By Galilea Oregon
Chapter 9: False Front
“Tiny bit,” I grunted, sitting up from the couch. Pretty girls made my head hurt more than hangovers did. She was still like one of those Greek marble statues, the ones they have in the Louvre.
“So your best friend’s in love you.” She chewed at an already mangled nail. I learned later that it was a bad habit she had picked up from her estranged mother.
“Let’s not talk about that. Let’s not talk about anything. My head hurts.”
“Fine.” She flicked my forehead, plopping back onto the couch.
“Let’s do something.” I rubbed my eyes.
“Ha-ha. That’s funny. ‘Let’s not talk about anything’ to ‘my head hurts.’ What are we even supposed to do?”
“It’s a Saturday night. What isn’t there to do?”
“Saturday night in the suburbs,” Mia scoffed. I hated her. She made me feel powerless. It’s like she took her fingers and choked my flame of…of…teenage immortality and just ploop—killed it like that.
But at the same time, I noted her hypocrisy. Her “I’m-better-than-you-and-all-your-grimey
little-friends-and-I-hate-the-suburbs-and-I’m-going-to-chase-after-a-grand-life-to-fill-my-void-of upper-middle-class-white-girl-oppression” false front. Because she was the girl who told me to stop smoking in a flower field and yet opened her door holding a Newport in her hand. Because she was the girl that got me wasted on a Saturday evening in the middle of what was supposed to be spring but felt like hot hell, and not just because we totally made out in that living room. And maybe she was just like that because she couldn’t help it. Or maybe she just lied to herself and spent every morning staring into the mirror saying “You. Are. Not. Like. Other. Girls.” Whatever it was, it was stupid and I was over it, even if she had nice lips.
“God, do you always have a stick up your ass? Why do you try to act so cold and angry at the world? If you hate the suburbs, then leave. But at least the boys are trying to make something out of it. And hell, if it means getting drunk and high like total losers, then let it be. You know—” I turned and faced her. “If you’re going to sit and mope because we live in a capitalist-induced conformist community, you’ll never get out of it. Because you’re just going to conform to being all-talk. You have to let loose, you know? Because you’re only sixteen for so long and then suddenly you’re thirty-seven trying to pay off the mortgage of your stupid two story house in a cul-de-sac.”
She didn’t kick me out or yell at me to shut up or even flinch at it. It was freakin’ scary.
“Fine. Let’s go to a party, King. I’m sure your cronies would love it if you dazzled them with a surprise appearance.”
“Doesn’t that sound fun? Sounds like a real nineties high school rom-com.” I beamed.
“Wow, I really hope there’s an NSync special feature on the soundtrack.” She rolled her eyes, again. I swear, she could probably roll her eyes completely around.
I decided to not let Princeton’s gayness ruin my weekend and invited the boys to crash a party a couple of blocks away, hoping we’d make it before the cops would get in time to shut it all down.
“Hey, can we like, not walk to a party? Like I know we’re not like, talking or anything, but it’s kinda embarrassing to show up to a party with no ride.”
“Mia, it’s not 2004. No one cares.”
“Uh, but it’s the suburbs and in the suburbs it’s still like 2003.”
“I don’t have a car,” I mumbled. My ultimate demise was being sixteen with no license and no car. Talk about a King.
“Do you wanna borrow the Lexus from the garage?”
“Do I want to borrow the Lexus- do I want to borrow the goddamn Lexus? Hell yes I would like to borrow to take the Lexus, if anything, it would be a complete and absolute honor to drive you, in your dad’s Lexus. And I would be totally willing to drive it illegally just to bring some danger in the monotonous atmosphere of the suburbs. Just to complete your little angst show.”
I stifled laughter as she punched me, cursing me out and swearing to God Himself that she would never ever be someone like me. Poor kid didn’t realize it, but she was just like me all along.
By Galilea Oregon
Chapter 8: Honey and Cigarettes
Prince didn’t say anything. He looked down at the floor as he picked at his skinny wrist. He always did that when he was anxious. I waited for what seemed like years. No answer was enough of an answer. He was gay.
I didn’t know what to do after that. I left. Cole stayed. I ran out without a word. I tripped on the steps, I stumbled onto the street. My skateboard was in the living room. My heart was left in his bedroom. A feeling of both dread and embarrassment rose up my stomach to my throat. I ran, I sprinted, my hand stinging from the concrete pavement outside Princeton’s house. I ran until the cool breeze froze my face.
I needed to talk to someone, anyone. Mia. She’d know what to do.
After running past dozens of identical houses, I reached her front steps. Completely out of breath, I banged at her door, wheezing as my lungs desperately attempted to reclaim air. The door swung open before I could knock again. She was there, looking more than a bit annoyed. I think she was alone. She had a towel wrapped around her head, teetering off to the side, threatening to fall off at any second, and a cigarette in her hand.
I never understood how girls could be so effortlessly graceful, and Mia was the epitome of careless gracefulness. Just standing there, leaning against the doorway, with her hand on her hip and wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around her head and a ratty tee shirt, she looked like heaven.
“Please explain why you look so gross and why you’re at my house.” Her cold tone threw me out of my trance.
“Lot, now.” I motioned toward the street.
“Hell no.” She looked back inside her house and hesitated, “Come inside. No one’s home.”
I wiped my shoes on the doormat and stepped inside her home. I’d only ever seen the outside of it, since the boys and I watched Travis and her leave for Sadie’s, but I’d never actually been inside. I mean, of course, I’d been into plenty girls’ houses (mostly their bedrooms if you catch my drift) but never inside any cool girl’s house.
I followed her into the kitchen, which was more like an extension of the living room. Pots and pans piled the sink like the wooden toy block towers I used to knock over with plastic dinosaurs when I was little.
“You cook?’ I joked.
“I experiment.” She shot me an icy look while she pulled out orange juice from the fridge. She poured me a glass and propped herself onto the counter, completely disregarding the mysterious stains that were strewn across the marble surface. It looked like someone’s guts had been blown out. I didn’t ask her what that was about, in fear of getting kicked out.
She took a long drag from her cigarette and blew a puff of smoke in my face.
“What ever happened to your ‘smoking kills’ phase? You got mad at me after Sadie’s for smoking.”
“Guess you can call me a hypocrite… Now tell me.” She paused, puckering her lips before finishing her sentence, “Now tell me, stud, what brings you here?” Her voice picked up a Western accent I’d only heard in saloons of old westerns my dad and I used to watch.
“You were right.” I sighed. “You were right about Prince.”
“Duh, I was. I’m always right.”
“Yeah, but he confessed.”
“What?!” She laughed. “He’d never confess. He’s too pussy to admit something as heavy as that. Did he actually, like, say he was gay or-”
“Okay no, he didn’t say it, but when I asked he just stared at me. I think it was obvious enough.”
Mia rolled her eyes at me.
“What?! Isn’t that obvious enough?”
“King, you don’t just ask someone if they’re gay. You literally have no manners, and you wonder why you don’t have a girlfriend. I mean, unless you don’t have a girlfriend because you’re gay.” She smirked.
“Shut up.” This time, I rolled my eyes at her.
Even though she wasn’t helping me cope, Mia lightened my mood. I don’t know how she did it. Something about her was magical. And not in that fairy-tale kind of way, more like the dangerous magic that lies behind hypnotization or things like that, you know the weird creepy stuff you actually enjoy.
“Well, my dad isn’t home. He’s off with his girlfriend or something stupid like that. We should get you wasted. You look like shit and it’s killing my mood.” She hopped off the counter and pulled vodka out of the liquor cabinet.
“Mia, I just need you to listen-”
“Listen to what? Listen to you complain and nag because your best friend happens to be gay and in love with you? That is so, like, boring. C’mon let’s get you drunk at least I’ll have some fun with it.”
“You’re the worst friend I’ve ever had.” I took a shot glass from her hand.
“Who said we were friends? Here open this for me.” She handed me the bottle.
“Mia… I don’t wanna get drunk. Not today.” I pushed the bottle back into her hands.
“How could you, King, ever say that? I’ll make out with you if you do.”
“Mia, I don’t-” I stopped. Yes, yes I did want to make out with her.
She raised her eyebrow and grinned, “Looks like I gotcha there, buddy.”
“I just- I just want to leave,” the words slurred off my lips like maple syrup being poured onto pancakes, hot, heavy, and sweet.
“Tell me about it,” she stared at me curiously.
Oh God I was weak, I was so weak. We were in the living room now, the bottle of vodka half empty, the shot glass somewhere under the couch. I was weak. I couldn’t stop myself from saying all the stupid things, or doing all the stupid things that I’d stopped myself from doing while I was sober. She sat there, legs crossed, the towel thrown onto the coffee table. Her hair smelled like vanilla. She was so close to me. I never paid attention to the way she smelled until then, with her right there next to me, almost in my lap. She smelled like vanilla. I loved vanilla.
“You give me chills,” I whispered.
“You make me want to vomit.”
I laughed and cupped her chin. “Because you’re so…cold.”
“You’re so stupid.” Mia slapped my hand away.
“You’re stupid for getting me drunk. You said you’d make out with me.”
Oh God, I was weak.
I never saw it coming. Yeah she smelled like vanilla and I loved vanilla but her mouth tasted like honey and cigarettes and somehow that worked together. The sweet and rotting taste of her lips had me gone. I was gone. I wasn’t there in her living room couch, I was somewhere else, somewhere out there wherever the hell out there was supposed to be but it certainly was not there on her couch, in her house, in the middle of a dead end town.
I got lost. I got lost in her mouth, in her tangled damp hair, I got lost in her. And my heart broke because she was probably doing it out of pity, because of Prince, because he was my friend, because he was gay. And my heart broke in the middle of the endless hungry kisses, because I was drunk, because I wasn’t going to remember when I sobered up, because I’d kissed so many girls drunk and I didn’t care if I did or did not remember, but this one I never wanted to forget. Because honey and cigarettes actually go together, because she was so good it was dangerous, because she tasted like the way I lived. And yeah, I was dying, but dying doesn’t appeal because it tastes like death. Dying is so good because it tastes like honey and cigarettes.
By Galilea Oregon
Chapter 7: Princeton
“Do we have a plan?” Cole wheezed behind me.
“Pfft, please. We never have plan. Just roll with it.” I turned back. I could feel my bones trembling inside me, my hands clammy from the anxiety forming at the pit of my belly. My jumbled fears became more tangled than a pair of earphones jammed carelessly in my back pocket.
I skated down Miller Street into the cul-de-sac to the blue house on the corner. My tangled earphone anxiety knot became bigger and bigger as I walked up the porch steps. Cole stayed a few steps behind me and I could hear him cracking his knuckles nervously.
I hesitated before knocking at the door, taking a long, shaky breath.
“Dude, just knock already,” Cole interrupted.
I could feel my hands quivering ever so slightly.
Tap, tap, tap.
We waited in awkward silence, Cole rocking back and forth on his heels. The sound of footsteps echoed behind the door, and a shadow stood on the other side of the glass facade. We stared in awe as the knob turned, and out stepped Princeton sporting a major bedhead. He yawned and stretched out his arms, carelessly rubbing his eyelids.
Prince leaned against the door frame. “Dude… It’s almost eight, man. I’m tired as hell. What do you bums want?”
Cole cleared his throat and stepped forward. “We…” He look a long breath, scratching the back of his head. “Well, King here needs to talk to you. I just wanna play some CoD, if that’s okay with you and your mom, I mean.”
“She’s not home yet. It’s cool. Come in. There’s frozen pizza in the freezer if you’re hungry, and then there’s lemonade in the fridge. Don’t leave a mess though, my mom got hella pissed last time,” Prince said as we stepped into his home.
“Okay, but that totally was not my fault. That was all Travis because he got pissed when I took the last pizza slice and he hadn’t had his daily dose of cancer sticks, so he just decided to break the flower vase thingy. But I mean let’s be honest, Prince, it totally didn’t go with the rest of the decor in the living room. If anything, I think Travis and I did her a favor and spared her the embarrassment. I mean like, imagine if Mrs. Jackson saw that hideous vase during their Wednesday book club meetings? Consider your mother a social outcast in our preppy upscale community. It would bring shame and dishonor to your family name.”
I don’t know how he did it, but Cole somehow managed to remove all the tension in an awkward situation, like a sponge. An annoying, sarcastic, melodramatic, slightly obnoxious sponge.
“Shut up and eat your pizza.” Prince shook his head, holding back his laughter from bubbling out.
“Can we just go to your room or something?” I asked. I could feel drops of sweat forming at my temples.
He shrugged and I followed him down the hall. There were pictures hung everywhere. I’d been to his house hundreds, even thousands of times, but I’d never noticed the pictures. Wedding photos, family portraits, AYSO soccer photos. All of Prince’s life hanging in dusty picture frames that led to his too clean bedroom.
“…Hey man,” I stuttered as he shut the door behind him. “Hey man?” Is that all you can say? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Get a grip of yourself King, goddamn.
“What’s up?” Prince asked, with a hint of curiosity tingling at the end of his words. The poor kid was totally, absolutely, one-hundred percent clueless.
“Nothin’,” I shrugged and slumped onto his swivel chair, spinning from side to side, debating if any of this was worth my time. Better yet, I was trying to think of an excuse before saying what I had really come to say. But how the hell was I supposed to just accuse him of being gay, or even liking me? How do you do that? How do you do that to your best friend?
“‘Nothin’?’ C’mon. You skated here just to tell me that ‘nothin’’ is up?” He laughed softly, shoulders rising up and down. To Prince, I was nothing more than just his dumb friend, the clueless one that was always doing homework before class even started, the friend that had to be carried out of parties passed out, the guy left out on the lawn.
“Okay…well…you know…” I cracked my knuckles anxiously as the sound of machine guns blasted in the living room as Cole screamed and cursed at the television.
“You good?” Prince raised his eyebrows at me in concern.
I had to do it. I had to ask. I had to do it. I had to ask. The words slipped out of my mouth without a thought. They clunked down to the floor like when you toss a rock into the river and it just sinks and scares away all the fish. In this case, Princeton was the scared fish because when he heard my heavy words, the color drained out of his already white face.
My words rang in my ears, like the blaring police sirens from all the times we were chased away by cops, “Are you gay?”
By Chaise Howard
Sophia was in her room one night writing a story on her laptop for her journalism class. She began to write about a typical girl like herself who was left alone on a Saturday night and a guy broke into the main character’s house and tried to kill her. As she continued to write, she realized just how unoriginal it was, like she had read the story before a million times. So she deleted the whole story. She again tried to write a scary story, this time about moving into a new home and creepy things beginning to happen to the main character. But again, to her it was too uninspired, too unoriginal.
She let out a loud sigh. She was getting a headache from thinking too hard and staring at her screen for a long time, so she decided to take a break and go and get a snack. As she was walking down the stairs, it was pitch black. She would have pissed herself if she’d been home alone, but it was a Sunday so her parents were home sound asleep in their beds. She crept down the stairs slowly, and although she knew her fear was stupid, she couldn’t help it. She tried to steady her breath but in her head she was beating herself up for not grabbing her phone and using it for light. As she reached the bottom step, she raced over to the middle of the room where the light was. She’d always hated the guy who designed this house—who puts a light switch in the middle of the room?. Just as the darkness was about to swallow her she was saved by the light that burst into the room.
She made her way to the fridge and grabbed some chips and a water bottle and was about to head upstairs when she heard a soft creak, like someone was walking upstairs. She froze.
It was her parents. It had to be. They were the only other ones in the house. She was being irrational. She turned off the light and was once again engulfed in darkness. Normally she would’ve raced up the stairs, but for some reason she felt overcome with dread. She would rather be down there where someone could come out of the shadows and steal her away than be upstairs in the safety of her room. She was being dumb.
She made her way up the stairs and the sounds of someone walking became louder. She jumped at every creak of the floor. The hallway came into view and her heart raced. The only light that penetrated the darkness of the hallway was the light coming from the crack in her bedroom door.As she stepped into the hallway, she was again engulfed in the darkness when felt the urge to run.
She got to her room and slammed the door behind her. That’s when she realized just how loud she was being. She mentally kicked herself—she’d definitely woken up her parents. She waited for her mom to come stomping down the hall and scream at her for being loud. But she never came…
She waited for a good five minutes when she came to the conclusion her mom wasn’t gonna get mad at her. Maybe her parents hadn’t heard her? How could they not hear her run down the hall and slam her door? The house was so quiet.
Wait…too quiet, she thought. She heard nothing—no crickets outside her open window, no more ticking of the clock on the wall. But at least there were no more footsteps.
She needed to calm down. She was overthinking everything. She walked back to her laptop and opened it to find something that would require her to see a therapist for the rest of her life. On her laptop after the last line she typed, read the following:
I read your story. It was okay but quite uninspired. So I decided to help you out. Go check your parents’ room:)
She froze. If it was actually possible for her heart to stop from fear, it would’ve happen to her right then. Her heart began to race and her breathing became a challenge for her.
“This is a joke. It has to be. It’s a joke. I’m being messed with right now. I’m legit being pranked,” she whispered to herself as she began to pace around the room.
The silence of the house was only broken by her terrified whispers and her beating heart, but all of a sudden, it was broken by something else….three little knocks on her door. She ran to her closet and hid.
Someone had to be messing with her. Things like this don’t actually happen. These things only happen in movies or scary stories.
After the knocks, it seemed like if the silence was broken once again, it would be the end of her. Should she call the police? Was it that extreme? Maybe someone was pranking her. Should she go check her parents’ room? Maybe she would find that they were safe and sound in their beds.
The closet was engulfed in darkness except for a tiny crack that left a line of light shining across her face. Sophie heard another knock her bedroom door. She put her hand over her mouth and bit her tongue.She heard the creak of her bedroom door echo through the room. She heard one…two…three…soft footprints walking to the closet door. She thought the sound of her heart slamming in her chest was gonna give her away.
She heard someone grab the doorknob and slowly pull it open….
By Galilea Oregon
Of course Princeton was in love with me. I mean, what’s not to love? But, God. Princeton? Gay? For me? I guess it all did make sense. Why he was always watching me and why he seemed to care about every little detail about my personal life. But how in the hell was I supposed to deal with that? I couldn’t just walk up to him when we were hanging out and say, “Hey, look, I know you’re totally gay for me and I guess we can still be friends, but we can’t change next to each other for PE.”
So, the weeks following the Sadie’s dance, I did my best to avoid Princeton. We’d hang out with the rest of the boys, but I never looked at him or even talked to him. I sat with Cole and went to his house instead of Prince’s, but that kind of sucked because Cole didn’t have an XBox, so we just smoked in his room (with a towel pressed against the bottom of the door, just to be cautious) or watched surfing videos.
On a Friday night, two weeks after Sadie’s, Cole slept over at my house. After school, we ordered pizza and watched The Simpsons until my parents came into the living room, arguing as usual. Fighting made Cole uneasy; he had enough to deal with at home. He tugged at my sleeve and motioned over to my bedroom door.
Once I shut and locked the door behind me, Cole let out an exasperated sigh.
“Why don’t they just get divorced?” he asked.
“I dunno. My parents are stupid, and you know them—they fight like this all the time.” I jumped into bed, outstretching my arms. Cole sat on my floor, texting some girl.
We were there in my messy room. It was weird; almost as if we were communicating through our silence. Every once in a while, Cole would look up at me from his phone and make a stupid face. Our bond was nice. We didn’t have to talk much to understand each other. With a simple glance, I’d already know what was on his mind. And it was funny, how it wasn’t like that with Princeton. Oh God…Princeton…
Almost as if he had read my mind, Cole crawled over right next to my bed and gave me this look of complete curiosity.
“So…” He leaned over close, reminding me of a gossipy thirteen year old girl. “I heard you found out…about Prince.” What? I thought Mia was the only one that knew. I clenched my fists tightly before saying something I’d regret.
“I swear to God, if you knew about this from the beginning—”
“Okay. Well…no. Not exactly. Did I suspect it? Yes. But I mean, who didn’t?”
“Touche.” I bit down on my lip uneasily, furrowing my brow, unsure of how to deal with such a sensitive topic of conversation.
“Okay look, I got Princeton really crossfaded a little over a month ago and he said you were adorable and stupid. And I mean, it’s true. You’re adorable. But also really stupid. Anyways, Princeton would NOT shut up about you. I just assumed he was gay and totally head over heels for you. So of course I’m like, ‘Oh, shit this could end badly. Better keep this one to myself.’ But I have it on video because it was pretty hilarious.”
I don’t know what happened first: either me yelling or when I punched Cole in the face. There was blood oozing out from his left nostril like a river, down his parted lips to his peach fuzzed chin. He covered his nose and threw his head back in agony.
“Shit, I saw that coming. Sorry, man.” He looked at me and laughed, “I’ll be more subtle when talking about your gay lover.”
“Shut up.” I outstretched my hands and helped him up from the ratty carpet. He followed me into the bathroom and propped himself onto the sink countertop. I grabbed toilet paper and crumpled it up in one hand while I tilted Cole’s head back with the other.
“Hold this. Pinch your nose. I’m gonna go get ice.”
“You are such a gentleman, Kingsley!” he mocked. God, that boy could be dying and he’d still be cracking jokes.
I snuck down the hall, trying to avoid my parents’ room. I could hear shouting from behind the door. Something about how irresponsible my mom was and how it reflected on my poor behavior. Whatever. It’s the same shit every single goddamned day. They toss me around like a ball. It never ends. I grabbed ice and put it in a plastic bag and found a couple beers in the fridge.
“Here,” I tossed Cole a beer when I walked back into the bathroom.
“Shitty apology, but I guess it works.” He took the ice from me and pressed it against his face.
“I’m a man of few words.” I tried smiling at him. He didn’t deserve to get punched. But he was being pretty annoying.
“King. You’re barely a man. Anyways, Prince likes you, like a lot. What are you going to do about it?” Cole asked as he dabbed crumpled tissues on his nose. I watched his blood drip into his bottle of beer, onto his hand.
“Gee, I don’t know Cole. Maybe I’ll just ask him out on a date and we can see a movie and have a nice classy dinner afterwards. GOD. I. DON’T. KNOW.” I could feel the room spinning around me, sweat beads starting to form on my forehead, “YOU THINK I ASK FOR THIS?” I punched the countertop and let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t know what to do. Like I can’t make up some shit up on the spot. This isn’t some shit that’s just gonna go away.” How in the hell was I supposed to just deal with this? I could feel my knuckles starting to throb. Dealing with a crush from any old girl was simple and easy. I rubbed my fist, wincing slightly. But this, this was something completely uncalled for.
“Hey, look.” Cole patted my back. “We’ll deal with it. If I’m gonna get punched in the face, it’s for a worthy cause, right? And what’s a worthier cause than saving a bud from a gay relationship?”
“You’re so stupid.” I slapped his hand off me. “Nose good?”
Cole set the bag of ice in the sink and lightly prodded at his nose. He winced and quickly wiped his hand on his lap. “Yeah I think so. Look, King, if anything, you can’t cut Prince from the group. We aren’t lowlife conservative homophobes.”
“Yeah, no shit. We’re not cutting him. Then what?”
“Hmph.” He put his head down, picking at a scab on his elbow. “I got it. We make you ugly and undesirable.”
“Or we could just be upfront about it and tell him to back off.”
“Yeah, that’s easier.” He hopped off the counter and walked out of the bathroom nonchalantly. “Let’s go, bud. Time to break Prince’s heart.”
“God, it’s not like we’re doing anything else tonight. Let’s go!” He jumped up and down, impatiently tugging at my sleeve, just like a five year old.
“But.” I hesitated, looking over at my parents’ bedroom door. “Yeah, I mean, whatever. Let’s go before my parents realize I left.” Not like they’d care anyway…
Cole followed me down the hall, skateboard in hand. I didn’t know what I was doing. I never knew what I was doing. I was just making things up as I went, hoping I wouldn’t get caught, hoping for as little repercussions as possible. I peered down at my phone. The clock read 7:14. I had the whole night to fix things with Prince.
“Where to, King?”
“Princeton’s,” I mumbled as I got on my board. He gave me a reassuring nod. I had to confront him. And I was so scared.
Broken But Fixed
By Yaire Alfaro
Why did I like you?
You are evil and cruel.
All you do is put me down.
Yet, I always try to get your approval.
Why did I stay as long as I did,
After the nights I cried myself to sleep?
The days I sat alone.
I saw you kiss other girls.
Still, I gave you my heart,
Every last part.
Now what do I have?
I wish you would have loved me the way I loved you.
You always said that no one will hurt
Me as long as I was with you.
Yet, you’re the one that hurt me and
I am sorry for all I ever did wrong.
Thank you, though.
You showed me what I deserve and what I don’t.
Thank you for opening my eyes.
Thank you for taking my heart.
Now someone else can fill it in.
Sorry and thank you.
by Galilea Oregon
Chapter 5: Secrets
“So do you always bring cold girls to your little ‘spot’, or am I the only one?” Mia asked jokingly as she played with my lighter.
“This was the only place I knew. Now that we’re here, it’s your turn to tell me a secret.” I laid down in the grass as she watch me intently with her big stupid shiny eyes. God, she was so…she was gorgeous. And it wasn’t even that she was pretty pretty, she just looked interesting.
“You’re funny, Kingsley. You think you can sneak into a high school dance to sweep me off my feet—”
“Which, for the record, I did.” I looked up at her, smiling. From where I was laying down, she looked like she could get sucked up into the sky at any moment.
“Oh my, a little self centered now, aren’t we?” Mia laid down next to me, her cold hand touching mine. And I swear just as soon and her knuckles brushed mine, my entire body went hot and cold then hot again.
“Why’d you ask Travis? Out of all people, why Travis?” I asked, trying not to nudge her hand.
“Why wouldn’t I? Do you even talk to him anymore?” Mia moved her hand away from mine and placed it onto her stomach. She frowned. Even when she got mad she was pretty. I used to tug on her pigtails when we were seven and she’d chase me across the field. And here I was, chasing after her.
“I mean I do-we hang out all the time with Prince and Tristan and Cole.” I pulled out another cigarette slowly, “Are you cold? You’re shaking.”
“I’m fine. Can you stop smoking?” She ripped the cigarette out of my hand and threw it in the grass angrily. But what was her problem? Why did she care if I was slowly killing my insides? She was still as bossy as she was three years ago, damn
“I can, but I decided that I won’t. Problem with that?”
“Whatever. Anyways.” She sat up now, brushing grass off of her hair. “I asked Travis to Sadie’s because we’re friends. I didn’t even make him a stupid poster or anything. I just asked him.”
“Why not ask me instead? Travis isn’t funny or interesting or cool.” I scooted over closer to her. This time, I rested my chin on the palm of my hand, looking up at how one side of her mouth curled up more than the other when she smiled. And when she talked, she’d make gestures with her hands, waving them around like a crazy lady.
“Why not ask you instead? You’re funny, King. Do you even know Travis? Besides, I always hated you. Why would I want to spend all night with you in a sweaty gym?” There she was, doing it again: waving her hands around.
“Point taken, but why Travis?”
“Because he’s cute. Why else?”
“I’m cute too,” I muttered.
“But you have an ugly personality,” she sighed, “and Travis does not.”
“Trav has like, no personality,” I laughed.
She laughed too, because it was true.
“He doesn’t, but he was there and you weren’t.”
“That’s true.” I paused. “So you’re saying that if I was there, you would have asked me?”
“Everything’s about you, isn’t it?” Mia rolled her eyes so far back, I’m almost completely sure she could see her own brain.
“Hell no! You didn’t even answer my question.” Everything about me? If anything, this whole high school experience belonged to anyone BUT me. It was Cole’s and Tristan’s and Travis’s and Princeton’s high school experience too. Anything that happened to me, somehow affected them too. My life was theirs and theirs was mine. As if we were all tangled up in jumbled mess.
“King, you just think because I let you take me out of that dance, that I instantly have to explain everything to you. And about your friends, everyone knows them as ‘King’s Boys.’ They’re not ever just Cole or Tristan or Travis or Prince. They’re part of you. Like your own personal army or something.”
“No, no,” I laughed, “that’s so not what it is. Look, I guess it’s hard for people from the outside to understand it, but we’re all different. Sure we all look alike in a stereotypical way, but we’re each our own person.”
“Oh really? Well, having different family and mental issues I guess, does count to your little entourage’s diversity.” She smirked. God, I hated how she went there.
“You don’t know us,” I said through clenched teeth.
“I don’t have to. You’re all so easy to read.”
“And you’re just some girl that thinks she’s so unique because she’s cool and laid back and ‘not like the other girls’ because she doesn’t wear makeup and because she doesn’t participate in school or any of that shit.”
“Well when you put it that way, I sound just like you.” She smirked. And God, just like that, she caught me off guard and I’d fallen in her trap. And she was right; we were alike in a weird way.
“Whatever,” I huffed, “You never told me your secret.” I changed topics, hoping she wouldn’t realize. But she was looking at me intently like a lion before pouncing on its prey. Every movement I made, she registered with those big shiny brown eyes.
“You want my secret? Fine. Brace yourself, Kingsley. I know something you might want to know. Because you’re a blind idiot.” She crossed her arms over her chest proudly.
“Then it’s not your secret. Tell me a secret about you, not someone else.” I chewed my lower lip curiously. What could she know that I didn’t?
“But this secret is much, much, much better than any old boring little known fact about me. It’s one of your boys.”
My ears perked up at her last sentence. What the hell could she know about one of my boys that I didn’t know? I knew everything about their boring miserable little lives, from the time Tristan got too drunk in the basement on Thanksgiving earlier this year, to Cole’s parents divorcing before we started high school.
“Pfft, please. You wouldn’t know shit about us.”
“What about your little secret admirer?”
“Mia, I have tons of those.”
“Well yeah, everyone knows that. But what about guy secret admirers? Ever thought about those types of admirers?”
“What the hell?” I laughed, “You’re joking.”
She sucked in her breath and I frantically pulled at her arm.
“Please tell me you’re joking. Mia…Mia look at me. Tell me you’re joking.”
“Word gets around quick, King. And it’s beyond obvious.” She sucked in her cheeks and smirked.
“Word from who?” I tightened my grasp on her arm.
“Let go of me, will you?” She wriggled under my grasp. “God, you act like it’s a bad thing. All I know is that not every King needs a queen. Maybe he just needs a Prince.”
“What the hell are you—” Suddenly all the puzzle pieces came together. Everything weird and off that didn’t seem to make sense finally did.
“Oh, shit.” Mia looked at her phone. “I have to go. Don’t tell anyone, will you? I’ll see you at school Monday.” She got up and ruffled my hair liked nothing had happened, like everything was completely fine and normal. I sat there, gaping, staring at her as she ran away, her ghostly silhouette getting smaller and smaller in the distance until there was nothing, just the street lamps flickering and the crickets in the lot.
I sat there all night in my suit. Not every King needs a queen. Maybe he just needs a Prince. Princeton. And it all made sense, why he didn’t fit right in, why everything about him was clean and crisp. And that explained him always looking at me like that, with big puppy eyes. That’s why he was so awkward around me, why he always defended my sorry ass. Oh my God. My best friend was in love with me.
By Camille Yost
Sitting on the curb of an abandoned parking lot was a beautiful woman in a white sundress. Her short brunette curls stopped right at her collarbone and her beautiful pink cheeks were covered with mascara filled tears.
“Excuse me miss, are you alright?” a man asked as he carefully approached the woman. “What’s your name? Are you waiting here for someone?” He waited for her to reply and when she didn’t even bother to look up at him, he spent the time of silence to examine her. He noticed how stunningly beautiful she was and then he noticed a necklace that she was grasping tightly in her dainty hands.
Suddenly, she stopped crying and looked up at him with her big, light brown eyes and she spoke. “You’re a stranger, please go away.”
“My name is Nate Parker, I’m twenty-six, and I write for a living,” he stated. “Now I’m not so much of a stranger.”
The woman stared at him, examining him. He looked like a decent guy and he was maybe a little over six feet tall, blonde hair, and the prettiest blue eyes the woman had ever seen.
“I’m Arabella, I’m twenty-four, and I’m in accounting,” Arabella replied as she looked back down at her necklace.
“That’s a pretty name. It suits you.” He smiled. He walked closer to her and sat down on the curb next to her. She started to shift uncomfortably. “Don’t worry, we’re not strangers anymore, remember?” He paused and examined the necklace. “Did your boyfriend give that to you?” he questioned.
“My fiance gave it to me,” Arabella replied as she wiped away her tears.
“Is he still your fiance? I don’t mean to pry,” he reassured her.
“Um, no he isn’t. He, uh, he was murdered six months ago,” she stammered. “His name was Alex.”
“I’m really sorry.” he said. “Did they ever catch the guy who did it?” he inquired.
“No, I’m afraid not. I remember everything. I found him downstairs in a pool of blood. When I came down, he was still alive and he grabbed my hand. His blood was all over me and I was wearing a dress just like this one. The detectives accused me of doing the murder,” she sobbed.
“Hey, don’t cry, please? Will you go somewhere with me?” Nate pleaded.
Nate led Arabella to a children’s playground. It was deserted, but had a beautiful view of the sunset. They talked for hours and met up at that exact spot every single day for six months.
“I know a year has passed since your former fiance passed away, but ever since the day I saw you sitting on that curb in that white sundress, I knew that you’d be someone important in my life,” he said. “Will you marry me?” He had gotten on one knee and pulled out a ring.
“Okay, um, I just need to think about this for a minute if that’s okay,” she said under her breath.
“Yeah of course, take your time,” he said.
Arabella started to pace back and forth, unsure of what to say to Nate. “My answer is yes.” She smiled.
The two of them planned their wedding over the course of the next few months. The dress, the cake, the food, and the guest list was ready to go. They planned to have a band to play and they planned their honeymoon. Nate knew it would be perfect.
Six months later, Arabella found herself on the curb once again, crying in the white sundress.
“Are you alright?” a man inquired.
“No, my fiance was murdered,” she sobbed.
By Tanya Soto
Mamá dice que el amor vence el odio
Que todo el odio es un episodio
Que a va terminar y no dominar
Mamá says love will conquer hate
That hate is just an episode
That it will end and not dominate
But I see my people’s desperation and devastation
Hungry for liberation
My people tired of having to fit in specific formation
Mi gente mi querida gente
My people my dear people
With eyes full of tears
With hearts full of fears
Being promised change now for many years
Guess it wasn’t sincere
I know you feel like your dreams and hopes are nowhere near
Scared they’ll disappear
My only hope is the new generation
With our intelligence
Maybe later will turn into careers
Mamá dice que el amor vence el odio
Que todo el odio es un episodio
Que va terminar y no dominar
Mamá says love will conquer hate
That hate is just an episode
That it will end and not dominate
By Camille Yost
Sitting alone at the booth, he stared at the bottom of his soon to be empty glass, pondering his life and where he should be now. His friends were out living their lives, two of them with their second baby on the way, his best friend was planning his wedding with the woman he loved, and even his parents were moving away and had purchased a new home.
When your best friends are getting married and having children, it makes you reexamine your life. Alexander Clarke, thirty-two years old and a successful businessman. He had his career figured out, but the one thing he really wanted was to meet the one. Alexander frequently dreamt of meeting a woman in his favorite cafe, reading his favorite book as she taps her foot his favorite song. However, as years went by, with no sign of the woman, he began to lose hope.
He was at his fifth glass of whiskey and he could no longer tell the difference between what was real and what was not real.
“You, my friend, are going to regret those five glasses of whiskey in about twelve hours,” a familiar voice sang.
Alexander looked up from his almost empty glass to the sight of a slightly aged version of himself, which caused him to abruptly jump out of his seat. He then struggled to get back in his seat to find that the mysterious man had pulled up a chair to his booth.
“Careful not to hit your head, you might start to have hallucinations,” the man laughed.
“I think I am having one,” Alexander mumbled. “Who are you?” he inquired.
“I’m you, exactly one year from now,” One Year From Now Alexander chirped. “And this is you, exactly 42 days from now.” He pointed to the seat next to him and a man who looked exactly like Alexander appeared. The only difference between Alexander and the 42 days from now Alexander was that he was sober and had a genuine smile on his face. Alexander then reexamined his older self and noticed a ring on his finger.
“How is it possible that my life is miserable right now, yet 42 days from now, everything looks the opposite?” Alexander asked, still unsure whether or not any of this was really happening.
“Well, you see, in exactly 42 days from now, you will meet a girl and fall in love with her. And in exactly one year from now, you will ask her to marry you, and she’ll say yes,” One Year From Now Alexander explained.
Alexander sat in his seat, shocked and unable to speak. He had lost hope; he wanted so desperately to believe that this wasn’t a dream and that he would indeed meet the woman of his dreams within the next 42 days. The only thing that upset him was that he longed for those extra 42 days to be with her.
Alexander reawakened from his thoughts and began to ask a series of questions, such as, how he’d meet her, where he’d meet her, or what her name would be.
“Now, I could tell you the answers to all of your questions, however, knowing every detail of your future could potentially alter that future. By knowing this information, you might not even meet her. Now, I will tell you if that is your choice, but just know the dangers of knowing your entire future,” One Year From Now Alexander lectured.
Alexander thought about whether or not he wanted to know the answers to all of his questions about the woman he would soon meet. He was still unsure about whether or not this was real, so he thought there would be no harm done. But then again, on the off chance that he would finally meet the love of his life, he decided that maybe some things were just better left unsaid.
As he looked back up to give his answer, he saw that once again, he was all alone. He had sobered up a bit and decided to walk back to his empty house that could hardly be called home.
Days went by and eventually those days turned into weeks. There was still no sign of the woman and eventually, he once again lost his hope.
Alexander’s friends had been able to set aside a night to spend with their best friend. The second baby had been born and the couple had gotten married and to celebrate the birth of a child and the beginning of a long-lasting relationship, they decided to watch a football game they had planned months in advance.
Alexander had been looking forward to that particular night because, with his friends being preoccupied with their lives, he had felt rather lonely and empty inside.
The team they were rooting for had lost, however he had a great night filled with laughter and drinks with his friends. Since he had been out drinking, he decided to have a cab home. As he sat on a bench outside of the stadium, he began to doze off. Right before he closed his eyes, he caught the sight of what he described in his mind as the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid his eyes on.
Everyday, Alexander thanks every higher power that he had the courage to walk up to that beautiful girl standing outside of the stadium and to open his mouth and say, “Hi, I’m Alexander.”
He was even more pleased when she looked up at him with those shimmering coffee brown eyes and replied with a smile, “Hi, I’m Isabelle.”
You and Me
By Yaire Alfaro
I am breaking into pieces.
My sadness always increases.
I am trying to find peace,
And hope I still believe in you and me.
I will always love you
I promise I will never leave
Until at least try to fix our broken relationship
Later we will see what is
wrong with us, hopefully.
I want to feel free, but you won’t let me.
You do not see that you and I never agree.
I just want to see you happy and that is not with me.
You don’t see – I fall apart when you sleep.
You don’t trust me.
Yet you were always unfaithful towards me.
I hope we can still be friends.
I am sorry this did not work out
For the best.
Here’s to All the People
By Eileen Obregon
Here’s to all the people,
Who’ve inspired me in some way.
This is just a small thank you,
For the words they won’t hear me say.
Here’s to the kind strangers –
That act purely with their heart.
Here’s to the the talented musicians,
Who turn their music into an art
Here’s to the single mothers –
Who stayed strong when Daddy left.
The moms who worked three jobs,
While their children slept.
Here’s to those who struggle –
More than most of us will know.
Here’s to my first and only love,
Who had me at hello.
Here’s to all the soldiers,
Who have given up their lives –
And to the ones still fighting,
Fighting day and night.
Here’s to all of the children,
Who lost their parents young.
Here’s to all of the parents,
Who’ve lost a daughter or a son.
Here’s to all the people,
Who weren’t told of their potential.
Here’s to all the great leaders –
Who are so positively influential.
Here’s to the people locked up –
Who were falsely accused.
Here’s to the men and women –
Who grew up being abused.
Here’s to all the children,
Just wishing they could go back home.
To the kids with parents who travel –
And had to grow up on their own.
Here’s to all the teachers –
Who still teach despite the pay.
Here’s to all the heroes –
Who gave their lives away.
Here’s to all the children –
Who were robbed of a childhood.
Here’s to people stereotyped,
When they’re often misunderstood.
Here’s to the people fighting an illness –
And the ones who didn’t survive.
Here’s to all the firefighters –
Who never made it out alive.
Here’s to the police officers –
Who died in the line of fire.
And for the people I didn’t mention,
You’re still people that I admire.
Thank you for helping me
Appreciate life in a whole new way.
And thank you so damn much,
You’ve inspired me everyday.
As I Grew Older…
By Jennifer Mendoza
As I grew older, I began to think about
The world around me.
As I grew older, I began stressing
About the world around me.
As I grew older, I began to get anxious
About the world around me.
As I grew older, I began to wonder
What I was to make of myself
And what I was to become.
As I grew older, I began to think about
People’s perceptions of me.
As I grew older, I began to observe;
The one thing I noticed was how cruel the
People around me grew up to be.
As I grew older, I began to think maybe
The world around me was just
An utterly cruel and unjust place.
As I grew older, I began to wonder how
People could be so mean in the world around me.
As I grew older, I began to think
Of the people who could bully other people on the Internet
And call it freedom of speech.
As I grew older, I began to wonder
How some people evolutionized
Into something so horrible.
As I grew older, I began to realize
If I focused on all the bad I wouldn’t see the
Beautiful in the world.
As I grew older, I began to appreciate.
A Cheetah’s Dream
By Daniel Camano
I’m a cheetah with stealth like no other,
Hunting my prey, getting closer and closer everyday.
Hidden in the grass so no one notices my true potential inside,
But yet so focused and aiming on the beautiful Gazelle.
Creeping in, stalking it,
With my eyes hungry for success.
Looking for the Gazelle,
A Gazelle that can only be caught by those who really want it.
A Gazelle that can only be caught by those who can imagine
The sweet taste of victory,
The Victory that comes with pride,
The Victory that gives honor,
The Victory that gives respect,
The Victory that comes with happiness.
Go hunt down your Gazelle.
I Know We
By Alexia Mitchell
I know we are still young.
I know we are incredibly different.
I know we are seen as hopeless and foolish.
I know we have our entire lives ahead of us.
I know we will most likely lose our spark.
I know we will most likely break.
I know we will probably move on.
I know we aren’t even close to perfect.
I know we are constantly judged.
I know we are unstable.
I know we are always going to have problems.
I know we are going to struggle.
I know we can’t be open yet.
I know we need to stay hidden.
I know we will only hurt.
I know we won’t want to hide forever.
I know we will have to choose one day.
I know we need to put others before ourselves.
I know we don’t exactly know what love is or feels like.
I know I will always care for you like there is no tomorrow.
When I Grow Up
By Yaire Alfaro
People see me as a little kid,
Someone who can’t act proper,
Someone who can keep secrets.
When I grow up,
You will love me,
Want to be around me,
Tell me secrets,
And need me for help.
I will help you
And treat you like a friend
Because the way you treated me
Does not feel good.
I know what not to do to you.
Just wait until I grow up.
You’ll want to be around me.
You will love me.
What I Need
By Yaire Alfaro
I need to know you’re mine,
Know that you care,
Know that you will be there to catch me.
I need to know
You won’t hurt me.
I need to know I’m your priority.
I need to know
That you will stay,
You will fill the empty
Spaces in my heart.
I need to know
What If the Sun Was Our Moon?
By Melanie Mercado
What if our sun was the moon?
Would you count on the moon like you used to?
Would the clouds be our stars?
The ones we’d tell our secrets to.
What if the sun was our moon?
Would the flowers dare to bloom?
Our midnight turning into our afternoon.
What if the sun was our moon?
Could I still love you?
Could you still make me swoon?
So many questions in my head,
Taking over thoughts I thought I’d always dread.
But now I understand that the sun will never be our moon,
Because we need light and I need you.
Never Had I Thought
By Jay Mendoza
I wanted to go to college,
Maybe be a cop.
I wanted a big family,
Maybe even a dog.
But now that’ll never happen,
All because of some fool.
He made a dumb decision,
Thinking he was cool.
He drove me off the road,
Straight into a tree.
My car had split between a tree ,
And they had to cut me free
Never had I thought,
This would be the end for me.
I died that night on impact,
There was no more time for me.
He said it was an accident,
But no one forced him to drink.
I died within an instant;
Drinking and driving killed me.
By Daniel Camano
Stop being a lame person sitting on the Pity Potty.
Feeling sorry for yourself and coming up with every excuse to why you aren’t winning.
Stop being in the Pity Potty
And complaining why you’re out of shape when you don’t go to the gym.
It’s time to get out of the Pity Potty
So you can stop complaining about the way you look,
Because you eat everything in sight.
You are the reason you look the way you look.
Stop being in the Pity Potty
And stop crying over a guy or girl you broke up with,
They already moved on with their life.
It’s a choice.
Choose to get out of the Pity Potty,
Choose to change your mind to change to your life,
Choose to break the negative spirit,
Choose not to feel sorry for yourself.
St. Patrick’s Day
by Yaire Alfaro
St Patrick’s Day:
A day of fun
And lots of green.
If you don’t wear
You get pinched.
today is a day
When you think of
On Saint Patrick’s Day?
You imagine tiny
Or four leafed clovers.
A day for luck
To see if good will come.
it’s Saint Patrick’s Day.
By Yaire Alfaro
When you don’t feel
Don’t give up.
When you fall,
Pick yourself up.
When other say words,
Let them go past you.
Don’t let others ruin
What is in front of you.
If you give up,
You will never know
What you can
What is darkness
At the end of a dark tunnel,
There is light.
When you fall,
Pick yourself up.
When you want to,
Don’t stop believing.
If you believe hard enough,
It might come true.
Go for what others
Say you can’t do
Love yourself the
Way you are.
What is darkness without
by Galilea Oregon
Chapter 4: Sadie’s
Playing twenty questions with girls you find at CVS is an interesting experience, although not recommended if said girls happen to go to school with you. They’ll pass you notes in the middle of your math class and find out your number and text you and text you and text you. Then they’ll give your number to one of the hottest girls in school and she’ll ask you out for the Sadie Hawkins dance and to be nice, you’re gonna have to say yes and then you’ll find yourself spending a Friday night at a stupid high school dance instead of smoking with your friends.
Which was exactly what happened to Travis-stupid pathetic Travis whom we all warned not to flirt with them. But I guess it was fine to mess around, especially for a guy like Travis, who was pretty damn hot, in a non-gay way. Let’s put it like this: if I were a girl I would definitely chase after him like a lovestruck hormonal fifteen or sixteen year old would.
The boys (minus Connor) and I sent Travis off in his suit and tie with his stupid short brown curly-fry hair slicked back as straight as possible. We stood down the street from his date’s house, waiting outside his mom’s minivan. After his mom blatantly embarrassed him in front of us (the usual mom-type things: patting his head and telling him that he was so handsome and so grown up now), she let us talk to him and give him final words of advice as he entered the uncharted territory that is a high school dance.
“Stay safe. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” I whispered.
“Have fun, Trav,” Princeton fist-bumped Travis and gave him a noogie, setting Travis’s curly fry curls free from their gelled placement.
“You look like you could be my dad or something in that suit. Very corporate.” Tristan punched Travis in the shoulder, mimicking his father’s stern voice.
“Trav, after the dance…if you don’t…you know.” I paused, smirking. “If you don’t get action after the dance, swing by the park. We’ll be there all night.”
“Sure. I’ll be there. Okay, now I have to go or else Mia’s gonna kill me.” Travis stood up straight, corsage in hand, and headed towards the front door.
We scurried away into the minivan and waited in silence until she opened the door. And she…she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Sure, Travis was attractive but she… she looked beautiful. Her hair was long and straight, so black it almost looked purple in the sun. She wore a deep blue dress, the color of the night. And she…she looked vicious, like she could snap my neck while getting her nails done and wearing sky high stilettos. Her eyes darted in our direction, and I swear she looked at me. I could recognize those piercing brown eyes anywhere; this was Mia. The Mia Anderson from seventh grade, the skinny bony girl that was a better runner than me. The skinny bony girl we made fun of in third grade and called her a skeleton. The skinny bony girl that we made cry in the bathroom stall.
Travis turned around toward us and grinned before stepping into Mia’s house. We drove home in anxious silence, listening to smooth jazz on the radio as his mother chattered about how exciting it was for Travis to go on a date.
“Stay safe, boys!” Mrs. Jackson called out from her minivan as we walked into McDonald’s.
“I swear to God, if she hadn’t dropped us off, I would’ve jumped out of the car.” Tristan groaned while pulling out spare change from his grimy jeans pocket.
“She’s not that bad,” Princeton muttered.
“Well of course you like her. She plays smooth jazz in her car and runs a goddamn book club. Seems like something you’d like,” Tristan scoffed.
Prince took a deep breath and almost said something, but I think he didn’t want to start a fight.
He hadn’t started a fight since the end of eighth grade when his step brother Jonathan accused him of acting “girly”. I was there when Princeton punched Jon across the jaw, and I saw when Jon broke Prince’s nose, scarlet blood scurrying down his mouth. After that, Jonathan wasn’t allowed to visit as often. After a few months, Jonathan stopped going to Princeton’s house altogether. We later found out that he had moved to Boston with his mom and new stepfather. Princeton never fought like that ever again.
“Shut up.” Princeton kicked at Tristan playfully, cooling down more.
We sat down in the back booth, throwing french fries around and going back up to order chicken McNuggets. The cashier looked at Tristan and I as if we were dirty, filthy kids, but when she saw Princeton, she smiled warmly. We grew used to that sort of treatment. Prince was an angel, too pure and too good to ever cause any harm.
I sat in silence, thinking about Travis and Mia at the dance. Why would she ask him? We never talked after eighth grade promotion when I spilled my root beer all over her dress on purpose. She’d looked so pretty in that green dress…Why would I want to ruin it with a root beer stain?
“So is Cole gonna join us again or not?” Tristan wondered, leaning against the back of the both, attempting (and failing) to catch french fries in his mouth as I threw them at him.
“If he’s with the goth kids another day he might start wearing black eyeliner and ‘stick it to the man’,” I laughed. We grew silent for a few moments. We missed Cole. We needed Cole back; he was the glue of us, the one that settled the arguments with jokes and booze.
“Yanno, that girl was pretty damn smoking hot…” Tristan trailed off, grinning slyly.
“It was Mia. Anderson. From elementary and middle school. Remember her?” I asked.
“Oh shit! Mia?! She’s hot as hell, man.”
“She’s in my honors chem. She’s a goddamn genius, that’s what she is.”
“Always gotta remind us you’re in honors, don’t you?”
We spun around to discover Cole, standing with his hands inside his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels as he chewed on his lower lip. He’d lost the all black attire and wore the same skater’s uniform as we did. He slid into the booth grinning devilishly.
“Missed me much, King?” Cole asked. Tristan rolled his eyes as he munched loudly on french fries.
“We thought we’d lost you for good.” Prince reached over the table and gave him a brotherly noogie.
“Whatever. I just needed a breather. Where the hell’s Travis? I heard he got asked to Sadie’s, but I didn’t think King would let him.” Cole reached out for a McNugget, but Tristan slapped his hand angrily.
“What’s your deal?” Cole asked frustrated.
“Didn’t think I’d let him? What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I faced him in disbelief. What the hell? Didn’t think I’d let Travis go to Sadie’s with some girl? Sure, I mean maybe if she wasn’t hot. Which she was. She was extremely hot.
“I mean Mia Anderson…one would expect you to keep a babe like that to yourself.”
He was right, at least partly. If I had known she was the one to ask Travis…damnit, we could have talked.
“See, you’re not saying anything because it’s true,” Cole mocked.
Princeton’s face went stone cold and Tristan’s fingers drummed nervously on the table. We sat in silence as the restaurant buzzed. We were frozen in time, surrounded by movement and colors and sounds. A baby’s laugh echoed in my ears and I was back in the dingy booth.
“You’re right. It’s true.”
“King—” Princeton mumbled.
“No no, Cole’s right. That’s why I’m the King. Now listen, boys.” I leaned in. “I love Trav and all. But she’s so damn hot.”
“Oh God, King. What are you gonna do? She’s at the dance with Travis. They must be slow dancing by now and his hands are probably all over her,” Tristan interjected.
“So what?” Cole threw his head back in amusement. “You think that’s gonna stop King? You think Kingsley here… you think he cares that she asked Travis first? Here’s a thing about King, if you haven’t noticed, King doesn’t give a single shit about anyone but himself. He’s a selfish bastard and that’s why we love him. Because he’s a selfish, reckless, handsome bastard.”
I didn’t even grimace at Cole’s harsh words because a) he was right and, b) I was too busy plotting to sneak into the dance. Oh, and also c) I wasn’t about to lose Cole over something that was completely true.
“Sneak me in there,” I finally said.
Princeton’s jaw dropped. Tristan heaved. Cole nodded.
“But you know how Travis gets…you know how he gets aggressive…” Tristan threw a chicken McNugget at me. “You’re so stupid, King. He’s gonna kill you.”
And he was right. Travis was a flaming hotheaded, short tempered, arrogant dick. But he was my friend. So he wouldn’t actually kill me. At least I’d hope so. Besides, he could get any girl he wanted with that body of his.
Wow, that sounded gay.
“What do you want us to do?’ Princeton asked nervously, eyes darting around. He always wanted to help, always.
“We’re gonna sneak me in there.”
“How?” Tristan was agitated.
“Dammit boys, it’s like you’ve never been with King. There’s a back door in the gym. It opens only from the inside. We’ll get Travis to open it for us. King goes in, flirts with a couple girls, then finds the girl.”
“Wouldn’t that just be backstabbing Travis, though?”
“Tristan, I’m going to beat the shit out of you if you don’t shut the hell up.” I kicked him under the table.
“Let’s go get dressed, gentlemen. Time for King to sweep the girl off her feet.” Cole stood up and led us out into the cool evening, leaving a mess of chicken nuggets and french fries strewn on the floor.
We were waiting impatiently outside the back of our school’s gym. Cole had texted Travis before we got there and Princeton called Travis’s mom to drop us off at the school. Night was falling fast and the sun had already set.
“Dammit, “ Cole huffed. “Jesus Christ, he won’t answer.”
“This isn’t gonna work. Let’s go home.” Tristan pouted, pulling out a cigarette.
“Wait, wait…he says he’s coming.”
We stood around nervously. Prince walked around in circles, Tristan took long drags off of his cigarette, Cole hummed, and I waited, nervously cracking my knuckles. Suddenly, the door opened. Travis was waiting, his fists tightened at his sides.
“I swear to God, always screwing around. Get in, get in.” He motioned us inside and we followed.
It was dark inside the gym, only disco lights above us and balloons and streamers dangling off the ceiling. Pop music blared loudly from the speakers as girls in tight mini dresses and guys in unironed shirts danced too close to each other. Teacher and parent chaperones walked around, separating couples that were basically groping each other on the dance floor.
“Do I look okay?” I turned to Princeton, straightening my bow tie.
“Always,” he replied quietly, looking me up and down. What a weirdo.
I cleared my throat. “So, uh, where’s your date?” I asked Travis.
He looked around and pointed in her general direction. My eyes searched around the dark gym, and yes, there she was sitting at a corner table far in the back. Mia looked bored as hell, glued to her phone.
“Dude, did you even ask her to dance?” Tristan pulled at his shoulder.
“I did. We did. I stepped on her foot. I apologized. She said it was okay. I don’t think she meant it. She should’ve asked someone else. Like King. Go ask her to dance, King.” Travis looked like a sad, kicked puppy. Yeah he was hot as hell, but he was boring and scary and always pissed off or bummed out because of something stupid and mediocre. He was a professional sulker, yet when he was mad, all hell would break loose. He’d smash windows and throw porcelain plates off of his mom’s china cabinet. Travis was a wreck without his beer and cigarettes.
“I’m going in.” I straightened my bow tie and walk towards Mia. She looked up at me, bored and uninterested.
“Hey.” I sat down next to her.
“If you’re here to try and convince me that your pal Travis is a great guy, stop wasting your goddamn breath,” she replied without even looking up from her phone.
“Funny, because I came here to do the exact opposite. I was going to ask if you’d like to get the hell out of here.” I looked at her bare shoulders covered in specks of silver glitter. She was so pretty.
“So you can step on my other foot, too?” She scowled at me.
“Or, so we can hook up somewhere.”
“You’re as funny as you were in sixth grade.” Mia rolled her eyes, sighing heavily, looking around the crowded gym.
“Fine not to hook up, but maybe to kiss in the dark.”
“Jesus Christ,” was all she could say. I was losing her interest. Shit.
“Fine, fine to smoke. You smoke?” I knew suggesting to smoke wouldn’t be the smartest idea. What kind of pretty girl would want to kiss a boy destroying his lungs?
“Smoking kills. And you’re a pretty boy. I’m sure all the girls here would miss you.”
Oh, God, she was something else. Sarcastic and honest and funny and relaxed and everything I wanted. Hell, this was the most desperate I’d ever been with a girl.
“True, but here’s my secret. I want to die.” I leaned into her and smiled.
“Don’t we all?” She looked at me with big sad shiny brown eyes. She was opening up a little more. This was my last chance.
“Now you gotta tell me a secret. But you’re gonna have to come with me.”
“Interesting offer…” Mia put her phone down, resting her chin on her hand. Her face, holy shit. It may have been dark but I could still those shiny eyes and her cherry colored lips. And the way the neon disco lights looked on her skin…highlighter yellow never looked so appealing until it hit against her alabaster face.
“Come, let’s go. I can feel your angst and it resonates with my angst.” I outstretched my hand to Mia, trying my best not to laugh.
“Fine. Let’s go.” This time, she smiled at me.
I looked back into the dingy gym. Princeton was talking to some girl and he seemed to make her laugh. Tristan and Cole were already dancing and laughing and smiling. And Travis, well, I’d like to think he wasn’t mad. I don’t think he was. But Travis was difficult, more than me. And he would forgive, but never forget. But I was heading out with a pretty girl and that was the last thing on my mind.
I led Mia out through the back door, holding onto her cold hand. We walked in the empty dark street, hand in hand, the only light coming from the street lamps above us and the cigarette dangling off my lips.
“So there’s this lot near my house…”
By Yaire Alfaro
I will wait for you.
I will wait to hear
The sound of your voice,
To see the smile
I will wait,
even if it takes my whole life,
I will sit here,
I don’t care.
You are worth more
When you get here,
I will buy you
what you want
and what you need.
When I saw you, I knew:
I loved you.
I will be the one
To kiss you
Be there when you
And most important,
Never break your
I will wait here until you come,
Even if it takes my whole life
by Galilea Oregon
Chapter 3: Ditch Day
Days after my scary encounter with Cole in the field, he suddenly stopped hanging out with the rest of the boys. I’d see him lurking in the halls mostly by himself, eyes darting around suspiciously. I thought we’d lost him for good to the goth kids that would smoke behind the bleachers during football games. While Cole was gone, I went back to hanging with Princeton. He was my best friend, or at least he was until Cole came along. During lunch I pulled Princeton away from a conversation with Travis, something about the chemistry test they were supposed to take that Friday.
“Prince, c’mon we need to talk.” I pulled on his skinny arm.
“What do you want?”
“Dude, c’mon let’s ditch.”
“What, no. I have a chem test after lunch,” Princeton replied angrily, pulling away from me.
“What the hell? C’mon you’ve never even studied or cared about those. Let’s go.”
“So all of a sudden, when Cole leaves you, you come back crawling to me?” Princeton’s green eyes flamed in anger and annoyance. All of a sudden, once we started high school, he became jealous and overprotective of me, even though the kid was half a foot shorter than me.
“No, ugh it’s not that. Cole’s just been acting a little weird lately and I don’t know, I think he needs his space.”
“Doesn’t mean you can bug me when Cole’s acting psycho. Why do you wanna ditch anyways? There’s nowhere to go.” Prince kicked at a rock quietly, calming down. He was always at my side, even when I pulled him into stupid things. He was a good kid. I always believed that he deserved better friends than us.
“We can go to the park or the lot,” I suggested.
“I dunno man, it’s a chemistry test.” Prince chewed on his lip. He always did that when he was nervous about something.
“It’s cool, I’ll go by myself.” I turned around to leave.
“Hey! King!” Prince called out, “I’ll see you after school or something.”
I nodded silently and ran off towards the back gate. On my way there, I passed by two girls in my English class. Madison Stevens and Grace Scott.
“Where’s your Prince, King?” Madison teased.
“Uh, what?” I was confused. I never got the whole “Prince and King” thing. Sure our names seemed to go together but he wasn’t like a lost puppy that followed me around wherever I went. Princeton had his own life, and he was very secretive about it.
“Oh my God, you know, your little sidekick. Where is he?” Grace chimed in.
“He didn’t wanna come. Hey, don’t rat on me, okay?”
“Course not.” Madison smiled at me. We’d known each other for a long time, and hooked up over the summer.
“Alright, thanks.” I darted off again.
“Bye King!” they shouted in unison.
I had ditched school multiple times before. Sometimes just to ditch, other times to avoid tests. I would rarely get in trouble, no one really cared if I showed up to a class or not. There was an opening in the fence by the football field, near the back gate. It wasn’t very noticeable since Princeton and I found sandbags to cover up the hole. As I crawled out, I thought about stupid Princeton and his stupid, pathetic skinny arms, and his pathetic yellow hair, always slicked into a comb over, like some ten year old kid from the 50’s.
God, what was his deal? Since when did he care about his grades? He could be such a pushover sometimes. Either he cared too much, or didn’t give a single damn about anything. Yeah, he was my best friend, but he tried too hard to be one of us.
Once off campus, I skated to McD’s for a vanilla shake and fries. The cashiers there already knew me. I was a regular on the weekends and sometimes I’d leave my house in the middle of the night after an argument between my parents. I’d sit there in the empty kid’s play area, red and yellow fluorescent lights illuminating my face, like some nostalgic 80’s movie still. But today, it was me in a full restaurant. It was lunch hour: middle aged men and women in suits munching on their Big Macs and fries, either on their phones, preparing for a business meeting, or talking about their plans for the weekend with their coworkers. I was invisible to them, just some gross teenage boy with ratty hair and torn up shoes.
If Princeton was here, we would be throwing fries at the adults or laughing loud enough to piss them off. But no, he was at school, taking a chemistry test. I took a sip of my shake, took the lid off and dipped my french fries in it. Prince and I invented that in seventh grade. We’d skate to McDonald’s when school ended and order shakes and fries to dip. It was disgusting to the other boys, but Prince and I relished in the salty sweetness. After long minutes sitting in silence, I realized I missed Princeton. I missed my best friend’s stupid puns and I missed taking hand sanitizer and flicking it into his eyes.
But there was something off about him. He stood out from the rest of us, but it was a subtle difference, like when you’re tuning a guitar and one of the strings is a little too loose, but you can’t notice that something is off unless you really listen to it. He looked like us, blond hair and colored eyes, your typical southern California white boys. He dressed like us: khakis and surfing or skating t-shirts, Nike or Active socks paired with Vans, sometimes Hawaiian shirts on Fridays. He talked like us, 70’s surfer slang like were straight out of Dogtown. But there was something different, unusual that made him stick out. Like when he’d stare too long at us when we’d hang out, or how he had only kissed a girl twice before.
I sighed heavily, fishing my phone from my pocket. I texted Prince.
i’m at mcd’s meet me after school. vanilla shakes and fries.
Almost immediately, my cellphone lit up and vibrated in my lap.
kk see you there in like 20 minutes. got a b+ on chem test!!!! also theres somethin i gotta tell u. super important.
I looked down at my phone, perplexed. Prince never had something “important” to tell me. I waited for about fifteen minutes, and then I saw him come through the door. Out of breath, he slid into the booth, reaching over for fries.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Julia Clement asked me to Sadie’s. There was a poster and everything.” He laughed, throwing his head back. I nearly choked on my third order of fries.
“What’d you say?” I asked, much more interested this time. Julia Clement was one of the hottest girls in our grade.
“I said thanks but no thanks.”
“WHAT? DUDE YOU COULD HAVE HOOKED ME UP WITH ONE OF HER FRIENDS!” Now I was slightly irritated.
“I said someone else had asked me.”
“Who?” Who else would ask Princeton’s skinny self? Prince grinned, leaning in closely.
“I swear there is something wrong with you. Why would you reject Julia Clement?” I threw french fries at him.
“I don’t dig her, man. And we all know the Sadie’s dance is just a way to force a guy into dating you.”
I had to agree with him on this one. It was true. Girls at our high school were so desperate to get a boyfriend, especially guys that surfed. And all of my boys surfed.
“God, Prince,” I ran my fingers through my tangled hair, “Julia Clement asked you to Sadie’s and you rejected her. What kind of guy would do that? Like the only logical explanation that could come from this is that you’re gay.”
His eyes darkened from emerald to a dark, mossy green. I recognized that face before. I’d only see it once when he got in a fight. Princeton was furious.
“I’m not gay. I got my eyes on someone else. I gotta go.” He stood up and left before I could say anything else.
Those words rang in my ears for the rest of the day, not gay.
By Yaire Alfaro
No one is perfect,
Not you or me.
Everyone has a flaw.
That is the reason why
You are you.
There is no one out there
In the world like you.
You are one of a kind,
One out of a million.
Perfect is not real.
Be your best,
Don’t try to be perfect
by John Mendoza
Chapter 2: Klark
It had taken three hours, excluding the multiple times it took him to refocus on what had to be done, to actually finish cleaning his room. Klark now stood in the middle of his room with a triumphant smile plastered onto his face that was quickly replaced with a confused look.
“When did I get carpet?” he asked himself. His thoughts drifted to the past in order to answer the question. Eventually he just shrugged it off and examined his newly cleaned room.
The bedroom floor that had previously been littered with clothes and wrappers of a random assortment was now clean, revealing a soft beige carpeted floor. His bed was fixed neatly with the covers tucked under and the one pillow sat puffed up against the headboard, the curtains were pulled fully open as to let in some natural light into the cream colored room. At the corner of his room on a desk, now completely free of litter, sat a silver laptop that he was unsure whether needed charging or not.
“Uncle Ernesto!” Klark shouted as loud as he could. The sound of glass shattering and the shouting of a word Klark dared not to repeat back to his uncle could be heard from downstairs. Klark could hear the echo of rushed steps on the stairs, then his bedroom door swung open.
“What? What happened?!” Worry was spread on his Uncle’s features.
“Nothing. I’m done cleaning my room.” Klark smiled and Uncle Ernesto’s face flushed red. If it had been a cartoon, steam would be billowing out of his uncle’s ears.
“Why on God’s green Earth did you yell, then?!”
Klark scratched the back of his head whilst asking himself the same question. He shrugged. Klark laughed nervously and gave his uncle a lopsided grin.
Uncle Ernesto sighed, then pinched the bridge of his nose all the while shaking his head. “I swear…”.
“Room’s clean. Which means I’m outta here.” Klark waited by the door of his bedroom for his Uncle’s response. Klark’s fingers tapped impatiently on the doorway.
Finally, after what seemed like years his uncle heaved a sigh “Fine. But I want you home before sundown, got it?”
Klark nodded quickly to his uncle before heading downstairs and through the living room. He grabbed his sweater from where he had thrown it on the floor the previous day and threw it over his shoulder.
“Hey! Put that on.” Klark jumped at the sudden shout. “I didn’t buy that sweater just to have you not wear it.”
Klark walked along the street with his hood over his head, Klark’s head hung low with his eyes focused on the ground ahead of him. As much as he hated to admit it, Klark wasn’t a very good people person. Others found Klark to be blunt or overly honest but Klark preferred it that way. When he lied, an uneasy feeling would consume his mind.
All of a sudden he stumbled backwards, it was like he had walked straight into a brick wall. A well dressed and highly intimidating brick wall.
“Hey, watch where you’re…” His words trailed off as he eyed the man who stood in front of him, the man seemed unfazed by the interruption.
The man was wearing a black suit with a bold red tie set against white, his golden-blonde hair was slicked back, and a pair of intimidating black sunglasses hid his eyes but Klark could feel them burning their way through him. Klark swallowed hard.
“…Going.” A nervou energy filled Klark. He fidgeted in place. A phrase from elementary school popped into his mind, stranger danger.
“Sorry about that, my fault.” The man flashed a smile and pulled off his sunglasses to reveal a pair of icy blue eyes. Klark was suddenly aware at a growing fear that gnawed at him.
“I’m Hal. Hal Hutchinson.” He extended his hand towards Klark who shook it gingerly.
“I’m Klark.” Hal’s hand was cold like he had just stepped out from a room filled with air conditioners.
“Klark.” He said the name with such familiarity that it sent shivers down Klark’s spine.
“Yeah uh…can I have my hand back, please?”
Hal apologized and let go of Klark’s hand. The skin on Klarks’ fingers itched and crawled with displeasure from the contact. “I um… I have to go.”
Hal simply nodded and moved to the side. “It was great meeting you Klark. I’ll see you around, I’m sure of it.”
Another shiver ran down Klark’s spine when Hal’s words reached his ears. From the corner of his eye, Klark noticed Hal pulling out his phone and calling someone. He watched as Hal’s lips moved hurriedly but Klark was now too far to try and figure out what he had said to the person on the other side of the phone.
Klark walked out from the dimly lit theater, pumped up by the ending of the movie. “That was flippin’ awesome!” he chattered excitedly to himself. The other moviegoers paid him no mind, as they have often seen him act this way whenever a new movie premiered at the theater.
In his burst of excitement Klark bumped into a person. This time, however, it was at least a familiar face. Or so he thought.
The boy who he had bumped into turned to Klark, a spark of familiarity in his eye. “Klark?” the boy asked with curiosity peaking his voice.
Klark cocked his head slightly to the side. “Ya, who’s asking?”
“It’s me, Ramon. Remember?”
Klark dug through his head for the name. ‘Ramon? Ramon? Ramon…’ he only knew one person by that name. Ray Agnello. AKA Klark’s ex-best friend.
Klark imagined this Ramon with wild black hair accompanied by a reckless smile. He added on a beanie, a skateboard
“Ray.” Klark said the name with such malice that the other boy flinched.
“Just call me Ramon.” He looked nervously back at the group of people he was originally talking to, then back to Klark. Klark tugged on his sweater. Suddenly he felt self-conscious about his clothing while Ramón’s friends were well dressed with a sort of squeaky clean air about them.
A girl with brown curly hair and a light purple dress walked up to them, and the two started talking in a language that Klark didn’t understand. Klark figured that the duo were talking about him by the way the girl kept glancing to him. Klark waited, foot tapping impatiently on the sidewalk, until the girl returned to her group of friends.
Ramon smiled sheepishly at Klark. “Sorry about that, she can be really nosey sometimes.”
“Ya. Seems like the type.”
Ramon scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Klark threw his hands up defensively. “Easy there. You decided to talk to me remember.”
Ramon nodded swiftly then apologized for his hostility.
Klark, who wanted to avoid any further conversation with Ramon, spoke up before he could say another word. “It was really nice talking with you.”
Klark spun on his heel and turned his back towards Ramon but before leaving, he looked back to his old friend.
“See you around, Ray.”
I Trust You
by Yaire Alfaro
I trust you.
My life is in your hands.
I want to know if you got me.
Don’t let me down like the others.
I hope you don’t let me go,
Even if the world is ending.
You are my support,
Please tell me,
Before you hurt me,
Will you be there till the end?
Hold my hand, and let’s go through life together.
by Yaire Alfaro
Today is a special day for you and me.
We were always meant to be.
You warm my heart
And make it skip a beat.
You understand me,
You know when I’m down,
And how to bring me up.
I love you,
And hopefully you love me.
I am happy to say you are the person standing right next to me
On this special day.
P for Pizza
By Cristobal Segura
You come to my mind
And leave me blind.
In my heart,
There’s a part
Just for you
And only you.
I couldn’t do.
In my arms,
I bring you no harm.
I seek for your taste,
I seek for your touch,
I long for your heat,
Without a doubt.
I wouldn’t hesitate
In a clutch,
I will eat.
Straight out the oven,
And into my mouth.
Pizza is yummy.
Always in my tummy.
My days become gray.
Pizza is bae.
Chapter 1: Klark
by John Mendoza
“Listen. Son I need you to pay attention.”
A man pleaded to a small child, the man’s voice wavered. His hands gripped the little boy’s shoulders forcefully, but the boy seemed too terrified to register the man’s words. Despite the grip the man shook the boy gently as if to wake him from his daze. Suddenly, the man tensed. Before he could continue, a pair of voices roared incoherently from the hall just outside the room; his eyes shifted quickly and carefully around the room until they settled upon an empty closet. The father carried his child, placing him in the small empty space. He knelt down and gently caressed the boy’s face with one hand, brushing away the boy’s dark locks to reveal a pair of dilated brown eyes.
“I need you to stay quiet.” The boy was wrapped in a tight hug, warm and loving. For a second safety was something that seemed real. All too soon it was gone. The man’s lips touched the boy’s forehead for a moment, he muttered something then detached himself from his son.
The boy’s lips quivered, his mouth moved as if trying to form words but they seemed to be trapped in his throat. His hands reached out as his father closed the door; with the turn of a knob and a soft click he was engulfed in the lonely darkness.
Shadows moved from under the closet door. What little light filtered into the closet, made it possible to see the shadows that danced beyond the door. Overwhelmed by a mild sense of curiosity and a small amount of dread, the boy crawled his way to the faint light and lay on the floor trying to peek under the doorway.
What he saw startled him. The boy’s father lay on the other side staring back. The boy thought he looked funny, in a different sense, odd to say the least.
The door opened and the rush of light blinded the child, he squinted at the figure of a tall man.
“Hello there little one.”
* * *
Light filtered through curtains into the messy room of a teenage boy. The teenage boy lay asleep in his bed, drool dripped from the side of his lip and unto his pillow.
A man, his uncle, entered the room. A scowl crossed his face as his dark eyes inspected the unsightly mess his nephew called a “bedroom.” Those wandering eyes stopped once they spotted the sleeping figure, in a few strides he reached the side of the bed. He glared down at the boy and, as if by magic, his eyes opened and slowly Klark sat up in bed.
“Huh? What happened?” Klark mumbled while stifling a yawn. Klark fixated on his Uncle’s seemingly permanent scowl. Klark began trying to remember if his Uncle had ever smiled but the sound of snapping fingers caught his attention.
“Klark, pay attention.” It was more of a reminder than an order at this point of their lives. Klark poured all his attention towards his Uncle trying hard not to let his mind wander once again. “I’m sure you’re well aware that it’s Saturday.” Klark’s mind wandered again. Something about Saturday seemed very important, he tried his hardest to remember everything that had to do with Saturday then it clicked.
“It’s Saturday!” Klark exclaimed enthusiastically, pushing past his Uncle who was stuck wondering if his nephew wasn’t really an idiot.
“Of course it’s Saturday, I just said that.” His Uncle said it like he was talking to a toddler and Klark had the attention span of one to match it.
Klark slid a gray shirt on and gave his Uncle a weird look, “Yes, but it’s the Saturday.” He bent down and picked up a pair of black jeans from the floor closely inspecting them.
Eh, they’ll do for today, he thought before putting them on. Klark’s Uncle still stood by his bed, a baffled look plastered on his face.
“Where do you think you’re going?” His Uncle’s arm caught the back of his shirt. Klark huffed “Aw come on dude, I’ll be back before sundown. I promise!”
His Uncle glowered down at him. “You can call me sir or Uncle Ernesto, got it, nephew? I’m not one of your punk friends.” Klark nodded silently, any form of teenage rebellion immediately drained out of him.
Uncle Ernesto grinned happily, “Good, now I want this barn you call a room cleaned up before you even think of going anywhere.”
Klark nodded and started picking various clothing and trash up from the floor. Uncle Ernesto maneuvered his way to the door but before leaving he sighed, “I swear. People would think I own a petting zoo.”
CHAPTER 1: DIDN’T MEAN TO
By Galilea Oregon
Who are we? That’s the burning existential crisis kind of question we all ask ourselves at one point while staring into our mirrors. High schoolers? Sure, but it goes beyond that. It goes beyond simply going to school and homework and sports. We are more than just your average suburban high school teens. We’ve got our loads of issues too, man. It’s hard and heavy and terrible and sickening to be in high school. Then there’s the problems with our parents. Who was at your fifth grade play when you had the lead role? No one, not even your grandma. And those problems include never getting in trouble. Not even when you punched someone in middle school and gave them a bloody broken nose, or even when the cops chased you for crawling down into the sewers. You’d think your parents would pull you out of school or take away your phone, but no. Nothing ever happens to us. Not even when we messed up that bad. But that’s what makes us, us, right? That’s why we pushed ourselves as far as we could go, just to see when someone would tell us no, but they never did. We were unstoppable and it gave us a rush of adrenaline that pushed us all the way. We were gods walking amongst mortals. But at the same time, we were just boys with messy hair and skateboards. That’s all we really ever were…
There were five of us back then: Tristan, Travis, Cole, Princeton, and me. We’d known each other since first grade and grew up like brothers, going to each other’s birthday parties, sleepovers, even road trips sometimes. We’d known each other for so long our lives were woven together into an intricate web. And then it all fell apart.
Friday nights normally consisted of staying out late and messing around the neighborhood. Sometimes we’d play dumb games like when we were back in elementary school. After a couple rounds of truth or dare, things started to get more exciting: Tristan had thrown a brick through someone’s window.We ran as fast and as far as we could.
Run run run run run.
Can’t catch my breath holy crap, truth or dare really does suck.
Run run run run run run.
Someone’s threatening to call the cops.
We didn’t mean to.
We didn’t mean to.
I was never much of a runner and then my stupid hair was getting in the way of my eyes.
“Run run run King!” Travis wheezed behind me.
“Where to?” I heaved, my lungs about to burst onto the concrete below us.
“The park the park the park, holy crap I can’t breathe,” Tristan yelled.
Didn’t mean to didn’t mean to didn’t mean to…
On the swing set at the park laughing like maniacs with red cheeks and sweaty foreheads.
Laughing about the brick and Tristan.
We finished the night with McDonald’s french fries and some Arizona. I got home around eleven, expecting to get yelled at for not making it before curfew. Then I remembered my dad was on some stupid business trip and my mom was probably out for some drinks with friends. Whatever.
Woke up at three am.
Tristan’s parents found out about the window thing.Kate Adams texted me and asked about Aubrey.
Something about some girl in my English class that had asked me to the Sadie’s dance.
They’re both too much.
They think just because they throw the craziest parties they matter.
Didn’t mean to. Didn’t mean for the brick to hit the window.
Didn’t mean to.
Mom came home drunk around five. I had to help her inside then and upstairs. This whole house is a freaking train wreck
“Kingsley, honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drink so much. I didn’t mean to,” Mom said the next day.
Didn’t mean to, didn’t mean to, didn’t mean to.
Just a Dream
By Yaire Alfaro
You flew into my heart.
You made me happy.
I knew it was too good to be true,
I just can’t believe one little wind blew us apart.
You went one way, I went the other.
I tried to fight but it was useless.
I tried, but you didn’t
However, I’m happy now,
Now that I know it was just a dream
Too Good To Be True?
By Frank Remele and Razmon Urbano
Jerry Serratos drove to work comfortably, believing he had made it in life. At 24 years old, he was the CEO and founder of the tech giant Ulo, worth billions. His own personal worth amounted to an excess of 500 million dollars, which was more than enough to drive a nice car; one that looked a bit more classy and performed better than the one he currently drove. Jerry did this for personal benefit, appearing more down to earth to the media, and able to relate to the common people a bit more than his wealth would imply, and therefore subtly improving the marketability of his company. However, he wasn’t actually as down to earth as the image he tried to portray.
Jerry pulled into his very large, very grand parking lot. Ulo’s headquarters were solely accessible to employers, and despite that, labeled sections were required. Section A, Section B, Section 1A, 1B… and so on. All these sections were labeled with text very large, in signature Ulo font. Following Steve Job’s example, Jerry also decided to take calligraphy classes at his University, but with the extent of actually receiving a degree for his work. With the knowledge taken from the calligraphy classes, Jerry was able to innovate a signature font for his company that would be displayed on all devices produced by Ulo. The font had its own name, Ublo, and was aesthetically appealing, designed to make the consumer feel they owned a quality product. Jerry looked at these labelled sections, and grinned.
As Jerry got out of his car, he noticed a homeless man sitting in the park located around thirty yards from him. This homeless man was carrying a traditional sign asking for money, wearing traditional homeless clothes. Jerry was very tired of this, knowing that these homeless people positioned them perfectly close to the Ulo building, knowing that Ulo employers made a respectable amount of money, and that one or two would most likely be compassionate enough to donate. Since the homeless were technically still on public property, and not in the Ulo parking lot, he could not prosecute them for loitering.
“Excuse me sir, but would you possibly be interested in donating some money in the benefit of the needy? I just need a bit to buy myself some food,” the homeless man asked.
Jerry, quite fed up with incidents like these, decided to take action. He walked briskly to where the homeless man was located.
Jerry stood right above the homeless man. He bent over, so that his face was only a few inches from the homeless man’s own. He cocked his head to the right, and widened his eyes, and made the largest, fakest smile.
Jerry replied, “No.”
Jerry then walked away from the homeless man, the homeless man not saying anything in reply. The man’s face had been so gaunt. Jerry felt a slight twinge of remorse, but this was not a time for regrets. No, they had this coming. They, in fact, were taking advantage of the fact that employees of Ulo were generally well-off. They deserved this. HE deserved this. Jerry smiled; he really had done nothing wrong.
“Good morning, sir.”
Jerry encountered a swarm of these as he entered the building, before he took the stairs to his office on the top floor. While there was an elevator, he made non-executives take the stairs if their office was located on a higher floor. This was to give another incentive to work your way up the corporate ladder, and also as a subtle message to learn to work hard. Again, for self-image purposes. When the annual tour of the Ulo headquarters was going on, Jerry led the media around the building, choosing to take the stairs. However, today was not the annual tour, and despite all the “Good mornings” toward him, he chose not to acknowledge them. They were far below him, how could they possibly expect a reply? If they had a problem with the current environment, they could either quit, and if they dared call him out for it, they would be fired. Quite simple honestly. If he caught an employee deliberately not greeting him with a good morning, it was fine; they simply would not be getting a pay raise within the near future.
He had arrived at his destination. His grand office space was decorated outrageously, with everything designed for the purpose of artistic appeal. Inside his office was an array of shades of black and white, and portraits of himself all around the room. Really, the only difference between them were the poses he struck. The only framed work besides the portraits of himself were the numerous awards that his company received over the years. Jerry paused to look at them. The portraits of himself, that is. What a handsome man he was. He had no desire to be in a relationship with the amount of women that wanted to get with him. Jerry sat down in his highly ergonomic chair, relaxing. In his chair, he powered on his computer.
It was the first model of an Ulo, which was still extremely, fast given how early the company was made. The screen powered on, showing the iconic Ulo logo. It appeared like that for fourteen seconds.
Suddenly, it didn’t.
It was the homeless man, looking straight into his eyes. More vivid than an image on a computer could ever hope to possibly be, it was him.
Jerry was transported into a red, fiery place.
It happened to be quite unlike his office.. What was going on here? These had to be hallucinations…
After three nights in hell, Jerry met the Devil. The three nights felt like eternity. Jerry watched his loved ones tortured in front of him, endlessly.
It all happened so fast…..
“Your sick deeds were done in the blink of an eye,” the Devil said in his deep, raspy voice, “Did you really expect any warning beforehand?
Jerry’s skin was set aflame, being scorched alive, understanding that he would suffer for Eternity.
Jerry’s eyes rolled back into his sockets.
The Man Under the Bed
By: Yaire Alfaro
Roses are red, violets are blue.
Soon he will be after you, so run and hide–do as you please,
‘Cause soon you will no longer breathe.
Cry and beg, but he will show no regret.
Tell your loved ones you care because you will no longer be there,
You woke him up, now he is putting you to sleep.
Never Be Alone
By Daniella Suarez
My heart began to race. I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. My father’s eyes were bloodshot. I knew he was drunk again. “What are you doing in my room?” I didn’t know what to say, I felt like he was going to slap me if I responded so I stayed quiet. He noticed that I had the photo in my hands. He immediately took it out of my hands and threw it against the wall. “Don’t you ever come in my room again, understand?” I held in my tears. The picture had a glass frame and there was glass everywhere. I nodded my head and ran to my room and quickly locked the door.
That was one of the only pictures I had with my mom. We were at the beach with my mom, dad and sister. That was one of the best days ever, and now every memory of it is gone. I lied down on my bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering how my mom was doing. I had days like this frequently. Sometimes I’m just out of it and I don’t want to do anything but sit alone and think about how terrible my life is.
The next morning was terrible. I woke up and my father was gone. He didn’t leave a note or anything. There was 50 dollars on the table which meant that I had to order my own dinner for the next few nights. On my way to school I stopped by my boyfriend’s house. His name is Hunter. Our moms were best friends; we have basically known each other since birth. It wasn’t until last year when he asked me to be his girlfriend. He knows the most about me but he doesn’t know the most important thing. He doesn’t know about my father abusing me and I hope he doesn’t find out. Whenever I arrive to Hunter’s house his mother always looks at me with sympathy. I don’t like it when people pity me.
We walked to school together like we always do. He began to ask me suspicious questions. “Gabby are you… are you happy?”
I kind of didn’t know how to respond to that so I just questioned it. “What do you mean? Of course I’m happy!” That was the biggest lie I’ve probably ever told anyone, saying that I’m happy when in reality my heart is screaming. I was really confused. I don’t know what could have triggered him to ask that question. Whenever someone asks me if I’m okay it’s because they know something about me. Finally, we got to school and he held my hand and looked at me directly in the eye. “Gabby, I love you and I care about you. I know about your father and I’m sorry, but I really think you should tell someone before I do.”
The mood completely changed. I have no idea how he could have possibly found out. My facial expression changed completely. I let go of his hand and ran away. I didn’t know where I was going but I never looked back.
I eventually ended up at my house. I had the worst anxiety. I only felt this way whenever someone finds out something horrible about me. When I was 12, I had self-harmed for the first time and being the careless girl that I am, I went to school with a short-sleeved shirt and my best friend Emily noticed. I tried denying it but it was no use. Once she found out, she immediately shut me out of her life. I guess having a best friend with scars was too much for her to handle. When people get to know me, they always leave me and forget me. Which is the exact reason I didn’t want Hunter to know about it. I just know that he’s going to leave me and I’m going to have no one in my life who cares about me. I heard a knock on my door and I was prepared for screaming and abuse, but it was Hunter.
Never Be Alone
By Daniella Suarez
Some days I wonder if my dad misses me. Other days I wonder why I’m still wondering. It’s so crazy how everything can change in a blink of an eye; how can he just abandon me like that?
I was 5 years old when my mother died of breast cancer. At that time, I didn’t understand what death meant; my father explained to me that she was in a better place. I live in California with my dad. My older sister lives in New York City; she attends New York University, so it’s just me and my dad. I miss my sister a lot, and it’s not like I can visit every weekend.
My dad began making really bad choices a few months after my mom died. I was ten when he began abusing me. Every day he would come home from work drunk and I would hide under my bed or in the corner of my room and just sit there and cry and pray that he wouldn’t hit me. But night after night there he was. My dad left marks on me and people at school continuously asked me why those marks were there and I didn’t say anything about it. I just stayed quiet.
When I was 13 my teacher asked me to stay after class. She asked me about my bruises. “Gabriella if something is going on at your house you need to let me now so I can help you.”
I was so tempted to open up to my teacher and tell her that my father hits me but then I remember what would happen if I told her. I stared at the wall and tears rushed down my face. “No. Nothing is going on at my house. I just fell. Thank you for your concern.”
I left the classroom quickly wiping my tears and ran home. I got inside my house and locked the door. I went into my dad’s room. I’m not allowed to go in there, but I do whenever he isn’t home. I saw my parents’ wedding picture hanging on the wall. I took it down and held it close to my heart and slowly began to cry. I try so hard to remember my mom, but any memories I once had have slowly begun to fade away.
I held the picture close to my heart as well. I tried to control my tears but I couldn’t; they just kept coming and then the unthinkable happened-my father walked into the room.
By Evelyn Carrillo
Chapter 1: The Impossible
It all started in the year 2050 when mankind encountered extraterrestrial beings. They were called Gingous and they had the ability to resolve any situation that they encountered. They had egg-like heads and muscular figures. They also had two arms and two legs, their skin a slate-blue color that reached all the way to the bottom of their feet. They wore a golden necklace, and what looked like shorts made out of sparkling gold. As for their eyes, we couldn’t tell what shape they were or their color; they wore a bizarre mask that resembled what we used to call “dogs” back in the day. It’s been ten years since they first invaded Earth. People weren’t excited at first, and didn’t necessarily give them a warm welcome. That’ll be a mistake that we will forever regret. All the countries banded together to defeat this mysterious foe, but sadly we couldn’t defeat them; not even the atomic bombs could save us.
Many lives were lost, and we almost faced the extreme annihilation of the human race. The government forced any males that had the ability to walk, to fight in the war, and only a handful of males stayed behind. None of the fighters survived, including my father John. He was a scientist that observed the human body. He was a wonderful father that took care of me and my family. He always told me that one day they’d come, and I never understood what he meant until now.
Now I’m left all alone; my family was killed in what seemed like a perpetual war. It took about eight years just to stop it. I was only fifteen years old at the time when these creatures first arrived. I had to fend for myself, and looked out for any of the Gingous that patrolled the grounds. They lived up in the atmosphere with their huge castle-like structures in the sky. They only came down to take more humans for “Experiments,” but the humans were never heard from again. Everyday was the same exact day: we hid, then came back out, hid, then back out again. It was very difficult to find food; we had to salvage any edible nutrition that we found. It was everyone for themselves in this new world. Sadly, this new world isn’t as pretty as it was before. The sky isn’t blue anymore, it’s now red. The Gingous polluted the sky for their own purpose. We can still breathe but we can’t stay on the surface for very long or we’ll suffocate. We can only stay on the surface for at least five hours until we have to go back underground. I really do miss the surface, how it had natural green grass, beautiful red roses, and lively animals. Unfortunately, ever since the atmosphere changed, so did the animals. They transformed into disgusting hybrids that looked like they came out of a cinematic horror scene. As for the plants, they disappeared and so did the trees. I guess the harmful red atmosphere had accomplished the impossible.
Everywhere you looked it was a battlefield with blown-up tanks, cars, trains, planes, and houses everywhere you turn. It was not necessarily paradise if you ask me. I got heartbroken everytime when I saw bodies all around the surface dead or alive. Some of them decided to give up on life and stay on the surface to await their death. Sadly, I’m used to the smell of rotting corpses all around me. It’s like smelling freshly clean grass every time you get up out of bed, it’s just part of your daily routine.
My friend Sally and I always hang out near an old abandoned shaft under a bridge. We get new visitors everyday, and kids of all ages come to hang out with us. They’re all orphans. Their parents abandoned them for their own survival, and some of them have no choice but to leave them because of the war that happened some time ago. It’s a cruel world, but it’s just how things work around here. Anyway, I take care of these children as if they were my own family. I can’t afford clothes or food for them, but I make sure to protect them from any outsiders. I’m 25 years old now, and my friend is 23. We’ve been together since we were children. She too has lost everything she once loved. It’s a difficult time up here on the surface, we are seeing less food and more Gingous. Maybe one day we’ll rise against the Gingous. For now we have to lay low and respect the new food chain. They compare us like ants, weak, vulnerable, and easy to step on.
By Julie Moreno
“Why are you late?” Mr. Valdez looks at me waiting for my answer. I’m standing in front of the classroom with everyone staring.
Will you like to ask my siblings that? “I woke up late,” I murmur to him. He nods at me and tells me to don’t be late again. I quickly go to my seat at the back corner, hoping to shake off the stares.
“She’s in this class?” I hear someone whisper as I pass through the aisle. I quickly glance at that person and realize its Henry. The girl next to him, Samantha, starts scolding him to be nice. You can easily tell they are together from the way they act upon each other. At least she’s trying to tame him.
When I’m in my seat, I look up I saw my friend, May, smile at me. Her smile holds sympathy and worry, which means she most definitely heard him. She is an aisle away from him.
I send her a half smile and shrug. She playfully glares at me and turns around exposing her dark brown hair in a ponytail. My attention adverts to my AVID teacher who is trying to get the projector working again. There is chatter filling the room but nobody dares to get up from their seats.
My thoughts go to Henry as I remember his earlier comment. We’ve started this school year two weeks ago and he doesn’t remember me. I’m not surprised he asked if I’m in this class out loud, he always seems to speak his mind. This is one of the reasons why he always gets in trouble and why I’m not so fond of him. Everything has a limit, and Henry always goes beyond that limit. He doesn’t seem to know who he is hurting. I don’t want to judge him too much because I don’t know much about him.
The bell breaks me away from my thoughts. Is class over that fast? “Sorry guys, I couldn’t get the projector working. We’re going to have to do today’s task on Wednesday,” Mr. Valdez says as everybody withdraws from the classroom. I grab my binder and hold it against my stomach as I exit the classroom.
When I’m outside, May comes to my side and asks why I was late. “My siblings take longer to get ready than I do,” I reply as we exit the science building. Mr. Valdez has an Earth Science and an AVID class, which is why our AVID class is here.
She giggles softly but then becomes serious. “Don’t let what Henry said get to you. I’m sure he was just messing around. You know how he is,” she says.
“Are you talking about how he always speaks his mind? If so, then yes I know how he is,” I calmly reply. I notice we are almost at the spot where we part ways, until we meet again at the end of the day.
“Just don’t let him take away your sunshine,” May sternly says, trying to hold a straight face. I know she does care, she just can’t take things too seriously. I don’t mind that because I can’t take a serious situation that involves me.
Too late. “I won’t,” I say and send her a smile. She smiles back as she makes a turn to her class. Without looking back, she disappears around the corner.
I wasn’t always shy. Talking wasn’t a huge problem for me, unless I was forced to talk to a stranger. But it is natural for a kid to become shy when meeting new people. It becomes a worry when you’re fifteen-years-old and can’t even talk to your own cousins, who are a year or two older than you. But there is a beginning for everything and this beginning happened in the fourth grade.
It started with a typical cliché story, where a girl meets a boy, and the girl ends up liking the boy but becomes too shy to talk to him. The boy moves on with his life as she stands in the background trying to avoid him for the rest of eternity. This is the type of crush that happens once in a lifetime. It’s the first crush.
In elementary school, nobody can keep a secret. From experience I taught myself to keep things low profile. My trust issues began here and new insecurities introduced themselves each year. As I grew older, I limited my contact with the opposite sex because they were what brought my insecurities. It wasn’t until middle school that I realized it is also my gender that exposed my insecurities.
It soon became hard to talk to anybody that I didn’t already talk with. I have the same group of friends that I am comfortable with, in my own personal bubble. I’ve known them since the fifth grade but it wasn’t until the eighth grade, when I started to share secrets with them. Besides them I had my best friend.
My best friend has been with me since kindergarten and I trusted her not to get me killed. It is until we got to middle school, we started to have our own group of friends. We were different, so it didn’t really surprise me, but it still hurt. She is talkative compared to me and I guess she found her own group while I found mine. But we still manage a way to hang out together.
It’s not only my friends who are communicative, but also my family. Every single one of my family members can talk, including my little sister. They tease me about it but sometimes it becomes too much that it ends up racing through my mind and into my heart. I hear and see the criticism dripping off their words and all I do is stare.
Every time I look at all of them talking to other people I feel jealousy pulsing through my body. My heart pounds faster and the sudden urge to scream out my frustration and punch a wall washes over me. Why is it so easy for them to communicate with other people? How do they do it? Why is it so hard for me? How come I’m the one that is different? I don’t understand.
By Dalyn Baxter
I woke up as a chicken.
Now, I know most people don’t have the weird disease known to me as the I-don’t-know-what-or-who-I-am-going-to-wake-up-as-because-my-body-can’t-make-up-its-mind-and-stay-human virus, but I’m a peculiar kid.
The label is genius though, right?
If you haven’t figured it out by that description, I change my form all the time. It’s not like I want to, but I can’t help it. I go to sleep as a normal, everyday cellphone, and wake up a chicken.
Hmm, being a cellphone was fun. All the gossip I heard…
Next thing I know, I’ll be waking up as a timpani with someone hitting away on me. Wait. I think I already did that.
Anyway, I can’t say life as a chicken is bad. So far, I have just run around and clucked at other chicken-kind, but around noon, the other chicken started to talk.
“I’m hungry.” a particularly annoying one said.
Well, no one ever said chickens were particularly bright.
For some reason, they all decided to go to Mc Donald’s. Why they would want to go to a place that serves chicken as food is beyond me.
The smell of grease became stronger as we arrived at the nearest Mickey D’s, but it was nothing compared to when we actually walked in. It was overpowering, and I wanted to gag, but found I couldn’t. We flapped up to the counter, but the employee freaked out when he saw us.
“The chickens have escaped!” he shouted. At that point, several business men in crisp black suits walked in and started attacking us. Our feathers fluttered as we scrambled for safety, but there was nowhere that we could really run.
We all finally cowered behind a woman who seemed ready to murder anyone who got near us. Well, at least from behind. I never saw her face.
“Ma’am, those birds you are protecting are our food. You need to turn them over and let us cook and eat them,” a man with cruel, hawk-like eyes said. He wore a nametag that read Mr. Ward.
“Over my dead body. You are not killing innocent children.” The woman shot back at the man. I wondered why she called us children. Being a child implied that we were human, and we very obviously were not anything remotely related to humans. And also, I was 17 years old.
“Ma’am, these birds are bred for food. Their life will be horrible if you keep them alive because they will be confused and unresponsive. If you want a pet, go get a dog.”
“I already have a dog,” She replied snidely. Her shoulders tensed up, and I could imagine her chin jutting out defiantly, and her eyes narrowed indomitably. “You are not taking these birds to the slaughter house.”
The man looked pained at her response, but sympathetic. I could tell that the sympathy was not real though, because the emotion in his eyes was forced. I clucked in confusion. “Please reconsider.” he said a minute later, before walking out with the rest of the other men.
I looked to the woman to cluck out a thanks, but she was gone from her spot, instead standing by a man, who I assumed was her husband, due to the rings on their fingers. They looked familiar, but I couldn’t place why. She was sobbing onto his shoulder, her protective air gone, and he tried to console her, but he silently cried as well.
I fell asleep before I could find out why.
Now, I don’t normally eat a lot of ice cream and sweets. Then again, most times I don’t even have a mouth. So naturally, it came as a surprise to me that I was a cow, and that I was gorging myself on ice cream. It seemed a little cannibalistic as well, but the chickens from yesterday were definitely more so.
The ice cream itself wasn’t the weirdest thing. Nor the fact that I was a cow. The weird thing was that I was a purple and blue polka-dotted cow who was eating ice cream from a bathtub sized waffle cone.
I continued eating for ten minutes, still bewildered as to why I was doing so but unable to stop, before an entire herd of cows like me (as in purple and blue and polka-ed, if that’s even a word) joined me in stuffing our faces.
All at once, we felt sick. I watched in slow motion as they all thundered over to a trash can that had mysteriously appeared.
I tried to run over as well, but I couldn’t move. As the other cows got near the trashcan, they disappeared, as if running through a smoke wall. With them left the sick feeling, leaving me feeling very blissful.
I fell asleep punctually, confused but content.
I opened my eyes and couldn’t see anything.
Then suddenly I could, as light flared up in front of me, showing animation. I realized I was in a movie theater, and saw the color from the projector lighting up dust motes in the translucent air. I turned my head back to the screen and watch as advertisements rolled by. It wasn’t long before some kids walked in, but then I realized they weren’t kids. They were young donkey’s intent on speaking the entire time the ads played, and I hoped they wouldn’t chat during the movie as well.
They, however, didn’t stop when the movie started, instead conversing even louder to be heard over the film. I couldn’t fathom what could be so important as to not give the movie theater the placidity it deserved.
I ended up not even knowing the plot because their commentary on someone named Oneira thoroughly distracted me.
Though the name did sound very familiar.
The next day I was the world- like the whole world. It was a tranquil experience, floating in space, even though it was dark and cold. The silence might have seemed deafening to some, but to a girl like me, whose normal day was full of adventure, rush, and noise, I was finally able to just exist. I wished I could stay in that form forever.
When I woke up again, I was a cell phone’s answering machine. I heard a girl’s voice coming through the speakers.
“I miss you. You don’t know hard it is for everyone right now. With Mr. Canton pressuring your parents, and your sister entering first grade last week, and here I am, starting my senior year in a couple days without my best friend by my side. I-” Her breath shuddered, revealing her silent tears. I want to help her, but what can a common answering machine do?
“Please, just get better soon. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” The line died.
I’m asleep again.
I’m a bank when I wake up this time. It’s a little harsh on me, because I feel the emotions of everyone there. Greed, desperation, and joy are just a few.
I watched a discussion in a private room through the video camera. A woman sat on the edge of a chair. Her hands are wrapped on the arm rests tightly enough to turn them white. She doesn’t have enough funds for something. She looks familiar, but her back is to the camera, so I don’t know why.
“You don’t understand!” she shouts at the agent helping her. Her arms waved emphatically, blood rushing back into them slowly. The fear in her voice affected me. “I need this loan or they’ll kill her!”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but you’ve already taken out several loans with us, and we can’t offer you another one until they’ve been paid back.” Money is such a trifle thing, in my opinion, especially when it comes to saving a life.
“But my baby! They’ll kill her! Please, help me somehow!” Her voice dropped to barely a whisper as she realized that she may not be leaving the office having successfully completed her goal. I could imagine that her eyes watered with the thought of losing her child.
The agent called security, who escorted the woman out, still pleading for the man to reconsider and help her.
I hoped that I would never be a bank again.
Today I woke up in a hospital. It was strange- I noticed the ceiling, then a man and a woman that I recognized.
“Mom? Dad?” I asked. “I haven’t seen you for a long time. The last time I was human, actually.”
Their heads shot up, and their eyes filled with tears as they rushed over to me. They hugged me, and it became hard to breathe. I couldn’t understand why they acted so strange, but I let them hug me, luxuriating in the feeling of my family.
“Jenny! Lindsey!” My dad shouted with a smile on his face. “Come quick, she’s awake!” I heard several sets of foot prints stampeding toward me, and then people rushed in, nurses, a business man with a hawk-like face, and then my best friend and a small child. My mom turned around to see who had run in, and I recognized her from behind as the woman from the bank and the Mc Donald’s. I didn’t know why I couldn’t recognize her before.
“Oneira!” my friend shouted. Was that my name?
“Hi Lindsey. How are you?” I asked. At least I remembered her name.
“How am I? You’re awake, and you ask me how I’m doing?” She seemed out of breath, joyful, and panicked.
“What’s that mean?” I asked confused. “Why does everyone keep saying that? I wake up every day. I know I may not stay awake for very long, but I always wake up. I’ll be falling asleep soon enough again, but it was nice seeing you. I hope I wake up human again soon.”
They frowned slightly in confusion, their eyes still holding an overjoyed sparkle in them. It humored me, but I quickly got over it when the little girl jumped in my arms. I recognized her as my sister. She was heavy, which came as a surprise to me, because ever since I first became something other than human, weight hasn’t existed. As in I could lift an elephant as an ant and not feel any different than normal.
“What do you mean by wake up every day?” my father asked, drawing his eyebrows together into a set of wrinkles.
“Well, a couple of days ago I woke up as a chicken, and a cow, and the earth, and before that was a cell phone, a timpani, a clothes hanger, a mountain, and a woodpecker. That’s just a fraction of the past couple months.” I explained slowly, hoping they would stop questioning what my life had been like recently.
My parents glanced at each other, unspoken conversation traveling between them, before they gazed back at me.
“Sweetie,” my mother started. “You’ve been in a coma for a year.”