Volume 08 Issue 1

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Every being, Has a choice to makeTo live until they die, Or to die before their death. - Mike Currier, Choices, pg 10

Even though it was past midnight, the place was so incredibly alive: the towering buildings, the chatter of pedestrians, the constant honks of automobiles... it was good to be home - Sanika Kende, Mumbai, pg 28 all kings were boys once. - Jack Leist, The Puppet, pg 22

The Echo Volume VIII | Fall Issue

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A Letter from the Editors Dear Reader, For the first time ever, Anna and I are writing to you as the editors of The Echo Literary Magazine. For the past eight years, The Echo has collected the best creative works of the students and faculty at Steinbrenner High School, and we are very excited to continue that tradition. This year we are doing even bigger and better things: putting out more magazines, introducing WTF (our redesigned satirical news show), creating the 211 (our digital magazine that can be seen during club periods), and completely redesigning and taking our website literally out of this world. In this edition we showcase some interesting and thought-provoking pieces, and we hope to accurately recognize the immense talent existing within Steinbrenner’s student body with what we featured. Each year we strive to find the highest quality pieces of art, and this year our submissions did not disappoint. We couldn’t have found them without the hard work of every member of the class as they read each round of submissions, or the work of our genre editors Marlee Wittner, Sadie Testa-Secca, Sammi Sanchez, and Lexa Mosher. They patiently and scrupulously reviewed every piece in their genre and made sure that every piece received the attention it deserved in order to be considered in our magazine. And if it weren’t for the layout team, Jordyn Dees and Sanika Kende, you would not be holding this beautiful magazine in your hands right now. Their abundant dedication and creative approaches allowed us to present the amazing works decorating the pages of this book in an organized and pleasing manner. We have a lot in store for the rest of the year, so make sure to stay tuned to our social media pages and to check out the website while you’re at it. We constantly have new episodes of WTFlorida being uploaded to our YouTube


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channel weekly in case you want to be updated on Florida news in the most hilarious manner. Our digital magazine, The 211, is featured every club day and showcases all of the content that we unfortunately can’t feature in a book, like dances, creations of art, and music. Our website posts articles, reviews, prompts, and other types of content several times a week, created by our in-staff writers. Check it out, because trust us, you won’t want to miss it. So sit back and enjoy The Echo Literary Magazine. We promise it’s worth the read.

Kaitlin Burkhart

Anna Moye

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The Echo Staff Co-Editors-in-Chief Kaitlin Burkhart Anna Moye

Brooke Alewel Veronica Da Silva

Poetry Editor

Website Team

Marlee Wittner

Cassidy Hale Jack Leist

Art Editor Lexa Mosher

Prose Editor Sadie Testa-Secca

Ads Supervisor Samantha Sanchez

Submissions Manager Renee Fleet

Layout Jordyn Dees Sanika Kende

Event Coordinator Rachel Capote

WTF Producer Noah Alewel

WTF Production Team Mitchell Miller Molly Pefley Michael Pemberton


Club Coordinators

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211 Production Team Scooby DeMalteris Matt Lao

Advisor John Eric Vona

Table of Contents Cover NIGHT SKYLINE Colton Brown

Poetry A SYMPHONY Jordyn Dees


CHOICES Mike Currier


NIGHT BIRD Mason Fleske


HELEN OF TROY Lauren Hlister


FIRE IN HER HEAD Veronica Da Silva








Prose MUMBAI Sanika Kende


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Table of Contents THE HUNT Matt Lao




BRIGHT EYES Marlee Wittner


Noah Alewel





LION Elise Vega




WINDOW Victoria Lennon


CALLA LILY Gregory Kosey Griffith


LOST IN SEA Darian Jovan Mattos




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poetry Volume VII | The Echo


A Symphony Jordyn Dees If you would play for me a symphony filled with flutes trumpets, violas, bases. One grand piano. Then I would know the beating Of your heart, its crashes and crescendos. Have you ever heard a melody so exquisite, it lifts the soul from its confines of the body, carries the spirit on a

Cloud Of semiquavers and fermatas All to the flick of the conductor’s Baton And the air would taste like music Like melodies and songs gliding together with rests and phrases A bird built of notes strung along with staffs so cut and bar lines marked all over Wings made of allegro and andante to fill the waiting ear


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If you would play me a symphony, It could fly above, land on my shoulder and whisper in my ear.

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choices Mike Currier Dialogue constrictions Placed by social norms Are of no concern to me, I truly have no interest In sacrificing self In blind conformity. To offer no counter Is to strive for nothingA life no better than death, For every man, Every woman, Every being, Has a choice to makeTo live until they die, Or to die before their death.

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The Fragile Fall Ashley Volkert

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Night Bird Mason Fleske Fly into my arms. Rest your gentle head against my hand, fall soft into the night. When you must awake, I hope you can fly freely from me leaving me without you, leaving me on the bottom. You come and go I cannot stop that, but when i have you, I will keep you safe, I will cradle your head, I will hold you gently, so you can once again fall soft into the night.


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LION Elise Vega

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Trichotillamania with Confidence Zoe Hunter

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helen of troy Lauren Hlister It’s funny how they forget I am the daughter of the greatest god. Achilles was nothing to me, his grace outshone, will outmatched. You shout my name Achaens, but the only woman you are fighting for here is Troy. There is ichor in my blood; Menelaus should know better than to try to control Zeus’ child. You know you cannot win me, you know you cannot bring a queen to her knees to beg for a fictitious mercy. I am Helen and I bow to no one.

-they told the story wrong

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Fire in Her Head Veronica Da Silva Her hushed whispers scattered Every step, and another tear fallen Every quiet whimper, left in the cold And the forest cried back She looked at the stars for answers Letting the night consume her thoughts The moon was her only light now Telling no lies, unlike the others What a trick the world played it was an evil upon itself…the people Masked with such beauty But only she’d seen the truth behind it The people…they lied, pushed, ravaged Sucked everything good from her Leaving her with nothing but her cold, empty mind Her soul almost lost, only a small spark left behind Light from her world was now gone And she had followed along Sobs amongst the crisp air


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But the stars had no answers to give The walk went on, nothing but lonely thoughts Her mind numb like the cold air But the spark in her slowly grew Into a deep red, letting the madness thrive The anger built up inside her like a fire Her tears now glowing embers Melting the snow with every trudge Letting them know she was there For she would come back stronger Make them pay for the lies and wounds The fire she had brought along Would make the light return

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superglue hope Jordyn Dees She made the plate herself in a kindergarten pottery class, hands sticky with clay, too excited to care about the mess she was making. She poured herself some paint and grabbed the softest brushes she could find. The other kids complained that she was hogging the palette, her teacher had to remind her to share. But she wasn’t really paying much attention. As she made her platter, painted the long neck of her father, the soft curves of her mother, scribbled in her sister’s braces, she promised That the plate would stay safe, always. It would never break, never shatter. Just like these three people, that made up her entire universe. She didn’t have the words to explain how much she loved them just that sweet warmth inside that told her so.


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But over time her promise got lost in everything else. In petty arguments, slammed doors, doctor’s visits, business trips, nights spent in front of the TV instead of the dinner table. Her mother left the plate on the top shelf for safekeeping, but every time the girl took it down, she noticed new fissures in the glass. They appeared between her sister’s smile, and across her father’s knees. Then through her mother’s chest, and between her parent’s clasped hands. Maybe that one was the thickest of all. All these tiny cracks in her perfect family of four. And all the superglue, and the hope, and the safekeeping, and that stupid, forgotten promise couldn’t piece the fragments back together. Sometimes she stared at that glass plate. At its chipped edges and faded paint. She tried to recall that feeling she’d had when she painted it, to hold on to that childhood hope. She often wished the entire thing would just shatter. In-

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stead of sitting on that top shelf in pieces, pretending it could ever be something other than broken. Pretending that hope and superglue could fix it all.

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Window Victoria Lennon

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The Puppet Jack Leist when the boy pulls the sword from hardened stone, it is to shock; (for he is merely that, a boy.) all kings were boys once. and yet, and yet; the crown of his head is but a foot below the stretch of a young colt and he could so easily be overshadowed – plunged into the muted whispers of a crowd ringing in his ears: who are you? who are you? for he is just that; a boy. so small, a weak thing is he;

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limbs aflutter with the awkward angles of growth watch how he falls, now; he is just a boy. surely he is fit for nothing yet! take my word for it. look at your sword, boy draw on empty promise you are hollow, waiting to be king. wait, now he drives it upon his enemies scarlet rings upon stained earth: a clash of ants, spilling over the edges and tumbling on precipices of jagged cliffs and death dragging on heels… laugh, little king; you have bested them, and yet lost. a boy, no longer.

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he did not stand a chance. not from the start; not from the bite of metal on his forehead not from the tightening of reins in calloused hands not from the bittersweet triumphs in war (and what was it all for?) and the world with him breathes; cold, shallow gasps from exhausted lungs intermingle with the pulse of what always has been. for he is nothing, now and how it laughs as it goes on.

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Calla Lily Gregory Kosey Griffith

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Daedalus and Icarus Marlee Wittner In the grand scheme of things, of you and I, I have wings. Beautiful, fragile wings. And sometimes I am Icarus; I fly too close to the sun. But I know you’ll be there, My Daedalus on the ground, Reminding me it’s okay to come back down. But if I don’t hear your call, And I come tumbling, You’ll catch me with your fragile skin; You’ll take the bruises of my impact. As you hold me you smile, Reminding me that there’s beauty In the dirt and the grass and the flowers. So the next time I fly, You will be there again. And I will fly with the image of you reflecting off my wings. I will know that flying is the feeling of living. I will know it is freeing and fleeting. But I will not be afraid to fall again Because the ground is beautiful. The ground is my root, just like the flower. And while the sun dries out a flower,

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Or an Icarus, The ground never will.

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prose Volume VII | The Echo 27

Mumbai Sanika Kende I stepped out of the airport and took a deep breath, inhaling the familiar scents of the city I had left so long ago. Even though it was past midnight, the place was so incredibly alive: the towering buildings, the chatter of pedestrians, the constant honks of automobiles; Mumbai truly is a city that never sleeps. It was good to be home. We ordered a cab to the hotel and upon entering my hotel room, I crashed onto my bed; travelling had left me exhausted. I soon drifted off to sleep to the steady noise of traffic down below. The next day, I took a cab to the old part of the city, one of the only places where I could see both intricate Victorian buildings as well as towering sea-facing skyscrapers. After hopping out, I wandered to the numerous stalls that lined the streets, boasting a variety of vibrant fabrics, as well as an inordinate amount of shimmering jewelry. As I inspected a delicate silver jhumka at one of the stalls, I felt a tap on my shoulder. When I turned, a familiar face with olive skin and curly black tresses grinned at me. “Remember me, Z?” she asked. I squealed with joy and gave Shanaya, one of my oldest friends, a tight hug. After a quick conversation with the expected phrases “It’s been so long!” and “So good to see you!” weaved in, it was decided that I would accompany her to a café where all her other friends, who happened to be my old friends, were going to be. I was giddy with excitement at the thought of meeting up with all these friends that had drifted apart. Though the rickshaw ride to the café was bumpy and windy, I enjoyed every minute. The last time I had ridden one was when I was eight, right before I moved to America. Nearly twelve years later, the subtle thrill of it had not disap-

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peared. At our arrival at the café in Colaba, the sea-facing part of Mumbai, I was amused at the reactions to me being there; most were bewildered, while there were a few who took a while to remember who I was. Nevertheless, it felt nice to be amongst people who used to be such a big part of my life. As we sat around the mahogany table, we recollected stories from our childhood, memories filled with routine visits to street food stalls after school and long afternoons spent at Marine Drive. Ironically enough, those afternoons consisted of overtly optimistic children discussing their dreams in life, (we all agreed that half the things we thought we would accomplish as adults didn’t actually get done). Suddenly, the conversation took a different turn. “Oh, Zara, you live in America now. Tell us what that’s like,” Shanaya prodded. I accepted and told them what I knew they were expecting to hear. Life there, was in a sense, easier - less pollution, more modern and accepting ideologies. I couldn’t help slipping in a few praises. I truly did enjoy my living there. I could sense the atmosphere change. Many of my friends began eyeing me strangely. “So, you’re basically American now, huh?” one of my friends, Priya, asked. While it was asked in a playful manner, there was a cutting edge to her voice. “Well, that’s not true. I identify myself as an Indian American. I mean, I’m born here but I’ve grown up there, for the most part. So, naturally, I must accept the fact that both countries are a great part of who I am as a person,” I explained, a twinge of annoyance in my voice. It pained me greatly to see that people had a hard time accepting the fact that a person could consider multiple countries their home. In response to my statement, she simply nodded. After that slightly awkward phase of the conversation, the topic soon shifted to current affairs and politics going on in the country. While I was engaged when we were remi-

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niscing our childhood memories, I could feel myself drifting apart from this discussion. Living in a different part of the world, it was difficult to keep up with the state of affairs in India. While I tried my best, I just didn’t really understand some things enough to discuss and debate. At one point, when I tried offering my opinion on the matter, my friend Sai flippantly waved a hand and retorted, “Zara, what do you know? You live in America.” I wasn’t surprised at her remark, but I couldn’t help feeling a little hurt that my opinion had so easily been invalidated. The rest of the time we spent together was spent in a similar manner. Throughout, I felt a barrier between me and my friends and it made my heart heavy. It suddenly dawned on me that gone were the days when our conversations would flow freely no matter what we were talking about. Our expectations of life and viewpoints of many things were jarringly different. I realized that the comfort level we once shared had vanished. Their discussions made it clear that in a country where some of the issues included many people nearly starving, the issues that I was used to discussing, like colorism and gender stereotypes, while still important, were simply going to be drowned out by more pressing matters. This difference that I had begun noticing left a pit in my stomach. When our time together came to an end, I bid all my friends farewell and hurriedly hopped into a cab. It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that people that had once been so close had drifted so far from me in these years. Funny how all of this had occurred simply because my friends and I were brought up in two different countries. As I rode in the cab, I still admired the beauty of the Mumbai architecture and colorful stalls all around, but now it was all tinged with melancholy. After all, my experiences with my friends seemed to suggest I had drifted apart from this country, and it made me quite upset. Weeks passed, and my time to return to the States arrived.

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Even then, the sadness I felt about that encounter remained. Throughout the plane ride back, I kept trying to push it to the back of my mind, but my attempts were fruitless. After I landed the next day, I walked to my terminal and saw to my delight, that my best friends Jade and Lorelei were waiting there for me. As soon as I reached them, I confessed that I was starving; airplane food is beyond disgusting. “Ooh, let’s go to that new place that’s opened up by my house!” Lorelei exclaimed. “Isn’t the food there really spicy? I mean, I’m fine if you guys are,” Jade replied. “I’m cool. Besides, Zara’s Indian. She can handle it,” Lorelei winked at me. I smiled.

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the hunt Matt Lao Another day had gone by. The sun desperately hung onto the distant horizon, bathing the scorched landscape in orange rays of light. The patchy gray grasslands were masked by a facade from space; this broken husk remained stunningly beautiful. The few low hills which remained stood as lonely monoliths, their shadows providing safe haven from hellish temperatures - and serving as a cradle for whatever darkness may fester in them. Colonies of cacti huddled together in fear of the brooding desert trees, as their bone-like branches extended to the heavens in a vicious declaration of existence, or perhaps a cry for salvation. Any gust of wind was reborn into ghostly whispers that pestered the ear, like mosquitoes that salivate over the smell of human and awoken blood. It was here, in between two dead, dry piles of dirt, that the humble town of Dune Harrow rested. Dune Harrow would seem a pathetic excuse for a town, even during the time of the Collapse. The streets were cobbled together into imperfect squares, with dirt roads and pathways sometimes leading to another, sometimes leading straight away from this small candle of civilization. Each building was clearly painted by the sun, with time showing the constant bombardment of intense photons that crash against the roofs and walls. On most days, Dune Harrow covered its own mouth; the only exceptions were the little peeps of banter between citizens, and the shouts of the occasional street fight. However, this day was different. This day, the thrum of two custom-painted jet bikes sang to the undead town. Shark teeth adorned the bodies of the roaring machines. The engines pushed through to the center of Dune Harrow, their riders dismounting at the only tavern in town. The outsiders pushed through the hinged double door

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of the tavern, and scanned its patrons. The room was choked with half-dressed drunkards. The tables were held hostage by grizzled men and women; most of them brandished either terrible scars or missing appendages. Unlike the rest of the town, people in the tavern actually smiled. It took only a few seconds for all the patrons to recognize the two outsiders, and the patrons stared at the outsiders; some with dead expressions, others with mouths wide open. The citizens of Dune Harrow individually agreed on the identities of the two figures that dared step foot in their sacred place. The first figure wasn’t too far off in appearance from the rest of the town. His face was obscured by a simple visor and bandana; his entire head was hooded. On the back of his brown vest rested a gray cape which extended down to his knees. His pants sported a gunslinger’s best friend: a kit-bashed, spring-mounted holster and a bandolier of bullets around his waist. A silvered revolver rested by his hip, at the ready. The second figure was far different than the first. She was taller, and her ornate boots only reached halfway to her knees. Her legs were wrapped in loosely fit black pants. Rather than a vest for protection, or a cloak for respite from the deathly sun, she wore a black, flowing robe which bore resemblance to an excessively long trench coat. On the collar of the robe were two golden pins. The figure’s helmet was an asymmetrical glass visage wrapped in cloth and adorned by a mangled crown. The only part of the figure that was exposed were her sky-blue hands. The stranger wasn’t even armed. Across from the entrance, seated at the bar, was the only man who’d been unfazed by the grand entrance of the two interlopers. The gunslinger strode towards the man, the energy spurs of his boots clicking like a clock. The robed one followed beside her partner. The tavern remained as silent as a funeral procession, its mourners respectfully

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observing the solemn scene. The strangers ignored their audience, perhaps to let them breathe easy. The cloaked one spoke first. “You’re going to have to come with us.” The gunslinger’s voice was cold and raspy, as if a man was talking through an ancient hand-held radio receiver. The sound of the ‘slinger’s words were guarded, held back and restrained. Talon-13 was not an easy going man; he, a musician, and his revolver, his instrument. A six-round symphony. “Quite a fancy piece you got there,” croaked the drinking man. “Mind’f I take a gander?” His voice was wooden and dry. Slowly, slowly, the patrons at the tavern began to creep away from the trio. The people of Dune Harrow knew the sound of a coiling rattlesnake. If he could, Talon-13 would have produced a lopsided smirk that safeguarded the storm brewing inside of him. At best, all Talon could do was wheeze out a low-lying scoff. The gunslinger’s orange eyes were poised on the wanted man, his cold hand inching towards his weapon. Closely beside Talon-13, Lady Demora spoke. Every word as elegant as steady rainfall, as deadly as angry lightning. The crown atop Demora’s helmet began to hum like once plentiful dragonflies. Some bar patrons relaxed their shoulders, some clenched their jagged fists. “Look, you’ll have time to be jovial and relaxed after we escort you to the Guard. For now, please comply with our request.” To some, Demora seemed too innocent to be making demands. The wanted man glanced at the peculiar duo. “What’s your kind got to do with me? Your vanguard didn’t need to send in the goddamn cavalry against poor ol’ me.” The mocking tone of the man irked Talon, who explained, “Cayde’s paying a fortune for your return. On top of that, no normal citizen could pull off your little ‘magic tricks’.” At this, the wanted man finally turned to face Talon-13 and Lady Demora. “What can I say,” as the drunk shrugged. “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” “All you must do is return the device you’ve stolen from

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the Research Facility. From then on, there will be minimal punitive action taken against you,” interrupted Demora, attempting in vain to convince her target to give in peacefully. “Or,” suggested Talon, “I bring you in dead, with that fancy piece of tech you’ve stashed somewhere, and then buy all the ship components I want. Your choice. Please, fight back.” Demora appeared to not appreciate Talon’s forwardness. “I told command that I would apprehend the target alive, and return with the artifact. I would prefer you to not shoot this man in the head like the last one.” Lady Demora’s face bent into a small frown as she whispered to Talon, and he could tell that she was sincere in her latest wish to move up in the ranks. “Go ahead,” dared Talon’s bounty. “What do you think you’ll do to me? Turn me to ash? Cut me ‘n half? And the witch?” Demora flashed her target a glare. “Blow up my heart with enough lightnin’ to power a city block? Or scatter my atoms and wear ‘em like armor?” “Keep talking and you’ll find out soon enough,” hissed Talon. Deeply and truly, Talon was ready to sing his old song, and put the man to sleep. The gunslinger mapped his bounty’s bearded and gruff face. The bounty’s brown eyes and unkempt hair reflected nothing but a lowly scoundrel. However, Talon had an inclination about his bounty, one that he had not shared with Lady Demora. Talon was ready to give Dune Harrow’s drunkards a show to remember. “A name,” muttered Talon. “You got one?” “Vert.”

Read the rest of Matt’s serial story at steinbrennerecho.com!

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Lost in Sea Darian Jovan Mattos

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AVA AND THE NIGHT i WILL nEVER FORGET Noah Alewel A cruise: the ultimate vacation. A place for relaxation, partying, and getting even fatter than you already were before the ship set sail. For teens, the place to start your experience is the club. Not the one you dance in, but the one where you play a lot of UNO. I suppose you do play Just Dance 4 every once in a while, but it’s really not the same. At first, this seems like a barren wasteland. However, legends have been passed down from generation to generation of the untapped potential of this area. If you have the finesse, you have the opportunity of a lifetime. One full of making out, and hot babes. To be honest that sounded a lot cooler as an eight grader. Now it just seems derogatory and… creepy, but I digress. For me, this meant I had a chance for it to finally happen. The big one, the first kiss. Now as an eighth grader going back to my school with this story would be big. Popularity would immediately sky-rocket. In many situations, I was the most unlikely candidate for the magnificent locking-of-lips. I mean, seriously. I’m over-weight and the combination of my short stature and red hair make me look like a leprechaun. But when you’re in the middle of the ocean with someone, and there is literally no one else left, my chances go from zero to “ugh, I guess.” I entered the teen club with the sexiest clothes I owned, a t-shirt with The Flash logo on it and a pair of khakis. I immediately sat down next to three girls. As the only guy there, I knew I had to do it right away. So I started conversation offwith my big pick-up line. “So, uhm, you play volleyball?”

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“Oh my god, yes! How did you know?” “It’s on your shirt.” “Oh yeah. Ha, I’m so stupid.” I was a sex machine. Okay, maybe I wasn’t, but I had nevertalked to a girl before so I made a lot of progress in those two sentences. Not to mention she was gorgeous. She had light brown hair, a toned body, and wings of angels. I mean to eighth grade me at least, she was a freshman so it blew me away that she was even okay with being in my presence. Unfortunately, my luck had run out and two more guys entered the teen club. They were the hot guys. The ones who could throw these girls over their shoulders, who played sports, and actually had the ancient wisdom known as: swag. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s in the legend. Don’t kill the messenger. One of the guys sat in between myself and the lovely volleyball player. He looked her in her eyes and started his hypnotization. “So, uhm, you play volleyball,” he asked in his masculine voice. “Yeah, how did you know?” “You just look like the athletic type.” “No one’s ever noticed I’ve played volleyball before. You must be like a mind reader.” “I guess you could say that.” “So, how are you?” “Okay, I guess. I’m looking for someone to go to the front of the ship with me, but so far I have no one. Do you know anyone that would like to go?” The front of the ship? My chances were over if I didn’t stop him right at that second. My prepubescent body was nothing compared to the Hercules sitting in between us. He was tall, muscular, and was your stereotypical jock in every way, shape, and form. Once two people head to that makeout point there is no chance at getting them apart. I had to act fast, I needed to stop this from happening. Conversation mode initiated. “How are you doing? I’m Noah Alewel.”

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“’Sup, man, I’m Brett. What’s up?” “Oh nothing, just chillaxin’.” “Sweet.” “Yeah... uhm... like a lollipop.” “What?” Man… I sucked at talking. Sorry, I know this is off topic, but I mean every word I spoke was just awful. With how much I talk and ramble you’d expect me to be a wizard with words, but I am just nothing. Anyways...I just needed to get the attention back on me so she would realize how much of a stud was waiting behind my lackluster excuse as a man, but fate had different plans. “Hey Brett, I’m Catherine. Did you mention going to the front of the ship? Because if you did, I’m like so in! I’d love to go with you.” “Well let’s go then.” Brett and Catherine got up and started to leave. Just before Brett walked out though, he stopped and turned to me, “You’re an interesting dude, Noah. See you around?” “Totally, man. Sounds… sweet.” “Yeah, man.” After that, they both left for the front of the ship. That left myself, two girls, and another jock. This jock was different though. Brett was the kind of dude who was just cool about everything. He talked to anyone and didn’t care much about what people thought. This other dude, though. He was the human equivalent of a jock strap. He probably had the IQ of a jock strap, too. He was obnoxious, rude, and a waste of air. The weirdest part of all of that is how he was nothing special. He just believed he was. He was average in height, only moderately muscular, and wasn’t all that handsome. He finally spoke. “’Sup, I’m Kyle.” Welp, that’s a sentence-worth of air that the world will never get back. “Hi. I’m Kennedy,” one of the girls said. She was pretty. She had dark hair, a polite demeanor, and seemed pleasant to be around; but the other girl caught my eye. I found out her name was Ava, and she was Catherine’s sister. As it turned

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out, the girl next to her, Kennedy, was their cousin. Ava was roughly my height, had red hair, and was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen up until that point of my life. I guess that isn’t saying much considering I had only been on Earth for thirteen years at that time. Her dark brown eyes reminded me of my dog. I mean, she didn’t look like a dog. I suppose if I had to compare her to a dog, it would be a puppy, but she wasn’t a dog. She was beautiful and everything any guy would want. Forget Catherine, I was in love. I snapped out of my trance to see Ava staring at me. Sheseemed weirded out. “So, Kennedy, was it?” Kyle said. “How ‘bout you and I go to the front of the ship.” Kennedy didn’t even say anything, she just got up and left, pulling Kyle behind her. That left the goddess and me. “Hi, I’m Noah Alewel.” “Sorry, what,” she said. “I’m Noah.” “Oh. Cool. Uhm…” “Do you like movies?” “Yep.” “Sweet.” “Yeah, well I gotta go meet up with my parents. Bye.” Shegot up and headed for the exit. I couldn’t speak. I wanted to say goodbye, but the words just came out as gibberish, “Ughnt.” She was it, she was the one. She was going to be my first kiss, she had to be it. Now as a ginger myself I thought that our chemistry was irrefutable. I mean, maybe I knew nothing about her, and maybe I was only interested in her for her looks, but I needed this. Just one time, couldn’t I have a big break. I had gone to church, why couldn’t God have given me this smoking hot piece of angelic beauty? Later on that night I met up with Brett and Kyle at the jacuzzi. “Dude, Catherine gave me worst case of blue balls I’ve ever had,” Brett said as he sat down. They were both wearing basketball shorts, while I was wearing a pair of red swim trunks. It’s odd how I managed to still stick out of place. “Same. Kennedy is crazy. Look at these bruises, dude,” Kyle

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pointed to bruise marks on his shoulders. “Didn’t you get that from me throwing a golf ball at you,” Brett said. “No,” Kyle said, clearly lying. “Yeah, well I got a hickey too,” Kyle tugged at his shirt to show us a mark on his neck. Now I had never seen a hickey before, but to this day, I wonder why it’s so cool to have a hickey. It looks like an octopus tentacle got stuck to your neck. “Wait for tomorrow, man. My parents are getting off theship when we get to port. I’ll have the entire room to myself all day. If you’re looking for Catherine and me, don’t bother. We’ll be there, all day.” “I highly doubt Catherine would want to do nothing all day, but have sex. Kennedy on the other hand, she’s begging for me. I swear if my mom wasn’t in the room last night. We’d already have been doing it for like six hours straight at this point.” “First, there is no way you’re going to sleep with Kennedyby the end of the cruise. Second, six hours? I’d give you sixseconds. Third, Catherine’s knees will automatically drop on instinct after she sees this,” Brett motioned towards hiscrotch. “Noah, who do you think would be more willing to havesex by the end of the cruise, Catherine or Kennedy?” “Oh, I really don’t know. I didn’t really get the chance totalk with them,” I sheepishly answered. “He doesn’t want to tell you ‘cause he knows it’ll hurt your feelings when he chooses Kennedy,” Kyle teased. But Brettignored him and remained focused on me. “Well what about that other girl we left with you? Did you get to know them? We’re they all over you? Did you guys go up to the front of the ship? How freaky was she?” He was so focused on this. It was like he was getting some kind of sick joy trying to figure out what me and the love of my life did. “Oh, Ava? No, she had to go talk with her parents. We really didn’t get the chance to converse. Besides I bet it’ll be impossible to get with her.”

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“Dude, it takes like no time to meet a girl who wants tohook up with you on a cruise. They’re just as desperate as we are when we board this ship. I bet they were so ready for you. What did you say to them?” “I said, ‘Hi.’” “You said, ‘Hi’?” “Well, yeah, what else was I supposed to say?” “I don’t know, maybe, ‘Do you want to go to the front of the ship?’” “That’s a good a one, I’ll write that one down for later.” “Noah have you ever kissed a girl before,” Kyle egged me on. I scoffed, acting like I thought he was an idiot for evenconsidering that could be my problem. “Of course I have. I’ve lost my virginity like five times already. I’m a stud at my school.” Brett nodded his head pitifully. “Dude, you are such a liar. You can’t even lose your virginity more than once. You do realize that, right? I guess it makes sense you wouldn’t know that considering that you’ve never been with a girl,” Kyle teased. “Well I have. So maybe you’re just not doing it right,” I said, but I was falling under. My lies were catching up with me. Luckily, Brett came to my rescue. “Shut the hell up, Kyle. I’ve heard of a guy who lost his virginity ten times.” “Brett, you’re actually sticking up for him?” “Maybe if you weren’t such a douche I wouldn’t have to. Even if it weren’t true, why would it matter?” “Because he’s a loser. I hate those. You know what, whatever, I’m going to get a water.” Kyle got out of the jacuzzi and headed inside. “Thanks.” “Don’t sweat it. We are going to get you with that girl, though.” “What?” “Come on, you must like that Amy girl right?” “Her names Ava. I mean… I think she’s kinda cute. Like I

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mean I’m good with any girl I guess. Not that I’m desperate or anything, it’s just like whatever. Ava, though, she is awesome...” “Okay… just, shut up. Meet us at the teen club at twelve tomorrow morning.” I got there at nine, I just couldn’t wait that long. I couldn’t have been more excited for the events that lay ahead of me. Unfortunately, I found out that it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. I ended up having to deal with the counselor of the teen club. “Hi! Welcome to the teen club! I’m Brittany, the club’s counselor for the week. No one else is here yet, but you and I could have lots of fun. We can play UNO, or play Wii Sports, or… UNO!” “Wii Sports sounds kinda fun.” “You’re right, that would be fun. Unfortunately the disc isbroken, so how about we play UNO?” “Yeah, how about we do that?” Three UNO-filled hours later, the rest of the group arrived. “Dude are you playing UNO,” Kyle mocked. “What? No. That game’s for losers.” “I don’t know, I kinda like UNO,” Ava said as she walked into the room. “I mean I might have played one or two rounds. It can befun sometimes.” “Alright, boys,” Brett announced, “Catherine and I are going to the front of the ship. Anyone else want to come?” Ofcourse Kyle and Kennedy said they would, but Ava remained silent. Brett looked at me, I averted my eyes, so he turned toher. “Ava,” Brett said, “why don’t you come?” “Oh, I don’t really have anyone to go with.” Brett waited the moment to see if I would finally grow a pair and ask her, ofcourse I hadn’t though. “Well you could go with Noah.” I couldn’t look her directly in the face, but I did peak at her out of the corner of my eyeHer face read pure horror. Her eyes widened as her mouth shut. I couldn’t let her suffer like this. “Actually, guys, I have-

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homework to do,” I said. “You’re on vacation, what homework could you have,” Kyle asked as Brett glared angrily at him. Brett understood why I would want to get out of there, so he didn’t try to stop me. “I have a reading assignment for English. My teacher is making us do it, and I haven’t even started reading the book.” “Yeah, I need to go talk with my parents, anyways.” Then both of them got up and rushed out of the room. The area was filled with an awkward silence. No one was quite sure what to say. “Well, I guess I should start reading.” I got up and left the room, but my pride and confidence did not come with me. The rest of the week was fun, but there was no sign of romance for me. I guess I was just bound stay on my low popularity level forever. It was the final night and we were all hanging out together. “I’m really going to miss you guys,” Catherine said. “Yeah. It’s been fun,” Brett agreed. Kyle and Kennedy were too busy flirting to even chime in. I was off to the side, waiting for everyone to finish up. That was until I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye. It was Ava, and she was walking right towards me. The world slowed down. Spotlights followed her as she walked in my direction. Now, I wish I could tell you that we embraced each other. I wish I could tell you I got to push her hair behind her ear. l wish I could tell you I caressed her cheek as it blushed into a bright, red hue. I wish I could tell you that we shared a long and passionate kiss just like every rom-com out there. I wish I could wrap up this story with a perfect little bow and end it with the idea that hope comes out of the most unlikely places. I wish I could tell you all of that. That is not what happened, though. In reality, she stripped naked right then and there and we did the sex, or she walked right by me. One of the two, I can’t quite remember. It’s difficult to keep those types of things clear in your mind. You want one thing, so you tend to believe it. In that moment, I was at a loss for words. I sat thinking to myself, “What is wrong with me?

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How could I have ever thought I had a chance with her, the goddess sent from above to wipe away my sins? How could I have been so foolish, so naive to actually think that this girl would ever fall for me? “Friendzoned again, what else is new?” Years, I spent thinking I was inadequate for others. Truly believing that they deserved better. Telling myself, why even take the chance when it’s just bound to end in disappointment? I have since realized, how inconsiderate I was being. Ava never owed me anything. She never promised me a kiss under the moonlight. She never said she even felt that way about me. The “friend zone” isn’t real, it’s a made up place where sorry jerks like myself can put ourselves in to make the other person feel like they are terrible. If she said yes, she was a slut. If she said no, she was a bitch. It wasn’t fair of me to put her in that situation. I would never talk to anyone if I knew those were my only options. To this day, two years later, I’m waiting for that first kiss. Now I get to wait for that special moment to come, and I know it’s going to be with someone I care about. Which means either the waiting is worth it, or I’ll never get my first kiss and I’ll die alone.

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bright eyes Marlee Wittner I could tell summer was beginning from the gnats. There were gnats everywhere; they traveled in droves. As was nature’s course, they were followed by mosquitos and steady waves of humidity. The wetness hung in the sky, inescapable. It infiltrated not only the air and clouds but also clung to your skin, as if it was tempting the sweat out of you. Even inside the modest Louisiana antebellum house, I felt a drip easing its way down my temples. I swiped it away and picked up a pamphlet. I didn’t need to skim the pamphlet to know this plantation had been the home of an old-money family. While they had added a sub-par air conditioning unit and a new refrigerator, the family had maintained the furnishings and grandeur that was expected of a Louisiana aristocrat of the forgotten era. I grew jumpy in houses like these. To me, the home still wreaked of slaves’ sweat, blood, and tears. The lingering feeling was almost as strong as that of southern pride that emanated from each piece of China and every mahogany chair. However, the leaflet did provide context as to why a house such as this would go on the market. Until a few days prior, the residence had been the lodging of a childless widow, the last in line for the Brousseau inheritance. The house had been the jewel of her lineage for generations. It was a birthright as well as a landmark of their historic cotton dynasty. Now, the dynasty would be ravaged for vintage door knobs, center pieces, and parlor rugs at the sale. As an estate sale regular, I knew where the goods would be and where secrets usually persisted. I arrived thirty minutes early, the prime time for staking out a house. As an older women, I blamed my early attendance on my memory and was forgiven nine sales out of ten. Today was no exception, I was ushered in as the attic was being emptied.

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I grew anxious as I climbed the wooden rungs. I held a certain fondness for attics, as I had grown up sifting through hundreds of photos stashed away in my grandmother’s own loft. She loved to nestle me in her arms as she spent hours reciting a narrative of her past live, using the photos as illustrations. She told me of a time when she was a starlet known as Baby and of her secret affair with her young love, Bright Eyes. She told me of singing in speakeasys and dancing on tables and played me jazz on her record player. As I made my way up into the attic of the Brousseau family, the musty smell caused a pang of nostalgia to pass through my chest. By the time I arrived, most of the boxes had already been discarded. Only one box was left in the attic. I had no idea what it was, or what lied inside. I blew dust off the lid lightly, wondering what mysteries and answers lie within. My heart was pounding with exhilaration, I had an exceptionally good feeling about this lonely box. I removed the covering of the nondescript box, snuck a look and gasped. I dropped the box and its contents to the floor. I peeked again to ensure what I’d seen was real. Inside was a picture of my grandmother and a woman I recognized from my her albums. They were posed back-to-back in cascading flapper dresses. A silver microphone drew a perfect line of symmetry between them. They both were adorned by coy smiles and held gloved hands. I flipped the yellowing photograph over and read the message that had been penned in swirling hand writing. It read: “I’ll be dreaming of you tonight, Bright Eyes. All The Love In The World, Baby.” It was undoubtedly my grandmother’s handwriting. The same lilting letters I had seen on the backs of snapshots throughout my childhood. I situated the photo in my pocket before retuning downstairs. I took a nice long look at the Brousseau house I was leaving behind, knowing my grandmother was watching me. After every sale, I felt a connection and marveled over the finds and treasures, but I was certain this one would be the best gem of all. Volume VII | The Echo 47

I paused in the doorway, holding a hand to my heart and

hummed my grandmother’s favorite tune. “Hold me tight in your arms tonight, Bright Eyes. I’ll be dreaming of you tonight, Bright Eyes.”

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a waltz among the stars Sanika Kende

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The Steinbrenner Echo Literary Magazine The Echo, Volume VII was student produced by The Echo staff at Steinbrenner High School. The writing and artwork pieces that are featured in this issue were submitted by Steinbrenner students and were anonymously reviewed by The Echo staff members. The layout was designed in Adobe InDesign CS6 by The Echo layout team. The Echo is a member of the Florida Scholastic Press Association. PTSA provided a portion of the funds used to create the magazine. The magazines were sold for $5.00 each. Visit us online at steinbrennerecho.com to see an extended version of the magazine.

Steinbrenner High School 5575 W Lutz Lake Fern Rd, Lutz FL 33558



The Echo

Volume VII | The Echo


Every being, Has a choice to makeTo live until they die, Or to die before their death. - Mike Currier, Choices, pg 10

Even though it was past midnight, the place was so incredibly alive: the towering buildings, the chatter of pedestrians, the constant honks of automobiles... it was good to be home - Sanika Kende, Mumbai, pg 28 all kings were boys once. - Jack Leist, The Puppet, pg 22

The Echo Volume VIII | Fall Issue