker down the hall. After the door was unlocked, I pushed open the unusually heavy door and saw a familiar sight. Some residents were hutched over in the lobby, all in comfy, pee-stained chairs. Most were nodding off in a post-lunchtime nap, but there were some… special people doing their own thing. There are always special people in retirement homes, but particularly in Azalea Gardens: Assisted Living Facility & Memory Care Unit. One gentle old lady was petting a stuffed dog strategically placed on her lap by the workers. Another elderly woman was wandering around and eventually placed herself in front of a man, hitched over with glasses, sorting through his mail. Something clicked in her mind that he stole her mail, so she snatched it right out of his hands and reviewed his letter. He might have been too tired, or perhaps he forgot what just happened, but he didn’t fight back. To my right, through a questionably stained window, a band of men were huddled together across couches and chairs watching the infamous M.A.S.H.. I don’t know what the show is about, but I’ve seen it playing in retirement homes across Tallahassee, as my grandma has bounced from home to home. As my mom and I walked down one of the three hallways that branched off from the lobby, we passed the lunchroom that I wish wasn’t as engraved in my memory as it was. A short six months ago, for my grandma’s 93rd birthday, my dad insisted that we help set up a party for the residents. He decided on a dinosaur 89

theme for the party, including a sheet of cupcakes with dinosaurs frosted on them, mini toy dinosaurs to hand out to all the residents, streamers and balloons in the colors of blue, green, and purple (what he called ‘dinosaur colors’), and sent out a plentiful amount of invitations to the workers and residents. Oh, and he also handpicked a dinosaur song from the Internet, printed the lyrics out for the residents to sing along, and made sure that his five kids also had a copy of the lyrics so we could sing it at the party. So, as you can imagine, I felt obligated to go. The first challenge presented itself before the party even started. I was blowing up balloons and throwing them randomly across the floor of the lunchroom, but this lady, God bless whoever she is, couldn’t stand the disorganization of scattered balloons. So instead, she so helpfully picked them all up, one-by-one, and placed them on the piano in the corner of the lunchroom. I didn’t mess with the balloons after that. She was happy, so I was happy. Meanwhile, a woman named Angela, appearing to be between 80 and 85 years old, was sporting a hot pink, floppy sun hat, and a plain black dress. Maybe she was running low on her retirement fund, or committing a crime was on her bucket list, but while my mom was decorating the head table where my grandma was going to sit, Angela peered into her purse and snatched her wallet. What I didn’t realize was that senior citizens are excellent thieves, because they can act clueless, and it’s far more of a reality than a ploy. She started to walk out, and Mom hustled over and said “I’m so sorry but this is my wallet.” After a failed robbery attempt, Angela decided to steal a cupcake instead, so before the party and pictures even started, there was a cupcake missing from the corner of the cake that Angela was happily munching on. And the day was still far from over. After everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to my grandma and ate a cupcake, it was time for the dinosaur song. My family stood up and started singing “Oh I wish I was a dinosaur!” and even the memory care residents thought we were crazy. I extrapolated myself from that memory and continued trekking down the hall towards my grandma’s room. We passed a woman who was trying to open the locked door that leads to the courtyard by pushing a huge lounge chair into the door. If only she knew it needs a code, not a chair. We ignored this normal sighting and turned the corner to continue down the hallway. Even from across the hallway, I knew who was coming towards us. His Publix name tag from 1979 reflected in the old lights, and he seemed off balance, as he often did, with only one of his water shoes on.“Hi, Mike” we said enthusiastically. He was one of the best parts of the 90

facility; the employees informed us that he still thinks he works at Publix. “Where’s your other shoe?” my mom couldn’t help but asking.“I don’t know” he replied, seeming confused. He scratched his beard and continued on his wandering way. Finally, we made it to my grandma’s room. We sat down to visit with her, but just when we thought we were shielded from the insanity and stench by the closed door, the door was opened slightly.“Hello?” we asked, not knowing if a worker was trying to come in for a well check. I immediately caught sight of a hot pink hat and saw Angela’s round, wrinkly face soon after. She invited herself in, and before we could stop her, she saw my mom’s purse on Mamaw’s bed, grabbed her wallet, and ran.




In 1862, Alexander Parkes invented plastic. Today, I live in a plastic world. Polystyrene stuffs my limp body with soft and scratchy insulation. Polyvinyl Chloride holds together my limbs as a hard and unmoving force. Polypropylene wraps around my skin like upholstered fabric, artificial yet familiar. Polyethylene shoved down my throat to silence my voice and replace it with a shiny film. Plastic flies through the wind. Plastic sleeps deep underground. Plastic swings in the tree and waves at me. My plastic world smiles at me, and my polyurethane mouth smiles back.






“i feel like a failure” they tell me between classes and i see the bright red D+ by the staple on their chemistry exam. and even though my grades suffocate me beneath their insistence, taunt me despite my persistence, i will walk with them to their next class, and remind them of all the ways everything will be okay. i know if i told them i felt the same way, they would not think it was comforting. they would stop and say “yeah right” say “i doubt it” say “okay miss perfect” I Don’t Feel Perfect what makes you think i am capable of offering advice i don't take myself? what makes you think i can take the place of a professional in a brown leather chair, dissecting your every thought for $40 an hour? what makes you think I don't feel that way too? and still, I’ll Stay Silent. Because This Isn’t About Me, 94

It’s About You. and right now, the best i can offer is my undying pity. as she craves escape, and he feels like he’s falling, and they’re crying, eyes glisten. i will sit back, shut up, and try my best to listen.




My face would leave a print on the window by the front door Waiting for your car to pull in at night And my breath would fog my view And make me squint against the cloudy glass Better or worse? 1. 2. 2’s better. Better or worse? 2. 3. 3’s worse. A slight astigmatism explains the spears of white And red puncturing the darkness and The surrounding cars that are always too close And each streetlamp that shuts off faster than I can pass it The lanes are never big enough Headlights never bright enough Brakes not strong enough The leaves must have melted into each other as the car spun, And the clouds into the sky. Project it onto the walls of my skull over and over Until it burns Straight through bone, pale skin, coarse hair


anything. again,

The hues all blend together, replace each other. For a quiet moment, it’s better not to know But you open your eyes and the trees stand still Their branches clenching at the clouds to rest.

Onto the walls and For anyone around me wherever I am I hate pity You almost mistake it for peace.






Mama can't sing. But she loves to sing to God. Negro spirituals and hymns grace her lips without fail. To our ears, it is treacherous, pitchy, and loud, But I like to think, to God it is the most beautiful sound. To hear someone lift your name despite everyone else's opinions. To sing with your heart and soul. I think those are the sounds we should listen for, not the ones that feel nice. Look for the ones with the dutiful soul and a lovely heart, not the ones who can hold a note. Anyone can sing a song, but only a few can feel it.




He came quietly. A soft tapping on your door and the gentle smell of spring when you opened it. A blink, and then you slammed the door again, heart racing. He didn’t knock again. You found him in the laundry room next. He looked up when you entered, and didn’t say anything. He bent back into the washing machine and pulled out another one of your shirts to hang on the line. You stared at him. He smelled like clean sheets this time, the fabric softener your mother used to use when you were still a child, and needed help putting the corners of the sheet on the bed. “What are you doing?” you ask him. He only shrugs and turns back to the washing machine. “Drying,” he says, as if it’s obvious. You close the door behind you on the way out. Your friend points him out next. He was sitting in the armchair by the fire, quietly. The space around him smelled like rain in autumn, the comfort of a wet coat hung out in front of the fire to dry. Your friend giggles and takes another sip of wine.“It’s all over your face! I can see it plain as day!” You ignore her, and him, and that desperate feeling in between your ribs that wants to crawl to that armchair and never let him go. Your friend’s expression changes and she leans forward, eyes earnest and far too knowing.“You can’t ignore it forever. You deserve to be happy, too,” she says, and pats your knee. She draws back and the conversation ends. You’re painfully conscious of his presence; quiet and patient and waiting. You receive flowers not long after. There’s a note, complete with that curly signature you know almost as well as your own. They’re your favorite flowers, camellias.


The smell of summer storms surrounds you and he hooks his chin on your shoulder, gazing at the flowers. You hesitate before giving them to him, avoiding his gaze, and watch as he settles them into a vase he’s put on the kitchen table. The windows are open, and the breeze that whispers through is warm. The sun has settled in through the windows and you can see the gentle dance of the dust in the air. He’s cleaned all your dishes and wiped down the counters, and tuned the radio to your favorite station. You feel like dancing. It’s early morning when you place a tumbler in front of him. He looks at it, and then back at you. It’s the first time you’ve acknowledged him, and you’re struck with a wave of fear, fear that he’s going to bolt through the open door behind you. “You are ready?” he asks, and his voice doesn’t sound like you expected it to. Warm, yes, but also scratchy, as if from disuse. You nod, and take in a shaky breath. The doorbell rings. You’d been expecting it. He stands up from the table and offers his arm, allowing you to link your own elbow through it. Together, you answer the door.





“Oops,” I say as I rush down the hall. Of course, I slept through the alarm on the most important day of my life. Today, I am the guest speaker at the International Doctors Without Borders annual meeting in London. After sprinting to the elevator doors, I press the “down” arrow. Reciting my speech in my head and pacing up and down the narrow corridor calms my nerves while I wait for it to arrive. “Why is this elevator taking so long?” I ask myself. As I check my watch, a stomping noise coming from the elevator shaft startles me. Upon looking up through the glass shaft, I see two young mischievous girls pressing the “open” and “close” buttons repeatedly. Slowly, I stop pacing and back away from the elevator. The sight of them reminds me of a traumatic experience I had in an elevator. From that experience, the phrase “think before you do” will always ring in my head. Twenty summers ago, I went on a family trip to Rome, Italy. On our first day, we decide to take a tour of the famous Colosseum. As we stroll through the ancient ruins, I find a great spot next to a rusty old water pump for taking pictures. After snapping a few photos, I try to pump some water from it. The lever will not budge! As I begin to fiddle with it, my mother says,“Kaitlyn, don’t touch that! You’re going to break it.” As she drags me along to catch up to the rest of the tour group, she reiterates in a low voice,“Remember to think before you do.” I nod my head and keep moving. Hours later, we return to the hotel exhausted and sweaty from a full day of sight-seeing and the summer heat. As my little sister, Lauren, and I make our way to the elevators, my dad announces,“Oh no you don’t, we’re taking the stairs.” Lauren groans,“But we’ve already walked twelve miles!” “Toughen up! You ate too much gelato at lunch and it’s time to work it all off,” Dad snaps back. “Come on, Kaitlyn!” exclaims Lauren as she dashes through the closing metallic doors of the elevator. I rush after her into the glass box. Before we can tell our parents, the elevator dings and a couple with an excessive amount of luggage enters. The woman smells like vanilla and coconut, while the man reeks of sweat. He carries in two big black TUMI rolling suitcases, and a matching computer bag slung across his chest. She pulls in a small Louis Vuitton suitcase and a matching purse. With all their luggage in the front of the car, Lauren and I are squished against the back window. To 102

avoid inhaling anymore of the man’s overwhelming stench, I turn around to look at the streets as we ascend. Distracted by the beautiful view of the city, I fail to realize that we need a keycard to operate the elevator. The couple gets off as the elevator dings, leaving us alone. With a sigh of relief, I press the number three for our floor. Nothing happens. The car would not move despite me pressing the button repeatedly. My heart starts to race, and I begin to panic. My hands glisten with sweat and my whole body begins to tremble. The room suddenly feels as if it is getting smaller. I start to imagine being stuck in here forever! “How long will it be until someone comes? Oh, Mom will be livid!” I fret. The tension begins to build as we both try the buttons once more. Frustrated, Lauren yells,“This is all your fault!” “No, I was the one that wanted to wait for mom and dad! You’re the one that dashed in here before anyone else had the chance to!” I yell back. We both retreat to opposite corners of the glass box and look outside for any sign of help. After having a moment to cool off, I turn back around and say, “I’m sorry for yelling at you, but let’s both agree that this is a disaster.” “Yeah, I didn’t realize the elevators here would have fancy keycards. Next time, let’s just take the stairs.” Lauren replies. As we hug it out, the gears start to turn, and the elevator begins to move again! The hum of cables never sounded so comforting. Once the doors open, I sprint as fast as I can to our room. Before I knock on the door, I prepare myself for the long lecture my mother will be giving. I give a sharp knock, and immediately feel the inferno of anger burning from behind my mother’s eyes as she opens the door. My memory of the lecture remains quite vivid, resulting in my use of elevators to be quite limited. That day reminds me of how important it is to think before I do something. In retrospect, entering an elevator is not the best idea if I do not know how to use it properly; especially if I am in a foreign country. Now, I know why mothers tell their children to think before they act because they fear the consequences of reckless behaviors. I never thought how true this would be until my own reckless decision almost got the best of me. As I see the two little girls pushing those buttons in that elevator, I hear my mother’s voice in the back of my mind whispering,“Think before you do.” My phone suddenly buzzes in my pocket reminding me I cannot be late for my speech. Rushing toward the stairs, I shudder at the memory.




Life is a wasteland. Life is one big desert and we’re all running as fast as we can up a sand dune. But we’re not actually moving. Every once in a while, the top of the sand dune crumbles, and we think we’re going to see water on the other side, but it’s just more sand. Life is miles and miles of pale, gritty, sand. At least, that’s what life feels like sometimes. I feel like I’m back at track practice, running as fast as I can, over and over again, for no real reason. I wake up and I go to school and then I go home and I go to soccer practice and I do homework and then I go to sleep and I do it all again. It all gets incredibly boring. I mean, what is the purpose of all this? Am I supposed to just work and sleep and wake up in this endless cycle for the rest of my life? Sometimes, I start to think that life is just one big meaningless circle, and then I develop a crush. Crushes are possibly the best thing about being a human being; well not just crushes, all the small, casual loves. They’re the best of human life. All the little loves, for the boy in math class, for the only other person remotely your age on an airplane, for the cashier who compliments your necklaces, they make life bearable. In Hozier’s song “Someone New,” he expresses this sentiment exactly. He sings of the joy in loving people; not loving in a soul-crushing-forever-bond kind of way, but loving in blushing and passing and “see-you-nevers.” He sings of “electing strange perfections in any stranger I choose,” and “an art to life’s distractions.” He sings of falling “in love just a little ol’ little bit every day with someone new.” So much of life is spent just finding distractions, finding ways to cope with feeling trapped and hopeless, so why not distract ourselves with the strange perfections of a stranger? Why not fall in love just a little bit every day with someone new? Days are endless and repetitive, and we can set them apart with numbers and say that the different tests and due dates give passing time some sense of tangibility, but none of that inspires us to keep on living. It’s the little loves that inspire hope and life. It’s making a friend on your soccer team and flirting in class and being comforted by the random guy at the DMV, it’s all these little, casual, temporary loves that make days less repetitive and life less boring. When I feel like there are no more reasons left for me to keep on living, when I feel trapped and hopeless and empty, I keep on going, because maybe tomorrow I’ll fall in love, just a little bit, with someone new. 104



I fell on my knees, praying our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy— and the dogs howled. The church tried to ring its woeful bells for you over the outcries of the streets, but the dogs howled. It’s because you’re so tense. If only you would just relax— But my voice only quivered tel l’humble anneau d’argent, breath shy, and the dogs howled. I wear it everyday—the ring made from your silver spoon. The gleam of the metal flower like the one that appeared in your eyes whenever the dogs howled. I suppose it is how I pay my respects Since we never got to say goodbye before the dogs howled. You said don't stand at my side and cry, Adams Instead I stood among those with flowers and glass eyes, sniffling and adjusting ties as the dogs howled.





you’re so smart and handsome, you’re the apple of my eye! wait, that’s not righthow many A’s did you get this year? i’m excited to hear from your teachers! well, about thatyou’re getting taller every time I see you! i bet that helps with tennis huh? uh, yeah, it helps sometii heard you’ve been playing really well, you probably have gotten a lot better since I last saw you! oh, a little, butyour eyes are pretty dark though, have you been getting enough sleep? no matter how long i slesorry about all the questions, i just haven’t seen you in so long! what have you been up to? I'VE BEEN FEELING A LOT OF PRESSURE LATELY EVEN THOUGH I HAVEN'T BEEN DOING MUCH BUT LIVING AND IT'S REALLY STARTING TO ah, nothing much. just living life. 107



my love for you is infinite it will outlast the stars in the sky hidden inside flesh and bones tucked away harbored for you and on the loneliest days i might just remember how lucky i am to have met you at all




I panic when I feel my smile set on you, and when my lips curl and teeth beam brightly at what you say. Such a pessimistic, compassionate, and entrancing nature you have. Say that I’m funny when your smile graces my eyes, respondent of my mordant humor. Soft lines that curve around your lips, like a mother cradling her child. And milk chocolate brown eyes that remind me of the heat fires would bring. I panic at the thought of what I’d do to be warmed by you. And how I hate when I feel myself at ease around you. How you play into my schemes, the satirical shows I put on. When I look for you in the crowds’ gaze, you’re headstrong, and hell bent. But the whispers of those around you give you away. Tenderhearted boy who sways in the wind, gentle and serene. No doubt there is more than what I see in your flesh and bones. Words and actions, analyzed traits and psychology. So, I long to know what lies behind that smile and those eyes. But I hesitate. I once knew someone, someone from poems ago. Lines, and words, and tears ago. He only makes me cry.




Dear Mom and Dad, there are endless quetions to be asked, uncountable things that will remain between us until the days when there are no days, rather the unending Day, there are pains that I have not the strength to reveal to you today and will no longer be pained by them when I gain the strength. I care not to ask when its right to take a girl up to my apartment, or how I will know when I should have kids. Those questions have already been given better answers than you or I could ever come up with. I care not to tell you of the chains that I have broken, nor the ones I continue to hammer away at, in hopes that one day they finally break. I care not to ask what I will do when you are gone, how I will get by without you. Do not be mistaken; I will miss you more than water wishes nothing more than to be reunited with its cup. but I know I am not meant to look to you to hold me. I know it is not you whom I am to rely on in the coming lifetime. I suppose I simply wish to ask what you’d like to do on Sunday. The park just down the street from our house seems really nice this time of year. Maybe we could take the dogs and have a picnic in the grass. If not, that’s ok. And me? Well, let me just say I will never stop writing the letter addressed to myself. I will never be done chiseling and sculpting at the dust that makes up my Eä. I guess I should say that I will never be done allowing myself to be worked on, until tides change and the work is done. Being told to say “Heraclitus explains: dark and light, bad and good, are not different, but one and the same” is a better antithesis statement to the essay I’ve been trying to write on my shoes than I could’ve come up with in all the time that waits for me. Heraclitus is everything I fight against in this brave new world, he’s the smudge on my bedroom window looking out at the geese that seems convinced it will stay there forever. Thank God I have come to know that it could never stay there forever. By its very nature it will be wiped away with all of its kind, and the window will be entirely clear to look out upon the geese who are not geese but the new visage of ourselves, living in the endless joy of the Day. 110





LAUREN PRICE in myself i take pride but the pride is not mine to relish in i descend from women of fortitude. from the ground, they rose, with more strength than before. navigating a path lined with potholes, designed to trip them up, they carried themselves with poise and grace. i long to achieve my greatest dreams, stopping for no man nor vice. the ever so loving wife, the outspoken wife, and the warm hearted teacher. the pride is theirs, i have been gently crafted from three generations of women, sure of their own decisions, sure of themselves. only through them have i learned how to walk through a minefield, unscathed.


Art is the sound of our souls becoming.

CONTRIBUTORS Jenna Adams Logan Albritton Rachel Bethke Maria Boulos Gray Burleson Bradley Carnes Saorise Corry Isabel Davis Katelyn Eldred Sofia Evers Ana Cebollero Fernandez Katherine Gorkov Kaitlyn Guyer

Hawa-Larai Harruna Abbie Hartmann Emily Hawken Jackson Kottkamp Sophia Krizner Kate Kupiszewski G Martinez Isabel McDaniel Cole McGinley Maddy Meeker Teresa Morgado Evangeline Oguledo Diya Patel

Tanisha Petit Giada Price Lauren Price Anne Mason Roberts Lula Robertson Evelyn Romano Mya Rutledge Charlotte Siervogel Leah Song Mary Clayton Soto Megan Vegas Heaven Ward Dillon Williams

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