Synecdoche 2022

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Synecdoche Volume 19

You’ll Laugh! You’ll Cry! You’ll Learn! Read Volume no. 19 of Synecdoche…

Vanguard University English Department Graduating Class of 2022 Literary Journal

Synecdoche Volume 19

Vanguard University English Department Graduating Class of 2022 Literary Journal

COPYRIGHT- 2022 Synecdoche Literary Journal of Vanguard University is a trademark used here in. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED- No part of this work covered by the copier right here and made the reproduced or used in any form including graphic, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopy, recording, taping, web distribution, information networks, or information storage, and retrevial systems without the written permisson of Synecdoche Literary Journal of Vanguard University. Contact Information Email Phone Vanguard University English Department (714)556-3610 Cover Design By Abby Reid


Synecdoche Table of Contents Letter From the Editor ... Emily Christine Davis


Grandma’s Kitchen… Sophia Trejo 11 Weightless World… Sophia Roth 14 Outcomes of the School-to-Prison Pipeline … Kassandra Martinez 15 Visuals Almada, Jessica ... Falling Umbrellas Almada, Jessica ... Experience Almada, Jessica ... Cloud Nine Almada, Jessica ... The Black Cat

27 27 28 28

Creative A Love of Reading… Emily Miller 29 An Honest Man … Chelsea Mann 33 Anamnesis … Michael Robles 35 B.E.B. … Camie Del Rosario 37 Bread … Ramona Moore 39 Burnt Chicken … Alexandra Niebaum 39 Butterfly Net … Jaden Massaro 40 Casual Insincerity … Camie Del Rosario 41 Cellmates … Alexandra Niebaum 42 Daisy … Laura Esther 44 Desolation of a Woman Without Jewelry… Megan Luebberman 45 Each Breath … India Moors 46 Flat, Hot Visalia … Abby Reid 47


Creative Georgia … Asia Lavay 50 Getting Better … Jade McClintock 55 Got Your Back … Jaden Massaro 56 Healing … Ramona Moore 57 Humanity … India Moors 57 I Can Remember Those Days … J. Luke Herman 59 I Trust You … Durodoluwa Aina 60 It’s Okay, It’s Okay. … Camie Del Rosario 64 Visuals Almada, Jessica ...Vision 66 Almada, Jessica ... Out of Focus 66 Almada, Jessica ... Going Through Changes 67 Almada, Jessica ... A Moment In Time 67 Scholarly California and the Hollywood Scene … Breanne E. A. Pancarik 68 Visuals Almada, Jessica ... Luminosity 78 Calangian, Venus ... Hidden Things 78 Calangian, Venus ... Tuesday at the Museum 79 Calangian, Venus ... Percy 79 Creative Lilacs … Ramona Moore Lime Light … Coral Nava Little Brown Mug … Rebekah Pulaski

80 80 82


Table of Contents Continued Creative Marmalade Voice … Camie Del Rosario Memory … J. Luke Herman My Remarkable Life So Far … Emma Cladis Not an Angel, Not Yet … Jenna Bolar Paper and Pen … Ramona Moore Perfect. … Chloe Mann Ponder … Breanne E. A. Pancarik Ramen … Emily Christine Davis Red Rover, Red Rover … Camie Del Rosario Regressing or Progressing … Samuel Baldovinos Religion … Gabriella Orozco Sailor Bold … Chloe Mann Saltwater Smile … Camie Del Rosario Same Sand, Different Story … Michael Robles Sanctuary … Ramona Moore Scars … Rebekah Pulaski Ships Passing in the Night … Emily Miller Simplicity … Sophia Trejo

84 86 87 90 91 92 92 94 96 97 99 102 103 104 117 118 121 121

Visuals Davis, Kristian 123 Davis, Kristian 124 Scholarly Flowerbeds … Lauryn M. Barro


Visuals Davis, Kristian 130 Davis, Kristian 131


Creative Something … Breanne E. A. Pancarik Spooky Sweet … Megan Luebberman Stained Glass … Julie Eyerman Swimming to Jesus: A Contrast Between Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot … N.H. Steed Tell Me the Story of Jesus … N.H. Steed The Beginning of the End … J. Luke Herman The Boy is the Prince … Asia Lavay The Fruits … Breanne E. A. Pancarik The Girl in the Mirror … Leslie Galvan The Legion of Fire … J. Luke Herman The Mind. The Heart. … Breanne E. A. Pancarik

132 135 139 140 145 148 150 153 154 170 171

Visuals Davis, Kristian 172 Flemming, Grace … Untitled No. 1 172 Flemming, Grace … Untitled No. 2 173 Freire, Laura I. … Peace 173 Gamez, Jillian ... Yee Haw! 174 Gamez, Jillian ... Oh deer! 174 Gilbert, Aidan 175 Gilbert, Aidan 175 Creative The Paladin … Chloe Mann The Plight of a Sunflower … Jaden Massaro The purpose is presence … Hannah Navarro The Sparrow … Michael Robles

176 176 177 180


Table of Contents Continued Creative The Spider and the Owl … N.H. Steed The Vampire … J. Luke Herman To Die That Death … Elizabeth Hayashi Unnatural Love … India Moors Unspoken Love … Breanne E. A. Pancarik Victor … Kevin Lopez We Know Them … Clarajane Gregory What Reading is Like … Gabriella Orozco Who will Shelter the Trees … Naomi Hogan WWJD at a PWI? … Vanessa Burch Yours Truly, … Emily Christine Davis

196 198 199 201 202 203 207 212 214 216 222

Visuals Gilbert, Aidan 225 Gilbert, Aidan 225 Goulding, Ariana 226 Goulding, Ariana 226 Hogan, Naomi 227 Lovelet, Caira ... Promises 227 Mann, Chelsea … Entmoot 228 McGregor, Diana ... The Gaba-ghoul 228 McGregor, Diana ... Canyon Lake 229 Nakatsuka, Dane 229 Ramirez, Alexander ... Man Alone 230 Reid, Abby … Francis “Saint” Bacon 230 Roberts, Brenna … Winter Wishes 231 Roberts, Brenna … Everyday Memories 231 Roth, Sophia ... Fauna 232 Roth, Sophia ... Reaching Further 232


Visuals Roth, Sophia ... It’s Your Destiny 233 Roth, Sophia ... Rush Hour 233 Roth, Sophia ... Undone 234 Thompson, McKenzie … Summer in the Garden 234 Synecdoche Team Photos and Quotes

Emily Christine Davis Editor in Chief “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Chelsea Mann Managing Editor, Copy Editor, Scholarly Works Committee “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Leslie Galvan Managing Editor, Creative Works Editor “Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault” -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

London Smith Production Editor, Creative Works Committee “‘Words are, in my not-sohumble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Cabable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.’” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Team Photos…7

Abigail Reid Production Editor, Scholarly Works Committee, Art/Photography Committee “Kindness that is nothing special is the rarest and most honest.” -Emily Ruskovich, Idaho

Team Photos…8

Andrea Velasquez-Mejia Marketing Editor, Art/Photography Committee “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” -Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Gabriella Orozco Creative Works Committee, Scholarly Works Editor “We have nothing if not belief.” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Letter From the Editor…9

Letter From the Editor There are three stages of special. First stage: Everyone is special. We are told this for most of our lives. We are told that every single person is unique and amazing and one of a kind. We are told that everyone has a quality that makes them special. Then one day we hit a brick wall. This is called college. Second Stage: We are not special. There are almost eight billion people on earth. These people are working, studying, struggling, and living. In this stage, we come to a realization. We are not special because we understood our assigned textbook readings first try (Unfortunately, I am not part of this population). We don’t get a gold star for answering all the questions right in class, and a report card doesn’t get sent back to our parents with “A pleasure to have in class” written in beautiful script at the bottom. Then we wonder: what about the people who we are reading and studying? Their works have survived centuries and even millenniums. They MUST be special. The third, and final, stage: Some people are special. Some people will create and defend theories that define the way we think and approach the world. Some people can write and write for ages, and all their work will impact their own lifetime and lifetimes after. Some people will help others to no end, always seeking ways to make life better. Some people will be heroes in wartime, and they will be remembered or martyred for their acts of righteous courage. Some people will do something that leaves an impact.

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It would be nice to live in a world where everyone could be personally recognized. However, this is sadly unattainable. Not everyone will be recognized as special, but everyone has the chance to be special. While putting together Synecdoche this semester, I saw a lot of work by special people-to-be – people who will one day impact their life and others. If we could fit all the works of Vanguard into one book and show just how amazing college students are, we would. But, yet again, recognizing every student a Vanguard is unattainable. So, here is a wonderful selection of writings, both scholarly and creative, photography, and art for you to read. But this is just one special part of the whole – Synecdoche. Emily Christine Davis Editor-In-Chief

Winning Pieces… 11

1st Place Grandma’s Kitchen Sophia Trejo

“¿Quieres algo para comer? ¿Un agua? Tengo esos

pasteles que te gustan.” Do you want something to eat? A water? I have those pastries you like. “No gracias.” No thank you. “No gracias.” The older woman mocked her granddaughter in a high-pitched voice. A smile was evident on her face with the creases next to her eyes. It amazed her that her grandma knew how to cook so many dishes. She remembers how easy her grandma made it look; she was effortless. The way she would flip the tortillas with her bare fingers as if there wasn’t a very real, burning fire under the metal grates of the stove. Or how fast she would cut the vegetables she would make her and her sister eat, let alone how she actually made them taste good. When her grandma was in her kitchen, she was there by her side. Or, at least, she wanted to whenever the wise woman would shoo her off with a wave of her wooden spoon, encouraging her granddaughter to go play, since the food wasn’t ready yet. Nevertheless, one of the first memories she has of her grandma’s infamous kitchen was when she was taught how to properly drink coffee. “Parte un trozo de tu pan. Así como esto. Bien. ¡Ahora sumérgelo en el café y listo! ¡Salud!” Break a piece off of your bread. Just like this. Good. Now dip it into the coffee and there you go! Cheers! Her grandma held up the soggy bread and clinked it

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her granddaughter’s. She felt grown up, drinking coffee with the older women in the house. It didn’t matter to her that her “coffee” was 80% creamer. She would have had to have taken three bites of the sweet bread in order to rid the acrid taste of actual coffee from her tongue. She hated the bitter taste, but her grandma loved it. She can still smell the sweet bitterness of her grandma’s black coffee. She remembers how the scent would stay under her nose all day during elementary school, and she eagerly waited until the next morning to do it again. She’s surely forever grateful for the way her grandma took her picky food disorder into consideration. When the main dish was ceviche, her grandma made one with chicken instead of smelly, smelly fish. While everyone else ate her spicy chilaquiles, there was a steamy plate of Mexican-style eggs and ham placed in front of her. “¿Quién quiere más?” Who wants more? No one dared to argue with her grandma’s offer for seconds; she would ignore your answer if what you told her wasn’t what she wanted anyway. Before you could even utter a response, she was already scooping more of whatever we were having and plopping it on your plate. She wouldn’t complain; however, she couldn’t get enough of her grandma’s cooking. As the coffee brews this morning, her granddaughter takes out two Mexican sweet breads and places them on the ceramic plates. She pours coffee into their respective mugs to the brim for her grandma while leaving some room for creamer in her own. She breaks off a piece of bread and dips it into her coffee. She holds the soggy piece of bread between her fingers, before raising it up with a

Winning Pieces…13

of her head to the empty seat beside her. “Salud.”

Winning Pieces… 14

1st Place Weightless World Sophia Roth

Winning Pieces… 15 1st Place

Outcomes of the School-to-Prison Pipeline Kassandra Martinez

Angela Davis said, “When children attend schools that place a greater value on discipline and security than on knowledge and intellectual development, they are attending prep schools for prison.” What Davis is talking about is the School-to-Prison Pipeline in the United States. The pipeline is the notion that disadvantaged children and young adults are disproportionately incarcerated due to the school’s policies and punishment systems. The root of the problem is economic inequality, which is the reason that many schools lack educational opportunities for students and enforce strict and unfair policies. These disadvantaged children are often from neighborhoods that are predominately populated by people of color. Thus, the school-toprison pipeline disproportionately affects students of color. The disparities in the pipeline include race and disability, which is important to examine for the benefit of not only the children, but society as a whole. The pipeline affects the students beyond the threat of imprisonment; it affects them mentally and emotionally. Mental and emotional health is often overlooked in students, which is why this paper will be focusing on these aspects of the schoolto-prison pipeline along with the physical effects. The paper will first provide background knowledge on the topic of the pipeline, move into how the pipeline affects students of color physically, mentally, and emotionally, primarily through the usage of Security Resource Officers (SROs), and conclude with how the school-to-prison pipeline can be resolved. The school-to-prison pipeline was started by former

Winning Pieces… 16

president Ronald Reagan’s campaign, the war on drugs, which initially started in the early 1970s. The war on drugs’ aim was to enforce strict consequences for the use and distribution of illicit drugs; this campaign, however, negatively affected black and Latino communities, as they were the primary targets. This campaign promoted a zero-tolerance policy, which then was implemented into many schools in the US education system. Zero tolerance policies meant predetermined consequences, which were usually harsh punishments, such as expulsion, suspension, detention, and more for even minor violations. Zero tolerance policies are used as a channel to push students out of school and into the American prison system. What started as a way to “clean” the streets turned into a life sentence for people of color, no matter the age. The American Psychology Association, in 2008, stated in an evidentiary review that “Zero tolerance has not been shown to improve school climate or school safety. Its application in suspension and expulsion has not proven an effective means of improving student behavior.” Overall, zero tolerance policies have shown to be ineffective, yet they are still implemented in schools across the country. They are merely vessels for incarceration. There are also other factors implemented in the school system which are being used as vessels to push students out. One of the major influences in the pipeline is the usage of Security Resource Officers. SROs are law enforcement officers who work alongside a school district to make arrests and create a safe teaching environment. The Byron Bergen Central School District published an article on their website of the history of SROs, which were first implemented in Flint, Michigan, in the 1950s. The original

Winning Pieces… 17

aim of the program was to create a positive relationship with students and officers, along with protecting students and staff. Since then, the program and definition of an SRO have changed. The program started as a way to connect with students, but oftentimes their goal has led to the complete opposite. Some will argue that police are needed in school to enforce a safe environment, especially in light of recent school shootings, which have become more prevalent as the years pass. In an article published by The Hill, the author Chris Talgo explained the need for SROs in schools, and that if SROs were to be removed, he promoted Child Safety Accounts. Talgo goes on to say that SROs are necessary because they help deter physical violence in school, along with sexual harassment, school shootings, bullying, and other threats that students face today. Talgo worked as a teacher alongside SROs and said his school SRO “also served as a role model for students and befriended many troubled teenagers.” Another article, published by Guard 911, was stating that SROs are not meant to be a threatening presence in schools, “but rather educators, informal counselors, and law enforcement officers, who are part of the schools in which they serve.” It goes on to further say that these officers are people the kids can look up to for safety and support; they are important to the school overall. Since students of color make up most of the schools that lack funding, the physical racial disparities are evident through the school’s punishments and policies, which affect the suspension and arrest rates. ACLU Southern California’s “No Police in Schools” provides statistics for the disparities involving the school to prison pipeline. The

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studies found that black students are three times more likely to be referred to law enforcement than white students. Hispanic children, boys specifically, account for 44 percent of student arrests in California, despite only making up 28 percent of California’s students. These heightened arrests stem from the frequent use of SROs in schools. In a survey I conducted for this paper, of 17 students from the Antelope Valley Union High School District, California, 70.6 percent of respondents said they felt they, or others they have seen, were targeted by SROs for specific reasons, such as race, gender, or disability. Therefore, the students felt targeted for traits that they cannot change. As for suspension and expulsion rates, AU School of Education provides a detailed infographic on how students of color are disproportionately affected in the pipeline. In the 2015-2016 school year, there were 2.7 million out-ofschool suspensions, and out of those, black and Hispanic students made up 60 percent. According to the infographic, 16 percent of the student population was black but accounted for 39 percent of suspensions, while 26 percent of the population was Hispanic or Latino but accounted for 21 percent of suspensions. As for their white counterparts, they account for 49 percent of the population and 32 percent of suspensions. Overall, it is clear that white students account for fewer suspensions than students of color, despite having the highest enrollment rate. This is important to understand because of the effects that suspension has on students. According to ACLU Washington, suspension doubles the chances of a student dropping out of school. In that same article, it states that generally students who do not finish high school make less money and have the highest unemployment rate. Therefore, suspension affects

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students in their present life and can influence their future. The suspension and arrest rates versus enrollment rates are clear examples of disproportionate physical effects. However, testimonies also provide good insight into how students are physically affected and harmed by the use of SROs. MiKayla Robinson was a 16-year-old student at Lancaster High School, California, when she was bodyslammed to the floor by Deputy Daniel Acquilano for not handing over her phone. MiKayla did not pose a threat to the officer as she was walking away from him, but that led to unnecessary violence against her. According to the Antelope Valley Press, MiKayla filed a claim for damages against the school district and Los Angeles County. In that same claim, she stated she believes that the action against her was motivated based on her race, sex, and disability. MiKayla’s experience with the SRO is one of many seen across the country, all of which point to a pattern of excessive force by SROs against disadvantaged students. In the survey mentioned earlier in the paper, the 17 respondents went on to answer that 52.9 percent stated SROs have used excessive force on them or others they have seen, and that 47.1 percent have been or have seen others been physically harmed by SROs. There is a pattern of misconduct that follows the title of SROs, and the students are the ones who are affected by it. Incarceration is not the only problem facing these students; their mental and emotional health are also impacted. In an article published by Montgomery Community Media, the publisher interviewed 6 students from Richard Montgomery High School and concluded that the students or their friends do not feel safe with SROs in their school. One of the students, Lauren Payne, said “I don’t feel safe

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at all with SROs around because of interactions that I’ve had with police outside of school.” One of the students also promotes the prioritization of mental health resources over the usage of police in schools; this is an important topic that will be discussed later in the paper. In another article, written by Larissa Cursaro, she expressed her experience in a school with officers. In her conclusion, she stated SROs were a source of our anxiety on campus, and watching their patrol car drive into the parking lot in the morning made us reluctant to get out of ours. Seeing friends arrested for having panic attacks or suicidal thoughts, made us scared to ask for help when we needed it. It made us feel like we were unwanted. Like we were not a priority to the administration, unlike our white classmates. In the survey I conducted for the paper, one of the questions asked was: What emotions arise when you are around SROs? To that, 52.9 percent said fear, while 23.5 percent said stress. The other minority responses were anger, weirdness, and heightened awareness. It is time to listen to students’ emotions, as these feelings affect their overall well-being. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), mental health is already an issue for adolescents: 1 in 3 expressed persistent sadness and hopelessness in 2019. Mental health is already an issue that students face, and it is seen that police officers also cause a disturbance in mental health for people of color. A research paper by the American Sociological Association stated that there is a correlation between police encounters as stressors for depression and anxiety. On page 8, it states, ”Negative police encounters can also be associated with depression and anxiety indirectly because they worsen other social circumstances,

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including material conditions, which then increase risks for poor mental health.” On the same page, it also states, “Those who were often stressed about the possibility that they could become victims of police brutality had greater odds of depressed mood and generalized anxiety compared with persons who never worried about police brutality.” In the article, we can see that people are affected mentally through police encounters, and this extends to students as well. According to Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, “Police encounters trigger stress, fear, trauma, and anxiety for Black and Brown youth, which harm mental health and erode educational performance.” School resource officers are sworn police officers; their title makes no difference in what their occupation is. In the Effects of SROs Survey, of 17 respondents, 41.2 percent said they have anxiety caused by the SROs. When asked to describe the effect the SROs had on their mental health, there were replies of increased anxiety, worriedness, panic attacks, and paranoia. Now that the effects that the school to prison pipeline has on students of color are clear, it is vital to suggest solutions to the problem at hand, the first being the prioritization of mental health resources on school campuses, such as counselors. An article published by the ACLU stated that “The benefits of investing in mental health services are clear: Schools with such services see improved attendance rates, better academic achievement, and higher graduation rates as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents.” The article goes on to say that overall, mental health providers in school improves school safety, while there is no evidence that police officers in school improve safety. The article also shows that

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with this evidence, schools across the country still prioritize police officers over mental health resources. According to the data given in the article, 1.7 million students are in schools with police officers but no counselors, and that 14 million students are in schools with officers but no counselors, nurses, psychologists, or social workers. The student’s mental and emotional health needs to be prioritized for a safe and positive school environment, and it can be through the usage of mental health resources. Another solution to the pipeline is reducing class sizes. According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, reduced class sizes improve student behavior, meaning fewer suspensions and expulsions, class disruptions, and cases of vandalism. It is easier for a teacher to control a class setting that is a manageable size for one person. A manageable number of students helps with academic performance as well, since teachers can “individualize instruction and recognize and intervene with student learning problems more efficiently.” They also noticed that smaller classes led to higher test scores, as well as fewer high school dropouts. The last solution proposed in this paper is the implementation of restorative justice practices. Restorative justice is the practice of reconciling the relationship between the offender and the victim or community. An article by ACLU Washington states that “restorative justice practices in schools are more effective than traditionally punitive responses to issues like bullying or fighting and result in reduction of serious incidents.” Restorative practices are used to right a wrong but also to reduce the number of suspensions, expulsions, and discipline referrals, which are known to be harmful to student success. A restorative justice guide

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published by the Schott Foundation with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers presented examples of schools and districts that have seen a positive change in their school environment when implementing restorative practices. Public schools in Baltimore, Maryland, saw a decrease in suspensions, along with an increase in graduation rates. Public schools in Chicago, Illinois, saw a decrease in misconduct reports and prevented over two thousand suspension days per year. Overall, the school to prison pipeline affects students of color negatively, and this can be prevented in several ways: a change in policy and discipline, as well as the prioritization of in-school mental health resources.

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Bibliography “Adolescent and School Health.” Centers for Disease Co trol and Prevention, May 2021. Alang, Sirry, McAlpine, Donna, & McClain, Malcolm. “Police Encounters as Stressors: Associations with Depression and Anxiety across Race.” American Sociological Association, December 2021. “Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools?” American Psychological Association, December 2008. “Class Size Reduction: PSEA Promising Practices to Close Student Achievement Gaps.” PSEA Education Services Division, December 2021. “Cops and No Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff Is Harming Students.” ACLU, December 2021. Cursaro, Larissa. “How Armed School Resource Officers Make Students Feel Criminalized.” Supportiv, August 2021. Davis, Angela. AZQuotes, Wind and Fly LTD, December 2021. Drake, Julie. “Student files claim against AVUHSD.” Antelope Valley Press, October 2021. “History & Role of the SRO.” Byron Bergen Central Schools, December 2021.

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Keierleber, Mark. “Why So Few School Cops Are Trained to Work With Kids.” The Atlantic, November 2015. Martinez, Kassandra. “Effects of SROs Survey.” Google Forms, 2021. Nayeb, Humera & Meek, Amy. “What the Research Shows: The Impact of School Resource Officers.” Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, June 2020. “Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools.” Schott Foundation, March 2014. “School-to-Prison Pipeline.” Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, November 2021. “Students Feel Unsafe and Anxious With Police in Schools.” Montgomery Community Media, May 2021. Talgo, Chris. “Without school resource officers, Child Safety Accounts are even more necessary.” The Hill, June 2020. “What are evidence based alternatives to suspension and expulsion?” ACLU Washington, August 2019. “What are the impacts of suspension and expulsion?” ACLU Washington, August 2019. “What SROs Do and Why They Are Important.” Guard 911, July 2020.

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Whitaker, Amir, Cobb, Jessica, Leung, Victor, & Nelson, Linnea. “No Police in Schools: A Vision for Safe and Supportive Schools in CA.” ACLU Southern California, August 2021. “Who is Most Affected by the School to Prison Pipeline?” American University School of Education, February 2021.

Visual Pieces… 27

Falling Umbrellas Almada, Jessica


Almada, Jessica

Visual Pieces… 28

Cloud Nine

Almada, Jessica

The Black Cat

Almada, Jessica

Creative Pieces… 29

A Love of Reading by Emily Miller

The orange ceiling lights contrasted strongly with the black night sky outside the windows as 1940’s big band music softly filled the empty spaces between the gentle recited words of my Papa. My parents were still not home. They said they would be back three hours ago, but now, none of that mattered. Papa was reading to me. He pulled me off of the scratchy, brick red couch that my three year old feet did not reach the end of, and onto his lap; so I could see the pictures and the words that I could not yet decipher. I was entranced. “I do not like green eggs and ham,” he read, in his voice he never raised. “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.” This is where my love of reading began. Not in a tranquil library, not with the most masterful literary piece ever written, but in the warmth of the first man I had ever loved. Tinker Bell decorations surrounded the room as I sat on a matted carpet in my white and purple dress. A lonely number four birthday candle lay on the table, dejected, with its burnt tip still smoking. My Nana and Papa handed me a small rectangular gift wrapped in lavender paper that felt strangely heavy in my hands. I tore it apart with all the strength my chubby toddler arms could muster. It was the thickest book I’d ever seen, apart from the even thicker leather book with gold lettering on the front that sat on my grandparent’s coffee table. “Anne of Green Gables,” my Papa said. “It was my favorite book,” my Nana said. “When you can read it, maybe it’ll be yours, too!” Later that night, after my Nana and Papa had left,

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I thrust the book into my older brother’s hands and demanded he read it to me. We sat down in the rocking chair, and he opened the book. He paused for a moment, squinted at the page, then shut the book. “This is hard, I don’t want to,” he said. “Pleaseeeeeee! I need you to read it.” He dropped the book onto the chair and left. To be fair, he was only six. The words were smaller and longer than any words we’d ever seen on a page. This wasn’t a book I wanted my Papa to read to me, though. I was determined; this book was one that I was going to read all by myself. My Papa continued to read to me, but now, he began to teach me the individual letters of the alphabet. Then he sounded out the syllables and asked me to repeat them; eventually, he did the same with whole words. “Oh,” he said slowly. “Oh.” I repeated. “The,” “The.” “Places,” “Places.” “You’ll,” “You’ll.” “Go.” “GO!!” Three years after that birthday party, I lay on top of my twin sized bed, my heels pressing into the green-andpurple handmade quilt. I held up the dense little book, my arms already growing weary. “Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow…” Months later, I was running down the stairs with the

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book in my hands. It no longer weighed my arms down. “Papa, Papa, I finished it!!” The look of pride and happiness on my grandfather’s face rests deep in the crevices of my memory. I was ecstatic in that hour of making my Papa proud, but looking back, it was a bittersweet moment. It is where my memories of devouring novels begins, but also where my Papa’s days of reading Dr. Seuss to me ends. I read the rest of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series that year. After I had finished, I felt as though Anne had become a grown-up far too fast. I found myself re-reading the chapters about her childhood so that I could live through it over and over again. I now wish I could do the same with my own life. Anne of Green Gables turned into The Secret Garden, which turned into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then Little Women, then Nancy Drew, then A Series of Unfortunate Events, then Harry Potter, then Lord of the Rings. I could always count on my Nana and Papa to feed my book addiction on every birthday and Christmas. As I read more and more, I began to write more and more. I sat in a dark wooden chair, my feet swinging, with a pencil in my hand and a sheet of construction paper in front of me. “Once upon a time…” The pieces of paper with doodles and words combined together piled up to a size that would make the trees groan. One day, I stopped adding doodles and wasting construction paper, as I began to receive notebooks for my birthdays and Christmases. Nine years had passed since my first memory of my Papa reading to me. I held a pen in my hand, and a sheet of college-ruled paper sat before me on the desk. My feet now

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touched the floor. Neither of my grandparents were in the house, and my mother had taken a day off from work – a rare occasion. For once, I was at loss for words. Tears began to well up, and like my three-year-old self, I could not decipher the words on the page. The drops leaked from my face and fell onto the ink, smearing and spreading it into unintelligible patterns. The title “Papa’s Eulogy” dissolved into an octopus explosion. I was seven years old when I looked up what a “eulogy” was and how to spell it, which some would say was too young. I was twelve years old when I wrote one. I was far too young. The church piano softly filled the empty spaces between my words. I was reading to him now.

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An Honest Man by Chelsea Mann

It was a clear and sunny day When we went out to smile and talk Of tow’ring trees and birds at play And skip some colored, shiny rocks Along a morning nature walk. We’d stalked along this path before, So she was not afraid to see The birds, or squirrels, or creatures more Like spiders, ants, horseflies, or bees. She, too, was not afraid of me. I’d met her thirty times or more Beside her sister at the park – The elder girl was twenty-four, The younger one had pigtails dark, And danced about like spring-time lark. Today we walked as only two – Her sister had been left behind – But when she asked what we should do I told her that she need not mind, For without her, we could unwind. Therefore, I asked her of her day – What sort of things she’d heard and seen, What books she read and games she’d played, Of people good and people mean. Beneath my gaze, she looked a queen. So off she prattled of the rules And those enforcers milling ‘round Whenever she stepped foot in school Or anywhere along the grounds.

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Her eyebrows bunched and small lips frowned. Complain, she did, of sister dear – And how the things she liked were banned. She sometimes wished to disappear And make a home in fairy land. I bent and gripped her small white hand. I crooned that I could take her far From anyone who’d tell her ‘no.’ Why, right back down the path – my car! If she just hopped in, we could go And I could put her in a show. An actress – that’s what she would be! My honeyed words rang true in head. She said that she would come with me, And so back to my van I led The girl I’d waited for – pure bred. She needed help to reach the seat And so I helped her up the stair, For she was only near four feet And did not flinch when – with much care – I unfurled pigtails from her hair. We drove ‘til night, and met my friend Who’d asked me for a girl of eight. She flushed as business came to end, And I left her with newfound fate. If sister’s worried, it’s too late. If happier or not she’ll be, I do not think I can decide. She will become an actress, see? God sits above me, great hands tied; Can he strike me, if I’ve not lied?

Creative Pieces… 35


by Michael Robles

I remember the faces All so different, Yet so sincere. They’re all I see in the darkness. They have each other— For now. He’s full of love and blindness And smiling more than ever— A child I knew before. He’s bright upstairs, With his heart misplaced again. As dismal as the days go, He knows no death or sorrow. Bliss hidden among the storm, The clouds follow with the sun. Page after page The needle sets in Sewing another story For him to bind his life to. He’ll die again, Just like every other Time when knuckles crack— The grains infinite as they are— His feet sink deeper, The scars make friends

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With the broken wings. The paths are not the same— They never are.

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by Camie Del Rosario

My therapist called it “backward thinking” (when I told her I was afraid to fall) Cause he’d give me the whole world (if he could) And you, you gave me nothing at all. That October night, I cried in his arms, cause he looked at me like I was the moon and the stars, But all the time we shared filled me with fear that He’d leave me Like you did I’m like a little kid I’ll put my faith in this blue-eyed boy Who promises nothing but to add to my joy, I think I could fall for this blue-eyed boy— This bright-eyed, blue-eyed boy. The blue-eyed boy speaks in metaphor You’d not believe he called me ‘yellow light’ So why am I so afraid of his unfamiliar eyes? You held tight to my kind understanding. How did I not recognize the way you’d Never held my hand in the street? He’s got me on his arm with pride While you only wanted me in the darkness Of the summer night. There is safety in his eyes.

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I’ll put my faith in this blue-eyed boy Who promises nothing but to add to my joy, I think I’m falling for this blue-eyed boy— This bright-eyed, blue-eyed boy. Brown-eyes, it capsized I clung to you even though I knew we’d drown Brown-eyes, it capsized With the summer sun, the ship is going down, But I’ll sink into his eyes of blue Knowing he’s not you I’ll put my faith in this blue-eyed boy Who has done nothing to me but add to my joy, I’ve fallen for this blue-eyed boy— My bright-eyed, blue-eyed boy.

Creative Pieces… 39


by Ramona Moore

Moments spent in darkness, cold and alone. Covered by a cloth of protection, I hid all of my best parts from them. But it was in the morning, when I arose, that the heat from their fire left me exposed. I did not spend this time kneading just to be discarded. No, even my burnt parts, the ones you may not like, give nutrients to those who look deeper to find the flavor and sustenance I can surely provide. Burnt Chicken

by Alexandra Niebaum

Charred smoke hovering over black valleys The animal shrinks into nothingness, evaporating into a crispy disappointing air Sweat builds and burns suffocating any plans aspirations or care An ash heap remains on an empty plate as the chef pouts and swears

Creative Pieces… 40

Butterfly Net

by Jaden Massaro

Paths like parabolas, close but never crossing, I’m skipping along, gripping my butterfly net, tossing Out honey and flowers, anything to catch their flight. I know I saw your eyes sparkle just the other night When I knew that song, and I know you laughed When I told that joke wrong. It’s all photographed In my mind, hanging with my collection of butterflies (They flutter their wings whenever you meet my eyes). Scraps of moments are smoothed and pinned to my walls With my magnifying glass, I turn raindrops into waterfalls. And somehow, I find myself caught in the butterfly net, What a strange specimen… I wonder, did she forget About the parabola her feet were set on so rationally? Because here she is, skipping into a spider web, happily.

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Casual Insincerity

by Camie Del Rosario

Aren’t you glad You crossed my name off of your list Of generic apologies? Fulfilled your endless need for affirmation and sympathy? I wish I could’ve meant what I said When I told you you were forgiven But casual insincerity from you Is something I just have to live with Casual insincerity Hope you kiss my lips With the words you never mean Casual insincerity I’ll break my own heart To fill your needs Aren’t you glad Breathe a sigh of relief When I said I wasn’t angry Pleased your ego As I hid every Last part of me You believed me when I told you you were forgiven I hope casual insincerities from me Is something you can live with Casual insincerity

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Hope you’ll kiss my lips with the words you’ll never mean Casual insincerity Let lies part your lips Keep you parted from me


by Alexandra Niebaum

His is twice the size of mine his four walls reach higher than most birds fly His has softness and warmth couches and chairs with so many pillows some touch the floor Mine is drafty and dark The floor is cold and my bed is made of steel His has color, the sun shines through a glass window almost as big as the walls Mine has drab, grey walls and the outside world is lined with interrupting bars

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with interrupting bars His are filled with shiny shackles, carefully he picks one out, wears it, then exchanges it for another Mine is filled with rusted shackles heavy and long, eating away at my ankles Mine is locked and so is his I cannot escape or else I should see the world without bars His is bound to him if he were to leave, it would be gone forever so he does not Both of us confined from the world, yet I still imagine what it must be like to be as free as a rich man

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by Laura Esther

Growing up was rough. It had its challenges, The ground was rocky, But now I see the flowers blooming. They are bright, Strong, And smell of Daisies. The rocks have been replaced With the greenest of grasses, And the ground is good. The sun glances down, Bursting with rays of heat, Rejoicing in the growth. But, wait! Do my eyes behold another in the sky? Yes, it does. Clouds of gray begin to form, Roaring with thunder, And shouting with rain. Oh, and what do I hear? The howling of the wind challenges the clouds of gray, Demanding them to flee the sky! To leave the sun to shine, And to let the Daisy grow.

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Desolation of a Woman Without Jewelry by Megan Luebberman

An anxious twisting of the ring, Or shimmer of the ears with bling. The swaying of a necklace jewel; A bracelet to make one look cool. A girl without is none at all, She has to stand while they all call Her dull, boring— simple, too. A joke to all but little few. She likes it plain and doesn’t care. No matter what, she knows she’s rare. A diamond, jewel, or gem outside, Does not compare; it tries to hide. Without stones or trinkets shown, She’s bright and true down to the bone; Genuine, real, smiling with love. Despite the haters, she’s enough.

Creative Pieces… 46

Each Breath

by India Moors

each breath is a reminder that You are here each inhale an assurance of Your presence each exhale bringing me back to Your love in and out You know me You’re with me

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Flat, Hot Visalia by Abby Reid

My mother grew up in Visalia, California—the city in-between everything. The city you don’t notice you pass by on your road trips up north. Another one of those “cow towns.” The speck of dust you flick off of your Google Maps screen. While it reigns as insignificant to many, it inhabited a great deal of my childhood. My family would visit as much as they could—or, rather, my mother prompted us to visit as much as she could. We would venture up several times during the summer, and spend all of our Christmases there. My grandmother lived there for about five years before moving back to Southern California. I guess she sensed a sort of instinctual duty to remain in the place that caused her family so much pain. Or, perhaps, she wanted to uphold the seldom sweet memories (the tidbits my mother doesn’t share with our family). Visalia has an average poverty rate of 20.3% (2020), where one out of five residents live in poverty. Compared to the 16.4% (2020) of individuals across California living below the poverty line, Visalia has a significantly higher than average percentage of residents below the poverty line. According to the 2020 census, Visalia has a total population of 128,904 residents, and 26,159 of those residents were reported to have income levels below the poverty line. Factoring in COVID and Visalia’s smaller population (compared to my hometown, Corona, which yields almost 200,000 residents), the numbers are exacerbated. Visalia has carried a large population of residents living under the poverty line for years, and my mother was one of them during the eighties. Born and raised in the church, my mother did what

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pastor’s kids do best: start fist fights at school. I remember when she told me that she smoked cigarettes when she was in high school. We were at my grandparents’ house (dad’s side), and my sister and I had a big quarrel, so my mom took us to the car to cool off. Instead of scolding us, she told us about her delinquency during her youth. She said her parents had to send her to an all-girls private school to curb her behavior, but it only instigated her actions. “My friends and I would skip class and smoke cigarettes behind the science building,” she said as her eyes flicked back and forth between my sister and I, soaking in our shock. “But it was a Christian school!” we would exclaim. “That didn’t mean anything,” she chuckled as we sputtered in disbelief, now carrying the burden of knowledge that was: Mom Smoked Cigarettes in High School (which, in reality, she probably smoked through, at most, ten sticks amongst three friends in a span of four years). She never told us anything past her fist fights and cigarette-puffing stories. I know she did more, but she has a reputation to uphold. Her family’s socioeconomic status certainly did not prompt her behavior. There were several more pressing issues festering inside of the walls of that home. Although my grandmother was a stay-at-home mom, she had to pick up her husband’s duties in the church because of his tendencies to run away on hiatus. Both my mom and uncle became latchkey kids, which allotted them too much free time. My uncle rode dirt bikes and my mom ran off with her friends—I think. I would list her hobbies, but she’s never spoken in great length about what they were when she was younger. What she has told our family about were

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the silent nights she spent alone with her mom and brother after their father left with an oppressive flourish. All of her stories of her absent father are doused in layers of dark humor and irony—she cackles right after she tells them, which makes me laugh. There is a hint of truth in each joke told, which leads me to believe that flecks of pain still drift around the cavities of her heart. But because of the new memories we made as a family in that place, I know that flat, hot Visalia still owns a tender space in my mother’s heart.

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by Asia Lavay

How embarrassing... tolerate your youth.

Georgia sat upright in the school hall, listening to the sounds of those around her. There were too many voices. Teenaged voices. Voices that irritated Georgia’s mind and heart as they all spoke of forged joy. They were foolish to think that anything mattered. Surely things would one day start to matter––most likely when she reached the age of eighteen. Or, when she finally left the place she grew up. Or even when she cut off the people who so dreadfully bored her. Georgia was sure that was when things would become worthwhile. For now, she did the best she could to tolerate the days and the voices. How embarrassing… … to prefer class periods over lunch. In class, it was easy to tune out what others said. The occasional idiotic comment didn’t bother her; she had gotten used to it. Sometimes she feared that would be a problem––that one day their stupidity would make its way to her brain and she would be just like the rest. What’s wrong with being just like the rest? So many things. Georgia did her best to focus on other things while in class, whether it be her imagination, her future, or the actual subject being taught to her. For a while, she chose her future and dreamed of the life she wanted for herself and her family. When that got boring, she opted to learn,

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and found it surprising when she started to enjoy it. Education was fun… in some ways, which added a small light to her day. With her new love of knowledge, her powerful imagination skills, and her ever-present curiosity about the future, it was safe to say that being in class was pleasant. But, what always ruined her day, five days a week, was lunch. School lunch was horrid, especially at her school, where the teenagers sat haphazardly around the campus. There weren’t enough tables, so half of the kids had to sit on the floor, either by the classrooms or by the lockers. Unfortunately, this isn’t what made school lunches such a pain. It was the voices. She missed when they disappeared in class. Class was better than lunch because there was silence. How embarrassing... be one-sided. All her peers talked. And they kept talking, but they never truly said anything. Georgia would listen and respond with such grand levels of enthusiasm, you would forget she’s struggling. But she never forgot. She was reminded of it every single time she talked to the people that were supposed to be just like her. They were supposed to be her friends, her confidants. But they weren’t. No one ever was. Maybe on paper, they were. They spoke to each other. They laughed at jokes. They complained about teachers. They texted. They sat near each other. They helped each other. They comforted each other. But did they understand each other?

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Georgia understood them, or, at least, she thought she did. That’s why they called her “best friend”. After all, she spoke to them. She laughed at their jokes. She complained about teachers with them. She texted them. She sat with them. She helped them. She comforted them. But did they do the same for her? No. The “they” was usually just “she”. How embarrassing... lose a title. As the divide became clear, Georgia’s laughs became quieter. Her responses became shorter and her eyes lost passion. She stopped speaking in the mornings, finding it too hard to muster words to the people she once celebrated. Her lack of participation made lunches all the more awful; since it was clear there was something wrong. Georgia’s friends, who didn’t care to understand, mistook her silence for brattiness. Slowly but surely, the friends dropped the “best”, not liking the new Georgia. They still allowed her to sit with them at lunch, finding new ways to use her newfound negative energy. Mostly in the form of complaining or gossiping, two things Georgia regretted participating in. It was simply a waste of time and a vessel for more hopelessness to enter her brain. How embarrassing... not have any friends. Here Georgia was, eating in the outside halls with her peers. She did her best to eat slowly. Eating slow gave

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something to do and distracted her from the conversations around her. It also made it easier to not respond. Her peers silently begged her to join their foul-mouthed discussions, but eating was the perfect excuse to just nod. Georgia used to look her peers in the eyes while she ate, but soon enough, her focus shifted to the concrete. And as they spoke, she cursed herself for finishing her meal. Now she had to engage, but she had no energy. What was the solution? Throwing her trash away and walking to the bathroom. She always left without a word and never actually had to use the bathroom. Standing in front of the mirrors, she looked around at the pink walls. There was a roach in the corner. Somehow that was better than eating lunch. How embarrassing... have one friend. There was only one good thing about school lunches: its mere existence meant that the school day was almost over. This meant that it was almost time to see her friend. Her only friend. The friend that listened to Georgia. The friend that heard her heart, even when it was hardened by emotions. The friend that gave refreshing hugs and spoke only of spiritual optimism. The friend that made Georgia’s eyes glow with relief upon seeing their gray car parked outside the school. The friend that wrote notes on her school lunches – a simple gesture that meant more than a thousand novels. This was her only friend: a woman struggling in ways too intricate to include, yet still managing to love in ways too vast to explain.

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She was Georgia’s brightest star. She was Georgia’s mother. How thrilling... have a mother that loves. As Georgia heard the bell indicating the end of lunch, she sighed. Things would get better; her brightest star told her so. How embarrassing... pretend that Georgia isn’t me.

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Getting Better

by Jade McClintock

With faith I wrote, “I don’t know what this is, but I think it’s an apology.” I wrote, “Please forgive me. Know this is no one’s fault but my own.” I wrote, “This was inevitable. Pray for me.” And then I burned it instead of myself And went back to sleep And got up the next day. Then I wrote, I burned, I slept, I woke. I WROTE I BURNED I SLEPT I WOKE I WROTE I BURNED I SLEPT I WROTE And did it all again. I’m still trying… To what? I don’t know. Hope, I suppose.

Creative Pieces… 56

Got Your Back

by Jaden Massaro

I don’t blame you for falling, Just for staying on the ground. I don’t blame you for sinking, Just for swimming down. I don’t blame you for retreating, Just for surrendering where you stood. I don’t hate you for what happened, Just for thinking that I would. You can turn your back on me, but I’ve still got it. I won’t burn this bridge until you walk back across it. You’d better watch your back because I’ll stand my ground. I won’t leave this crossroads until you turn back around. And when you step back onto that path, wait for me – I’ll be your solid ground, your bridge to safety. With only my hands between us and defeat, I’ll be there, even if we crumble under their feet. I’ll never blame you for falling, Just for staying down for good. I’ll never hate you for what happens, Just for thinking that I could.

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by Ramona Moore

I look at the torn pages in front of me. Journal entries belonging to a girl so lost. I don’t recognize her, but I know she’s met me In prayers, asking me to arrive. The one she tried so hard to be. I am her, and she is me. This is healing.


by India Moors

i don’t know what i’m doing, but isn’t that humanity? being confused and uncertain, making mistakes and growing; pain and regrets, but still having hope. life isn’t singular— there’s beauty in its duality, art in its branches; a curious juxtaposition in how one can simultaneously experience the best and the worst

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at once; joy and sadness, excitement and fear, love and loss, peace and pain, faith and frustration. we like to try to categorize life by just one thing, but we need to stop boxing it in. humanity is complex; we can’t summarize it in a single emotion or a simple season. we can’t label it or say we’ve figured it out. sentience isn’t about certainty, but about growing through all experiences. i don’t know what i’m doing, but that’s expected, and i’m trusting in Someone who does.

Creative Pieces… 59

I Can Remember Those Days by J. Luke Herman

I can remember those days, When we would sit under green trees, When blossoms would fall before the autumn leaves. I’d call your name so we could both sit down and listen, Listened to nature and its many harmonies: The rustle of trees, The scurrying of squirrels— Take in all the sounds to truly witness nature’s symphonies, I can remember those days. When we would walk under green trees, When blossoms would fall before the autumn leaves, I’d call your name so we could both walk together and feel, Feel the breeze as it touched our skin, A gentle cool tap on our shoulders, Passing by our warm smiling faces, I can remember those days, When we would watch under green trees, When blossoms would fall before the autumn leaves, I’d call your name so we could both lay together and see, See the birds in the sky while they flew so high, So high and so free, I’m sure with pure glee, Who wouldn’t want to be so free, Free from all the troubles on the ground, So far from where they could easily fall down, Down to the ground without even noticing, Back on the ground without the strength and wings to carry them to freedom again, I wish I could be like the birds, Free from all the troubles on the ground.

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I can remember those days. I Trust You

by Durodoluwa Aina

We got out of sync again. I don’t even know how it happened. I was surely in Your arms My arm on Your shoulder, Yours on the small of my back. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). I’m hypnotized by the perfect rhythm we have. You loved me first. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). So how can I not love You in return? One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3),

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One step sideways (4). Your eyes, as always, are locked on mine Always sure, always steady, Never in a hurry. Ah, but as always, I am. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). Your pace is perfect, Your waltz warm and embracing. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). Yet I struggle and complain. I move my feet faster, ignoring Your steps, desperately trying to speed things up. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). But Your love for me causes You not to budge. My scattered movements don’t phase You.

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My feet stepping all over Yours don’t change Your resolve. “Slow down, My love, slow down and dance with Me.” “I am dancing,” I complain, “You’re just not keeping time with me.” “Because My pace is better.” His pace is better. At His pace, I don’t strive. At His pace, I don’t have to be perfect. At His pace, I am seen. At His pace, I am already fully loved. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). “But graduating! And marriage! And children! And ministry! My career, The future! Do You not care? How will we reach them in time?” “At My Pace in My perfect timing.” One step forward (1),

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One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). “At My Pace, you will achieve out of My love and an overflow of My spirit in you.” “At My Pace, you will live knowing how fully and wholly loved you are.” My eyes water But my heart calms. And slowly, ever so slowly, I get back in sync again. I slow down to hear Your voice better, To feel Your breath on mine, To place my head on Your chest, And to keep my steps in time with Yours. One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3), One step sideways (4). “I trust you, Jireh.” One step forward (1), One step sideways (2), One step backward (3),

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One step sideways (4). I trust You.

It’s Okay, It’s Okay

by Camie Del Rosario

I’ve come to realize that I have learned to say “It’s okay” when I really mean “no.” I say, “It’s okay.” Why is that? What is OK? It’s okay if you don’t? It’s okay if you do? It’s okay if your choices overwhelm me. When did I learn to act as though the waters are tame, and put on a brave face when the storm warning alerted us to hide and secure our belongings, our most prized possessions; When did I take myself off that list? When did I learn to dawn a smile? Grant them false kindness dripping down like sweet honey?

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Even honey catches flies, and ants and infestations sometimes. It’s okay, it’s okay. No, it’s okay; it’s okay. When did I learn civility & to store away my needs? When did I forget how to say “no”? How did I unlearn the real meaning of “yes”? It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s okay if my needs aren’t met. It’s okay if you meet them, too. But it’s okay if you don’t, it’s okay. I’d settle for meeting me halfway if that’s okay. If that’s okay, it’s okay. I have learned to say “it’s okay” instead of no. And perhaps I’ve never known how to be okay. To be okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.

Visual Pieces… 66


Almada, Jessica

Out of Focus

Almada, Jessica

Visual Pieces… 67

Going Through Changes

Almada, Jessica

A Moment In Time Almada, Jessica

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California and the Hollywood Scene by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

Introduction In the mid 1800’s, when you heard the words ‘Los Angeles,’ your first thought was of a desert suburbia in the southern half of California. The city was just beginning. There were no sweeping streets and stars on sidewalks. There were no grand mansions and famous buildings. There was no correlation with the dream to become famous attached to this region. Actors were looked down on, “flickers” were a fad, and “movies” was a derogatory term. In fact, the subdivision known to all the world as ‘Hollywood’ did not yet exist. The image of Hollywood today is vastly different from the vision back then. “If you had told the film pioneers that this desert suburb of scattered mansions, small bungalows, and pepper trees would turn into a world-famous place, they would have thought it was a joke.” Today you walk down Sunset Boulevard, see the Chinese Theater, and know that history lives on these streets. Beverly Hills is the home of the rich and famous. Movie studios line the avenues. Film and entertainment giants call Los Angeles and Hollywood their home. The young and hopefuls go there with hopes of making it big. Hollywood has become the symbol of film entertainment and the center of that industry. A major theme in California history is the desire to make oneself by leaving everything behind and starting afresh in the Golden State. The Hollywood film industry has been a promulgator of this story for decades. How did this sleepy Spanish-American town go from a desert nothing to a metropolis of art? Why did the film industry find

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its home in a small city in Southern California? What is the story of the true “Entertainment Capital of the World?” Before ‘Hollywood’ The city of Los Angeles has a long history. It started out as a small Spanish town ruled by the Californios. It was a minor military outpost on the outskirts of the dwindling Spanish Empire. California was admitted to the Union in 1850, and though Los Angeles was to become a major port. The growth of the city was slow going; Hollywood was still just a speck on the map. “A decade and half [after statehood], the township map of West Los Angeles proper described the approximate Hollywood area as ‘cactus and underbrush.’” Nothing was there, just desert with the potential to become something more. The Gold Rush began to give California new life. People from far and wide, of all different backgrounds and cultures, came to California to make their new starts in the land of opportunity. When gold was discovered, the state was overrun by immigrants and prospectors looking to make it rich. This is where California’s identity as a place of new beginnings took form. “The Gold Rush can indeed be said to have revitalized the rancho economy of Southern California […].” The cattle from the southern half of the state was in high demand to feed the miners up north. When competition for beef came from other states, citrus, wine, and wheat became the commodities. The introduction of the railroads brought the people. “In 1871 the Southern Pacific went south from Sacramento to Los Angeles and then east to the Colorado River, ready to link with other railroads in the Southeast and Midwest.” To garner business, the railroads published tourist guides and encouraged

Scholarly Works… 70 settlements at every train station along the route. The even and beautiful Southern California climate was a draw for herders, farmers, and real estate brokers. “Thanks to the railroads, the first major building in most towns was not a church or a town hall but a hotel for land buyers.” The expansion and popularity of the railroads also brought another group seeking to extort the benefits of Southern California. “The north may have lured migrants looking for gold, but the south, especially Los Angeles, chiefly brought people who hoped to retard the effects of old age and sickness.”  Folks looking to escape the city and retire to the Sunshine State took the opportunity to refresh themselves. This means that the population of Los Angeles grew almost five times the size between 1880 and 1890. At this same time, Harvey H. Wilcox was sectioning off land in his 125 acres of what would become Hollywood, while George Shatto was advertising trips to his Catalina Island. Property in Southern California was being eaten up and the tourist industry was booming. The town of Hollywood grew alongside its southern neighbor, but with some distinct differences. The Wilcoxs, whose land Hollywood was founded on, made sure to keep their town a conservative, Eden-like utopia. Orchards were maintained to keep the land looking like the countryside. Laws were put in place prohibiting the selling of alcohol. Homes were large, beautiful, and lavish. When Hollywood became an official city, it strived to keep those polluting industries and people away from its paradise gardens. People came to Hollywood and north Los Angeles to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Tourists came to visit the paradise of the West Coast. “The warmth and sunlight of California was thus hardly a unique dis-

Scholarly Works… 71 -covery of the movie business, and touring the distinctive mansions and gardens of the Los Angeles area was a popular pastime for the twenty thousand or so people that wintered there beginning in the 1890s.” Artists such as Paul De Longpré and L. Frank Baum retired to Hollywood; giving it the art foundation it would come to represent. A Brief History of Film The Edison Company came up with the first prototype of the Kinetoscope in 1891, which allowed one person to view a series of moving images. In 1895, the Lumière brothers were the first to present moving pictures to a paying audience with their own device called the Cinématographe; this device combined the functions of projector, camera, and printer into one. These early films began as one-to-two minute features shown at fairs, festivals, and lecture halls all over the country. Although they had no sound attached, they were often accompanied by music and explanations. Developing ‘Hollywood’ “Until World War I, the film business was primarily an East Coast enterprise, and Hollywood […] was a sometimes convenient, but hardly permanent, stopping place.” With the rise of film technology in New York and Chicago, film did not reach Hollywood until 1909. Even then, producers and directors would not choose to start studios in Hollywood itself.   With its high-minded background, cinema was considered by Hollywood to be just the type of industry they wanted to avoid. However, with their consolidation into Los Angeles in 1909, it could no longer maintain its aloofness. The consolidation brought public transportation, electricity, police protection, people, and water to

Scholarly Works… 72 Hollywood. Three years after the consolidation, Mulholland’s aqueduct connecting Owen’s Valley and Los Angeles was completed, giving fresh water to both Los Angeles and Hollywood. It was only after Hollywood became a subdivision of Los Angeles that the film industry poked its head around the corner. Even then, they were reluctant to actually settle in Hollywood itself. In 1909, the Selig Company from Chicago moved to Edendale to take advantage of the photogenic location. That same year, Bison Company also moved into Edendale after a short-lived venture in Hollywood. It wasn’t until 1911 that Hollywood saw movie studios open their doors in the city proper: Centaur and Nestor being the first two. Soon after, other companies followed, bringing stars with them to act in their films. Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, and Charlie Chaplin were among the first names to grace the streets of Hollywood. Yet they still did not spend much of their time there. The most popular filming locations were in downtown Los Angeles, in the desert, or down at Venice beach – basically anywhere but in Hollywood itself. ”Hollywood […] was still a place for respectable retirement and second homes rather than premieres and movie stars.” Major studios like Biograph and Vitagraph – though they used the Southern California setting to film – still kept their main offices in New York. Hollywood would not become the epicenter of the film industry for several years.    The Movie that Made Us As time went on, Hollywood could not keep the film industry at bay forever. Movies meant money, and money is what Hollywood caved to. 1914 is the year that Daeida Wilcox (along with her high-browed social influence)

Scholarly Works… 73 died. It was also the year that a Hollywood mansion welcomed its first film crew. The mansion belonged to Dr. A. G. Schoessler, located on the corners of Franklin and Argyle Avenues. The film was Tillie’s Punctured Romance; it was one of the first feature length films made. It starred Marie Dressler as Tillie, Charlie Chaplin, and Mabel Normand as the con-artists after her money. With the influence of the budding star culture, this cast gained movie notoriety across the country. The film was the first time a Hollywood mansion was featured on the screen, instead of only some passing shots. Although the name ‘Hollywood’ would not appear in films until the 1920’s, Tillie’s Punctured Romance was the foot in the door the film industry needed to make its stand in Hollywood.   In 1918, Chaplin set up his own studio on La Brea Avenue. This was another step for the encroaching industry. However, major studios like Universal, Warner Bros., and MGM were still in the San Fernando Valley, Culver City, and Burbank, respectively. Chaplin’s studio was the first major motion picture company to build and open its doors within Hollywood itself. It was the start of what we know of today as ’Hollywood,’ the movie-making capital.   Here They Come The introduction of the public to feature films such as Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915) caused the popularity of movies to rise. “Floods of wannabe actors and actresses […] were heading toward Los Angeles and Hollywood, swelling the population and enhancing the reputation of the city and as yet small suburb as the Holy Grail of American ambition.” There was ample opportunity out West for the film industry, so that is where they went.

Scholarly Works… 74 The uniqueness of Southern California made itself known in the world of film very quickly. While cities like New York and Paris had the history and metropolitan atmosphere, Hollywood and Los Angeles had the ability to be morphed into anything the studio required. Where shooting film was only doable as long as the weather held out in the East, the Southern California sun made filming easy and predictable. With its versatility, Hollywood was now becoming synonymous with the blooming star culture and the film industry itself. Not only was Hollywood becoming the place to be, but it also gave rise to a new style of film. With the raw landscape of the desert and city, with the stars and talent to create stories, a fusion of the two prominent styles of film (natural movement and landscape) and fictional storytelling was created. “This intertwining of fantasy and reality lured audiences all over America by an essentially American myth – the desire for self-creation, to be somebody […]” This idea of the self-made man - the dream and fortune seeking individual – is an extension of the American Dream, and the film industry took advantage of that. “The embedding of movies within movies also shows the need of entrepreneurial Hollywood filmmakers, unlike those state-supported in European industries, to engage in self-promotion and industry promotion.” The common story of an individual packing their bags and moving to California to seek their fame and fortune began to emerge. One had to go after what they wanted and make it happen. No one was going to do it for you; if you had an idea, you saw it out. The New Era Hollywood’s fame continued to grow. Movies were

Scholarly Works… 75 churned out, people came from far and wide, and Los Angeles was the best advertised city in the world. “The early 1920s therefore mark the moment when ‘Hollywood,’ with the newfound respectability as well as the notoriety of the movies as an art and business, begins to be the local habitation and the name for its aspects, no matter where they might be in reality.”  From this point on, Hollywood has a place in ours minds as the land where dreams come true. The ‘Golden Age’ of film, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, brings us our classic stars, such as Clark Gable, Kathryn Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and so many more. WWII created the need for escapist entertainment, making the movie industry even more popular. Movie stars went on tour in Europe to bring entertainment to the troops. Back at home, stars and amateurs flocked to the streets of Los Angeles to get a glimpse of that mystic land that was Hollywood. Today, we walk the Walk of Fame, picking out our favorite stars. We visit Universal Studios and Disneyland to feel the magic of creation that the film industry brings.   Hollywood is a symbol of new beginnings. It is a beacon that is distinct to California, with its roots deep in the desert sands. Walt Disney, though he set up his theme park a few miles south, set up shop originally in Burbank. In California Adventure Park, there stands a bronze statue depicting Walt and Mickey with their suitcases packed next to them. The statue is called “Storytellers” and there are two quotes inscribed underneath the figures. The shorter one reads: “We are just getting started.” The other is longer, and perfectly describes California and the Hollywood scene: “It was July 1923. I packed all of my worldly goods — a pair of trousers, a checkered coat, a lot

Scholarly Works… 76 of drawing materials and the last of the fairy tale reels we had made — in a kind of frayed cardboard suitcase. And with that wonderful audacity of youth, I went to Hollywood, arriving there with just forty dollars. It was a big day the day I got on that Santa Fe California Limited. I was just free and happy!”

Scholarly Works… 77 Bibliography “A Very Short History of Cinema.” National Science and Media Museum, June 18, 2020. Braudy, Leo. “Hollywood Before ‘Hollywood’.” The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon, Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 11-42. —. “Hollywood Becomes ‘Hollywood’.” The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon, Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 43-86. Kipen, David. “Hollywood.” California in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the Golden State, University of California Press, 2013, pp. 192-200. Rosenbaum, Jonathan. “Rediscovering Charlie Chaplin.” Cinéaste, vol. 29, no. 4, 2004, pp. 52-6. Starr, Kevin. California: A History. New York: The Modern Library, 2007. Von Moltke, Johannes. “Hollywood, Hitler, and Historiography: Film History as Cultural Critique.” Cultural Critique, vol. 91, 2015, pp. 167-89.   Wierzbicki, James. “Hollywood.” Music in the Age of Anxiety: American Music in the Fifties, University of Illinois Press, 2016, pp. 75-94.

Visual Pieces… 78


Almada, Jessica

Hidden Things

Calangian, Venus

Visual Pieces… 79

Tuesday at the Museum Calangian, Venus


Calangian, Venus


Creative Pieces… 80

by Ramona Moore

Like lilacs dance with the wind, as they sway with the whistles of the breeze, so shall I do the same as my knees hit the floor and my worship to You becomes a song. The praise that leaves my lips; petals lost in the wind, like lilacs they shall dance.

Lime Light

by Coral Nava

A lime tree is a communication token. It calls gratifying encouragement towards a friend in heaven It carries generosity because the friend gave us its sprout It caresses humorous comfort because its harvest keeps giving the years character. A lime tree is a communication token; It allows an obstacle course to route a resumé It has limitations, processes, and strength that need cooperation We don’t want a thorn that cares about a mistake.

Creative Pieces… 81 A lime tree is a communication token It has fruit that gives fertility ideas of generosity Friends, neighbors, and family Its’ fruit tickles them with excitement because of new possibility A lime tree is a communication token It allows birds to pivot through their flying drills It has “Monarchs” and hummingbirds nurse her support It protects the suns’ angles for differences of warmth A lime tree is a communication token It allows God to warm strategies for our thoughts It allows Him to de-flame confusion of creativity It allows Him to tenor words that are our mantras A lime tree is an approachable care It allows God to provide Lime Light towards wounds, sweet heart, cooperation, love It is an approachable care

Creative Pieces… 82 Little Brown Mug by Rebekah Pulaski

If one was to inspect every corner of the one-bedroom dorm I live in, they would find, under the sink, a small brown mug. This mug would look to be of little significance. It may even hold a few utensils, for there is not much room under the sink of a one-bedroom dorm. However, this mug is the source of much guilt, and I find it to be one of my deepest regrets… because this mug is the one and only thing that I have stolen. There is no good way to put it. I stole. And as the daughter of a pastor, and someone who has held an identity as being the “good kid” all my life, I can’t exactly let that go. I have confessed to God, the universe, and my little sister, but the mug remains. Reminding me of the awful sin I have committed: stealing a used mug from a diner where I paid twice of what the mug was probably worth for the meal I ate. But the absurdity of the price of waffles is no excuse. I shouldn’t have done it, even though it was so fun; I could hardly stop laughing a full five minutes after the deed. Even though I now hold an unbreakable bond with the girl who stole with me. Even though I loved the mug. I shouldn’t have stolen the thing I loved, because now comes the real problem with the stolen mug. If I am someone who steals a mug from a diner purely because the mug was beautiful, who does that make me? Now I am someone who has stolen. I am a stealer. But up until that fateful day, I wasn’t a stealer. I hadn’t even stolen a boy from someone, let alone a beautiful brown mug. I didn’t break rules. I wouldn’t even cheat on tests when some of my best friends asked me to. Because that wasn’t who I was. So, did I change at some point? Am I

Creative Pieces… 83 now someone who steals? Am I a bad person? I really don’t know. Could somebody tell me? Has the little brown mug damned me? Is there no turning back from the life of sin? I do not feel forgiveness. I lie awake at night thinking of how I wish I could take the mug back, find the waitress who served me my overpriced waffles, and tell her how sorry I am. That I am not a stealer, and I will never steal again, so long as I live. But the little brown mug remains. Taunting me with its beauty, teasing me with my secret. Because the little brown mug knows what I have done. It knows.

Marmalade Voice

Creative Pieces… 84

by Camie Del Rosario

Christened this bedroom with the tears from my heartache Moved in but felt paralyzed when the earth began to shake Beneath my feet, The rug pulled out from under me. Cold, dark, and dreary is how this room felt Just three days in, there on the ground is where I knelt collecting the pieces of my shattered heart. I heard a song once that said, “Love will tear us apart.” Didn’t think I could find home and that chances for love found the end But you walked in and I felt my heart beating again. My heartbeat sounds like the sound of your voice. Under the light of the moon, my evergreen soul will rejoice You are my favorite choice You and your marmalade voice.

Creative Pieces… 85

Walked by the water and found you standing there like my wildest fantasy I had to stop and stare in awe, could you be real? Could I trust myself to lean into what I feel? The words that you speak result in my effervescence. My soul is tied to you; there’s warmth In your mere presence. Didn’t think I could find home and that chances for love found the end But you walked in and I felt my heart beating again. My heartbeat sounds like the sound of your voice Under the light of the moon, my evergreen soul will rejoice. You are my favorite choice Ohhh marmalade voice You’re so sweet to me. Marmalade voice, won’t you Stick with me, baby?


Creative Pieces… 86

by J. Luke Herman

The strangest of dreams, Stirring in my head, Like a series of patchwork slideshows, The visions dance behind my eyes, Voices I confuse, Faces I squint to view, The moments I once lived trickling back anew, Like the pages of an ancient tomb, The remembrance of some long-forgotten memory, Fading on an ever-shifting canvas, In my old room as a child, Playing with a grandparent whose face I do not recall, Exploring the neighborhood with a nameless friend, Loving another whose love I do not remember, The strangest of dreams, Stirring in my head, How I wonder what moments will harken back, Back for a moment as time had captured them in my memory, Like the pages of an ancient tomb, Faded on an ever-shifting canvas.

Creative Pieces… 87 My Remarkable Life So Far by Emma Cladis

I think I will highlight what comes to mind about my very short but remarkable life so far. It is good to tell you my road has been a tough one. It is also good to tell you it has been wonderful and full of good surprising times. My name is Emma Cladis; I am twenty-four years old. I have autism and am non-speaking. Thanks to Soma Mukhopadhyay, my first typing teacher, I learned to type to communicate at six years old. That is when my life changed from slipping into autism’s silence to engaging with the world. I worked hard to prove it was me communicating by more and more independent typing. I was mainstreamed into second grade and have stayed in typical education classes ever since. During elementary school, it was a time of learning and sharing the good hope of what was possible for a non-speaking autistic person. Somewhere around 2005, I met a wonderful person: my communication mentor, Darlene Hanson; she and I still work together today. It is mostly on my speech, since I am becoming more and more verbal. She has been my guide from apraxia to speech, chaos to communicating, by typing, and now verbally. In 2009, I was awarded the Yes I Can! Award for academic excellence from the Council of Exceptional Children. They flew me to their annual conference in Seattle, and I got to share my story. This inclusive conference experience began my passion for advocating for all people who have differences. I love bringing hope where there is sadness. Since then, over the years, I have had many amazing opportunities to present at schools and conferences, in-

Creative Pieces… 88 cluding Pepperdine and Chapman Universities, as well as Cal State Long Beach, in their psychology clubs and classes; Profectum Conferences, College Bound Academy at Cal. Lutheran University and, most recently, at California TASH, and my own University, Vanguard. Each of these presentations have given me a sense of respect that I have something important to share with others and a different way of giving what I know to be true to many people. I believe the listeners, in turn, have been changed, and then go on to challenge others in their thinking and positions on special needs. I have a webpage called, where you can find my story and the works of books and videos I have authored. I am blessed to have a dad who is an artist, and we have collaborated on a couple of books. He has illustrated and put pictures to my words. One of my most proud accomplishments is Friendship Group. When I was ten years old, I was one of the group’s founders, and it still thrives today. It is this wonderful, safe place for autistic typers to come and socialize. Something that we autistic non-speakers are not supposed to be interested in doing. This group has been a place to support each other and find understanding and courage. In 2016, I graduated high school with a diploma and honors. My college career began the following fall. I am an English major studying to become a film screenwriter. I have had health difficulties, but against all odds, I’m now in my sixth year at Vanguard University and loving it there. I am Vanguard’s first non-speaking autistic student on campus. Being on a college campus is a dream come true; really, there is so much to tell you about this experience. The

Creative Pieces… 89 time there gives me the opportunity to interact with others in whole new ways, to open their minds to this different kind of person, and then begin to see me and the world a bit differently and with a lot more compassion. It is great thinking of myself one day being a screenwriter, and I now enjoy being a part of the Vanguard community. I have a goal to do this great work for God, and screenwriting will be the delivery method. When you decide to attend college, you are taking your life into your own hands. You are saying, “I can do this. I have interests, I have this difficulty, but it is not going to stop me from having this fulfilling life.” I want to give this campus my heart and show them what it is like to be really hopeful and see the world the way I do. Our differences together can create something new, something beautiful. We have so much to give. I plan to produce documentaries about our autistic typing community to bring better understanding to us and the need for more inclusion and opportunities in education and careers. I also hope to write movies full of goodness and joy to bring to this sad world. I want to do great work for God in my lifetime. I seldom miss an opportunity to advocate for my autistic typing community, and my films will just open more ways to do this. I will share hope with so many and bring light that will open hearts and minds to this world. I really want to say that all of this is only possible because God is with me. My faith in God is the way I have hope. This thing, autism, is not going to win. I will be the one who thinks that this is the good life. God is the one who has brought me through so far, and He will hold me together going forward.

Not an Angel, Not Yet

Creative Works… 90

by Jenna Bolar

They call me an angel— I can almost feel the wings on my back, Beating with power and strength. But I’m not an angel, Not yet. “You look like an angel, a little angel. It fits you perfectly.” I can feel the angelic light shining through me. But I’m not an angel, Not yet. “You have the voice of an angel, I could listen to it forever.” I pour out my voice, Singing to the Lord with every ounce of my being. But I’m not an angel, Not yet. I’m ready to be an angel, God, Ready to leave behind this broken body, Lift my voice, beat my wings, and fly, But I’m not an angel, Not yet. I know one day I’ll be an angel, For God has told me so, But for now, I will be content as I am. Not an angel,

Not yet.

Creative Works… 91

paper and pen

by Ramona Moore

paper 8:21 p.m Writing of the way You called my name; Your voice sent chills down my spine. In the darkness, I was lost without light. To write to You seems impossible, though I know You guide my pen. This ink and these tears; together they blend, creating a masterpiece I did not intend. I had not yet known that my heart was the canvas You created; and Your love was the color to be painted. But still I sit here with this paper and pen, praying that my words for You won’t ever end.


Creative Works… 92

by Chloe Mann

The stars shine so brightly above, all perfectly hung in the sky. The tropical birds all flock together, all perfectly content in their jungle home. The mountains stand proud and tall, perfectly rising towards the heavens. The wind whistles and sings its song, perfect in its playful dance across the earth. The waves crash gently along the sand, the lulling sound perfect in its serenade. But of all these things, the most perfect of God’s creations is you.


by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

I cannot say how life begins It is not my place But I can say with the cry of a newborn, The trickling of rain, The twinkling of stars, The rising of the sun, Life begins anew How do we know what happiness is?

We cannot say But we can feel the warmth inside The smiles on our faces, The laughter in the air, The floating of our hearts Is that happiness?

Creative Works… 93

Life consists of many things; Some, we cannot explain But it is clear in the things we see: The sadness of loss, The destruction of hate, The weightlessness of love, It is all of these. “Life is a box of chocolates.” That’s what people say But whichever piece that we pick out The rain, the stars, the sun, the cry, The smiles, the laughter, the hearts, the warmth, The sadness, the hate, the love, the clear Life is unpredictable.


by Emily Christine Davis

Creative Works… 94

It sat staring at me. The bright yellow noodles sweating and steam pouring off and over every twist and turn. The strong smell of garlic rose triumphantly into the air. Red pepper flakes speckled around the .50 cent aquamarine target bowl. The tinfoil square encompassed a chicken-flavored invulnerable foe.   It prepped for battle by moving around and around in the waters; softening the noodles, but increasing their territory. The fluorescent sun scorched the ramen until the cornicen blew loudly three times. The noodles found allies in black pepper, red pepper, garlic, onion, and the unlikely multitudes of corn.   The fork sat and slipped slowly farther down into the bowl, each troop shouting celebratorily as they claimed another millimeter of cheap aluminum. The hours of battle continued to pass and the cost of claiming more and more of the utensils was starting to show. The breathy steam which the army expelled had slowed to tiny puffs and the noodles grew stiff and weary. Despite the physical toll that had been endured, its goal had been accomplished. My lungs trembled. The wooden desk morphed into a monument, casting its foreboding shade over my own Port of Rhodes. My lungs tired quickly and stopped expanding. My flaccid diaphragm seized. The aroma of microwaved ramen filled my nostrils and contracted my bronchioles further. Every breath was a fight, a battle for sanity.   My eye’s radius condensed from 160 degrees to 20 degrees in a nanosecond. Everything was just gone.   dark.

Creative Works… 95 dark. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. My vision closed and my memories ran. Every action that created this monster replayed. The microwavable ramen dish. The filtered water from my fridge. I was very careful to fill it up to the line perfectly before placing the dried noodles in the square container and placing it on the spinning plate.   My own creation was undoing me.   The knot in my throat built up, becoming weightier and impeding, like it was physically stopping me from breathing. From eating.   It’s just in my mind. It’s just anxiety. Nothing is happening. The noodles prepared well for this battle and I was an unwitting opponent.   With a flurry of hands and emotions, I burrow through the chair next to me. Inside was my white flag. I struggled through my panic to pop open the metallic packaging and plop the medicine into the palm of my hand. Shoving it into my mouth and trying to swallow.   The incident had depleted my reserves and it lingered waiting for the Harmattan to blow overhead.   Pouring water from the same pitcher I used to boil the ramen, I drank. I swallowed. I laid down in defeat on my bed, crawling under the blankets and letting my panic die down until the antihistamine carried me away into sleep.   Later that day, when I mustered the courage, I threw out the corpses of the noodles and its allies. A week after that, the bowl and fork are entombed as well

Red Rover, Red Rover

Creative Works… 96

by Camie Del Rosario

Red rover, red rover; Won’t somebody teach me the game? Red rover, red rover; Looks like no one’s headed my way. So I sit upon the asphalt, there before my class, Sitting there waiting with all the people Who turned their backs. Red rover, red rover; No one’s coming to me Sitting on the asphalt before classes, The youth, we observe everything. I never learned ring around the rosie; I only learned the art of being lonely.

Regressing or Progressing

Creative Works… 97

by Samuel Baldovinos

Headlines appear here and there They all seem to read the same thing. I catch myself thinking: Will it go away? Are we truly regressing or progressing? Does our idea of regression point to the fact that we want society, — life — to go back to how it once was back in those days? The days that seem forgotten or a reality that was lived a lifetime ago. Or is our idea of progression twisted, in the sense of experimenting, guessing on what could be, or what can be done to progress? Are the headlines we consume a concept of persuading the masses to conform, or reform, unhealthy habits and once-accepted behaviors? Does progress lie in the belief of arenas and stadiums filled to maximum capacity? Or maskless Boeings hovering the baby-blue skies, or does progress foreshadow a future of people free of the unease and fear? Perhaps the progress is a reality we have yet to know or fully grasp, as once was the concept of gravity and space travel, generations ago. Perhaps the progress we seek or want to know is a labyrin-

Creative Works… 98 thine that can only be understood as time progresses and our feelings of fear and doubt dissipate.


by Gabriella Orozco

Creative Works… 99

I’ve always had a hard time connecting myself to spirituality. A part of me is a firm believer in a stronger, greater figure watching over us. Another aspect of me is to believes that the universe itself has planned out my life. The insecure part of myself tells me that I’m fooling myself into believing anything at all. I was always told to believe in God, Jesus, and the Saints when I was younger. I’m not going to say I grew up in a solid Catholic household. We didn’t go to church every Sunday, and we didn’t pray before meals. Yet, my mother was an advocate for doing all my spiritual sacraments. When I started going to communion classes, I felt anxious about having to learn prayers to perfection. I was confused as to why, all of a sudden, we started attending church on Sundays, only to discover it was mandatory attendance to pass these classes. It was hard to hear the priest through the muffled sounds of prayer. I always thought I was doing something wrong when I couldn’t understand the lessons at church that day. When I moved up to Confirmation, we were required to go on a spiritual retreat. The day we left, we got to know each other, interacted with all the other girls, and learned about ourselves. We also ate snacks and prayed. It was a good time, and it was the first time I had an excellent religious experience. The next day, we hiked and talked about God’s creations. We splashed around in a nearby lake and ate some snacks under a shady tree. It was almost a picture-perfect setting. After a long day, we came back and had dinner. We all got in one big circle, and we were to introduce ourselves to everyone in the group. Once we

Creative Works… 100 got through the what’s-your-name-and-your-favoritecolor portion of the conversation, the instructor started asking the hard-to-swallow questions: Tell us what you want to learn from this spiritual journey? I sat quietly and reflected; I had no initial response, but the instructor talked about her trauma and how God saved her. Every other girl confessed something raw. Tears and silent sobs quickly spread through the room. I started to panic internally. What did these people expect from me? I had no idea how to be “saved” and why I had to tell total strangers my story. When it came to my turn, all I said was, “How to be closer to God.” I got a blank glare from the instructor. All she said was, “Maybe there’s something you’d like to share?” No, there isn’t anything I would like to share. Your trauma-dumping triggered something in all these girls. I don’t want to be anywhere near here, and I wish I were far away. All I could do was nod and bow my head in defeat. All those tears and lifelong secrets didn’t just stay in that room, they left with thirty other people. We never really got to know each other; all I know is that these girls, and probably now women, were coerced into telling their stories. Older women prying into young girls’ lives for, what seemed to be, for “spiritual release,” but all I saw was manipulation. I don’t want to say I have religious trauma. I do, however, have a sensitivity to opening myself up to religion. The vulnerability that it seems to require has blocked me from approaching with confidence. There was no reason for me to explain myself to anyone. God knows who I am and why I remain silent. There was no reason for me to learn prayers to perfection or go to church on Sundays for a year to prove my loyalty. Neither was the retreat neces-

Creative Works… 101 sary; all those tears and life-long secrets and moments of stress could’ve been avoided. I believe in God, but I don’t believe in a church that preys on the vulnerable.

Sailor Bold

Creative Works… 102

by Chloe Mann

A sailor drawn up from the stormy sea, Drowning in her past regrets. A forgotten past that haunts her every step. She relies on her tack to carry her forward. Stern with her enemies, They will all bow before her. The call of the sea is only paled by the call of her crew: Those who are dear to her heart and never leave her memory. A new life, unprepared – Why was this second chance given? To squander, or to redeem past sins? The past is unchangeable, But the future is finally within her grasp.

Saltwater Smile

by Camie Del Rosario

I should have jumped ship When the boat started sinking, Instead of foolishly reaching for you Without thinking to see You had already left. You ran, And I ran out of breath.

Creative Works… 103

I’m gasping for air; You watched me drown. But I smiled Just from seeing you there. I’m gasping for air; saltwater smile, Were you ever really here? I could’ve jumped ship, But I thought we both were in it. Thought you signed the tickets with love, Came to find you had signed it: “I’ve had enough.” “Smooth sailing.” The captain never accounted for you bailing. “Smooth sailing.” Woman overboard, Flew over the railing.

Creative Works… 104 Same Sand, Different Story by Michael Robles

It was a random day on a random summer when we first went to Zuma Beach. I can’t tell you much about how the sand felt or how cold the water was, as my 9-year-old self was solely focused on getting to play in the waves as soon as possible. Before I decided to dash off to the never-ending vastness of the Pacific Ocean, my mom had just got done yelling at my brother for doing what I hesitated to do. “You were supposed to put on sunscreen first,” she shouted to Justin. “Now you’re all wet.” He walked back nonchalantly after taking a head dive into the water. The waves couldn’t have been too high in the time I had finally put sunblock on. All I remember in that time was how it had felt like an eternity since I had been to the beach, and I was ready to take on Poseidon himself. *** We finished eating at our favorite pizza place in Hollywood, but the day was still young. It was only mid-afternoon by the time we walked Hollywood Blvd, watching the street dance groups and seeing what movies were playing at the El Capitan Theater. “Two Guys from Italy,” formerly the best pizza spot, had fed us well in all its greasy, cheesy goodness, and the sun sat in the middle of the sky. My parents, younger brother, sister, and I went to Hollywood once a month for a small family outing. Since my uncle Andrew had been living with us for the past year, he tagged along, too. After a constant back-and-forth about where to go next on the way to the car, the family finally settled on the

Creative Works… 105 Santa Monica Pier. 15-year-old me was happy, as we only went to the beach once or twice a year during the summer. It was probably March or April at the time, and I had gotten into writing a lot more, so the angsty edgy teen inside me was itching to find some sort of inspiration at the beach. What a cliché… *** The night sky sank the ocean into utter blackness on Newport Beach. Not even the moon illuminated the dense abyss that overtook the shore. The only thing I could really make out was a small group of white birds skimming across where the waves broke. I sat on the beach mat with my roommate, Matthew, as a flurry of classic rock hits played from his speaker. The longest, most exciting summer of my life had finally come to an end, and I had moved back into my college dorm a few days ago. It was Thursday, September 1, and it had been four days since I said goodbye to my parents, siblings, and girlfriend, as I was now two hours away for the next four months. As the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was playing quietly, I laid down on the soft, dark sand. Newport Beach always had the best sand out of the other Orange County beaches, in my opinion. It had been the first time in two years since I last touched it, and its gentle comfort sent me into a bit of a shock. “My social anxiety has been really bad,” I muttered to Matthew, letting the cool breeze fill the rest of the silence. *** I can’t exactly recall how big the waves were that day

Creative Works… 106 on Zuma Beach. They never were really big, even in the following years. What I do remember was how many of us had been there. It was me, my siblings, parents, cousin, and aunt. I remember helping my dad set up our two canopies, coolers, and chairs, before excitedly running off to the waves with Justin and my little sister, Alexandria. I jumped in the cold water with Justin as Alexandria sat by the shore; being four years old, she wasn’t able to go as far as we did. I laughed as the waves crashed on my brother, throwing him to the sand. I sat by the shore and let the waves’ aftershocks take me in by a few feet, and spit me back out. My hair wasn’t that long, so I was able to go underwater without it getting too tangled, unlike Justin. My sister sat playing in the sand, and my muscle shirt was practically clinging onto me, now that I had gotten soaked. I remember thinking about what my friends were up to during their summer. I was in a group of about six or seven of us, and all of them played soccer. So they were probably playing or practicing for a tournament. Phones were nonexistent for third graders, so there wasn’t a quick way for me to tell them about my beach trip. All I could do was retell my memories once I saw them again in the fall. I looked back at my parents, cousin, and aunt, and saw a look of bewilderment on my mom’s face. While it is a bit fuzzy, I do remember hearing my dad yell, “Watch out,” and pointing. When I turned around, I saw a wave the size of a mountain above me, seconds away from crashing. *** The breeze on the Santa Monica coast wasn’t all too wild for it being Spring. In my past beach trips, I knew if it wasn’t in the dead center of summer, southern California

Creative Works… 107 beaches would always be slightly cold. But this time, it was tolerable. I had my favorite brown hoodie on, and the tip of the right sleeve was tearing apart at the thumb. As a sort of nervous tic, I would scratch at it, which would explain why it was so torn. The sunset was beautiful. The Neapolitan sky produced a vast mix of purple hues, pink streaks, and yellow accents from the sun’s tired eye. I pulled out my phone and took a picture on Snapchat, sending it to my friend, Veronica, with a red heart emoji. Andrew took his boots and socks off, rolled up his pants, and stood at the shore. Santa Monica’s cold waters flooded his and many other beachgoers’ toes. I didn’t dare take my shoes off. Not because I was scared of the cold, but because I was overthinking what would happen after I took them off. I’d walk to the shore, get my feet wet, then get sand stuck all over my soaked feet on the way back to my shoes. Then if we went to the pier, I’d be walking barefoot, and that would be disgusting, because so many Californians’ feet touch the floors of Santa Monica (and Californians don’t have the cleanest feet). Teenage me always thought over scenarios in this manner. By the time I had finished my nightmarish wet feet scenario, my uncle was already walking back. He picked up his shoes and walked with us, barefoot… ew… My family and I walked up to the pier. The massive array of lights completely overshadowed the darkening sky. The sun was on the horizon now, and pretty soon, the moon and its army of nightly stars would overtake its presence. Although the pier’s lights exploded my eyes in constant moving colors, my eyes set on one thing: the arcade. We all walked to the arcade, eager to spend my dad’s

Creative Works… 108 quarters. I passed by four Mortal Kombat arcade cabinets, a couple Tekken 4 cabinets, and a mix of other games, both new and old. I checked my phone. Veronica saw my snap but didn’t reply. Part of me worried, thinking of any worst-possible scenario a teenager could think of, until my uncle bumped his shoulder against mine. He walked beside me, reminiscing on how he used to come here all the time in his teenage years. “I loved Tekken, man,” he said to me. My eyes lit up. Tekken had always been my favorite fighting game series (and still is). “Me and Andre (his childhood friend) would go here all the time.” I laughed. It reminded me of myself and my brother, Justin. “We used to play Tekken for hours.” My dad took my brother to whatever game caught his eyes, while my mom and sister gravitated towards Mrs. Pac-Man. Andrew went elsewhere, and part of me thought to follow him purely off of instinct, but something caught my eye near the other side of the arcade. Amidst the skeeball machines, countless fighting games, and a couple shooters, stood one cabinet above them all. In fact, it wasn’t even a cabinet. It was a dome. A dome shaped like the Death Star from Star Wars. As I approached it, the words blared in my face: Star Wars: Battle Pod. *** Matthew was scrolling on his phone as I laid down, staring at the stars. It had been a while since I heard waves crash this peacefully. Yeah, I went to the beach about a month ago, but that was different. The beach, especially Newport Beach, felt different at one in the morning. It felt isolated, yet freeing. It felt as though I could vent to the ocean all of my worries and anxieties, and not a single soul

Creative Works… 109 would hear me besides God himself. I wish that were true. My heart was hurting a little. I missed everyone. I missed waking up and greeting my parents as I made coffee. I missed being able to go see my friends at a moment’s notice. I especially missed having my girlfriend in my arms as we laid down, watching whatever show we decided to put on. I missed being open to them all. Something else ate at me a little bit on the mental side. I was twenty years old now. Things had changed since I was a freshman in college. At that time, I was barely figuring things out. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be an author and musician, and get a job in writing or journalism before I could write books and make music full-time. But now that I was on the latter half of my degree, an overwhelming lack of responsibility overtook me. The teaching credential program drifted through my mind. I have to ask my professor about that, I thought. Then I thought about getting a job. I was supposed to transfer to the Irvine Joann Fabrics location, since I worked in the one in Palmdale before I moved, but I hadn’t heard anything back. What if I can’t get a job? I looked back at Matthew. His eyes were shut as he bobbed his head to whatever AC/DC song was playing. He sat without a care in the world, or at least it seemed like it. I wished I could feel like that. I craved to not have any more worries for the future. I craved to have the pointless worries that teenage me carried throughout high school. More than that, I wished for not having any worries at all. I wished for childhood again. To live in the moment. Then again, I wouldn’t have been where I was at without these worries or responsibilities. They were what carried me into adulthood.

Creative Works… 110 The sand was comforting. It wasn’t as rough as Santa Monica, or as rocky as Zuma Beach. I had been to both of those more times than I can count by then. I had a long four months ahead of me, but I knew it would smoothen out soon, just like the sand that pillowed my head. I looked to the oblivion of water. The birds looked like bugs, with how far they were. “Don’t worry,” Matthew said. “Your social anxiety will get better over time.” *** The wave collapsed on me, engulfing me in nothing but saltwater. All I saw was black. I didn’t hear anything as I was submerged, tumbling beneath the waves. I couldn’t tell where I was going, or if I was even visible. I desperately tried to grab my nose to avoid breathing in water underneath my panic, but the waves continued to throw me in and out underneath the surface. It felt like Poseidon balled me up and threw me like a baseball from the depths of the ocean, sending me flying back to Zuma’s shore. Before I could get back up, the titan wave’s aftershock, which was practically as big as a normal wave, hit me. I tumbled again, reliving the cycle as I was submerged. Toppling, trying to grab my nose, only to be warped over and over. Once the sea was calm, I finally got back up. I couldn’t see a thing from the sand and hair that enveloped my eyes. I was soaked, covered in sand, coughing from how much water went through my nose and mouth. I should’ve been scared or crying, but I couldn’t help but laugh. That was awesome, I thought. I started walking back up to my family. I couldn’t tell how bad I looked, but according to my mom, I was covered

Creative Works… 111 in sand. Saltwater invaded my throat, forcing me to cough over and over. Wet coughs spat out, off of reflex, just as how the sea engulfed and spat me out repeatedly. My mom walked over to me. “Are you okay?” she asked, holding my face with her hands. They were soft. I looked up from my sand-filled bowl of hair. I nodded as I continued to cough. I looked down at my shirt, which was now soaked and plastered with sand. It felt like the ocean’s way of tarring and feathering me for challenging it. As I stood, fully clothed in the outdoor showers by the bathroom, with my mom washing the sand out of my hair, I laughed a bit. “You thought it was fun, huh,” my mom asked, smiling. “Yeah, that was awesome,” I remember saying. She told me she saw me trying to hold my nose, falling over and over under the waves. We struggled trying to get the sand out of my hair. After twenty minutes, most of it was gone. On the walk back to our beach site, I waddled in my soaked trunks and shirt, jolting my head from side to side to get the water out of my ears. I couldn’t help but think, I can’t wait to tell the boys about this. *** The arcade cabinet wasn’t just a cabinet: it was a pod. It was its own mini battle station, replicating that of the starfighters in the Star Wars movies. I peeked inside. It was empty. The quarters jingled in my pocket, and I checked my phone one last time. Veronica still hadn’t replied. The words “Opened ___ minutes ago” were displayed underneath her name (I don’t remember how many minutes it actually was). My heart dropped a little, but I turned my

Creative Works… 112 attention back to the game. I opened the door into the pod and walked inside. For an arcade cabinet, it was pretty spacious. To the right was a chair that was modeled after an X-Wing starfighter from the movies. To the left was a joystick with a trigger. To the right of it was another joystick with a trigger, accompanied by a few buttons. I sat down. In front of the model cockpit was a massive circular screen. It warped from the battle on Hoth, to a dogfight outside of an Empire star destroyer, to the forests of Endor. I was slightly in awe, as I hadn’t seen a Star Wars game as immersive as this one. Speakers were built on the sides for spatial audio, to make it as lifelike as possible. I pulled out four quarters from my pocket and inserted them into the game’s coin slots. As soon as the fourth quarter was injected, the classic Star Wars theme began to blare. The screen read “Mission Select,” and I debated between the four missions the game offered. I decided to start off slow, and chose the “Yavin IV” mission. The game’s audio was loud and surprisingly high quality. I moved the left stick to steer, and aimed my imaginary blasters with the right. TIE Fighters scattered across my screen, the chair swiveled in the direction I’d maneuver the joystick, and a feeling of recoil would cause it to shift with each fire of the blaster. As I plowed through the enemies on my screen, and was transported into space as part of the fictional Rebellion squadron, I was also transported back to my childhood. I thought of how I used to play pretend in different universes with my brother, and even sometimes by myself. I was taken back to the years where we would lazily color empty paper towel rolls and use them as lightsabers, pre-

Creative Works… 113 tending to be Anakin and Obi-Wan, fighting to the death. Or, once we finally got toy lightsabers, we’d make up our own characters and go on our own adventures. We did that with so many worlds: Kingdom Hearts, Pokémon, Naruto, and many more. The list was never-ending. And, for a good five minutes, I was back in that position – only this time I wasn’t the one making the sound effects. I completed the “Yavin IV” mission and only died once, so I was able to move on to the next one: Hoth. I sat for a second with my heart racing. My teenage anxieties were gone. There was no time for worrying about whether a girl would Snapchat me back while I was saving the galaxy from the cruel hands of the Empire. So, I moved on to the Hoth mission. I raced past countless TIE Fighters once again, this time having to wrap wires around the legs of giant, stomping AT-AT enemy machines, forcing them to tumble. The mission had practically breezed by, and I succeeded. I was having too much fun. Once I had emptied all of the quarters I had into the game, I was smiling. I hadn’t experienced that much fun in a while. My freshman year of high school filled my teenage mind with assignments, anxieties, and stresses (most of them emotional or social). Once I exited, I closed the door to the sacred battle pod behind me, alongside the feeling of childhood bliss. I pulled out my phone once again. To my surprise, Veronica’s name popped up. She texted me five minutes ago. *** I didn’t recognize the song that was playing anymore. It had gone from major classic rock hits to more obscure ones. “You should play ‘Strange Brew’ by Cream,” I told

Creative Works… 114 Matthew. He silently played it on his phone. The opening drum hits of Ginger Baker transitioned quickly into Eric Clapton’s guitar. The psychedelic riffs made love to my ears. I had discovered the band in high school. I told my friends to listen to them over and over. Veronica, Tino, Lucas, Manuel, Jean, all of them. Now, from them, it was just Tino and Lucas. I remembered how it felt being a teenager in high school. Even though it hadn’t been that long, per se, it felt like millennia. Everything felt like it was eons ago. Times of the past had just become a jumble of mixed memories. I could pick them out in a pile and hesitate to tell you from whence they came. Newport’s shore was a bit more silent now. The wet sand areas weren’t too far off from where we sat. The sealine began to recede. I massaged my head in an attempt to ease my headache. I didn’t eat enough. I never did anymore, especially now. I wished I could go back to the times on beaches where my worries didn’t affect my future self so much. Whether or not I held my nose during my near-drowning experience at nine years old, I doubt it would’ve affected my 20-year-old self very much, though I do still hold my nose when going underwater. The relationships I had with some people, who I would’ve trusted with my life in high school, had dissipated. Nothing was very influential from those times anymore. I didn’t have much to show from them. But I still remember the worries they carried. At age nine, it was nothing. It was just constantly living in the moment, waiting for the next adventure that life would take me on that day. At age fifteen, it was girl(s), grades, and

Creative Works… 115 social anxiety. What was so different now? Now, I was two years away from being a full-blown adult (by society’s standards). I was making plans for my future; career options, where I would live, how I would get there, everything. The world was making me worry more about things five years from now than at any point in my life. As I watched the low waves wash upon the sand, scaring the skimming birds away just a few feet closer to us, I listened to the song. “Strange brew, killin’ what’s inside of you,” Jack Bruce sang. Strange indeed, Jack. Strange indeed. The beach had become a place of thought for me, in these past couple of years more than anything. In the trips I took, either with friends or family, I had a notebook with me at all times. I’d jot story ideas down, or start writing a song. I had written a poem one night on Newport Beach two years before, nearly shedding tears. Now, my notebook sat in my backpack, sandwiched between my planner and the novel The Last Planet by Andre Norton. All I had sitting with me were worries and Matthew. Then, I thought about the letter Tabitha gave me on our last date night. The words “I will be here for you in any and every way” drifted into my mind from the card she gave me. She gave me hope. My parents and friends gave me hope. I wasn’t alone with these worries. I could tell you that with this realization, my worries flooded away just as fast as the receding shore did, but they didn’t. That’s not how it works, being twenty with the overthinking habits of a 15-year-old. Instead, I sat up and looked out at the beach one more time. I just have to deal with it. I just know I’m

Creative Works… 116 not dealing with it alone. I have the best people I could ask for by my side: spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Even though they were few compared to past years, they were more than I could ask for, and I’ll always cherish them. In fact, I take Tabitha’s letter with me to school every day. After a few minutes, Matthew and I wrapped up the beach mat, grabbed the speaker, and drove back to our apartment. I drove across Newport Boulevard with my head laid back, along with my worries and responsibilities. The next beach trip I take in a few years will have its own worries, thoughts, and responsibilities. For now, this is it.


Creative Works… 117

by Ramona Moore

Stillness used to make me weary. I used to loathe the time I was forced to be alone. Bathroom stalls and classroom walls were where most of my time was spent, Wishing for a friend, but always being left with the wind; her breeze running across my cheeks. It was always too cold for a tear to fall. Stillness has now become my sanctuary. In the moments when everything around me is silent, my mind runs with a chaos that brings more peace than anyone else has ever brought me.


by Rebekah Pulaski

Creative Works… 118

My little sister, Joannah, has an ungodly number of scars. She has one very long, slender scar on her right calf, a small, almost invisible scar on her forehead, and many many tiny scars on her hands. She received the long scar on her leg when she was just a small girl. Influenced by her two older sisters, on a summer day much too late at night, Joannah had dawned her slipperiest socks and prepared herself to get a running start. After receiving one last word of encouragement from yours truly, she took off down the length of the living room, towards the long hall that separated the bedrooms from the rest of the house. Joannah continued down half the length of the hall at full speed then jumped, landing on her wonderful socks, and awaited the thrill of sliding through the remainder of the hall without the hassle of moving her body. But the length of Joannah’s slide was magnificent in a way that she hadn’t anticipated. She was quickly approaching the wall heater at the dead end of the hallway—whose door was foolishly left open by someone who refused to admit to it. And in a blindness fueled by a mix of anxiety and gravity, Joannah’s feet slipped out from under her, and her poor, small calf was sliced open by the wall heater door. Joannah’s forehead scar happened much later, after moving to a new city and after starting high school. Joannah joined the basketball team, although in reality, she hadn’t grown much since the incident with the wall heater. She was still very small for her age, but nevertheless, she pursued basketball because it’s what she loved, and it was her way of making friends. On the day of Joannah’s very

Creative Works… 119 first home game, her freshman year she was extremely nervous. I assured her not to worry; basketball is meant to be fun, so just have fun. Unfortunately, due to her size and skill, she wasn’t put in the game very much. But when she did go in, she gave it her all, even on defense. She did all she could to try and keep the other team from scoring, and, in a moment of passion – and the awkwardness that comes from two unskilled players fumbling over a basketball – Joannah and her opponent fell. Joannah was a good sport and got up to continue playing, but blood was dripping down her face into her eyebrow. After the game, when I had asked her what happened, she told me, “The girl’s tooth went into my forehead!” Now to explain the scars on Joannah’s hands—my favorite scars. There is almost nothing Joannah cares about more in the whole world than animals. She can’t stand the thought of an animal suffering, and she physically can’t stop herself from helping an animal if she knows she can—she gets that from our dad. This fact didn’t become apparent until after we moved into the house my parents are living in now. It’s a double wide mobile home that sits across the parking lot from the church my father works at. There is a huge field behind the church that used to be a walnut grove, but now is just a mix of grass and clovers. The problem with living in a mobile home, and near one of the only open spaces in town, is that many stray cats find themselves in our field, then shortly after, under our house, to keep shelter from the cold, wet air of the valley. Joannah cannot bear to let these cats go hungry, although I doubt they would, considering our mouse problem. Nevertheless, Joannah has convinced our parents to let her set out cat food for the poor souls that find themselves under our

Creative Works… 120 home. But sometimes cat food is not enough for the creatures Joannah naturally draws to our abode. Sometimes, they are small enough that they still need cat formula, and Joannah will not stand by and let these poor babies go without the proper nutrition, so she bottle-feeds them. I am being truly honest when I say that I cannot count all the kittens my little sister has bottle-fed. There were the two orphans that climbed into the engine of my dad’s car— one of which had a foxtail so deeply burrowed into its eye, Joannah cried until my father took it to the emergency vet to save it from another second of pain. Then there was the whole litter that we could hear crying under the floor of our bathroom. Joannah climbed under our house to bring them into her room. She doesn’t get angry when these babies scratch her, and she isn’t upset by the number of scars on her hands, because to her, the scars are worth it.

Ships Passing in the Night

Creative Works… 121

by Emily Miller

Some say we are but ships passing in the night; Strangers strolling along the street, never to cross again. But every ship at every hour shines their light. When any are awake, they see the gleams upon the captain. If we could but look up, and see the faces passing, We could see a smile, a wink, a pair of eyes in the light. Our memories of smiles and friendly faces amassing; We could, just maybe, be ships passing in the night.


by Sophia Trejo

A song rings in her head before she fully escapes the place where the dreams fade and the day begins; it’s a different one each morning. It’s cold and the blankets are shoved to the floor. Her phone is overcharged and she wonders how her glasses didn’t break as they stayed on her face the whole night. The sound of the car engine in the driveway

Creative Works… 122

startling awake vibrates the thin wall. She says a prayer of protection over her father. It’s 6:30. Zoom calls or in-person today? Remember to eat. Finish essay, discussion posts, readings, and answer questions. How much can I get done between the gaps of class? She slides her finger over the white button on her phone, turning off the alarm beside her pillow before the second vibration buzzes through her ear. Not allowing time for the stupid ringtone to even get a chance to voice its irrelevant opinion. She’s already awake, anyways. She misses the simplicity of waking up to the sound of Silence.

Visual Pieces… 123

Davis, Kristian

Davis, Kristian

Visual Pieces… 124

Davis, Kristian

Davis, Kristian


by Lauryn Barro

Scholarly Works… 125

The Victorian era consisted of the years 1837-1901, and in this time, we see a plethora of literary works, many of which describe the feminine energy, as well as the female body in an objective way. During this time, women, especially the upper class, had certain expectations, some of which included: bearing children, being a substantial mother and wife, becoming educated in the homemaking arts, such as sewing or knitting, and providing a certain level of entertainment in dance or music. Above all else, however, her beauty and good manners were the most sought after by men. A woman with these qualities would be the most well-suited for marriage, which, at the time, was the highest goal for both her and her family. We see these expectations in various literary texts focusing on her beauty. The attitude towards Victorian women was that they should be treated like flowers, but not given the room to grow. There are many literary texts that capture the tone of gender during the Victorian era. The first is “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning. In his poem, Browning writes about a sweet and tender lover who gives her heart to him. He talks about her beautiful yellow hair and smooth white shoulder, and we, as the readers, take his tone to be sweet and loving. Browning then shifts the tone, revealing his true intentions: Porphyria worshiped me; surprise Made my heart swell, and still, it grew While I debated what to do. The moment she was mine, mine, fair, Perfectly pure and good: I found

Scholarly Works… 126 A thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string, I wound Three times her little throat around, And strangled her. (33-40) Browning captures how most men felt towards women during this time. While females are respected and adored, they are seen as mere objects to be handled as men see fit. He describes Porphyria with an infatuated tone, but then uses language such as “worshiped,” which was the expectation among women in this era. Even after she has been murdered, the author continues to admire her beauty and ends his poem with, “And yet God has not said a word!” showing, yet again, that as a man, he is confident in his actions in taking her life and knows he will not be scrutinized for it (60). A particular poem that captures the tone of Victorian gender roles is Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott.” In this literary work, we are told of a cursed woman who does not know it and is subjected to view the world through the reflection of a mirror. She lives her life weaving her tapestry in the shadows of her room, hidden away from the joys of what life could bring her. At the beginning of the poem, we are told that she is content with the mundane life she lives, until she sees two lovers outside, who spawn a desire within her to have a love like theirs. Later on, we are introduced to Lancelot, the character that will be the cause of the Lady’s death. The Lady is enticed by his handsomeness and song, and is drawn away from her mirror towards the window: She left the web, she left the loom She made three paces thro’ the room She saw the water-flower bloom,

Scholarly Works… 127 She saw the helmet and the plume, She look’d down to Camelot. Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack’d from side to side; ‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried The Lady of Shalott. (Tennyson, part 3, stanza 5) The Lady of Shalott sacrificed her life to see her love, who inevitably killed her. Even when he stood above her body which floated down the river, he had no clue that her death was his fault. This poem depicts the roles of Victorian society perfectly. The Lady was safe and protected, but only if she continued to act in a way that suited those around her. Women were supposed to stick to their roles set for them, and if they had desires to better their lives and act upon those urges, they would be scrutinized verbally or worse. Victorian women, especially those of the upper class, were constantly surrounded by servants, their children, and people during social events. They were expected to be polite, honor their husbands, act well-mannered, and entertain. We see a woman of this status, and, based on our current ideals, believe her to be highly regarded and fulfilled. However, that is not the case for these frail creatures – quite the opposite, really, as they are lonely, and not seen as humans at all, but little flowers that are not to be let out from their protected gardens. While we did not read this famous story by Charlotte Perkins Stetson in class, I believe her famous short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” is one of the greatest pieces that encapsulates the overall tone of women in Victorian society. In this short story, we read the journal entries of a woman that has become sick with anxiety and depression. She is shut away in a room decorated with yellow wallpa-

Scholarly Works… 128 per that eventually drives her mad. She is a woman of high status, as her husband is a physician; because of this, she has people around her to take care of household chores and her baby. However, she feels alone and disregarded by her husband when she tells him that she does not like being home alone and is suffering mentally. I believe hysteria was common in Victorian society because of situations like this. These women’s voices were silenced, leaving them to feel imprisoned by the people that are supposed to love them the most. Victorian women are depicted as beautiful and delicate creatures in many literary and artistic pieces. At a glance, one would assume they were highly regarded and respected for their roles in keeping a good household, but we see through these literary examples how they are treated and disregarded. This would be enough to drive any person mad, and women, unfortunately, were the targets: delicate flowers, growing in their fenced gardens, bruised at the slightest caress, wilted if they stray.

Scholarly Works… 129 Works Cited Browning, Robert. “Porphyria’s Lover.” Gutenburg, Thomas Y. Crowell and Company, 1989. Perkins Stetson, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Gutenburg, New England Magazine, May 1892. Tennyson, Lord Alfred. “The Lady of Shalott.” PoetryFoundation, The Folio Society, 1832.

Visual Pieces… 130

Davis, Kristian

Davis, Kristian

Visual Pieces… 131

Davis, Kristian

Davis, Kristian

Something by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

Love is not something you feel; Not just a noun or emotion. Love is something you Hear In a soft spoken word or a heartfelt laugh; In a passionate song or a well placed vow; In a cry of anguish or a shriek of terror; In the calling of a name or the thanking of a friend. Love is something you See In a lighthearted smile or an act of kindness; In a thoughtful gift or a treasured possession; In a grave sacrifice or a long battle won; In the light of the moon or the bright of the sun. Love is something you Smell In a fresh baked loaf or a bowl of soup; In a bouquet of flowers or a bag of popcorn; In a dirty diaper

Creative Pieces… 132

or a newly cut lawn; In the shedding of blood or the decay of a life. Love is something you Taste In a small chocolate or a seaside breeze; In a homemade meal or a glass of wine; In a cloud of rain or a goodbye kiss; In the shedding of tears or the tang of mud. Love is something you Give In a small token or a large parcel; In a fragile child or a tentative glance; In a thoughtful word or a special prayer; In the sharing of a smile or the ability to let go. Love is something you Touch In a caress of the hand or a handmade scarf; In a snowball to the face or a rosebud corsage; In a brush of hair or a kiss on the cheek; In the laying down of flowers

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or the dropping of their hand.

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Spooky Sweet

by Megan Luebberman

Creative Works… 135

The three of us stared, wide-eyed, with our mouths hanging open, at the yellow lollipop that had made its way on top of our microwave. It sat silent and still. One harmless little candy held all of our attention. “I swear, I didn’t move it,” I stated, eyes still on the lollipop. “I haven’t been back in the dorm since this morning.” “Neither have I,” my roommate, Serena, said. “I haven’t, either,” my second roommate, Veronica, declared. “It was on my desk in that pen holder when I left. I’m sure of it.” “Well… if none of us moved it, then…” “I knew it was haunted!” shouted Veronica. “We should have never taken anything from the Haunted House. It’s cursed!” A few days ago, our University had hosted a Harvest Party, complete with a dance floor, a table for decorating Halloween cookies, and a daunting, inflatable haunted maze. We had waited in line patiently, listening to the shouts and screams inside the maze. Small groups of students were ushered in one end, and, after several minutes, came running out the other end with flushed, flustered faces. When it was finally our turn to enter, we glanced at each other nervously. The student worker at the entrance ushered us on eagerly with a hand gesture. It appeared nearly pitch dark inside. Both my roommates lightly pushed me in front of them. “Oh no– no way.” I slipped behind them and insisted

Creative Works… 136 that one of them lead instead. Eventually, Veronica took the lead. We finally entered as one huddled entity. Almost instantly we were confronted with a jumpscare that made us almost fall over one another in surprise. However, we soon grew accustomed to them. The maze contained a menagerie of masked monsters, a dizzying display of dead-ends, and a silly amount of confused students. Every time we thought we had found the exit, it turned out to be another trick. The maze had been designed in a way that misled those inside. We ended up walking the same way multiple times, running into other students who had yet to escape. Everyone screamed upon colliding with the others, and there was a mix-up as to who was who. Veronica got separated from us for a while, until finding her way back to the group. In one of the false exits that we reached, towards the end of our journey in the maze, we met Frankenstein and his bride (two deftly dressed students) who had a candy bowl. It seemed like this was the end of the maze, and the candy was a reward for finding the exit, but they told us to return the way we had come. However, Veronica reached out and grabbed a yellow lollipop before we continued on and found the exit. Once we broke out of the maze and rejoined the lively party, it felt significantly better. However, we all applauded the creativity of the students who created the maze and Veronica brought her prize of the small lollipop back to the dorm. That is how the fiasco began. Veronica absentmindedly placed the lollipop in her pen holder cup before we went to sleep that night. Then,

Creative Works… 137 the next day, we all went about our business, until at some point, the lollipop was found on the ground. “That’s strange,” Veronica commented. “How did it jump from the penholder to the ground way over here?” “Gravity?” I shrugged, “It could’ve fallen out and rolled over there. Though you’re right– that is kind of far.” Veronica placed the lollipop back in the cup holder, and we thought no more about it. Yet, the lollipop continued to find its way, several more times, onto the floor by itself. Gradually, this led both my roommates to call it haunted. While the possibility of ghosts was exciting to me, I didn’t think much of it, either. Still, their theories did give me an idea. The next time the lollipop was placed into the pen holder, I made the plan to move it myself. Instead of it lying on the floor, I placed it across the room on top of the microwave while my roommates had class. It would have been impossible for it to have moved there without help. Then, I left the room and waited for someone to notice. A few hours later, Veronica texted me in all caps and sent a picture of the lollipop in its new location. Serena and I texted our astonishment, and I told her not to touch it until we got there. Then, we all stared at it in disbelief. I denied having any hand in the matter, and surprisingly, they both believed my lie and the existence of a supernatural lollipop stealer. “That’s it,” Veronica stated, “we’re getting rid of this thing.” All three of us walked, Veronica gingerly holding the lollipop by the stick, to the floor’s communal trash can. She

Creative Works… 138 unceremoniously threw it in. “That should do it.” I smirked slightly. I planned to come back and fish the candy out of the trash to continually torment my roommates. They likely would have believed the ruse for a while longer. Unfortunately, the floor’s trash was picked up that day, and I didn’t have the chance to do so. To this day, the three of us remember the ‘haunted lollipop.’ They were never the wiser that I had animated the candy, but I never threw it on the floor to begin with. Maybe it really was haunted.

stained glass

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by Julie Eyerman

we take turns sharing insignificant details about our days with each other. these details become significant to the other person, and each time we talk, we tint a piece of glass. before we know it, we’ve become stained glass windows that only we can see the colors of. we see the world through rose… and violet… and blue… and green tinted glass when we look at each other. when we look at each other, we see the world in a different light. it’s so… clear. we have no idea what the world actually looks like because we can only see it through each other’s eyes.

Creative Works… 140 Swimming to Jesus: A Contrast Between Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot by N.H. Steed

We all sin. Even as Christians, we all sin every day. There’s a somewhat popular church saying that goes, “as Christians we aren’t sinless [meaning we are not yet perfect and still at times commit sin], but we strive to sin less [meaning we strive to walk in obedience to God’s commandments].” I personally have mixed feelings about this saying, and I admit it’s a bit cheesy and cliché. However, at its basic message, I would say it’s true. As Christians, we are not yet sinless (not on this side of heaven, at least), and we do strive to pick up our cross daily, die to ourselves, and sin less. There is only one appropriate response to sin: running to Jesus, and trusting in His grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. Running to Jesus with our sin is not a one-time thing. Yes, when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, our debt of sin is canceled and washed away; however, as we continue to walk with Him, working out our faith with fear and trembling, as Paul says, we must continue to confess and lay down our sin at His feet. Running to Jesus with our sinful mistakes should, and must be, a continuous routine for the Christian, for we are not just dependent on His grace and mercy one time, when we first receive Him as our Lord and Savior, but always, each and every day! As Christians, our salvation is secured when we first call upon His name but walking in righteousness and repenting of sin is a daily journey. This concept of running to Jesus with our sin is something that really hits home for me. I am in constant need of His mercy. I am in constant need of His grace, love,

Creative Works… 141 and forgiveness. I am so glad that Jesus forgives us more than just seven times, or even seventy-times-seven. I am so grateful for His endless faithfulness, because it seems that I need it endlessly. Truly grasping His never-ending merciful grace is something that, admittedly, I struggle to understand. I suppose we all do (if we’re being honest with ourselves). For me, one of the most amazing passages of scripture is 1 John 1:9: “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of from all wickedness.” Wow! What a promise, and one to which I cling to with white-knuckled hands. “If we confess, He will forgive us of our sins!” Now, of course, this passage doesn’t mean we have permission to abuse His grace. That is not the heart of one who truly knows and loves Christ. But wow, this is a promise that says, “I am always here, ready to forgive you; just come to Me.” As I said, understanding this concept is something I struggle with. Not because I don’t believe it (I believe it wholeheartedly), but because it’s too wonderful for me to comprehend: amazing grace. However, over the last few months, I feel like God has been showing and teaching me a little bit more about confession or running to Him with our horrible, heinous, disgusting sin, trusting in His grace. As all good lessons, this one can be found within the gospel of Jesus. When talking about the twelve disciples of Jesus, it is without a doubt that Judas Iscariot is the most infamous. After all, he is the one who betrayed Jesus— talk about a heinous sin. But what is interesting to me is that, in all four of the gospels, the story of Judas betraying Jesus is always quickly followed by the story of Peter betraying Jesus: Matthew 23:47 and 69, Mark 14:43 and 66, Luke 22:47 and

Creative Works… 142 54, and John 18:1 and 15. In every gospel, both stories take place within the very same chapter. This is no coincidence (at least, I don’t think it is). There is a massively important contrast between Peter and Judas, and until the last couple of months, I didn’t even see it. You see, both Peter and Judas commit the same terrible sin of betraying Christ. Judas betrays Jesus to His enemies in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47-49). In a very similar manner, Peter betrays Jesus. While Jesus is being taken away, the Bible tells us that Peter follows at a safe distance. During this time, Peter is confronted by three different people accusing him of being with Jesus. Each time, Peter denies Christ, which is undoubtedly a betrayal. This can be seen in Luke 22:54-62. Now it is important to note that Peter’s sin was intentional. He did not accidentally betray Jesus. He did so knowing it was wrong. This is important because, as Christians, when we sin, it is done so intentionally, making the sin all the more despicable. Thus far, both Peter and Judas have sinned and betrayed Christ, and for now, the comparison continues. After their sins, both men show great regret for what they have done. In Luke 22:62, it says that Peter “went out and wept bitterly.” Clearly, he feels awful for what he has done. In the same way, Judas regrets his sin; Matthew 27:3-5 tells us that Judas felt remorse, and even threw the silver (his reward) back to the chief priests. In verse four, he even says, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” It is very evident that both Peter and Judas not only sinned, but also felt great remorse for what they had done. Now, here in the story is where the comparison of Peter and Judas ends, and the contrast begins. Feeling the awful shame for his sin, Judas does what many people in

Creative Works… 143 the past have done and what many people today still do: he kills himself (Matthew 27:5). Burdened and crushed by the weight of his sin, Judas takes his own life: a complete and utter victory for the Devil, for this is what he wants — death. However, by the sheer grace of God, Peter’s story has a completely different ending (John 21:7-8). Later, after Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter and John are in their fishing boats (back where they had first started) when John points to the beach and says to Peter, “Hey, it’s Jesus!” Immediately, Peter looks up and, seeing Jesus, dives into the water. One can only imagine the feelings he had in that moment. After all, this wasn’t the first time Peter jumped out of a boat to go to his Savior, and though this time he isn’t walking on the water, he is again desperate to be with his Lord, his God. This here is the contrast: Judas didn’t really know Jesus, but Peter did. If Judas had only known, perhaps his story would be different as well (I think about that sometimes). But no, Judas had no hope, and was crushed by his sin. Judas wallowed in his own mistakes, and it cost him his life. Peter, on the other hand, sees Jesus and swims to Him. Still carrying the full burden of his sin, Peter sees his Savior and goes to Him. He probably didn’t know what exactly would happen next, but this much is clear: Peter knew of Jesus’ grace and mercy, and utterly counted on it. Peter was already counting on 1 John 1:9 before it had even been written. This contrast of Judas and Peter has been so encouraging for me because it serves as a reminder of how good Jesus is and how essential it is for us (as Christians) to take our sins to Him, no matter how terrible or heinous they are. When we sin, our first gut reaction is to do what Adam did in the Garden of Eden—run and hide. But this story

Creative Works… 144 illustrates what happens when we run away with our sin. No, we must not be like Adam or Judas, but rather, Peter. When we sin, we must fully count on the love, grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness of Jesus. We must run to Him (or even swim, if that’s what it takes).

Tell Me the Story of Jesus by N.H. Steed

Tell me the story of Jesus, Who is the great I AM. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who was there when the world began. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who gives me hope on days like this. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who is clothed in righteousness. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who holds me in His hands. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who, for my life, has plans. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who was rejected by His own. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who refused to cast the first stone. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who lived this life the perfect man. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who, for me, died the spotless lamb. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who died for a sinner like me. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who bled on Calvary’s tree.

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Creative Works… 146 Tell me the story of Jesus, Who is the way, the truth, and the life. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who healed me by His stripes. Tell me the Story of Jesus, Who cried out, “it is finished.” Tell me the story of Jesus, Who, by faith, my hope’s replenished. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who rose with the Easter Sun. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who, by His grace, my heart was won. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who defeated the grave and conquered death. Tell me the story of Jesus, Whose empty grave is all that’s left. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who turns suffering into celebration. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who is the author of true salvation. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who makes all things new. Tell me the story of Jesus, To whom all glory and honor is due. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who sustains and upholds my faith.

Tell me the story of Jesus, Who pours out His love and grace.

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Tell me the story of Jesus, Who heals the sick and walks on waters. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who adopted us as His sons and daughters. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who knows the hunger of my soul. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who heals my hurt and makes me whole. Tell me the story of Jesus, Whose throne is everlasting. Tell me the story of Jesus, Whose peace is all-surpassing. Tell me the story of Jesus, Tell me again, again, and again. Tell me the story of Jesus, Who welcomes me as His friend. Tell me the story of Jesus, To whom all knees will one day bow. Tell me the story of Jesus; Tell me quick, tell me now.

The Beginning of the End

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by J. Luke Herman

Here I hold onto what I know will be lost, As I wait with what’s left of my broken self, ‘Til the tolling of the bells calls them forth, Mustering all my strength so I can fight one last time, One last time for the fickle heaven I wish I could live in forever, Before I watch my personal paradise burn in ashes that fly away from my fingertips, Burning in the inferno of the decisions I made to try and escape, Escape the fiends that caused me so much pain, The monsters I couldn’t defeat, The monsters I couldn’t run away from, The monsters I created, Now they come back for me, To take me back to the hell curated specifically for me while I ran toward my fragile refuge, The hell that I tried to escape, And now I know better than I did before, What sort of demons one can create to try and ease the pain, And I can See them, Smell them, Hear them, While they laugh and pull me back into the nether reaches I crawled out from, While they Smash,

Creative Works… 149 Break, Burn That which I wanted to hold onto so desperately, And the real tragedy now is that I know now what I did to sculpt their vicious forms, And what I should have said and done to prevent their birth, But what is in the past cannot be undone. So I stand here, waiting at the end With nothing but regret, At the beginning of the demise, The demise I crafted specifically for myself without even realizing what I had done, What I created: The beginning of the end.

Creative Works… 150 The Boy is a Prince by Asia Lavay

There once was a boy with eyes that sparkled with blissful arrogance. He sat on a throne, with his head held high, a pouty face, smelling like a discount fragrance. He had all the riches and saw all the sights, but something was missing and nothing was right. He went to his father, who gained strength from his father, and had bored, blue eyes and stolen hair. He went to his mother, who gained strength from her husband, and had tired blue eyes and was gasping for air, “why do I feel bad about the life I choose? I feel beaten and broken but I have no bruise?” His father was shocked and troubled to the bone, but his mother was lenient; she didn’t always have the throne. When his father left, he punched holes in the walls and was unable to speak. But his mother caressed him with gentle hands and had eyes that were weak. “Listen, my son, it’s dangerous out there and the people are angry; there’s no forgiveness in the world. Listen, my son, you don’t want their crimes; I’m telling you; you’ll shudder, your toes will have curled. Your shoulders will tense; your work is in vain. You’ll want to relate; they’ll call you insane.” But the boy did not listen; he never did. He preferred his methods; he was still a kid. So out he went, to seek something worthwhile. But there were no smiles. And all the meanwhile…

Creative Works… 151 There were many kids that danced with something to say, but the music was stopped and always taken away. The kids were barely getting by with no food, no water, and no cars. No home, no money, no shoes; they only had scars. The boy did not see the aches that they felt, but he saw the scars, and jealousy dwelt. He stomped with his feet and huffed with a pout: “ I want a scar!” He was feeling left out. The kids sat confused, insulted, and targeted, so they rejected his plea. They wanted him gone, but he stood his ground, so they opted to flee. But the boy would not let them leave, for he was determined to get a scar. He saw their frustration, but he made them wait anyway; he was just that bizarre. “Give me a scar; I want what you have. I want to feel pain; I want to feel sad.” A little girl, who was around his age, stood at the front of the crowd, filled with rage. She stomped with her feet and huffed with a pout. “You can’t have our scars,” she said with a shout. “We do not like them, but we choose to see them. We choose to rise above; we choose to believe in: hope and faith and love and joy. We struggle for peace; you choose to destroy.” “I do not destroy, and I do not care about what you believe, because it’s all nonsense and you speak in riddles. I’m only a young boy, yet I have gold and power, while you guys complain; I swear, you people are fickle.”

Creative Works… 152 useless in helping him get what he wanted. Ignoring their misery, he decided to get his scar, went back home, and left them haunted. When he arrived home, he went to see his father, because he knew his father could set things ablaze. Inside the castle, he passed by his mother, who tried to speak to him, but he shooed her away. His father was waiting at the top of the castle; he had watched the whole incident from up there. When the boy arrived, he could barely get out a word before his dad said a worthless prayer. And once he finished the prayer that was wordy and overdone, he took a step forward and blindly looked at his son. “We will rule the world together; so. there’s no need for suffering or for scars. Those are for the people who dance, your mother, and everyone else on our radar. But if you really want to have one, I can do my special trick.” The boy said to his father, “That will complete me! That’s my only wish!” So the father set his son on fire, as it was the boy’s only desire. But when the fire went out and the son was okay, he saw his scars and it made his day. The prince had got what he wanted. The king had got what he wanted. The mother suppressed and flaunted. And the people who danced remained haunted.

The Fruits

Creative Works… 153

by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

Take in all the beauty around you And sing with it a song of Joy. Find in the mountain a Self-control. Find in a blooming flower some Patience. Find in a fire a cleansing Goodness. Find in the rain a blanket of Kindness. Find in the seasons some Faithfulness. Find in the stream a Gentleness. Find in a storm the Peace within. Find in the sunshine a Love like no other. Take in the fruits that surround you now And carry them with you always.

Content Warning: The next piece suggests the implication of sexual assault and alcohol use.

Creative Works… 154 The Girl in the Mirror by Leslie Galvan

The taste of alcohol still stings my tongue from the night before. The pounding on my head is merciless. My itchy eyes feel like they haven’t rested in days, and my body feels like it has been stepped on, kicked on, and trampled on. I smell the vomit on my clothes before I see it. I try to move but I’m glued to the bed. My insides hurt. I feel like I’ve either been laughing or crying for hours. I take deep breaths and focus on getting up. I finally manage to sit up. I look around the room. It’s my room. I see my shoes and purse scattered on the floor. My messy desk in the corner. The pink drapes my mother picked out. It’s my room. I’m at my parents’ house. But why can’t I remember how I got here? I slowly get up from the bed and pick up my purse. I rummage through my lipsticks, wallet, and perfume, but don’t find it. I must have lost it at the bar. I don’t know who I would call even if I had found it. I go into the bathroom and what I see out of the corner of my eye frightens me. Her brown hair is crumbled in wads, sticking up from all sides. The mascara on her cheeks and the pink lipstick smeared on her face makes me tear up. The glittery eyeshadow on her left eye has disappeared. Her blue dress is torn in the front. I don’t know who that is, but it is not me. I don’t know how much time goes by, but I just stand there. I try to look for a sign. A clue. I search my own face for answers. My green eyes are bloodshot, swollen. The more I stare at myself, the more nauseous I feel. I begin sobbing uncontrollably. I fall to the floor and curl into a ball. Everything hurts, and I don’t know why.

Creative Works… 155 I climb into the bathtub and turn on the shower while I stay curled, hugging my knees. I let the water cover me as I continue to cry. When my heartbeat is no longer going a million miles an hour and the shaking has stopped, I get out of the tub. I take off my dirty dress and leave it on the floor. Even after the shower, the vomit is still there. I take a real shower, but I still feel gross. There’s a smell on me I can’t wash off. I change into sweats, a t-shirt, and an oversized hoodie. Even though it is the middle of June, I feel cold. Even with two layers, I feel naked. The morning light blinds me, so I close the window curtains. I start to go back to bed, and I realize the comforter is still intact. The bed is still made. When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t under the sheets. I always sleep under the sheets. I can’t sleep if I’m not covered, no matter how hot the weather is. Just like I always take hot showers — even in the summer. Before my pulse begins to accelerate again, I crawl into bed and hide under the sheets. I close my eyes and try to piece together last night. It was my 21st birthday. My parents threw a birthday dinner for me. My aunt and her husband came, along with some family friends. At night, I went out with my best friends, Julia and Brianna. We went clubbing and then to a bar. I got into a fight with Brandon. I think we broke up? I started taking shots… Julia and Brianna wanted to leave and I didn’t… I was supposed to go home with them. Why am I here? The pounding on my head begins again. I give my brain a break and go downstairs for some water and aspirin. This isn’t my first hangover, but I have never had one this bad. I pop a few pills into my mouth and chug two glasses of water. I feel light-headed, so I head back to my

Creative Works… 156 room when I hear a knock at the door. Because it’s Sunday, and I know my parents are at brunch at the country club, I walk towards the door. I stop. I wonder if they heard me get home last night. No, probably not. They knew I was supposed to stay over at Brianna’s. Plus, they’re heavy sleepers. I open the front door. A concerned Brianna and an irritated Julia stand in front of me. Brianna lets out a sigh and pulls me into a hug. Julia begins to interrogate me. “Where have you been?! We’ve been calling you all morning!” I say nothing and shrug. “Dude, we thought you were dead! We’ve been freaking out!” she screams. “Yeah, Carmen, you were supposed to text us when you got home. Not cool,” Brianna shakes her head. “You told your parents you were staying at my house after the bar, so I was worried you might get in trouble because of how drunk you were.” “Sorry. I just woke up, guys. And I can’t find my phone. Also, can you stop with the yelling? I have a massive headache.” “God, Carmen, get your life together. Breakups happen. Brandon was a jerk anyway,” Julia snaps. “So we did break up?” I whisper. “You don’t remember? You broke up with him,” she answers. “Okay Julia, that’s enough. You don’t have to be so mean right now. She’s super hungover. They were both drunk and said things they didn’t mean,” Brianna interjects. “No, it’s okay, I’m trying to remember what hap-

Creative Works… 157 pened. What happened with Brandon and I?” I ask. “He got really upset that you were drinking so much and dancing like a stripper.” “Julia! Are you kidding?” Brianna shouts. “What?! It’s true! I’m trying to jog her memory.” “Okay… then what happened?” I press. “Well, that’s it; you told him to get lost. He wanted to take you home, but you didn’t want to leave with him. He watched you leave, and I guess he must have left right after that,” Brianna explains. “You didn’t see him leave the bar? Or me?” “No, we were too busy trying to call an Uber. You were supposed to wait for us, but you walked off and we couldn’t find you.” “So you guys didn’t bring me home?” I ask slowly. “No, you called your aunt to pick you up.” Brianna stops. “Why? Did something happen last night, Carmen?” “I don’t know. I woke up super disoriented this morning. Wait, why didn’t I go home with you guys?” “You didn’t want to. You got mad when we cut you off. I’ve never seen you so drunk, Carmen. I know it was your birthday, hon, but that was too much,” Brianna says disapprovingly. “I know. I’m really sorry. Thank you for worrying about me,” I tell them. “It’s okay. It was your 21st, so we’ll let it slide,” Brianna smiles. She nudges Julia. “Yeah, it’s okay, Car. You just gotta learn to hold down your alcohol,” Julia says, laughing. “So, what do you feel like doing today? Wanna go grab some breakfast?” I still feel uneasy about how the events transpired last night. Something else happened. Something even they

Creative Works… 158 don’t know. Something on the way home. And I don’t tell them because I don’t want them to worry. Even if I did, how do I explain a feeling so foreign to me? “You know, I forgot my mom wanted me to run a few errands for her today. Can we hang out tomorrow? It’s Sunday, so you know my aunt is coming over for family dinner and my mom always has me help her,” I explain awkwardly. “Oh, yeah— no worries. Text us! Oh, wait… Do you want us to help you look for your phone before we leave?” Brianna asks. “If you wouldn’t mind, I would appreciate that. My head is throbbing.” I sit on the couch and watch them go through every room in the house, the driveway, and the front yard. Julia even walks up and down the street. “Nothing,” she says, walking back inside the house. “You might have left it at the bar. We can go with you and check if you want.” “It’s okay, I’ll stop by and ask later.” I have a feeling where I left my phone. I check the clock on the wall. Brandon should be up soon. After my friends leave, I go upstairs to change. I take off the hoodie and replace my sweats with denim shorts. It is then that I notice the bruises on my legs. I sense the shaking about to begin, so I change quickly, grab my keys, and run out the door before it paralyzes me again. Although my anxiety makes me feel uneasy about driving, I need answers. Why did I break up with Brandon? I drive slowly through the bumpy neighborhood, my trembling hands gripping the steering wheel. I miss the entrance to his neighborhood, so I make a U-turn and barely

Creative Works… 159 miss the sidewalk. I park the car in front of his house and take a few deep breaths before I step out of my white Corolla. Even though I have no idea what to ask him, I am hoping he will know more than the girls. It is now 11:00 am, and even though I know he likes to sleep in, I knock on his parents’ front door. They are in Palm Springs for the first half of summer, so there is no chance of them answering. Brianna, Julia, Brandon, and I were so excited to come home for a few months before we began our senior year of college. How did it go so wrong…? A few minutes later, Brandon opens the door. Thank God, because I am struggling to stand up straight. His messy blonde hair and his shirtless pajamas indicate he was still asleep. His face is expressionless, and I don’t know how to begin. “Hi,” I say. “Hey.” “Can we talk?” I ask quietly. “Sure, come in,” he replies, opening the door wider. I walk inside, trying to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I wait for him to close the door and sit on the black leather sofa before I do. He sits with his arms on his knees, folding his hands, body leaning towards me. His eyes look down at the ground, fixated on the carpet. I look up at him intently. “Look, I know we haven’t been dating for very long, but I want to apologize for last night. I was super drunk and I don’t remember what I did or said,” I say. He says and does nothing. I wait for him to say something. He doesn’t. But I also don’t know what else to say. I literally have no memory of anything from last night. While I panic about what to say next, he says, “I’m sorry,


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I gasp involuntarily. Yes, just tell me what happened last night. Tell me what you did. “I shouldn’t have been such a jerk. I knew it was your birthday and you were just trying to have fun, and I caused so much drama. I shouldn’t have been so possessive. I shouldn’t have made such a big deal about taking you home.” “Why didn’t you take me home?” I ask. “You were mad at me because I told you to stop dancing so provocatively. Then Julia and Brianna cut you off and wanted to take you home, but you yelled at them to leave you alone. I offered to take you home, but you refused. You called your aunt to pick you up, and you said you were going to wait for her outside.” “Brandon…” I start slowly. “Did you see my aunt pick me up?” “Yes, Carmen, I saw you get into your aunt’s car. It’s a black Subaru with a smiley face sticker. I’ve seen it at family dinner. I didn’t see her because you ran to her car and got in before I could walk you. I went back inside and told Brianna and Julia you had gone home, and they said they would cover for you.” I let out the breath I had been holding since this morning. This only makes me more light-headed. I feel my body stop shaking. “Are you okay, Car? I texted you last night asking if you got home okay, but you didn’t reply.” “Yeah, sorry, I lost my phone at the bar.” “No, you didn’t. I’m one hundred percent sure you had your phone in your hand when you got in your aunt’s car. You called her in front of me. I don’t think she an-

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swered, so you texted her.” “Really? Hmm, that’s weird. If I had left it in my aunt’s car, she would have left it with my stuff. Maybe she forgot. I’ll just ask her when she comes over later for family dinner,” I say. “Are we okay then, Carmen? Are we good?” he asks sheepishly. “I know I was a jerk but I think we should try this again.” I think about this for too long. The awkward silence fills the room. I don’t know why, but I know that something changed last night. With me. I don’t bother trying to explain this to him. “Yeah. We’re good, Brandon. I just need some time and space right now. I’m going through something personal…” I bite my lip. “Oh. Yeah, I get it. Take all the time you need. I care about you, Car. I want to be there for you,” he says softly. “Please call me if you need anything.” “Thanks, B.” I smile at him, and I promise to call before I leave. I run out of the house quickly and get into my car. I hyperventilate a little before I turn the engine on and drive away. The thoughts racing in my head mirror the speed at which I drive. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is that I’m going insane. There isn’t any other explanation. How do I convince myself that everything is fine when I don’t feel fine? You’re still drunk, I tell myself. Calm down. Calm down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Don’t let it overtake you. The red and green lights are fuzzy and the car honks ring in my ears. Crash.

Creative Works… 162 I don’t stop in time and hit the car in front of me. Hard. So hard that our cars slide to the middle of the intersection. I think he saw how fast I was driving and tried to pull forward so I wouldn’t hit him. But I still did. The black Tacoma has some scratches and dents, but my car looks like a crumpled up piece of paper. It looks worse than it is. An ambulance comes and takes me and the man driving to the hospital, despite our protests. I feel tired, so I close my eyes for a few minutes. When I wake up again, I am not in the ambulance. The smell of rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, and other chemicals reminds me of the time I got my appendix taken out when I was twelve. The characteristic smells of the hospital. Although my head is no longer hurting, my body aches all over. In a different way than before. The nurse comes in to check my vitals. “Good, you’re awake, sweetie. Listen, you’re okay, you were in a car accident, but no one was hurt. Because you’re twenty-one, we’re not obligated to call your parents. Do you want us to call anyone for you?” “No,” I say without thinking. “Hmm, alright. Well, there is something the doctor wants to talk to you about, so just wait for him a few minutes, okay?” She looks at me sympathetically. I nod my head. For the first time today, my thoughts don’t feel fuzzy. Finally, the hangover is starting to wear off. They probably gave me a ton of fluids. I only wait a few minutes before a tall, bald man wearing glasses walks into my room and sits down on a chair next to me. “Hello, Carmen. I’m Dr. Goodwin. How are you feeling?” “So much better, doctor.”

Creative Works… 163 “Do you mean you woke up unwell this morning?” he asks. My face turns red. “Yes. I woke up hungover. It was my 21st birthday yesterday— but I wasn’t drinking today,” I add quickly. “I know that, don’t worry. We had to do a drug and alcohol test to make sure you weren’t driving under the influence. Because there was an accident, it was probable cause and we didn’t need your consent to do so.” “I’m really sorry about the accident. I was driving too fast. I wasn’t thinking.” I try not to cry. “I know that, too. But Carmen, there’s something I need to share with you.” I look up at him expectedly. He looks concerned. “The nurse told me no one was hurt,” I choke. I bite my lip. “No one in the accident was hurt. But you were hurt last night, Carmen.” I blink. “And you don’t remember because you were drugged.” I blink again, with tears streaming down my cheeks. “The nurse saw the bruises on your legs. Your tox screen came back positive. It’s okay if you don’t remember what happened. Your memories may slowly start to come back— or something may trigger them— but it’s possible they won’t return. And that’s also okay. It is important, however, to determine who hurt you, and the best way to do that is by doing a rape kit.” More tears slide down my face, but faster. I bite my lip. “You can think about it, if you’d like, but I think you would want to know who your abuser is,” the doctor explains. “No,” I mutter.

Creative Works… 164 “Okay, maybe you don’t want to know, but this person needs to be brought to justice and–” “No, I mean no, I don’t want a rape kit.” The doctor seems surprised. “You can think about it, and if you change your mind, just inform one of the nurses.” “I already took a shower this morning, anyway,” I mumble. “That’s okay, it’s possible we can still retrieve some evidence–” “I want to go home.” “You’re fine to go home, but I really think you should reconsider–” “Please, just let me go home.” He gets up from the chair. “Of course. I’ll sign your release. Carmen, I’m sorry for what happened. If you change your mind, please come back to do the kit. But it has to be today; otherwise, we’ll lose the evidence. Are you sure you don’t want to call your parents?” I close my eyes and turn my head so he can no longer talk to me. He leaves the room quietly while I lay motionless. I curl into a ball and begin to sob hysterically. Everything inside me aches. Since this morning, my body has been trying to tell me something was wrong. It knew before my brain did. The pain inside me is too difficult to bear. So I turn it off. I don’t want to worry my parents about the accident, but I’m scared to call a cab or anyone to pick me up. I can’t tell anyone else about this. I ask the nurse to call my mom. Hopefully she won’t ask too many questions. My parents know I’m a bad driver, so they won’t have a hard time believing I got into an accident. I’ll worry about my car tom-

Creative Works… 165 orrow— although, I don’t think I’ll be going out much this summer. Before I leave, I take the pill the nurse left on the counter for me. On the ride home, my mom fusses over the accident. So much for hoping. She asks me why I haven’t picked up my phone all day, why I didn’t text her when I got home from the club last night, and what I was doing at Brandon’s house. “Don’t worry, Mom, I didn’t spend the night at Brandon’s house. You know I wouldn’t. I lost my phone last night and I thought he had it, so I went to his house.” “You didn’t leave it at Brianna’s house? You did stay the night with her, right?” she asks. I hesitate. “Yes, I did.” I look down. “No, I didn’t leave it at her house. I’ve looked everywhere for it. It ran out of battery, so I can’t even track it.” “It’s okay, honey, we can just get you a new one; stop worrying. Just be more careful next time. Also, I don’t want you going out ‘clubbing’ so much. I worry about you. Plus, I haven’t seen you since spring break, and I want to spend as much time with you as possible before you go back to school,” my mom says. “Don’t worry, Mom, I didn’t really like clubbing anyway,” I sigh. “Good. Don’t worry about the accident. I’ll take care of your car, and the insurance will handle the rest.” “Thanks, Mom,” I mumble. If only she knew I can’t stop worrying, thinking about last night. About the hospital. The smell of my dad’s famous lasagna fills my nostrils as soon as I open the front door home. “There you are, honey; we’ve been calling you all

Creative Works… 166 day! Where have you been?” my dad asks as soon as he sees us. “Are you okay? What happened to your car?” “I’m fine, Dad. It wasn’t that big of a deal. I can pay for my car and the hospital bill.” “Carmen, that’s not the point. You need to be more responsible.” He notices me wince. He has no idea how much those words hurt. “But I’m glad you’re okay, honey.” He gives me a big, tight hug and I almost break down in his arms. I’ve needed a hug all day. I bite my lip and hold back tears as they both fill me in on their day. I wish I could tell them about my day, but I can’t. I don’t know why. I just can’t. My mom tells me to set the table, so I do. Just as I am about to head back to my room to get ready for dinner, the doorbell rings. I open the door for my aunt and her perfect family. She looks beautiful in a yellow summer dress and heels while she holds her 6-month-old baby. Her tall and tan husband wears a navy blue polo and khaki shorts with sneakers. They look like a young celebrity couple. My aunt hugs me tight, crushing my sore body. “Hey, Carmen,” her husband greets. “Hi, Noah,” I reply as he makes his way to the kitchen. “How was last night, sweetie? Did you have fun?” my nosy aunt asks. “Too much fun,” I say coldly. “No way! Did you end up wearing the blue dress Noah and I got you for your birthday?” “Yes, I did.” “I was so jealous you got to go clubbing after the dinner party. You left me with all the old folks,” she frowns. “But it’s okay because they left right after you and your

Creative Works… 167 friends left. Noah and I went home and put the baby to sleep early, and I finished an entire bottle of wine and passed out,” she explains. “Did you also get completely wasted?” she asks jokingly. I glare at her. “You know I was trashed.” “Huh? What do you mean? Did you post a video? I haven’t been on Insta yet.” I grab her arm and pull her to the side. “What are you doing? Mom can’t hear us. Stop pretending like you didn’t pick me up from the club last night.” “Carmen, I didn’t see you after dinner last night. Are you still drunk?” she asks with a confused look on her face. “Aunt Jenna, you brought me home last night.” “No, I didn’t sweetie. You must be super hungover. I didn’t bring you home.” “Yes, you did. I called you– or texted you, and you came to pick me up from the bar…” I try to say confidently. “Carmen, check my phone. You did not call or text me last night.” “Jenna, come help your sister make the salads!” Noah yells from the kitchen. “Coming!” my aunt answers. “Sweetie, I think you should go back to bed and sleep off this hangover.” She kisses my forehead and leaves me, half-standing-half-limping. Noah comes back from grabbing a beer and pulls something out of his pocket. “Look what I found.” He stretches out his hand and opens his palm. “I found it in the front yard. You must have dropped it.” I look up at him. He smiles and walks away. I stare at my trembling hand. The missing piece of the puzzle. My phone. My eyes wander to where the stranger is standing, in deep conversation

Creative Works… 168 with my dad. My aunt kisses his cheek and he kisses her back. He glances at me for a brief second. I don’t know how, but I make it back to my room just in time to throw up. I don’t know what comes out, considering I haven’t had anything to eat all day. After I finish, I rinse my mouth and drown my face in water. I look up and see my reflection in the mirror. I don’t recognize the pale girl standing in front of me. She looks like she hasn’t slept in days, and her lips are chapped and bloody from biting them so much. Her hair is up in a bun, but it sticks out from all sides. She used to be so pretty. So fearless. So full of life. I wonder what happened to her. But I do know. Her face serves as a reminder of who she used to be. Something deep inside begins to panic. I get brief flashbacks of last night’s car ride home. Someone’s hands over my body. I start to tremble uncontrollably. I try to shake the handprints off my body. Every breath I take feels like the last. My knees feel like they can give out at any moment. I sense the sweat on my forehead trickle down. My heart feels like it will burst out of my chest. Crash. I look down at my right knuckle, drenched in blood. The mirror, shattered into a million pieces, both on the wall and on the floor. I smile. She’s gone. I lock the door before my parents – or worse, aunt – can come and ask questions about the loud noise. I’ve never lied to her in my life. But I have to. I don’t have a choice. I climb into bed and pretend today never happened. I want to be the girl who woke up this morning, oblivious to who she was and no longer was. I try to find a way, a reason, to trust the girl in the mirror again. It’s an indescribable feeling. Being broken. Knowing

Creative Works… 169 never be whole again. But I don’t regret my decision. The best way to stop hurting is to pretend it never happened.

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The Legion of Fire by J. Luke Herman

Be ready, my son, Before our lives be undone, For on the horizon I see them now, The legion of fire, Beckons for our final song, Bravery we must hold with our swords in hand, For our steel to their flame turns red like blood, And blood be what is spilled by those who do not believe, Those who are not brave in the face of foreseeable defeat, The legion of fire, Waits for the heat of battle, Waits for our loved ones who see us go to be put to the test, For on the horizon, I see them now, Burning down what we worked so hard for, Scorching the ground that we have toiled over and plowed, While we wave goodbye as we march towards our fiery graves, Be ready, my son, Be ready for the fray, For we go to meet them on this bitter day, The legion of fire will burn us down, Burn us to the ground like trees to the flame, But if the fire is what we must endure, What we must fight against for those we dearly love, Then we will all burn together, And from the ashes rise braver than before: Heroes in a better tomorrow.

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The mind. The heart.

by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

The mind

The heart

...needs confirmation ...needs rest ...needs security ...needs maintenance ...needs hope

...needs confrimation ...needs rest ...needs security ...needs maintenance ...needs hope.

But the mind is logical and feeds on knowledge. It dwells in the head, never leaving that space. You cannot give your mind away, nor would you want to.

But the heart is illocigal and thrives on love. It dwells in the chest, but reaches out often. You long to give your heart away, forever and always.

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Davis, Kristian

Untitled No. 1

Flemming, Grace

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Untitled No. 2

Flemming, Grace


Freire, Laura

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Yee Haw!

Gamez, Jillian

Oh deer!

Gamez, Jillian

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Gilbert, Aidan

Gilbert, Aidan

The Paladin

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by Chloe Mann

Passionate and strong, He is a blade in the ground: Unmoving ‘til death.

The Plight of a Sunflower Jaden Massaro

The sunflower smiles at her beloved sky, She fearlessly meets his golden eye. From her, I have a lot to learn, For when I face the sun, I only get burned. But what will she do when she can’t see the sky? When sorrow clouds his face and rains from his eyes? From me, she will regrettably have a lot to learn, For when it shines elsewhere, where will she turn?

Creative Pieces… 177 The purpose is presence by Hannah Navarro

Life sucks. There is no beating around the bush with that statement. Life is hard. Life is not perfect. Life has pain, struggle, and… death. So yeah, life really does suck. As I sat on my bed, twiddling my thumbs above my keyboard, thinking about how to comfort my friend, whose dad had just been diagnosed with cancer, I was left wondering what would actually be encouraging. I shuffled through the options. I’m so sorry, I will be praying for you! I’m so sorry, I know God can do miracles, he can be healed! I’m so sorry, I wish all this pain would be taken away! I wanted to encourage her, but I knew nothing I could say would make the fear, anger, and denial any less real. In that moment, life really did suck. In that moment, all I could say was, May the Lord be with you. I was hesitant to reassure her that God is a God of miracles. I had no idea if her dad would be healed. I knew God could, but I did not know if it would happen. Then it got me thinking about all the sucky things in life that we all go through, as believers and non-believers. It would be so easy to slap on those comfort phrases of prayer and affirmation, but there is no telling of what will actually happen. Out of everything the Bible says, it never once assures us a perfect, painless life. Rather, John says the opposite. He told us to buckle up and take heart, for in this world, in this life, there will be trouble. In my attempt to comfort my friend, I realized that I could not wish away

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the pain and suffering because I did not know how God wanted to use that sucky circumstance. I did not know if this was her “buckle up and take heart” moment. The beauty of this life is seen in the goodness of our God. God uses every circumstance: the ones we can control, and even the ones we cannot. God is so good that even our missteps are used for His glory. *** I have faith God is a healer, but I have even more faith to remember that He is good. He always turns what the enemy meant for evil to good. Yes, I prayed for healing. Yes, I prayed for peace and comfort, but I also prayed that the Lord would be with them through the uncertainty, fear, and suffering. “For this is eternal life, that they know you… that they might become one as we are one” (John 17) *** “God with us.” Those three simple words that I have heard a million times just became my motto. Seriously about to tattoo “Emmanuel” across my chest. I realized that “God with us” is the solution to every answer. Not only is it the answer to this sucky life, but it is, and has been, the end goal. God, our creator, craves a relationship with us. God wanted to be with us in this life and the life to come. God sent His stainless son to die on a cross so that we would be clean in His sight. So that we could stand in front of the almighty God covered by the blood of Christ… this image is better than it sounds. God knew this, and that is why He sent His son to die on the cross, and later sent His spirit. God wanted to be

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with us in this life and in the life to come. God has always wanted a relationship: never religion or rules, but a relationship. The goal was always for us to have eternal life with God. Now, do not think of eternal life as the quantity of time, but the quality of life. God had to defeat death so that we could have new life. Not a life that sucks! But a life of freedom, joy, peace, love, rainbows, and cinnamon rolls!

The Sparrow

by Michael Robles

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The sparrow twitched his neck. The moon’s glow gave the tree branch a subtle comfort, an otherworldly radiance. As he kicked one of his thin, wood-like legs to the left, he felt a tickling sensation. He watched the street lamps flickered on and off, glitching from an abyssal black to a warm yellow. The sparrow hummed to himself a twilight tune. The streets were empty; no one to guide, as of now. In a fast-paced beat, he hopped up to the top branch of the oak tree he was residing in. His ember wings flapped. No breeze, no howling wind from the gods of the sky… just silence. Bliss. The oak tree resided next to a massive structure. The sparrow could hardly see where the concrete palace and the sky met. An endless array of windows stood in a pattern across the giant building. Debating on taking a peek into one, he wondered if any of them were ready. Quickly, he decided against it. I couldn’t possibly fly that high, he thought. No, the trees are where I stay. Close to where they walk. As his eyes met the ground, the red sparrow shifted his gaze across the street. He saw a man in the corner of his eye resting on a bench. He was rather young, possibly mid-20s. He was wearing a black tee-shirt with a light brown cardigan that draped to his thighs. The sparrow was fixated on his brown boots tapping quite vigorously. Suddenly, the sparrow leaped from his resting spot into the air, flapping his wings in a nearly supersonic state. Hardly anyone would be able to see his small red body in the night sky. Nothing more than a blood-red blur swept

Creative Works… 181 across the street, until it landed on the bench where the man rested. The wood was much more refined than his oak tree, or any tree for that matter. It was sanded, softer, with grooves that made his tiny legs comfortable. The young man hardly noticed the red sparrow beside him. He ran his hand through his black hair, letting it fall just above his eyebrows. It had been months since he got it cut. Now, he would never get the chance to. The thought produced a chill down his spine. As he continued to tap his feet, he turned to see the red sparrow staring at him, his eyes full of curiosity. “Hello there,” the sparrow said softly. “It took a while for you to sense me.” “I’m… sorry.” The young man’s voice was gentle and quiet. Deep, yet sincere. The sparrow hopped closer. He noticed the man staring at the concrete palace. “Peaceful, isn’t it?” The man stared straight at the structure, as though he were sending mental messages to it. He felt called to it, but the concrete palace gave no response. “The hospital?” “Is that what you call it? My, it sounds so different from my language.” The sparrow chuckled. “I meant the sky.” The man looked up higher, resting his neck on the edge of the bench. “I suppose.” He squirmed in his clothes. They looked damp, as though they were recently completely submerged. A forest was behind them. Trees grew twice the size of the sparrow’s trusty oak for several miles behind the two. The sparrow would know; he’d watched them grow since they were seedlings. As the sparrow looked at the sky, he noticed the young man’s timid expression. To him, he

Creative Works… 182 looked rather disappointed. “What might your name be?” the sparrow said, the silence escaping them. The man hesitated to answer. “Which one?” “Your… most current, I suppose.” The sparrow tilted his neck. The man looked back down, his hair drooping over his eyes. He twiddled his thumbs, as if searching for an answer. “Or, perhaps any one you’d like to tell me,” the sparrow nodded. He hopped to the top wooden panel of the bench, his feet gripping onto the softened birch. “I don’t mind.” “Emmet,” the man whispered. “It’s the most recent.” His legs stopped shaking, and he took a big sigh. “Well, pleasure to meet you, Emmet.” “It always is… it always is.” Silence filled the air once again. It made Emmet stretch and sigh and stretch and sigh. His clothes were starting to stick to him; he noticed every texture and every sense, irritably. The two looked on at the hospital. Lights would flicker here and there, and silhouettes appeared in windows. The occasional patient would look out, not paying a single mind to Emmet or the sparrow. All had agendas of their own, and their own worries. Beings were coming into the world, some were leaving. The sparrow knew it all. So did you. “Is this where you usually go?” Emmet asked. His arms were crossed. He let his hair droop down. It was damp after the fall. The sparrow stretched his wings slightly. “I like to stay in that oak tree over there.” He mo-

Creative Works… 183 tioned his beak in the direction of his favorite branch. “But I do not really go anywhere. Usually, they come to me. I like permanence. Sometimes, I’ll find people wandering, lost, and think ‘Hey, who’s watching them?’ I try to help them find what they’re looking for. There’s a lot that have come and gone through those doors.” He managed a small hop to face the direction of the hospital. “Some of them never leave. Tell me, Emmet, do you like permanence?” Emmet paused. He did not quite know. As many memories filled his past life, the question seemed odd to him. He had moved so many times in his childhood years, from his dad’s work, but he could hardly find anything distinct from any of the apartments, townhomes, or guest houses. Just white walls and flat ceilings. “Uhh,” he started, “nowhere comes to mind.” “Well, ‘No permanence is ours; we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds.’” The sparrow’s voice became more familiar. “Do you feel like a wave, Emmet? Or more like what the wave is searching for?” “Herman Hesse.” Emmet gave a polite smile. “I learned about him not that long ago.” It felt odd talking about the recent past. It made him uneasy, knowing he couldn’t go back to that point of his life anymore. The sparrow’s question was agitating. Permanence? The word cut deep, like a sharp twill needle slowly seeping into his side. “Why do you ask these questions?” A slight irritation slowly rising in his voice. You wonder how long it took to get there. Why was it so gradual? You knew why the sparrow was here, so why does it matter? None of it does. It’s over, you think. You didn’t fall. You jumped. “I ask because I’m curious. You humans feel so many

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things, yet find no words to explain it. You just act on it. Where did that get you, Emmet?” Emmet’s focus broke to the bird. His blood-red wings, his grey, spotted beak. “What, do you think I’m weak?” Emmet responded. The sparrow’s body was the size of his hand. How could a being of such innocence be so… adept? So emotionally critical? He pondered this. What does he know? Emmet asked himself, his fist tightening. An itch trickled down his back beneath his tee-shirt. It felt unreachable past the damp cardigan. As he scratched his side, the sparrow’s silence strengthened. It gripped him. It clenched Emmet in its grasp, forcing him to find some sort of response. “Not at all. You reacted in a natural manner. The same anyone would have, at your body’s age. Out of the countless years I have spent observing your kind, asking why they do what they do, how they reach the point of their lives to where they finally decide it is… time. All answers are the same in some way. Silence.” Emmet pondered it. He scratched the side of his temple in a furious, quick motion. “It may be because silence is so deafening, that that’s the only answer your kind can muster. Your silence gives more of an answer than your language. That’s native to humans.” Emmet hunched forward. His boots still felt wet, a slight slush in his socks making his feet murky. “That’s a cliché. Silence may be deafening, but it’s overused,” he scoffed. “How many humans have told you that one?” The thing is, it’s not about the silence. It’s about the fact that he thinks he knows everything about it, as though he is just some transcendent, omnipotent being. “You aren’t as edu-

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cated on human knowledge as you think you are.” The sparrow’s head perked up in interest. “We are silent because we don’t know what we feel ourselves. Silence is deafening because no action can make up for it, like…” His words fell short. He couldn’t stand it any longer. “Like when you jumped.” The sparrow finished his thought for him. “I didn’t want to as much as I thought.” Emmet’s nails began to dig into his thighs. He stood up, every breath getting shorter and shorter. He could still feel the fall. The jump. It felt so free. Once you fall, nothing is able to stop you or catch you. That intimacy between you and the earth is intoxicating. Wherever you land, however you land, the last thing you touch is mother nature. You know that. But, it is the falling that feels more natural. You’re letting go. You are counting on her to catch you. You trust her. “But I know I had to.” Emmet stared off at the hospital. “I like to think that the earth and the sky have a… complicated relationship,” the sparrow continued. “Wherever they meet, life and death stand together at the same moment.” Life and death, Emmet repeated in his head. For years, he debated what it meant to live and die, and what death truly felt like. Ever since his dad died, he always wondered how it felt. Did a flash of light appear, gently overtaking your sight? Was it quiet? Did you hear the trumpets of Gabriel soothingly bellow into your ears, before you were welcomed into some afterlife, contemplated upon by generations of thinkers? Or, was it dark? Was it an abyss of nothingness,

Creative Works… 186 where no matter how many times you tried to open and close your eyes, all you saw was an omniscient black? Did other fallen souls hear your screams? Could you scream? Emmet began to pace back and forth by the streetlight next to the bench. He placed his shoulder on it, feeling the coldness of the steel. The patterned ridges of the pole were uncomfortable, but it was better than sitting next to some all-knowing bird that spoke like a philosopher. It frustrated him; how calm the sparrow’s voice was. “You sound just like my father,” he said to the sparrow. His father would always spout quotes from Horace, Aquinas, even Darwin. He had read Einstein’s The World as I See It at least a dozen times. Whenever Emmet got in trouble as a kid, his father would ask him the meanings of such sayings, and question whether it was morally right to do them. As much as he hated those talks, Emmet missed him. He thought back to seeing his father in the hospital. The doctor said tuberculosis was the prime killer when he himself was a child in the 1940s. It was like a Venus flytrap; the very millisecond that someone was in its grasp, it turned them into a victim. Emmet pictured the flashy, near-supersonic speed of the flytrap. And his father was in it. He was only sixteen back then, holding his father’s cold, thin hand in his. His eyes were tired, his lips the color of a plum. Emmet stared at his father as though he were sinking. It was already too late by that time, Emmet thought. His father had gotten sick only four months prior. “It’s just a cold,” he’d say, playing it off. “I’ll drink some chamomile tea.” He was drinking chamomile tea twice a day.

Creative Works… 187 Emmet couldn’t drink chamomile ever since that day, his father’s boney hands in his. Father couldn’t talk much anymore, or hold food or liquids down. But, with as much strength as it could take for a tuberculosis victim, Father whispered something to him. “Don’t give in to silence,” his father weakly murmured. Emmet shuddered. His father’s body was drifting, slowly becoming a tattered assortment of bones, veins, and tissue. Emmet’s mother swore she could see his skull through his skin. His boney hands felt like frayed rope with rough skin; empty of power or control. Staring into his father’s grey eyes, Emmet squeezed his hand, hoping for some sort of reaction, but nothing. His father’s eyes weren’t focused on him. He’s probably seeing the light, Emmet thought. In minutes, those eyes were no longer staring at his son’s face. They were no longer of the world. Emmet leaned away from the street pole and opened his hand. It was dry. He could still feel his father’s feeble, debilitating hand. Some nights, he’d wake up with his hand stretched out, as though he were still holding onto it. He couldn’t help it. He could still hear his father’s whisper. Silence had been Emmet’s number one enemy ever since. In just a year, his mother shut herself out from the world. She stopped talking to friends, or giving that same graceful smile she was known for. Her love for Emmet felt like mere tolerance. While she dragged herself to work and back, Emmet was drinking, smoking, and never home. He still remembers the fight they had for him not coming home by curfew. “Your father would hate who you’ve become,” she spoke in a soft, stern voice. “And I can’t bear it.”

Creative Works… 188 He stopped listening to her. More so, he couldn’t. Those words sprinted miles and miles in his mind for days on end. The sparrow wriggled its feathers. The fluttering sound broke Emmet’s concentration. “Your mother studied the silence,” the sparrow said, staring forward at the hospital. “Your father knew it.” “Did you guide him?” Emmet said. He reached into his pocket for a cigarette. “He died here.” Your hand returns empty. Oh, you think, I guess they don’t transcend death. “No, I did not. It was not my duty, but another’s.” Emmet sighed, exasperated, a disappointed look shown on his face. “What will she think?” “Your mother?” “Yeah… Mom.” “You know, I’m not allowed to disclose the living from the passed.” Emmet kicked his soaked boots. All he could think about was what she would think. Disappointed? Maybe. She couldn’t stand me after his death. She might just think, “Good riddance,” “I’m glad,” “He was better off this way.” Was I? The thought ponders in your head, skipping at a leisurely place. It dances for several seconds in real time before the sparrow speaks again. “Would you like to tell me why you did it?”he asked. “I’m sure you already know,” you say. “That does not really matter. Tell me.” If the sparrow could have smiled, he would have been. “The world is better off without me,” you say. “The life of Emmet was... enjoyable for a time. But nothing came of it. Father, dead. Mother, sick and iso-

Creative Works… 189 lated, a shadow of the person she was before. My boss cut me because I was the lowest-performing in my district. What’s the point of living if the only thing you grow to be eager for is death?” Your confession feels weightless, repetitive amidst the cool air in the night. Your body must be sunken by now, probably. It’s safe to assume no one has noticed. “Death is all I was waiting for. It would either come to me, or I would go to it.” “That does not answer my question.” Emmet raised his eyebrows, leaning his back on the lamppost towards the sparrow. The sparrow hopped closer. “You told me why Emmet wanted to die. Not why you wanted to die.” The feeling of insult returned to Emmet’s eyes. He felt as though his heart was beating rapidly. He expected it, but nothing came. He placed his hand on his chest, waiting, but nothing came. Instead, anger filled his voice. “My mother has half the glow in her eyes from when Emmet’s father was alive. My shadow… Emmet’s shadow, was cut into thirds. And he was hanging on for dear death.” Emmet felt hurt in his own voice. His chest felt hot, his voice beginning to rise at the same rate as his temper. “You think you know what humans have to go through? Do you? We have to look into our parents’, our siblings’, our loved ones’ eyes, knowing there will be a last day you see them. Emmet thought his father was going to live forever. But he was taken from him. He was taken from everyone. The only two people who were there for me… for Emmet, were his parents. And when my father died, everything broke. I can feel the cracks in my mother’s spirit. And the cracks in mine, and his friends, and his siblings. And now…” Emmet stopped.

Creative Works… 190 “Now what?” the sparrow asked. His voice never changed a decibel. The same tranquil tone echoed in Emmet’s ears. “My mom breathes, only because she has to. For me.” His rage simmered to an ember. “She’s been dead for the past six years, not feeling an ounce of life since he died.” The question left his tongue without a destination. “She doesn’t love me,” Emmet said to himself. The word ‘love’ felt uncomfortable in his mouth. He hadn’t heard it in so long. That is all there is to that word, Emmet thought. Just speech. No feeling. The sparrow had not changed motion at all. As the wind slowly began to breeze past the two entities, their conversations trailed with it, flowing with time and the infinite paths that connect life with death. For millennia, the sparrow had seen these paths flow. Where a human as you feels the wind, the sparrow sees it. He saw every path: a thin, paper-like line that flowed smoothly past the space it had once stayed before. The hospital produced lines itself, each one passing through its respective windows – lines of all vibrancies, opacities, and lengths. Some were shorter than others, and some told stories that not a single living soul had heard. The sparrow had seen them all. The metrics of which the sparrow could see were indescribable to a common human soul. A human could know their mind, their heart, even one another’s bodies inside and out, but know nothing of their soul. That knowledge is reserved for something not even one who has lived multiple lifetimes can bear witness to. “Are you ready to go?” the sparrow asked. “I didn’t want to die,” you say brokenly. “I know,” the sparrow said.

Creative Works… 191 “Will it happen again?” The sparrow’s slight chuckle returned. “That is for the next you to decide.” A long pause awaited the sparrow’s beak. “Would you like to know something, Emmet?” Your head lifts up, slight tears trailing on your nose bridge. “Jumping was not your death.” You wipe your eyes on your damp cardigan. “You didn’t give in to the silence. The silence has been there for some time. You see, I do not see time the same way humans do. I do not see birth, life, and death. I see life and death interchangeably. Each life intersects at a center of paths without a single terminus. Sometimes, one dies long before their life ends. The moment the first third of your spirit faded, your life came to an end, the second third following soon after. One cannot live with one-third of a spirit… nor half. You have lived many lives before Emmet.” “When do they end?” you whisper, more so to yourself than anything. “They never do. That’s the beauty of it.” “Beauty is me that I have to relive pain over and over? That I have to be born and experience the same things every single time I open my eyes? This was the first time I died this way.” Your voice slowly cracks as you speak. The pressure feels insurmountable. Soon, the tears begin to show. “Who’s to say it won’t happen again? Who’s to say it won’t be an eternal hell until I’m right back here? You won’t remember me in this same form the next time I come. You will find someone else, and walk them through the same thing, for the millionth time. And I’ll be just another wandering, floating

Creative Works… 192 something.” The breeze stopped. A line danced around Emmet’s body where he stood. The sparrow followed it with his eyes, squinting. Yes, it was thin, with a gray, nearly transparent figure. It flowed toward the hospital. Finally, the sparrow stretched his neck and fluttered his wings once more. He was ready. “Your emotions did not shape you, Emmet,” the sparrow said. “Follow me.” The sparrow flapped his wings and began to fly toward the hospital doors. Your head raises. You see the sky slowly lightening from its deep, blackened blue. The stars are nearly fleeting, with the sun close to follow. In little time, the streetlamps will soon turn off, and the world will continue to pass you by. Soon, the destination will be revealed, and you will have no choice but to follow. But, simplicity does not take you by storm. As a human, you are full of many complexities, contradictions, and contrasts. You know this. As you walk across the empty street to where the sparrow flies, its blood-red wings flapping to a bike pole near the entrance of the hospital, your feet drag. You know that with each step, you are closer to what is to come next. You never truly cared about what happens after life, but more so how it feels. The world is full of many “after’s”, but not much is known about the “currents”. You can’t control what will happen, or how you will react. You just know, with your human experience, it never ends. Neither does life. Neither does death. The sparrow perched on an empty bike rack. “In here,” he motioned to the hospital’s entrance.

Creative Works… 193 “Life, death, and everything in between flourishes. Some enjoy it, others don’t. Regardless, it continues. Each path intersects at some point. But you all continue. Whether it be before your physical death or after, if you continue to worry, you will only cause stress for you the next time it happens.” “Next time?” you ask. “As I said, it intersects at some point.” You ponder this, and wipe the tears from your eyes. “I just want Mother to be okay.” “She will be,” the sparrow said. “She may have ‘died’ years ago, but she still must fulfill the life she has yet to finish. As for you, both have reached their point.” You feel your body getting lighter, as though the weight of every infidelity, every action, every discourse, is leaving you. As you look up, a single star is staring back at you, glinting faintly with little tint. The sky’s twilight is fleeting as quickly as it came. Or at least, that’s how it feels to you. For the sparrow, it is a mere moment tied to many more moments. “Emmet,” the sparrow said. “Yes,” you answer. “Your mother loves you. She knew you died long ago; she knew if she couldn’t help you, you had to help yourself.” “With death?” The sparrow answered with silence. As you look down at the sparrow, you smile, the first true one you have shown in months. You soon begin to dissipate, fading from the world of evolving “after’s,” “currents,” and “before’s.” The star you see fades as well. You can hardly make it amidst the lighten-

Creative Works… 194 ing sky. Your body becomes less of a figure. Gone are the damp cardigan, boots, jeans, and shirt. The cigarettes are not even in your fading memory anymore. You hope that you remember that bench and the sparrow. Your eyes close, and as you feel lifted, weightless, and nearly ethereal, you feel beautiful. You did not give into the silence. You owned it. You became it. Your father would be loving – Your mother, far more. Finally, you fade. “It has been a long time coming,” you give one final thought. The sparrow looked where Emmet stood in front of him, now a line forming to the paths he had seen time and time again. Only this time, much shorter and much closer. He smiled as much as he could with his beak, honoring the one who was once called Emmet. The hospital doors opened as the sun began to show its face. A middle-aged man walks through, pushing his wife in a wheelchair. They both look tired, yet joyful. The man scratched his scruffy beard, blinking his eyes crustily. The wife looked down at her arms. She was holding a newborn child. The newborn looked at the sparrow, its eyes glowing.

Creative Works… 195 The Spider and the Owl by N.H. Steed

Once upon a time, in a strange faraway land, a little girl named Autumn was walking through an enchanted wood, trying to find her way home. The wood was very peculiar indeed: its trees could whisper, its rivers could sing, and its creatures could speak. Autumn had been wandering through the woods for a long time, and decided to sit down beside a tree to rest, when suddenly, high above her, she saw a frightful sight. A giant green spider, spinning its silver thread, was dropping down towards her. “Hello, dear child,” said the spider, alighting on the ground next to her. “What is a pretty little thing like you doing alone in the wood?” Autumn didn’t like the way the spider stared at her with all eight of its eyes, so she decided not to answer. The spider went on: “Little girls shouldn’t be alone in the wood. There are too many hungry beasts that will try and eat you up. If you come with me, I’ll show you the way home again. Is that not where you’re trying to go, home?” Autumn shrank back from the spider, who was now leaning over her. “Yes,” replied Autumn. “I am trying to find my way home. However, I don’t think I should go with you.” The spider was very beautiful with all its bright green colors, but Autumn didn’t like the idea of trusting spiders, even if they were pretty. Hearing Autumn’s words, an angry frown twisted over the spider’s face, but it quickly tried to smile again. “You don’t have to come with me very far. Just step onto my web, and I’ll hoist you up high into the trees. From up there, you can spot your village in the distance and learn

Creative Works… 196 the way home.” Still crouched against the tree, Autumn thought about the spider’s plan for several minutes, then, at last, decided it was worth trying. Reaching out a hand, she was about to grab the spider’s silky web when, all at once, a voice stopped her. “Wait! Don’t do it!” Autumn and the spider both turned to see a white snowy owl swoop down and land in the grass beside them. The owl had been perched in a nearby hemlock and had heard everything. “Don’t touch the spider’s web,” said the owl, looking at Autumn and staring with unblinking yellow eyes. “If you do, you’ll get caught, and the spider will wrap you all up and eat you later when he’s good and ready. I’ve seen it before.” “That’s a lie,” the spider spat angrily. “I don’t eat little girls, and my webs never hurt anyone.” The spider was very cunning, but the owl was very wise. “Okay,” said the owl. “If your webs won’t hurt the little girl, then why don’t you show her—wrap yourself in the web and show the girl that it’s safe.” The spider smirked arrogantly and said, “Very well, old bird, I will!” With that, the big green spider began spinning its silky silver thread and wrapping it tightly all across its arms and legs. After a minute, the spider was so knotted and entwined that it fell over onto the ground, unable to even move. “You see,” said the owl, turning to Autumn. “The spider just wanted to eat you up.”

Creative Works… 197 Seeing the deadly trap she had almost blundered into, Autumn began to cry. “I just want to go home.” The old owl gently placed its wing over Autumn’s shoulder. “Perhaps I can assist,” he said. “Really, you’ll help me?” asked Autumn, wiping her eyes. “Indeed, I will.” The old owl bent down. “There now, climb onto my back and hold on. Scrambling on to the owl’s back, and being careful not to accidentally pluck one of its white feathers, Autumn wrapped her arms around it and held on tight. At once, the old owl sprung high into the hair and flapped its great wings. Well above the dark trees of the wood, they soared through the clouds, searching far and wide for Autumn’s village. At last, they spotted it in the distance, and the old owl swooped down, alighting on a low branch. Autumn slid down onto the ground and looked up at the kind bird who had saved her life. “How can I ever thank you?” she asked. The owl twisted its head around and hooted. “There’s no need to thank me, little one. However, you can do me a favor.” “What is it?” asked Autumn. “In the future,” said the owl, leaning forward, “promise me that you’ll never trust spiders.”

Creative Works… 198

The Vampire

by J. Luke Herman

Her glasses were crooked, With a smile took, Like something she had read in a book, “How to keep them ripe before feeding,” Because anyone could tell, If they looked at her and said “well,” “She’s just another vampire,” Sucking at the souls of men, Drinking their blood like cocktails at the end of the party, While they’d say they were sorry, She would just stand there and laugh behind sheepish eyes, While she feasted on them till dry, Before sucking the last drop and saying goodbye, On to the next one she’d go, The corpse-ridden trail too faint to smell, If she’d caught you in her gaze with those diamond eyes, But hasn’t he got a silvered sword? A brain and a score of wit? Of course, but does he swing? Nay, for the demon preys with deception, Keeping true that the blade be muzzled so it won’t bite, The coward, But anyone could tell, If they looked at her and said “well, She’s just another vampire,” Sucking at the souls of men.

Creative Works… 199

To Die That Death by Elizabeth Hayashi

Trying so hard to fight back death, But it surrounds me wherever I turn Gazing in fear at my life Disintegrating before my eyes. Oh, I’m doing my best To do my best, But I’m falling over and over again But a sacrifice Presses me to the prize And I know there’s always death before new life. Now I remember the blood that flowed Now I remember Your agony. You held the darkness of all the world You gave Your all because You were willing. So Lord, take the old me, Let her die on the tree. Crucify all my control Let my heart live again Just like you lived again All Yours, all pure, all new. Up and down, again and again, The boast of life pulled down by pain. I make the choice: right here right now. I thank You, Lord, I yield, I bow.

Creative Works… 200 You could heal me now, To the easy way out, To keep on living the life I’ve always lived But you love me more, And you want me to soar, Not by my strength but by the grace You give. Now I remember the blood that flowed Now I remember Your agony. You held the darkness of all the world You gave Your all because You were willing. So Lord, take the old me, Let her die on the tree. Crucify all my control Let my heart live again Just like you lived again All Yours, all pure, all new. Can I choose to boast in my weakness? Can I choose to run through the pain? Help me, Lord, ‘cause death crowds around me. Lift my head to see you again. Oh, if only You’d break these chains But You tell me again and again It’s Your grace, Your strength, My hope, My all. Now I remember the blood that flowed Now I remember Your agony. You held the darkness of all the world

Creative Works… 201 You gave Your all because You were willing. So Lord, take the old me, Let her die on the tree. Crucify all my control, Let my heart live again Just like you lived again All Yours, all pure, all new. Unnatural Love by India Moors

my love for you is not the sun, for it disappears at night and is clouded during a storm nor can it be likened to air, because while it is constantly sustaining, it cannot be seen and barely can be felt. it is not a tree or any greenery which needs attention to be sustained or grown neither is it an ocean, for even in its vastness, it cannot be experienced everywhere you go. my love for you cannot be compared to anything in nature, for how could i use something so minute to describe something so infinite?

Unspoken Love

Creative Works… 202

by Breanne E. A. Pancarik

There is tragedy in unspoken love. A soldier that lays dying on the battlefield, all his thoughts on his fiance at home, regretting that he’ll never tell her again. A woman who gets home after work to find her elderly dog had passed away in her absence. A father too stuck in his pride to meet his son; A son too angry and stubborn to forgive his father. A daughter who is too late to her mother’s bedside as she goes to meet her maker. There is tragedy in unspoken love. A girl who finds herself at the wrong place at the wrong time and never says goodbye. A boy who can’t find the courage to say the words And misses his chance. A friend who didn’t see the signs and didn’t get there in time to save them. A husband who can’t find the time to take care of his famiy and comes with too little too late. A wife who gets a phone call that her husband is gone when her last words to him were in anger.

There is tragedy in unspoken love.


by Kevin Lopez

Creative Works… 203

Reaching into the truck bed, he grabs the first dog by its hind legs, and in a singular motion, swings the poor thing above his head until it slams against the earth with a terrible dull thud. As the first dog is whimpering and writhing in the dirt, he grabs the second with both hands and cocks his right leg back. He lets the little creature fall from his hands and meet his tibia and metatarsals, sending it into the fading twilight until he, too, welcomes the earth with a sickening smack. Stop it. Stop it. Stop! ¡Pinche perros! I hold back my father as he chases those broken creatures into an empty field. Twilight races onward, chasing the night, and what only can be heard are the painful howls of those now destitute dogs and the heavy breathing of wrath personified. • Fields of green, vast vistas of lush grass, and trees of towering heights open themselves up to the cloudless radiant blue sky. Great tracks of tobacco, corn, and cotton quiver under the wind’s gentle advances. The land of the south is serene, and waits patiently for the sun to take its slow but faithful walk across the expanse. The rolling hills disappear behind the horizon as we travel down a long stretch of gravel road. Before us is five acres of land, my father’s land. Here, I will spend a summer in Alabama, with my father and his family. My father is a sturdy man with walnut-colored skin that is marked with many scars. His hair is bespeckled with white, his unkempt brows are jet black, he wears a

Creative Works… 204 well-trimmed mustache, and the knuckles of his hands are knotted from decades of toil. His wife is a kind and sweet woman; her height struggles to reach five feet, but she displays a firmness in her small stature, like a circus master would when training a lion to act against its nature. Two half-sisters. The elder is born with autism; her dysmorphic feature is a broad forehead, but her blessing is an even broader smile. The younger is petite with a pointed nose and small teeth; she has the fortune of inheriting cajones to fight for her desires. My half-brother, who is the spitting image of our father in his youth, is playful with his siblings, but tentative around his older living portrait. Finally, there I am—a fourteen-year-old boy visiting his family for the first time in the deep south, after years of distance. • He drove with white-knuckled silence, gripping the steering wheel with the fury of a man who had been wronged, because he had been wronged. The two dogs who had recently been the victims of his skewed justice had belonged to a neighbor: a Border Collie and Jack Russell Terrier. These two dogs, on several occasions across the summer, had killed some of my father’s hens and chicks. He warned the neighbors that if they didn’t control their dogs, he would. After a fresh batch of chicks were found dead, he caught the dogs, tied them up, threw them in the bed of his truck, and ordered me to join him. We drove for over two hours, clear across the rolling hills of Alabama, until he was satisfied they would never find their way home. I was a kid. The summer had gone well up until that point. I had swam in the warm waters of the Tennessee River, played board games with my half-siblings late into

Creative Works… 205 the night, and learned of my father’s history. Yet, I was disgusted with him. The sound of heavy-ladened wind rushing past us and the steady hum of the engine was all that was heard on that journey home. • The summer’s heat is fading, and autumn conspires her return. I have a few days left and am anxious to get away. An apology of sorts is arranged when my father says he has a special surprise for me. We go out into the chicken coop and he tells me to select a hen. I choose one with brown feathers streaked in white highlights. He grabs the hen, holds her down, and with the other hand, gives me a knife. Cortar el cuello. No. Como que no. I don’t want to do it. Es para ti. He looks sorrowful. I take the knife, slit her throat, and watch as she kicks and jerks— moments later she is still at last. Speaking softly and caressing her, he thanks her for her life. It is my first kill. That evening he makes it a point that I should have the honor of eating her heart. Like before, I resist, but give in to his advances. Tender is the heart– is my heart. • The final race of the season, and my brother is set to run first. My father and I began at the front of the race. The gun sounds and we begin running– not on the path of the three mile course, but cutting across the park to meet my brother

Creative Works… 206 at the next juncture where we can cheer him on. My father leaps and bounds to each successive stop, all while yelling his son’s name and encouragement. ¡Vamanos, con ganas! ¡Corre! ¡Corre! ¡Vamanos, mi hijo! He runs alongside him for a stretch of the race, keeping pace with the son that bears his visage. I trail behind, watching the pair with happy delight and a pang of sadness. My father chases after his son, and I chase after my father. • Driving to the airport, we laugh and exchange stories as the fields of green pass us by. The sun faithfully turns along its arch, and the wind blows cold, foretelling of the autumn ahead. Our time has come. I embrace each member of my family in their turn, and he is last. We hold on firmly, biding this moment. He whispers softly. I love you, son.

Creative Works… 207 We Know Them by Clarajane Gregory

This is the story of the same young person that all of us know. Their name is familiar and passes lips frequently. They are loved by most, bring laughter with them, carry a bright smile and great wit. They make friends with whomever they please, generally whomever they find to be in the vicinity. Knowledgeable about the world and seemingly full of spirit, they breeze through life. You know them just as well as I do on the surface and within. They live every day with the same expectations and attempts at perfecting their life. But like all people, they suffer from faults. Their fault: life is painfully dull. It is early on a Thursday morning. The youth in question is preparing for their day. They dread the boring lectures of school and the meaningless chitter-chatter of their fellow youths. In the kitchen, the smooth tiles’ coldness dully cuts through their thin socks, making the morning even more tragic. The kettle bubbles and a musical tone pierces the morning silence, in which many are still sleeping. In no movement of haste, they move to the kettle, and with a potholder of dull red in hand, they pour steaming water into a cup. The water slides easily into the mug and splashes lightly over the awaiting tea bag, producing a splendid gurgling sound. The bag rises to the top and the brown tea leaks from it into the surrounding water, revealing the remnants of the prior motion. They leave the kitchen to pack. In the room adjacent, a backpack of nothing in particular is placed on the table. Hefty textbooks are slid easily into the bag, followed by overstuffed notebooks containing

Creative Works… 208 handouts and scribbles, secrets and reminders, memories and nothing of importance. Our youth looks at the books and wonders. They wonder how the authors came to have enough knowledge to write a textbook. Did their information come from other textbooks written by other authors? If so, why was it rewritten by them? Why not use the original? Thoughts began racing through their mind, and not for the first time that day. Do I have the ruler I left on my desk last night? Yes. Where is my lucky pencil for taking tests? I have a test today, based off of one of these rewritten textbooks no doubt? Am I superstitious for having a lucky pencil? Yes. Why does it matter? Anyways, it is just one more thing to make me ordinary. If I am ordinary, then maybe I will enjoy today. What makes someone enjoy a day, the activities, or the people? Thoughts like these branched and blossomed in their mind as they went about their morning routine. Without much thought as to what they were doing (as their mind had come to tackling the question of how the mountains, unconquered, would look from their peaks), they removed the tea bag from the slightly oversteeped tea and the cream from the fridge. With one hand on the mug, causing a tingling sensation from the sudden heat, and the other holding the cool cream, they poured it into the mug. The cream glided over the carton opening and into the tea easily and sat at the bottom for a moment. Then it billowed up in clouds of serenity and bounced off of the glass ceiling. The cream billowed and bounded around in the tea, creating swirls and whisps of calm and beauty. he chaos was predictable and lasted only a moment. A moment the youth spent staring intently at the tea with no thought in their mind. From the moment the cream

Creative Works… 209 met the tea, their mind was perfectly still, lost in the mysterious free movement. Splunk! By muscle memory, a spoon was grabbed, thrust into the tea, and stirred with ungraceful crude movements. The scene was lost. Thoughts prevailed. I have got quite a bit to do today. School, six classes. Seven periods including lunch. Eight teachers including coach. Numbers. Racing through the mind; One, two, three, four; one, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen. Patterns and math. Aren’t they all found in nature? In our perfectly mathematical universe. Our universe is so big and great in which I am leaving for school, so inconsequential. Uhh, this tea is bitter! And my tongue is burnt, makes no difference, as nothing will be worth tasting today. Just a sandwich and some cri... The soft blue sky. Light clouds of cotton stood still, gracing the sky in their yellows and creams found at the horizon, and blushing like cheeks next to the trees. The sunbeams glint and glow as they spread silently across the sky. The light is caught on the leaves of branches, tumbling and tripping softly, over and under them, falling to the sodden floor. Diamonds sparkle in the grass, shining and shimmering like the reflection of a pool against the summer pavement. Birds sing their songs sweetly in the morning air. The morning air. It catches the youth’s lungs quite suddenly. Their inhaler… mustn’t forget their inhaler this time, or else they’ll be in the nurse’s office before first period. They cross the brick path, through the front gate and past the mailbox. The mailbox, checked every day for letters and only bills found. They always expected a letter when they checked the mailbox– from whom, they don’t know. They are only ever met by coupons never used and

Creative Works… 210 bills always paid. Occasionally a credit card offer, discarded before even being opened. Why did anyone ever care to send anything by mail anymore? Now, if you wanted to communicate anything of importance or need a response, an email would suffice. Geeze! These days, everything was done online. Homework was mostly on computers, only to be printed and handed in. The world was found in computers these days. People talked and met and lived on computers. Businesses and education, life and death, news and media, all spread and lived through computers. It would be amazing if anyone ever lived separately, like an old-timey explorer. As they walked to school, thoughts flitted through their mind, some familiar and some new; all found a common connection to the prior. The cool air was no longer a shock to their lungs, but passed through pleasantly. The air was crisp as ice and the sunshine was warm on their face. They walked under the trees older than their teeth and over the grass younger than their days. The rush of cars was lost to their mind as they interpreted the scene passing them by. They looked around at the trees, trunks dull in color and rough in texture, leaves soft and vivid in their greens. Their hand hovered over the splintered wood of the familiar fence. As they walked forward, they thought how the fence on the left, a tree like the oaks on the right, were once, and of all the people who had walked here before them. The history of the old railroad that this path used to be. People and cargo traveled the same path their feet now carried them, history that built the world around them. They closed their eyes for a brief moment and took in the sounds of the trees rustling in the breeze, the dogs barking in the distance, the birds softly calling and the beauty of…

Creative Works… 211 vroosh! A car passes by. Society again disappoints; they walk forward and entertain their thoughts. Dullness is found in life by those who do not see the world around them. It is not a matter of traveling and learning from books. It is a matter of experiencing what lies right in front of and around you. Live your life, not the motions of it, for those are just a shadow of what it really is to be alive. It is a beautiful world; don’t miss any detail of it. This young person was once us. They were, and are, you and me. We know them. We know their name, their strengths, their talents, their words, their thoughts, and their faults. This is the story of us.

Creative Works… 212 What Reading is Like by Gabriella Orozco

I loved the smell of books. No page looked identical to the other, and each book had a different hue. I even enjoyed adding a doodle to the colorful art as a child. Books such as Biscuit the Puppy, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Click-Clack-Moo, and Alvie Eats Soup are not only part of my core memories, but my experience. I enjoyed it when the teacher would pick my book for “Reading of the Day!” and everyone would nod and agree that the book I chose was “The best!” In all honesty, it fed into my little ego and gave me a sense of empowerment. After learning the basics, I moved on to more extensive books: Wait Till Helen comes, the Goosebump series, Nancy Drew, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. My taste only got morbid, yet I found joy in reading everything I could get my hands on, learning about what comes out of other people’s imagination. There was nothing that could harm my bundle of imagination. It always felt safe in my mind. It wasn’t until now, as an adult, that I wished I didn’t know how to read. Not in a way that’s insensitive to people who don’t have the opportunity to learn to read; I mean it in a way that, if there were a possibility to turn it On and Off, I would use it. When I was 12, I read “From the State Penitentiary” in bold red letters. It was a letter from my older brother, who had disappeared from my life when I was nine, and I never asked questions about where he was, since it was always “far away.” When I tore the letter open, it was a hand-drawn card for my upcoming thirteenth birthday. On another occasion, when I told someone, “I never want to see you again,” they dared to leave a letter on my car wind-

Creative Works… 213 shield, claiming I was the best to have ever happened to them, and regardless of where we are in life, they’d always be there. Pathetic. Nothing compares to the recent text my closest friend sent: “Send a prayer for my family; my Papi isn’t doing well,” only for the text hours later to be: “He passed a few hours ago, we’re trying to be strong.” It was moments like those that I hoped I had read it wrong, or maybe I’m illiterate. I can’t quite grasp the idea of words. Reading is excruciating in moments when you’re choking up and can’t seem to speak a word. Reading is beautiful when trying to express your most profound thought of compassion. I could tell you about the ways some pieces make me cry. Anything by Sylvia Plath will bring a gloss to my eyes. Books such as Pride and Prejudice will cause my heart to flutter, and, on the other hand, Lolita will make my heart drop. However, reading love letters, lines for my friend’s short films, my favorite brownie recipe, the subtitles to a movie that almost sounds like gibberish, and the instructions to a brand new Lego set, are why I can never possibly consider the On and Off Switch. The little things that make the corner of my mouth curve upward are worth every word. No matter how hard it is to read the obituary left on the table, the letters that say goodbye, the nasty reviews on your favorite restaurant, the hate comments, and the words to this paper are all worth reading. No matter what it might be, it’s a milestone to something new, good or bad. I always hope to read the best there is, to live vicariously through a fictional character – or even someone who lived the life I hope to one day have. You never know where your eyes will wander, and subconsciously read whatever’s in front of you.

Who will Shelter the Trees

Creative Works… 214

by Naomi Hogan

As I wander through the sun I look around for something not reflecting, Refracting this deathly blaze. The tree stoops low a ways ahead. As I stumble towards her shade, I see her spindly shadow inching towards me. I exhale as I sink beneath this beautiful contrast, Sheltered for a moment as my thoughts re-solidify. I look around me as I can finally see without squinting. I am grateful for this bark, For these shriveled leaves. For the sunlight, that though it kills me, It feeds the trees. She has feasted to her root’s content; the sun warms her soul. Then forced to absorb more and more. It beats and bends her. Her branches revived me after a while. The cool seeped into my bones, and I can stand tall once more, ready to face the next chapter of my journey. But as I stand tall, The tree still stoops.

She had given me shade And brought me to life. Walking away, I think: “But who will shelter the tree?”

Creative Works… 215

Creative Works… 216 WWJD at a PWI?: What Would Jesus Do at a Private White Institution? by Vanessa Burch

Jesus and God look down upon earth to admire God’s creation. They admire the trees, waters, mountains, but especially God’s children. God turns to Jesus and says, “My son, I am going to send you to earth once more. Many people on earth have continued to love you since your resurrection, and have been praying that you walk with them in life. They are in desperate need of your presence. I ask that you go and walk with them, experience life as a human, observe, come back, and tell me if humanity has learned to accept Our love.” Jesus says, “Of course Father, I love all of our children and want to be there for them in their time of need. Where shall I go? Who needs my presence?” God points to a Christian university in America. “You must return as a college student and visit that campus. Many are stressed from school and have asked for your peace. They will not know you are the son of God, but you will go by Jesús. You will walk with them in their life as a student until I summon you to return.” Jesus says, “Let your will be done.” Jesus suddenly finds himself in the admissions office of the university. He walks up to the front desk and says, “Hello, I would love to enroll in this university. How can I start?” The admissions officer stares at Jesus for what feels like a while. He says, “Well, fill out this application and submit your tuition. You don’t look like you’re from here; what’s your name?” “My name is Jesús, and I just moved to America.”

Creative Works… 217 “Wow, Jesús! What an exotic name. Are you first generation? We need more first generation students, especially ones with your look.” Jesus doesn’t know how to respond. What do they mean by exotic or first-generation? And why did his appearance matter? The admissions officer continues: “Well, nonetheless, come back with the first tuition payment amount and we will enroll you at once.” Jesus begins to search for a job to afford his first tuition payment. He applies everywhere he can think of, where his skills will be useful, but he keeps getting rejected. Some recruiters become disinterested the moment Jesus says his name is Jesús, and others turn him away the moment they see Him. Jesus is confused. He knows he has excellent carpentry skills, and he works well with people, so why doesn’t anyone want to hire him? He searches and searches, but no one wants him. Jesus can’t help but feel defeated and hopeless. He is hungry, homeless, and exhausted. Jesus feels anxiety settle in his heart at the thought of not having enough money for food, shelter, and education. He kneels and begins to pray. “Father, I am tired and weak. I now come to you. I trust in you. I know that you will provide for me and allow me to do your will. I trust in you.” Jesus perseveres. He continues looking and looking, until He finally realizes his university needs maintenance workers. Jesus and another other student, Blake, are hired immediately. Jesus thanks God for this blessing, and turns to his new coworker, “Hello, I’m Jesús. What’s your name? I’m so excited to work with you!” He barely looks at Jesus and says, “Of course some-

Creative Works… 218 one named Jesús gets hired. Why do you all come over here just to steal our jobs?” Jesus is stunned. He says to Blake, “I do not understand what you mean.” Blake laughs. “Of course you don’t, just go back to where you came from.” Jesus is bewildered, and wonders what has hardened Blake’s heart. He prays for Blake to open his heart, and to learn to accept others. Despite the way Blake treated Him, Jesus continues to love Blake. Soon, Blake eventually has enough money to make his first tuition payment, but Jesus doesn’t. He doesn’t understand why Blake has enough money when they both have been working the same amount of hours together. Jesus feels hurt and confused – emotions He is not used to feeling. But nonetheless, Jesus perseveres. He works until he is finally ready to enroll. Jesus is excited to finally experience his first day of university. Upon arriving, Jesus begins introducing himself to other students. He wants to answer their prayers to God by showing a friendly face. However, when Jesus tries to talk to the students around him, very few acknowledge him. A few give smiles and a cordial hello, but many of them appear uninterested. A lot of them give him strange looks, pretend not to see Him, and ultimately do not seem interested in talking to him. They all speak to each other, and seem happy with one another, but do not include Jesus in their conversations. Jesus is confused, and cannot explain this feeling. He cant help but feel like a stranger. He feels like he doesn’t belong, or that he has done something to offend them. Although he can’t recognize what he feels, he realizes he had this same exact feeling when he last visit-

Creative Works… 219 ed earth. Jesus suddenly remembers how it felt when people hated him, how they denied Him, how people didn’t believe he was the king of the Jews. Jesus feels like an outsider, so he goes to the school chapel for comfort. Then he sees a picture of himself. Or, at least, he thinks it is a picture of himself. He doesn’t recognize the Jesus in the picture – that Jesus looks different. Why is he so light in this picture? Why are Jesus’ eyes blue in the painting? Then Jesus understands. The other students don’t talk to Jesús because he doesn’t look like them. The other students have light skin, unlike Jesus. They have expensive-looking clothes, light eyes, light hair… none of which Jesus has. Jesus doesn’t look like them at all. No wonder no one wants to be around Him; he is different. He had hoped to see more people that looked like him, but he cannot find any. Even the majority of his professors have light skin, and they treat him differently. For the first time in a long time, Jesus knows he is an outcast once more. Jesus feels uneasy as he walks out of his first class. He does not feel a sense of community like he had hoped for. When he gets to his next class, he finally sees a group of students sitting together that look like him. Jesus feels a wave of relief wash over Him; he is ready to feel accepted. He sits next to them before class starts. “Hey, are you a freshman?” one of the girls asks him. “Yes, it’s my first day attending a university,” Jesus says with a smile. “My name is Jesus. What’s your name?” The girl’s eyes brightens. “That’s my brother’s name. My name is Maria; I’m happy you’re in this class!”

Creative Works… 220 Jesus feels his heart glow as he remembers His mother. He silently thanks God for sending him Maria, and for letting him see God in her. After class, Maria turns to Jesus and asks Him to go to the cafeteria with her and her friends. He agrees and sits with them for lunch. They pray together and give thanks to God for their lunch. The group eats and laughs with each other until they cry. They share stories about their home, the good and the bad, and Jesus listens. One student named Yousef shares an experience he had in his history class last year. “Last semester, when Professor Johnson was talking about 9/11, Chris and his buddies kept making comments like ‘I bet Yousef ’s dad was involved’ and that they ‘wanted to look in my backpack.’” Jesus feels Yousef ’s pain. Fatima responds with, “I hate hearing comments like that, too. Even the micro-aggressive comments bother me. Like, when I was eating my lunch, people kept saying they smelled something bad. I was so embarrassed. You guys never say things like that to me.” Jesus feels Fatima’s pain. Janea agrees. “The micro-aggressive ones are so weird. So many people keep touching my hair and asking me if it’s real. It’s so invasive.” Jesus feels Janea’s pain. He feels all of it. He knows why God has had him walk through their lives – why He has been sent down to earth once more. Jesus understands why no one hires him, why he becomes homeless so quickly, why he has to work harder than Blake, why he felt like he didn’t fit in, why he

Creative Works… 221 was treated differently, and why so many of God’s children were hurting. He thought times had changed since he had last lived on earth, until he saw how humanity was still struggling with the same sins as before. Not everyone is willing to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Jesus finally returns to heaven, seated at the right hand of the father. “Well, my son, what do you make of humanity? Are they willing to accept our love?” Jesus replies, “In order for them to accept our love, they must be willing to accept and acknowledge the differences of each other. They should support one another and treat each other with respect and kindness, so that they may open their hearts to one another. Our spirit continues to walk with all of our children. We know the pain and joy they feel. We will continue to support those who need it, and soften the hardened hearts of others.”

Yours Truly,

Creative Works… 222

by Emily Christine Davis

My Dearest Churches, You are probably wondering why I’m writing. It’s been a while since we saw each other, and I know I’m not keen on seeing you again. Because of you I struggle a lot, with people, with trusting, and with obeying. Nothing else could have hurt me in the same way. There is no other person, group, or organization which holds the position that you do in Christianity and in my world, but there is also no one else in the world who could have given me what you gave me. The first of you I remember meeting is the megachurch. You were so big that we took shuttles across the parking lot to attend church; your nicknames were ‘The Jesus Dome’ and ‘Six Flags Over Jesus’. I met you there because we needed a new church, and my grandparents knew you. But you didn’t want me then. You shamed my parents for being from Las Vegas; and you shamed my family for not being Baptist; and you shunned us, locking us out of your world – effectively kicking us out of your home. With your average weekly audience at six thousand people, why couldn’t you overlook me and my family? Why did you have to start our endless journey? I think of you often in this place, and I wonder who I could’ve been if we had worked out then. I might not have been as resilient, but I could’ve been happier. I met you again when we went to a small church. It was nice to see you again, and I really wanted us to get along this time, as you probably remember. I saw you every Sunday morning with my parents and my brother. You were smaller in your numbers and your campus, but

Creative Works… 223 your slow Sunday morning hymnals were the same as they had been before, and your sermons always seemed like you were so much more focused on preaching at me than teaching me or having a conversation. You let my brother make friends with everyone and always have a place to sit – never wandered around, looking for an open seat that wouldn’t put pressure on those around to talk to him, but also didn’t leave him in a cluster of untouched folding chairs. I went to youth group on Sunday nights too, every Sunday night trying to fit in with all the kids my age, with all the kids I knew from school. But every time I came to see you, it seemed like all you wanted me to do was go away. I’m not very good at picking up cues; so, never giving me any friends, always seating me alone, and even making my brother slip seamlessly into your social circle, didn’t give me any clue. I’m sorry for ceaselessly bothering you. When I finally got your message – Go Away, I don’t want you here – I left you alone. Luckily, because I never managed to fit in, it was easy to let you go. I no longer plagued you with my awkwardness, but you left a mark on me. When you told me to go away, that left a wound. A wound that wouldn’t heal well – one whose nasty scar still disrupts my life. I still try to see you sometimes, but every time I do that scar pulls on my muscles, preventing them from stretching properly. It stops my lungs from expanding all the way, makes my heart pound like I’m running from my mortality, pushes the tears to the brim of my eyelids, and it threatens to tear and spill blood out onto the floor of your home, but I wouldn’t want to stain your pews. All of this you’ve done to me, and you have made it so hard to obey God and go to your house, the house that

Creative Works… 224 is supposed to be God’s. I do have to thank you. I don’t know if I can move past what you did to me and what you didn’t do for me, but I must thank you. If it weren’t for you pushing me out, I never would have found God on my own. When you shoved me out of your home, He accepted me into His. I was buried under your thoughts and my own thoughts, but He was there to guide me through the labyrinth. Thanks to you, I found a comfort and closeness with God; even at my worst, I somehow was drawn closer. If I had been able to rely on you as a friend, or as family, I might not have had to turn to Him. If you had been there to catch me when I fell, He might not have been there to stop me from tripping – or rather, I might not have let Him. To be honest with you, I don’t know where we stand, and I don’t know how you’ll react to this. You probably have a different perspective, and not one as bitter. You might not want to receive this letter and be told how you let me down, but it is one that I had to write. I hope one day we will be able to pleasantly accept each other in our worlds, but I struggle to move forward. So, I don’t know if we will ever realistically coexist, but one day, I hope we might both be ready to try again. Yours truly, Discarded Kin

Visual Pieces… 225

Gilbert, Aidan

Gilbert, Aidan

Visual Pieces… 226

Goulding, Ariana

Goulding, Ariana

Visuals Pieces… 227

Hogan, Naomi


Lovelet, Caira

Visual Pieces… 228


Mann, Chelsea

The Gaba-ghoul

McGregor, Diana

Visual Pieces… 229

Canyon Lake

McGregor, Diana

Nakatsuka, Dane

Visual Pieces… 230

Man Alone

Ramirez, Alexander

Francis “Saint” Bacon Reid, Abigail

Visual Pieces… 231

Winter Wishes Roberts, Brenna

Everyday Memories

Roberts, Brenna

Visual Pieces… 232


Roth, Sophia

Reaching Further

Roth, Sophia

Visual Pieces… 233

It’s Your Destiny

Roth, Sophia

Rush Hour

Roth, Sophia

Visual Pieces… 234


Roth, Sophia

Summer in the Garden Thompson, McKenzie


Articles inside

Who will Shelter the Trees … Naomi Hogan

pages 217-218

WWJD at a PWI? … Vanessa Burch

pages 219-224

Yours Truly, … Emily Christine Davis

pages 225-227

What Reading is Like … Gabriella Orozco

pages 215-216

We Know Them … Clarajane Gregory

pages 210-214

Unspoken Love … Breanne E. A. Pancarik

page 205

Victor … Kevin Lopez

pages 206-209

Unnatural Love … India Moors

page 204

The Vampire … J. Luke Herman

page 201

To Die That Death … Elizabeth Hayashi

pages 202-203

The Spider and the Owl … N.H. Steed

pages 199-200

The Sparrow … Michael Robles

pages 183-198

The purpose is presence … Hannah Navarro

pages 180-182

The Legion of Fire … J. Luke Herman

page 173

The Girl in the Mirror … Leslie Galvan

pages 157-172

The Fruits … Breanne E. A. Pancarik

page 156

The Beginning of the End … J. Luke Herman

pages 151-152

The Boy is the Prince … Asia Lavay

pages 153-155

Tell Me the Story of Jesus … N.H. Steed

pages 148-150

Swimming to Jesus: A Contrast Between Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot … N.H. Steed

pages 143-147

Something … Breanne E. A. Pancarik

pages 135-137

Scars … Rebekah Pulaski

pages 121-123

Sanctuary … Ramona Moore

page 120

Stained Glass … Julie Eyerman

page 142

Spooky Sweet … Megan Luebberman

pages 138-141

Same Sand, Different Story … Michael Robles

pages 107-119

Saltwater Smile … Camie Del Rosario

page 106

Ramen … Emily Christine Davis

pages 97-98

Red Rover, Red Rover … Camie Del Rosario

page 99

Regressing or Progressing … Samuel Baldovinos

pages 100-101

Religion … Gabriella Orozco

pages 102-104

Paper and Pen … Ramona Moore

page 94

Not an Angel, Not Yet … Jenna Bolar

page 93

My Remarkable Life So Far … Emma Cladis

pages 90-92

Memory … J. Luke Herman

page 89

Little Brown Mug … Rebekah Pulaski

pages 85-86

Marmalade Voice … Camie Del Rosario

pages 87-88

It’s Okay, It’s Okay. … Camie Del Rosario

pages 67-68

California and the Hollywood Scene … Breanne E. A. Pancarik

pages 71-80

I Trust You … Durodoluwa Aina

pages 63-66

Getting Better … Jade McClintock

page 58

I Can Remember Those Days … J. Luke Herman

page 62

Got Your Back … Jaden Massaro

page 59

Flat, Hot Visalia … Abby Reid

pages 50-52

Georgia … Asia Lavay

pages 53-57

Each Breath … India Moors

page 49

Desolation of a Woman Without Jewelry… Megan Luebberman

page 48

Daisy … Laura Esther

page 47

Butterfly Net … Jaden Massaro

page 43

A Love of Reading… Emily Miller

pages 32-35

Letter From the Editor ... Emily Christine Davis

pages 12-13

Casual Insincerity … Camie Del Rosario

page 44

Cellmates … Alexandra Niebaum

pages 45-46

An Honest Man … Chelsea Mann

pages 36-37

Anamnesis … Michael Robles

pages 38-39

B.E.B. … Camie Del Rosario

pages 40-41
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