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Table of Contents Revised Pieces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 A Single Healthy Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 A Reflection On Mirrors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 The Firefly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 A Different Play . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Lovebirds in a Flock of Geese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Death of a Daisy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 All I Want . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Original Pieces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 A Single Healthy Tree. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 A Reflection On Mirrors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 The Firefly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 A Different Play . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 .

Lovebirds in a Flock of Geese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Death of a Daisy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 All I Want . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

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Revised Pieces

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A Single Healthy Tree Kids on the playground were laughing and pointing their fingers at a girl sitting on the slide. She is spooning chocolate pudding into her mouth, and has accumulated a thick mustache of gooey brown on her top lip. “Haha! Look at her! Eating like a fat pig!” At first, the kids were only teasing as any fourth graders would tease the ugly duckling of their class. Mindless insults rolled off of their tongues as they kicked mulch and ran around her. “Hey Tiffany, why don’t you just put a bag over your head, you’d be so much prettier!” At the same time, I am playing two-hand-touch football with my friends. We were all dirty from head to toe (from those tackles we just couldn’t resist making). It was hot outside, but we didn’t mind, recess was the best time of day. “Hey ugly, why don’t you just leave! No one wants to see you everyday. No one even likes you!” My friends and I are getting tired from all the running and the game is slowing down. We agree to take a water break. I sit down on a wooden bench next to everyone and pant heavily. After a few sips of cold water, I look around to see what all of the other students are doing. I see a group huddled on the playground, but cannot discern what is happening. “I hope you die Tiffany! I hope you fall off the slide and break all your bones!” I heard shouting emanating from the circle around the slide. My friend nudged me in the side when it was time to play again, looked at me questioningly when I didn’t respond, and asked sarcastically if I was too chicken to play. I simply pointed over to the playground. I walked up next to him and we both watched the scene intently. “You deserve this.” My mouth gaped, but I didn’t blink once. The children were like a plague of locusts on a single healthy tree, leaving no part undisturbed. Punches were thrown, kicks were dealt, and soon Tiffany was covered in dark purple bruises. I had seen guys wrestle and leave some marks, but I was shocked to see a girl being treated like this. “Get a little less ugly and it won’t happen again.” My friend and I had remained frozen throughout the confrontation, which had seemed to move slowly like a violent, drawn-out dream. This was different than the fighting I had seen: this wasn’t for bragging rights, this was for humiliation.

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As if feeding the hallucinatory quality of the moment, everyone on the playground seemed to simultaneously gravitate inwards towards Tiffany, their curiosity undermining their caution. However, this suspension of time did not last; everything snapped into motion when teachers began yelling. Some yelled at students, some yelled for the nurse, some yelled at each other, and some yelled at the air in front of them, seemingly out of frustration. We all crowded around Tiffany and her mutilated body. She was bleeding, cut, and broken, but nothing matched her eyes. She didn’t seem focused on the physical suffering; it was not pain in her eyes, it was betrayal. I thought to myself, “You don’t have any friends, how can you possibly justify feeling betrayed?” I didn’t know much about this girl, and I certainly wasn’t her friend, but I figured maybe it was the same reason I could justify feeling guilty.

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A Reflection On Mirrors I. Glass mirror in a gilded frame hangs on the wall Ornate flowers molded Large, stolid, pompous II. Shows only what there is to show Indifferent to perspective and perspective lost III. There are memories beneath the glass Ponderous moments Stretched like lost time Flitting frustrations Anxious pinches Too big, too small Not enough IV. Vibrations shake the walls, the foundation V. A heartbeat, pulsing sends liquid ripples through the glass VI. Tears drip down a hairline crack. Flicked splinters litter the floor VII. Life once held is rejected Perspectives are skewed 7


The mirror hangs by a thinning wire VIII. Too heavy to hold, too heavy to bear. Let go IX. The mirror smashes against the floor, Shattering with a thunder crack Not an inch untouched by the fall X. Flames consume and entice threatening, even offering, to steal away XI. Blood seeps from the wounds, gaping cracks in glass flesh XII. Red is everywhere The fire’s beating heart Shakes the room with the waves, the waves, the waves Of pounding heat XIII. A body, trapped in the mirror, begs to leave Rejecting a life once held XIV. Only glass remains. Reflecting a broken visage, smothered by darkness when the flame went out 8


The Firefly One spring evening, Evelyn was in her bedroom reading a book of poems when she heard a crash from the living room, where her young daughter Rose had been playing. Evelyn reacted instantly, jumping out of her chair and running to the other room. She arrived to see her daughter kneeling over shards of broken glass, bawling. “Honey, what happened?” asked Evelyn, after picking up her daughter. “Mommy, that was the only one I had seen in months and I dropped my jar and let it get away,” Rose sobbed into her mother’s chest. “Oh dear, I’m sorry. What can I do to make it better?” Rose responded through fits of tears, “Nothing mommy… that was the only one… the only one EVER.” “Don’t cry Rose, that wasn’t the only one. Uh. Well, what if I found him for you?” Evelyn tried. “You would do that for me?” Rose asked her mother, swallowing and wiping her tears. “I will certainly try to find him Honey. You are looking a little tired, why don’t you go to bed and I will be back soon, okay?” “Okay mommy,” said Rose quietly, as she sunk further into her mother’s arms, eyes drooping with the weight of sleep. Evelyn tucked her daughter into bed, grabbed her jacket, and ran out the door. She saw her target flying away and sprinted in its direction. She summoned a small blue orb of light into her hand, which would serve to illuminate her path in the night. “Damn, damn, damn,” Evelyn mumbled to herself as she saw the insect fly into the thick forest. Unlike the forests Evelyn had explored as a young girl, this one had no beaten paths. This forest was known as a “mutationary”. There were only a few in the region. In these places, there was a fungus living in the soil. The fungus seeped up into all the plants that grew in the forest, entering into the food chain. Upon absorption or ingestion, the fungus caused rapid and random mutations. Although Evelyn was a curious woman, everyone was advised to stay out of mutationaries because they were unknown and potentially dangerous, so she had never wandered into one. No one knew what they stored (and no one wanted to be the idiot who died trying to find out). However, despite these warnings, Evelyn did not fear the forests. She had seen a few taxidermy creatures from them; there were parrots as big as vultures, their plumage as vibrant as ever. Fish with legs like a million-spider. Foxes with stripes, glowing acorns, herbivorian snakes. She knew there was always the possibility of a predator made more dangerous by mutation, but she believed it was slim. Most mutations she had heard of were totally harmless. So, as she entered the forest, she was not surprised when the spike bushes recoiled at her touch and retracted their spikes. It actually made the discouraged 9


women crack a smile. “If only everyone was as friendly as these mutant spike bushes,” she laughed to herself, touching all the spiky tendrils in sight just to watch them curl in response. Luna moths fluttered around her, their wings changing from one color to the next. Evelyn was awestruck by the changes she saw; she stopped to take in this mysterious place. Then, she saw it. The bright thorax of her target was seated on a tree trunk deeper in the forest, indicated by a dull circular glow. She began making her way towards it, stepping over roots and parting branches. Suddenly, something caught her eye, and she froze. The icy hand of fear ran its finger down her spine. Eyes: one set of bright, electric purple eyes looked at her from the brush. “Maybe it’s just a bunny rabbit?” she thought hopefully, pressing her pointer finger and thumb together for good luck. But, she heard a guttural growl and saw a flash of white fangs and knew that wasn’t the case. The creature lunged for her; Evelyn dodged its gaping jaws and sprinted in the opposite direction. The black, jaguar-like creature’s long claws scratched at her back. She ran as fast as she could, ducking and jumping, swatting and batting, silently reciting any prayer she could remember. She ran until she could not hear her pursuer’s footsteps or see its shiny, onyx coat and collapsed onto the forest floor. The scratches on her back bled into her clothes. She drifted in and out of consciousness; blue and black flowers morphed into perverted dreams of death by a bunny rabbit with those purple eyes. Finally, after hours of resting in this state, Evelyn sat up. A sudden feeling of claustrophobia struck her as she soaked in the thick darkness of the night, no longer penetrated by sunset or colorful insects. In a desperate attempt to drive away her fear, she tried to summon her orb, but all she could conjure was a flicker of light that sputtered and went out. So, she sat on her bloody, skinned knees and held her head in her hands, singing the song of mourning through silent tears. A light floated into her vision and she thought she had fallen asleep and was dreaming, but she opened her eyes and was sitting on the same rock. The light, not far from her, was the firefly. It was not mutated or malevolent; it was familiar. Evelyn got up and drifted towards it. It moved away from her, not as an escape, but slowly, like a living orb conjured by nature’s hand. The firefly remained close enough to be seen, but too far away to be touched. Evelyn followed the firefly’s glow, letting it guide her through the foreign world. Finally, when she was nearly out of strength, Evelyn reached the end of the forest. She fell to her knees and looked up the sky with its tiny lights: her prayer’s answer. Her daughter, who had been awake, watching from her bedroom window, ran out to her mother and hugged her tightly. “Mommy, what happened? Are you okay?” the girl asked, a hint of panic in her voice. “Nothing baby, everything’s fine. I found your firefly, but I think it got away. I’m so sorry.” Evelyn hugged her daughter again, hoping she was forgiven. 10


“Look Mommy!� Rose said, pointing over Evelyn’s shoulder. She released her mother from the embrace and giggled as a bright little firefly tickled her face. She held out her hands, and the insect landed in them, twinkling its lights for a few moments before flying away into the night.

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A Different Play If I open my soul and let the darkness flow out maybe I’ll be light enough to fly away to a day less gray or if all the world’s a stage to a different play

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Lovebirds in a Flock of Geese At the beginning of my freshman year of high school, everything was going better than I could have possibly imagined. I had met a cute boy named Hank on orientation day and he had soon become my very first boyfriend. We talked on the phone every night, went on dates, and met up in between classes. At fourteen, having a boyfriend made me feel special and wanted. I liked those feelings and I liked having someone with whom to spend my time. Most of all, I liked Hank. He was tall, lanky, and athletic, with dirty blond hair. His wiry muscles showed under t-shirts. I liked his personality too; he had an immature sense of humor that complimented my own. We were constantly telling “yo momma” jokes and coughing “that’s what she said’ at ideal moments. For the first month of our relationship, Hank and I were blissfully happy together: lovebirds in a flock of geese. However, after the novelty of our new romance wore off, the flaws in our compatibility began to reveal themselves. Our phone conversations became stale and our dates boring and repetitive. We were slowly discovering how little we had in common. Neither of us was perfectly happy anymore and there seemed to be many things missing. We began spending more time with our friends and less with each other. The climax of this “relationship degradation” came in our third month of dating. We were attending a school football game together. At our high school, in the stadium, there are two paths on the “home team” side of the field. There is one that stays on the level of the field that leads to the lower bleachers. The other leads up a man-made hill to the upper bleachers. The side of this hill is covered in bricks and forms a wall. If you are on the upper path, you can look down over a short chain link fence onto the people leaning against the wall (there were usually many). That evening, Hank and I were the ones leaning against the wall. We were side-by-side, holding hands, quietly watching the game. Little did we know, drama was brewing. Unbeknownst to us, Hank’s ex-girlfriend, Heather, had asked her current boyfriend, Michael, to drop an open bottle of lemon-lime, pee yellow Gatorade on us. So, he did. It came out of nowhere; suddenly my boyfriend and I, the lovebirds in a flock of geese, felt something wet raining down on us and pain when the bottle hit us both. Luckily, Michael’s aim was mediocre at best. Unluckily, the majority of Gatorade that did escape the bottle fell on me: it soaked my sleeve, and worse, my hair. After a moment of shock, Hank and I looked down to the now-empty Gatorade bottle, quickly realizing what had happened when we saw Michael running away towards the parking lot. Hank left my side to go catch up with him and deal with the problem while I waited with my friend Kendra, who cleaned me up and commiserated. We craned our necks from where we stood to see what was going on with Hank and Michael. What I saw surprised me. There was no 13


yelling, no punches thrown, no puffed up chests. I saw a clapping of hands in a “bro-type” greeting and a non-aggressive exchange of words. So, when Hank walked back over to me, I immediately demanded to know what happened. “Oh, not much,” he responded. “I told him what he did wasn’t cool, but he said he only meant to hit you, so it’s all good.” My jaw dropped. “It’s all good?” I asked, feeling my cheeks flush. Hank stuttered something unintelligible and stared intently at his feet, moving a pebble back and forth with the toe of his tennis shoe. I was humiliated and could barely look him in the eye. For the rest of the night, Hank and I were distant, only holding hands and kissing goodnight because we felt we should. Needless to say, Hank and I did not last much longer after this incident, although not only because of it. I knew it had to end when I found myself looking down on the single birds and wishing I was that free.

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Death of a Daisy I remember waddling unsteadily down my wooden steps. This time I did not have my mother’s hand enveloping mine. This time there was a cold space between my fingers. I remember that the sky caressed me in the loving way only the sky can. The sun shined softly on my face and body. It did not warm my fingers. I remember the grass tickling in between my toes and raising itchy bumps on my ankles. I remember the maze of daisies. The millions of daisies. The white daisies. The trail of daisies. I remember the trail. I remember I wanted every single daisy to bring home to my mother. I picked one, then jumped. Two, then jumped. I remember picking and jumping until I was at a creek. I remember leaning in to catch a flitting minnow. As I reached for the water, I dropped all the daisies I was holding and watched them swirl downstream. I remember the water was warm. It still did not warm my fingers. I remember suddenly I was falling. I fell and fell for eternity. I fell into a new world. I remember black blood spilling from my knees and palms, changing the current to a twisted monster that beckoned and whispered my name. I remember the sky was split over me. The clouds spilled forth a current of serpent-tongue lightning that hissed as it seared my flesh. I remember the butterflies crumbled to dust, littering the ground with their ashes, desecrated by the gusts that they used to sail. I remember the wind. I remember the darkness, the thick darkness, the darkness that squeezed me tight and reached down my throat to pull the air from my chest. It took the four corners 15


of my world and pulled them in closer and closer. I closed my eyes but the darkness followed me. I remember the end. The end of my life. I remember the end of my life as I knew it. I remember opening my eyes to a new world. I got up and reached for something, anything, to fill the aching emptiness contained in the beating heart in my hand. It still did not warm my fingers. I remember reaching my hands toward the clouds to see if I could still feel the sky and hold it in my grasp. I remember I could. I remember crying. I laid down on the bank and let my tears fall, clear and pure, into the stream. They were washed away by the tide. I remember my fingers. I remember it still did not warm my fingers. I remember that even though one of my hands did remain cold, the other still held the sky. I remember I was okay.

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All I Want A response to “What Do Women Want” by Kim Addonizio

I want a cotton dress. I want it white and flowy, I want it delicate, I want to wear it everywhere I go. I want it simple and modest, this dress, because you already know my flesh, and it is only for you. I want to walk down the street past the lit-up movie theatre with all those fancied people sparkling in the moonlight, past the towering buildings and the sculptures of re-imagined imperfection. I want to walk like I belong with that, like a mannequin girl, all dressed up, with no past. I want that dress bad. I want it to cast away all your doubts about me, to show you that I have no impurities and have never desired another, but you. When I find it, I’ll take that dress from its hanger and it will become me and I will no longer be, or have been. For you, to you, I’ll be a woven angel, who is only good, and beautiful, and perfect. And when I pass away, all you will remember of me is this dress.

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Original Pieces

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A Single Healthy Tree Kids on the playground were laughing and pointing their fingers at a girl sitting on the slide. She is spooning chocolate pudding into her mouth, and has accumulated a thick mustache of gooey brown on her top lip. “Haha! Look at her! Eating like a fat pig!” At first, the kids were only teasing as any fourth graders would tease the ugly duckling of their class. Mindless insults rolled off of their tongues as they kicked mulch and ran around her. “Hey Tiffany, why don’t you just put a bag over your head, you’d be so much prettier!” At the same time, I am playing soccer with my best friend on the grass, volleying the ball back and forth. We both had a thick sheen of sweat on our faces, but nonetheless, we were content. “Hey ugly, why don’t you just leave! No one wants to see you everyday. No one even likes you!” My friend and I are beginning to feel the fatiguing effects of the bright sun, and our game is slowing dramatically, giving me more opportunity to observe my surroundings. I see a group huddled on the playground, but cannot discern what is happening. “I hope you die Tiffany! I hope you fall off the slide and break all your bones!” I heard shouting emanating from the circle around the slide. My friend passed the ball into my shins, looked at me questioningly, and asked me sarcastically if I was too lazy to play, so I simply pointed over to the playground. I walked up next to her and we both watched the scene intently. “You deserve this.” My mouth gaped, but I didn’t blink once. The children were like a plague of locusts on a single healthy tree, leaving no part undisturbed. Punches were thrown, kicks were dealt, and soon Tiffany was covered in dark purple bruises. She had no chance of defending herself. “Get a little less ugly and it won’t happen again.” My friend and I had remained frozen throughout the confrontation, which had seemed to move slowly like a violent, drawn-out dream. Anger seems almost sickly fascinating when you have never truly seen it before. As if feeding the hallucinatory quality of the moment, everyone on the playground seemed to simultaneously gravitate inwards towards Tiffany, their curiosity undermining their caution. However, this suspension of time did not last; everything snapped into motion when teachers began yelling. Some yelled at students, some yelled for the nurse, some yelled at each other, and some yelled at the air in front of them, seemingly out of frustration. We all crowded around Tiffany, and her mutilated body. She was bleeding, cut, and broken, but nothing matched her eyes. She 19


didn’t seem focused on the physical suffering; it was not pain in her eyes, it was betrayal. I thought to myself, “You don’t have any friends, how can you possibly justify feeling betrayed?” I didn’t know much about this girl, and I certainly wasn’t her friend, but I figured maybe it was the same reason I could justify feeling guilty.

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A Reflection On Mirrors I. Glass mirror in a gilded frame hangs on the wall Ornate flowers molded Large, stolid, pompous II. Never smudged always clear infinitely pristine III. Shows only what there is to show Indifferent to perspective and perspective lost IV. Vibrations shake the walls, the foundation V. Holds life within. A heartbeat, pulsing sends liquid ripples through the glass VI. Tears drip down a hairline crack Flicked splinters litter the floor VII. Life once held is rejected Perspectives are skewed The mirror hangs by a thinning wire 21


VIII. Flaked metallic paint no longer conceals the barely-there rotting wood, that now festers among itself IX. The mirror clangs as it hits the floor flames lick at its glass flesh, blood inferno X. Flames consume and entice threatening, even offering, to steal away XI. Red is everywhere The fire’s beating heart Shakes the room with the waves, the waves, the waves Of pounding heat XII. A body, trapped in the mirror, begs to leave Rejecting a life once held XII. Only glass remains. Reflecting a broken visage, smothered by darkness when the flame went out

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The Firefly CRASH The little girl’s face shattered with her jar, which hit the floor. “Mommy, that was the only one I had seen in months” she said up to her mother, Evelyn. “Don’t worry Rose, I won’t let it get away. Go inside and sleep.” She rushed her daughter inside and hurried off in the direction of the firefly. She summoned a small blue orb of light into her hand, which served to illuminate her path in the night. “Damn, damn, damn,” Evelyn mumbled to herself as she saw the bug fly into the thick forest. Unlike the forests Evelyn had explored as a young girl, this one had no beaten paths. This forest was known as a “mutationary”. There were only a few in the region. In these places, there was a fungus living in the soil. The fungus seeped up into all the plants that grew in the forest, thereby entering into the food chain. The fungus, once ingested, causes quick mutations in all life forms: mammals, insects, plants, etc. Evelyn was a curious woman, but everyone was advised to stay out of mutationaries because they were unknown and potentially dangerous, so she had never wandered into one. No one knew what they stored (and no one wanted to be the idiot who died trying to find out). Evelyn did not fear them, however. She had seen a few taxidermy creatures from these regions. They were different, but not in a way that made them any more dangerous. There were parrots as big as vultures, their plumage as vibrant as ever. Fish with legs like a million-spider. Foxes with stripes, glowing acorns, herbivorian snakes. She knew there was always the possibility of a predator made more dangerous by mutation, but she believed it was slim. Most mutations she had heard of were purely aesthetic. So, as she entered the forest, she was not surprised when the spike bushes recoiled at her touch and retracted their spikes. It actually made the discouraged women crack a smile. “If only everyone was as friendly as these mutant spike bushes,” she laughed to herself, touching all the spiky tendrils in sight just to watch them curl in response. Then, she saw it. The bright thorax of her target was seated on a tree trunk deeper in the forest, indicated by a dull circular glow. She began making her way towards it, stepping over roots and parting branches. Suddenly, she froze. The icy hand of fear ran its finger down her spine. Eyes: one set of bright, electric purple eyes looked at her from the brush. “Maybe it’s just a bunny rabbit?” she thought hopefully, pressing her pointer finger and thumb together for good luck. But, she heard a guttural growl and saw a flash of white, bared teeth, and knew her luck had run dry. The creature lunged, and Evelyn turned and ran. The black, jaguar-like creature’s long claws scratched at her back. She ran as fast as she could, ducking and jumping, swatting 23


and batting, silently reciting any prayer she could remember. She ran and ran until she could not hear her pursuer’s footsteps or see its shiny, onyx coat, and she collapsed onto the forest floor. The scratches on her back bled into her clothes. She drifted in and out of consciousness; blue and black flowers morphed into perverted dreams of death by a bunny rabbit with those purple eyes. Finally, after hours of resting in this state, Evelyn sat up. Her exhaustion threatened to keep her in the forest, but she knew she needed to get out, and worse, now she was lost. It was still nighttime, so she tried to summon her orb, but all she could conjure was a flicker of light that sputtered and went out. So, she picked a direction, and walked in it. But, she soon found herself walking in circles, seeing the same landmarks over and over. She sat down on a flat rock and held her head in her hands, singing the song of mourning through silent tears. A light floated into her vision, and she thought she had fallen asleep and was dreaming. But, she opened her eyes and was sitting on the same rock. The light, not far from her, was the firefly. It was not mutated or malevolent, it was familiar. Evelyn got up and drifted towards it. It moved away from her, not as an escape, but slowly, like a living orb, conjured by nature’s hand. The firefly remained close enough to be seen, but too far away to be touched. Regardless, Evelyn followed the firefly’s glow, letting it guide her through the foreign world. Finally, when she was nearly out of strength, Evelyn reached the end of the forest. She fell to her knees and looked up the sky with its tiny lights: her prayer’s answer. Her daughter, who had been awake, watching from her bedroom window, ran out to her mother and hugged her tightly. “Mommy, what happened? Are you okay?” the girl asked, holding her mother’s hand tightly. “Nothing baby, everything’s fine. I found your firefly, but I think it got away. I’m so sorry.” Evelyn hugged her daughter again, hoping she was forgiven. “Look Mommy!” Rose said, pointing over Evelyn’s shoulder. She released her mother from the embrace and giggled as a bright little firefly tickled her face. She held out her hands, and the insect landed in them, twinkling its lights for a few moments before flying away into the night.

24


A Different Play If I open my soul and let the darkness flow out maybe I will be light enough to fly away to escape this fray to see another day or if all the world’s a stage to see a different play

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Lovebirds in a Flock of Geese At the beginning of freshman year of high school, everything was going better than I could have possibly imagined. On orientation day, I had met a cute boy named Hank, and he had soon become my first boyfriend. We talked on the phone every night, went on dates, and met up in between classes. At fourteen, having a boyfriend made me feel special and wanted. I liked those feelings, and I liked having someone to spent time with and go out with on weekends. Most of all, I liked Hank. He was tall, lanky, and athletic, with dirty blond hair. His wiry muscles showed under t-shirts. I liked his personality too; he had an immature sense of humor that complimented my own. We were constantly telling “yo momma” jokes and coughing “that’s what she said’ at ideal moments. For about the first month of our relationship, Hank and I were blissfully happy together: lovebirds in a flock of geese. However, after the novelty of our new love wore off, the flaws in our compatibility began to reveal themselves. Our phone conversations became stale and our dates boring and repetitive. We were slowly discovering how little we had in common. Neither of us was perfectly happy anymore and there seemed to be many things missing. Our attention began to drift to other people when we began spending more time with friends and less with each other. The climax of this “relationship degradation” came in our third month of dating. We were attending a school football game together. At our high school, in the stadium, there are two paths on the “home team” side of the field. There is one that stays on the level of the field that leads to the lower bleachers. The other leads up a man-made hill to the upper bleachers. The side of the hill is covered in bricks and forms a wall. If you are on the upper path, you can look down over a short chain link fence onto the people leaning against the wall (there were usually many). That evening, Hank and I were the ones leaning against the wall. We were side-by-side, holding hands quietly, watching the game. Little did we know, drama was brewing. Hank’s ex girlfriend, Heather, had asked her current boyfriend, Michael, to drop an open bottle of lemon-lime, pee yellow Gatorade down on us. So, he did. It came out of the blue, suddenly my boyfriend and I, the lovebirds in a flock of geese, felt something wet raining down on us, and then felt a bump as the bottle hit us both. Luckily, Michael’s aim was mediocre at best. Unluckily, the majority of Gatorade that did escape the bottle fell on me; it soaked my sleeve, and worse, my hair. I was angry and upset, but, as the fourteen year old girl I was, I was thinking “this is the moment, the moment when my first boyfriend stands up for me”. So, I was (secretly) overjoyed when Hank left my side to go deal with the problem. I waited patiently with my friend Kendra, who cleaned me up and commiserated. We craned our necks from where we stood to see what was going on with Hank and Michael. What I saw surprised me. There was no yelling, no 26


punches thrown, no puffed up chests. I saw a clapping of hands in a “bro-type” greeting, and a non-aggressive exchange of words. So, when Hank walked back over to me, I immediately demanded to know what happened. “Oh, not much,” he responded. “I told Michael what he did wasn’t cool, but he said he only meant to hit you, so it’s all good.” My jaw dropped. “It’s all good?’ I thought to myself. “How could it be all good, and why doesn’t he care about what just happened?” I was humiliated that he had not stood up for me. Also, I was questioning how much he liked me at all, because of how little another kid’s prank on me bothered him. He made me look like a fool and soon everyone would know. I knew this wasn’t how the moment was supposed to go; it certainly did not live up to my expectations. Needless to say, Hank and I did not last much longer after this incident, although not only because of it. I knew it had to end when I found myself looking down on the single birds and wishing I was that free.

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Death Of A Daisy I remember waddling unsteadily down my wooden steps. This time was different. This time I did not have my mother’s hand enveloping mine. This time there was a cold space between my fingers. I remember that the sky caressed me in the loving way only the sky can. The sun shined softly on my face and body. It still did not warm my fingers. I remember the grass tickling in between my toes and raising itchy bumps on my ankles. I had walked on that grass so many times. I remember the maze of daisies. The millions of daisies. The white daisies. The trail of daisies. I remember the trail. I remember I wanted every single daisy to bring home to my mother. I picked one, then jumped. Two, then jumped. I remember picking and jumping until I was at a creek. It was so far from home I could not believe I had made it that far. I remember leaning in to catch a flitting minnow. The moment my hand reached for the water, I dropped all the daisies I was holding and watched them swirl downstream as they avoided the rocks that protruded above the surface. I remember the water was warm. It still did not warm my fingers. I remember suddenly I was falling; the whole world stopped around me. I fell and fell and fell for eternity. I fell into a new world. I remember black blood spilling from my knees and palms into the previously pure torrent. I was lost. My heart stopped beating. Alive is a relative term. I remember the burning hellish fire, which ate my trees, my house, my life. It ate soul for nourishment and the cool breeze just for sweet pleasure. I remember the sky was split over me. The lighting hurling from the heavens singed the ends of my hair in its wild fury. I remember the wind, the venomous wind.

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I remember the water. The freezing, bubbling, writhing water. It circled and thrashed. It wanted to envelop me and hold me down until I drowned and breathed only its death into my lungs. I remember the end. The end of my life. I remember the end of my life as I knew it. I remember that neither the burning intensity of the inferno nor the comforting warmth of chaos’s end could satisfy. I got up and reached for something, anything, to fill the aching emptiness contained in the beating heart in my hand. It still did not warm my fingers. I remember putting my hands toward the clouds to see if I could still feel the sky and hold it in my grasp. I remember I could. I remember crying. The tears went unnoticed on my soaked body and clothes, but etched deep scars as they slowly dripped down my hand. Both of my hearts were crying. I remember my fingers. I remember it still did not warm my fingers. I remember that even though one of my hands did remain cold, the other still held the sky. I remember I was okay.

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All I Want A response to “What Do Women Want” by Kim Addonizio

I want a cotton dress. I want it white and flowy, I want it just right, I want to wear it everywhere I go. I want it elegant and modest, this dress, because you already know my flesh, and it is only for you. I want to walk down the street past the lit-up movie theatre with all those dressed up people sparkling in the moonlight, past the spilling fountain and the sculptures of re-imagined imperfection. I want to walk like I belong with that, like a mannequin girl, all dressed up, without a sin. I want that dress bad. I want it to cast away all your doubts about me, to show you that I have no impurities and have never desired another, but you. When I find it, I’ll take that dress from its hanger and it will become me and I will no longer be, or have been. For you, to you, I’ll be a woven angel, who is only good, and beautiful, and perfect. And when I leave you, all you will remember of me is this dress.

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Reflection This semester and this portfolio have allowed me to make profound improvements in my revising strategy and how I tackle the process of improving a piece. Before this class, I was not systematic in how I went about it. I might sit and stare at a piece, occasionally retyping a bad paragraphing or deleting a misplaced comma. But just staring at a document made it difficult for me to make any large changes that would significantly improve a piece, if that’s what was needed. I realized this flaw in my strategy when I began receiving criticisms of my work through canvas; people had some great ideas and I wanted to take them into account and, in some cases, change my work significantly due to the ideas to which I came in contact. My older methods were not enough. So, each time I revised a piece, for canvas or for this portfolio, my method changed a little. I tried new strategies: some worked, some didn’t. The first thing I started doing differently was always saving the original, rough draft of all of my work in one document and then saving other drafts in new documents. This way, I could make significant changes to the work without feeling like I was losing any of the original ideas. Another change I made to my revision process was printing out the work I needed to edit and reading through it once to myself, not aloud. This allowed me to see my work as my audience would and sometimes revealed that ideas or particular passages sounded good to me in my head as I wrote them, but did not necessarily give the same impact on the reader as I would have liked. Then, because I had a printed out document and not just words on a computer screen, I could mark notes, draw arrows, cross out, etc. That way, I could sit at my computer with the document open and my marked-up draft on my desk and look back and forth between them, instead of trying to just look at the original document and making changes without taking notes first. An example of a change I made to my writing process that did not help was trying to take everyone’s helpful words too much to heart and trying to use everyone’s suggestions. This class has helped me gain so much useful criticism: I received abundant feedback through other students on canvas and gained enough confidence in my work to begin asking personal friends for help with my writing. However, I made the mistake of letting myself become overwhelmed with all of these suggestions, losing track of how to filter what I wanted and what other people thought I should do. I have not totally resolved that issue, but it is a work in progress. I need to learn how to balance making something what I want it to be and something that others can enjoy. Overall, creative writing class at HCC has helped me improve my writing style, experiment with my revision process, and increased my confidence in my own work.

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Erin Pontius Final Project