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This is a literary magazine that compiles the writing and artwork of students from William Mason High School in Mason, OH.

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Published by Ria Parikh, 2019-05-14 10:38:28

Writers' Block Literary Magazine 2019

This is a literary magazine that compiles the writing and artwork of students from William Mason High School in Mason, OH.

2018-2019 ​Writers’ Block​ Staff 

Editor-in-chief​: Ria Parikh 

Grade-level editors: 
Seniors: Alexandra Lisa, Natalie Muglia, Kaavya Ramachandhran 
Junior: Anushka Mukherjee 
Sophomores: Ally Guo, Snigdha Potluri, Aliza Rotbart 
Freshman: Claire Patton, Yzah Sheikh 

Staff Members: 

Hiranya Atreyapurapu  Valerie Bokach 

Calista Busch  Isaiah Crowley 

Cydney Davidson  Meghan Dincler 

Isabella Falcone  Kaylee Flem 

Anaya Joshi  Andrea Lawley 

Lyra Mamacos  Andrew McKee 

Eliana Meadows  Jessica Nelson 

Olivia Rui  Prisha Selva 

Kate Sherlock  Julia Sherman 

Giorgia Tedoldi  Cierra Tibbs 

Adviser:​ Mrs. Amanda Bross 

From the editors 

We would like to acknowledge the people who made the production of this edition of 
Writers’ Block​ possible: Thank you to MHS Student Government and the English Department 
for their continued support. Thank you to the Art Department for their assistance with the 
artwork portion of the magazine. Thank you to the 2018-2019 Creative Writing I and II classes 
and to all other student writers and artists who contributed excellent work that allowed the 
magazine to flourish. Finally, thank you to those who purchase the magazine, for joining us in 
celebrating the creativity of students around the high school and encouraging the artists to fully 
express who they are. 

As we reviewed submissions, common themes emerged: coming-of-age, justice, 
perseverance, relationships, and the unexpected. We wanted to bring these themes to light to 
showcase ideas that have impacted the lives of the writers and artists around MHS. By 
organizing the magazine into themes, we have also been able to feature a greater number of 
students and bring forth a larger abundance of great writing. As always, our mission is to 
feature as many student writers and artists as possible and this structure has been the gateway 
to accomplishing this goal.  

We have also been able to explore various complexities lying within each theme. That 
being said, we have extended the implication of each theme past its literal definition, and allowed 
for metaphorical and other figurative interpretations. We hope this enhances each reader’s 
experience with each piece in a way that helps them find more meaning in each work as a whole.  

As always, we tremendously appreciate the hard work of our staff and the loyalty of our 
readers in helping spread our celebration of creativity. We hope that this new structure inspires 
our readers to dig a little deeper and spread creativity within the community. 

Please enjoy! 

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” — E. E. Cummings


ART: blinded_childhood — Sofia Fuentes

Growing Pain. I'll say I can fight it.
But the tears on my face
By Chris Bussey Tell a different story
One of fear and pain,
The darkness is growing. One far from glory.
There’s no turning back. I'll hide them away
What’s the point of So I'm the happy child
fighting, Bring forward the mem’ries.
When you aren't under Of days when I smiled.
attack? Are you alright?
No one can know You act concerned.
I won't tell a soul It's easy to lie,
These scars on my arms I quickly learned.
Have taken their toll. I'm fine, I reply
I sit alone in my room With a chuckle and smile
The darkness around If I tell the truth
I feel all alone You're quickly hostile.
I wish to be found. Claiming the victim
But I'm too scared to ask Angry, you blame
Too proud to admit. You say you care
So I won't say a word. But this isn't some game!
My health is in jeopardy
Phantom You jump to conclusions
By Sara Patrick You tell me to stop
These stupid delusions
So I've learned to be quiet
I've learned how to hide
The feelings and emotions
Push back the rising tide.
Smile. Stay happy.
Don't let them see
I can't let them see
This growing pain inside of me.

Congratulations, Newly Minted High School Parents!

By: Claire Patton

Welcome to the wonderfully, fabulously, beautifully, nasty life of being a parent. If you are
looking to make your child miserable, this is the right place to be! These rules will help you
become the worst parent possible.

1. Don’t allow them on social media. No Instagram, Finstagram, Snapchat, Facebook,

GroupMe, Twitter, or whatever new-fangled platforms kids seem to be favoring at

the time you get your hands on this manual. The more times a day you take away

their phones, the better.

2. Teach them everything wrong as a child. Spongebob is the real world, and we are

simply living in a matrix. The Moon landing was fake. Alien signals should be listened

to constantly. With your teen’s head filled with such truths, it will be no issue to

integrate into the hierarchy of social life at a high school.

3. Burn their homework. Who needs that time warp anyways? If you simply ask to see

their homework every day right after school, you can casually find a way to

“accidentally” toss it onto the stove or into the fireplace. It is not like homework will

actually help them in the long run, right?

4. Forget the kid at home. Your child will be absolutely thrilled when, on the first day of

school, you decide to take a day at the spa instead of driving them to school (or even

the bus stop). Extra points if the principal has to call you personally about your

child’s attendance record.

5. Have no contact with the social world. Lock them in your home. Never let them out.

Especially for things as useless as extracurricular sports and clubs. When they go out

into the world and realize how traumatizing it is, allow them to live in your basement

until they are 50, no strings attached.
These 5 short steps will help all newly parents

become the worst in the world. To have your child

become the next genius, simply buy the next book in

the famous series How to torture your child into

becoming an evil mastermind. Become the worst

parent in the world today for only $19.99/month.

Don’t wait! Remember, Quantities are limited and

while supplies last. If you order in the next three

minutes, We’ll double our offer! You can get two

copies for free to share with all the parents at book

club! Just remember to call now! Sky’s Blue By Francesca Voyten

MASKS HEATHER LONG Art (above, in color):
Natural Media by Osman Burgasli
Masks can be peculiar. They can show an emotion very well and yet have a totally different emotion
behind it. Masks can have swirls that loop endlessly upon the surface, with bright vibrant exploding
colors as a background. Or maybe the mask is more subtle, breathless undertones and pale colors
that don’t catch the eye as well. Masks that portray an almost evil appearance, such as charcoal dark
colors with a pungent sudden contrast. These are usually the masks you see as you walk through the
halls. We don’t always realize we carry these with us every waking minute, but we do. Masks can be
beautiful, masks can be humbling, or even scary, but they all tell their own stories.

What kind of mask do you wear? Do you hide the beautiful you, to be like those you admire?
Or maybe you’re proud of your unique mask. You’ve painted your mask for a long time, but you’re
still learning new techniques to finish your masterpiece. Are there tears that soak through? Or is there
light that tries to escape from the depths of the darkness that surrounds? I’ve seen many masks, even
though I haven’t lived in this world all that long. I tend to see the robots. The masks that depict those
who wish they were something or someone else. These masks try to look the same as others, but look
off, the mask may have a scar or smudges because no two masks can be the same. Masks are like
snowflakes, we will never know how long it took for them to form, but they are all different.

Masks differ depending on if you’re with friends, family, and by yourself. We show a different side
of ourselves to everyone. We choose what we want others to see, but when alone, we can simply be
us. Everyone judges everyone's masks, it’s like we are on display at an art show every single second.
Everyone says that they don’t judge or that it is a safe space, but is it really? Everyone judges. Nobody
wants to admit it, but we all do. Whether it’s a homeless man on the street, a prisoner, a football player,
a cheerleader, the loud mouth, or the quiet student in the corner. Everyone judges them. We all seem
to point out the imperfections instead of the beauty and uniqueness of the individual masks. We as a
society make tears soak through and smudge the beauty, when we should be helping each other to
peel away the paint to let the light shine brightly through. So let it be known, that we all need to work
towards helping one another instead of tearing their masks and then their soul into shreds.

My True Colors and Your Colors

By: Isabella Falcone

You look at me from the outside wondering what is going on inside my head certain days you can’t
read the thoughts of dread I have somedays I just want to be in bed and you can’t tell

The colors I say and bleed aren’t the structure of a creed. My thoughts stray along like intertwined
colored beads. Each a different you see. You do the same to others just as you do to me. You

assume by the colors that they wear on their skin or hair or in there clothes there going to speak
those colors but when the truth will leak the only thing you leave behind is a simple streak for
assuming that anything you may say will cause a tweak. I have faith it will no longer be this way

just because I wear black before you doesn’t mean I don’t have faith because in truth I speak the
color white therefore the future may be more bright for me and you and anyone else in this room.

Just because I have light brown hair it doesn’t mean I always have security.
Somedays I just feel like the color purple or pink or red. I know this to be true we aren’t all one
color. We can all be another. I have pale skin and light brown hair I may have some of the same
colors as you and you in this room. But we’re all special just because of your different colors it
doesn’t make you the devil. Whether you are black, white pink or blue you can show off your

natural hue. It is true I’m am me, you are you so let it be true.

Obstacles by Bron Acosta

My Superpower

(aka. “Pain is important”)

By Ria Parikh


Reaching Out by Cydney Davidson

Past Memories and Consciousness

Snigdha Potluri

When Angela came to, it was because of the bright light shining her
way. Covering her eyes with her hands as she opened them, she slowly
moved so she could get a better look at the light source. It was coming from
a small point in a place that looked to be miles away from where she was,
and couldn’t tell what it was coming from. What interested her was why it
was shining in her direction, and… Why was it multicolored? She looked in
the direction it was pointing.

Angela gasped. That’s why it was multicolored. It seemed to be
projecting an image onto some object that she couldn’t see. No, a video.
Angela looked closer at it and her eyes widened. It was a video all right. A
video of her and her sister 5 years ago on their birthday. They were twins
of course, and they had spent every year experiencing that day together.
That is, until Jessica disappeared on their 13th birthday. Angela was 18

But Angela knew the truth. She didn’t know if Jessica was dead or not,
but she knew it wasn’t because she was kidnapped. She simply disappeared.
Basically, she had just poofed away right in front of Angela’s eyes. Had she
been quicker, she might have been able to grab her and prevent her from
disappearing. The only reason Jessica had disappeared was because Angela
was the one who almost poofed away, but Jessica had grabbed her in time
and pulled her out. Only to be sucked in instead.

And even when she had told everyone what had actually happened, no
one believed her. Granted, she only told a few people, but all the same, they
still didn’t believe her. It was as if someone was preventing them from
knowing what was going on. She had been obsessed with finding proof and
she had found some. A lot actually. But it too always disappeared right
when she planned on showing them to people. Eventually she had given up
trying to convince everyone and became an introvert. She had already been
a shy person but would open up much easier since Jessica, who was open
minded and outgoing, was always around.

Since it always pained Angela to think about Jessica, she had changed
her name from Angelica to Angela and had also refused to go by Angel
since Jessica was the first person to call her that. But here, this video was
replaying that moment when Jessica disappeared over and over again non

It just wouldn’t stop.

Until it did. Angela, who had closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to
watch the video, opened her eyes again and found a dark figure on the
screen that was now plain white. She looked back at where the light source
was coming from and found that someone was standing in the way.

“Why, it’s me, your conscience! Don’t tell me you don’t know that!”

“How can you be my conscience? I’m my own conscience!”

“No, not really. I’m your conscience as a person.”

“Oh? Then why is that recording there?” Angela asked, hoping to get

Angela’s “conscience” as it claimed to be, fell silent for a moment. Like
it got lost in thought. Its voice became soft. “We both know what it is…
You… We.. Should know better than anyone.”

“What are you talking about? It's just repeating video...” Angela
asked, confused. “And you still haven’t answered my question. Why is it

“Like you said. Open Sky,
It's repeating… I Constricted Wings
suppose that's how
most worst memories By Julanna Zhang
work… Repeating. In
our minds and our

Until it consumes us. You never really learned to let go, have you?”

“Like you said. It's repeating… I suppose that's how most worst
memories work… Repeating. In our minds and our hearts… Until it
consumes us. You never really learned to let go, have you?”

“How can I let go? She’s my sister! And she’s gone! I could’ve saved
her!” Angela countered angrily. How could this be her conscience if it
didn’t understand?

As if reading her mind, the voice spoke again sighing, “I'm not telling
you to forget. I’m telling you to forgive. You need to forgive yourself.
Stop trying to find someone to blame. What could you have done? You
would have been taken as well. What about the others mourning for your
sister? Would you have let them mourn for you as well?”


“I know it hurts. Believe me. I’m you. But it's time to move on. Your
sister would've wanted you to keep moving rather than sitting useless
and doing nothing.”

Angela was shocked. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, it was
true. She swallowed her pride. “I- I guess you’re right. But don’t expect me
to completely give up on trying to find her…”

There was a bit of amusement in the voice as the figure started to
fade, “Jessica always did say we were just as hard headed as an ox.”

Angela smiled a little as her conscience disappeared along with the
weight that had been on her shoulders since that day. Soon, the light
from the projector burst into little balls and slowly revealed the cave
around her.

“I guess she was right.”

She took flight She Took Flight

Tugging her sleeves Tess Brewer
Twisting her hair
Her mind is stuck A bird, not a plane;
And she is not There a small, soaring thing
Through the rafters comes rain
Although bright lights, Drops that make metal ping
Her vision goes dark
She sees most nights And as the walls fall
But now, now she’s a lark World, lost to mem’ry,
Her wings life her All
Away from the cringy

Body left forgotten
Empty nest is There
Clouds of wet cotton
Soul flies in free air

Just trying to push
myself forward.

Kat Frazier

Make A Wish by Leah Shah

The Great Deception  

By Cierra Tibbs  

I used to believe in the greater good of humanity. But I found out long ago... It was a 
disease, one I had found about this so long ago. I discovered this once they had sidestepped, 
I saw the cruelty and pain and suffering that they had sent forth. Truth be told, I was sent to 
be a benevolent leader-one to bring peace and joy to all the lands and realms. I had believed 
in this mission, bound to it by blood and by code and more importantly by honor. Though I 
saw the truth of humanity, the corruption in the society, I dared not to support a cause of 
hatred. I knew it would be their undoing and I wouldn't be able to bring the light set forth 
upon the world. I was too pure, and they didn't deserve me. I tried so hard to see through 
and scratch the inner sides to them all, but we all have our demons inside who try to scratch 
the surfaces. It appeared for them... The monster won more often than not.  

My encounter with humans and the human nature left me in a dark spot-l-too had 
seen corruption, and this light had now been turned to a twisted evil. I live amongst them, 
whether they know it or not. I have no friends, no known family and no known origin- as if I 
appeared out of thin air... but I guess in a sense, I did.  

To the w​ o​ rld, I'm known as​ Ar​ gos Oritz. But my true name is Maloritz. Once known 
as Eloritz- the light bringer, the guide, lightness. Soon changed to Maloritz, the ruler 
darkness, the bringer of death and destruction. The one once known for light now only 
knows darkness. He watches the crowd, learning all he can to witness this misconduct of 
everything. He realized it was something he once thought was an amazing thing. I won't be 
sentenced anything, for I have become the devil of the world. Only I can sentence those and 
punish who fit the crimes against humanity, but even just for fun. For I am a victim of 

A light to the world. That's who he'd be. But truly where did it go wrong? He's now 
the monster they fear, a beast so cruel that you can feel its presence wherever you go. Even 
if you're on the opposite side of the world of where he hunts. A similar name spread where 
theories and whispered rumors outreach ever​y c​ ountr​y​, city, state, home. Spread worldwide 
like wildfire. He is known. The demon who brings darkness with the only light being the 
fires. He was too far gone and did not ev​ e​ n desire redemption; he seemed unfazed by his 
new nature born of disappointment in man. For he had become addicted to his power and 
wouldn't dare give it up.  

To end up this cruel and known to humanity as something to fear fed into his power, 
his ego, his evilness​. A h​ eart so black, yet so cold nobody could tamper with it and mend it 
back to gold. He was trapped in an endless time loop of terror- trapped in his own suffering 
deep down. His thoughts and old vehemence towards humanity w​ e​re trapped in a jar, 
waiting to be set free. Free like a bird in the end. Was he secretly, deep down needing to be 

free? Wishing someone could pull him back to the light in which he lost long ago? Nobody 
knew, and nobody dared to try to find out, fearful of his wrath he could easily bring upon 
earthlings. Everyone was too afraid, so they ignored it, which they had done so for so long.   

Sometimes we need to open up and set our minds free, but so few choose to do so. 
We burden ourselves and try to handle too much and sometimes it just explodes. But those 
who are dear get caught in the crossfire of our own pain. This is something he's known for a 
long time. Marloritz had seen this time and time again, ev​ e​n before he become this other 
personality- this other being. When he was known as Eloritz, guardian of the light- he had 
seen and wished to help.  

But he knew that it 
was too late for humanity.  

He decided when 
he changed who he was 
that he w​ ​ould bury all 
those emotions; being an 
something so heartless, 
cruel, an emotionless 
being whose existence 
plagues the earth. The 
devil on your shoulder. 
One causing the darkness 
to seep and spread beyond 
the ends of the world. 
Becoming a void, so cold 
that puts even Antarctica 
to shame-child's play e​ve​n. So cold you can 
hardly bear a thought to move, as if you are 
frozen in time. Maloritz has hidden like many 
others.... the true emotions, buried 100 feet or 
further. Something locked too deep that those guarding it themselves are soulless. And alas, 
he is undone and is no longer a slave to the now disembodied thought of feelings and 


Some can hide pain, but none like the devilish god himself, 
Maloritz, the bringer of darkness.  


He truly was​ the great deception...  

Lost In Emotions
By: Julia Sherman
Everything feels so plastic,
I can't get past it, I'm so frantic,
which way is the right way, who is real,
and who is fake, this isn't a piece of cake,this is hardship and misery,
where's the car key, I'll crash the car into the ocean,

go swimming with the fishes,

that way I don't have to deal with this,

I don't know who I can trust or who I can't,

I need to catch my breath as I pant, they're chasing me,

all my fears are chasing me, running me down,

running me over, I can't breathe,

I want them to leave me alone,

they just keep on coming,

worry follows skipping along with tragedy just waiting to strike, Tears Of Remembrance
it feels like life wants me to fail as it strangles me with anxiety, By: Natalie Schmitt

now I'm crawling on the ground gasping for air, no one can hear me,

I'm under your feet please hear my plea, everything goes dark as everything is lost,

fear caught up with me, and I was not courageous enough, to get through the fuss,

to conquer I could not, I tried, I fought,
but I slipped and fell, and now to the depths of hell,
falling and falling as I could never be good enough for the ones I loved most,
seems fitting as I worried too much within,
but only spat shards of ice at them,
my heart and mouth did not follow as I pushed them all away I stay in my hollow,
the dark corner all by myself and they shall never know how hard I fell,
they shall never know how much I care,
as I am too scared to wear it on my sleeve and too scared to show,
so I stay in my dark corner only saying what I must to keep them by my side,
but never truly letting them into my heart.

“A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good.
Each should have its own reward.” — George RR Martin


ART: The Old Man — Jessica Wang

Dues by Luke Helm

There are dues to be paid! We cry and shout.
Your Lady Geneva must collect East.
Not now east! there’s a war about.

What about their dues, their crimes, your laws?
Not now East! The West got their justice

Be patient, your dues will be paid in all.
We wait. Their war passes, ours never leaves.

Our loss forgotten, theirs memorialized.
The West and East burned, but one has unpaid dues

My Name is Which Color

Chris Bussey

My name is which color?

My name is which color?

Red? For the anger I harbor deep down?
That I suppress and hide below in hopes
that it will fade?

Orange, perhaps? For the happiness I
don't have, but you insist I do?

Or maybe yellow. For the hope and Bluebird by Jessica Li
optimism I insist I have so that you
don't worry and spend money on
“helping” me.

Green, even? For the envy I feel of others who live calm and happy lives.
Who don't have to live in fear of being mocked and hated for their
appearance, mental health or sexuality?

Blue? What about blue? For the tears that I shed while alone in my room
at night, a growing darkness around me with no feelings other than pain
and sadness and nothing all at once.

Maybe you see me as purple. For the air of mystery I try to shroud myself
in, so that if I hurt myself I won't hurt anyone else along with me.

My name is which color?

Simple Semblances – An Excerpt

By Anushka Mukherjee

Adi’s family lives in the village of Bundi, Rajasthan. They live a satisfying life. His father, Amit, is
a Brahman – a priest – in the temple of their village. His mother nothing but a holy housewife.

His parents, especially his father, believe in living with only the basics of life. They flower
within their poverty. There is sufficient food on the table. A roof, at least what resembled one. And pieces
of tattered cloth to cover their body. What more could one need? His father always says, “God gives you
what you need and if you don’t have it, you don't need it.” Engraved within the walls of his mind a
thought so numbingly destructive – or so Adi learns.

Everyday when his father goes out to work, Adi too goes along as per his father’s wishes. They
walk twenty miles in the scorching heat at five in the morning. He wears a white kurta and pajama. His
father in his uniform: a white dhoti and of course the upavita sitting proudly on his left shoulder for as
long as Adi could remember. And today is no different, except the heat is vengeful.  

“Namaste Pandit ji,” greets one of the villagers bending down. Amit holds up his right hand and
offers his blessings. Besides getting free food, this is Adi’s favorite part of his father’s job. People look up
to him, in fact they pray to him.

Reaching the temple, they walk to the shoe stand and take off their slippers. Adi watches as his
father quickly hides his torn slippers under the rack.

“Don’t forget to wash your hands Adi,” his father points out as he sees his son rubbing his
hands on his dhoti.

“Yes, pa,” Adi replies nervously and mutters, “stupid rules.”
“Adi! Mind your language this is a holy place. If not for God, at least have some respect for your
father’s image. You too will be doing this soon.”

“I’m… I’m sorry, pa.”
“Don’t you understand how much he has done for us. You have everything you need
because he thought you were worthy of life. Now hurry up and meet me near the shrine we have a
wedding to prepare for. And bring me one of the flower baskets from the flower stall on your way.” Adi
finishes washing his hands and rushes to duty. Amit sighs as he watches his son go and thinks, “He’s too
sharp to be wasting his life serving this town. People like us, who once were the hierarchy, are barely
cutting through life. Most of the money goes to setting up the poojas and festivals, and they are left with
nothing but the crumbs.” He wasn’t going to do to Adi what his father did to him. “I want him to do well
in life. Somewhere out of this town. Anywhere. But I can’t tell people. They won’t understand. Afterall, a
priest’s son has always been a priest. But not long now, I’ll give him the life my father should have given
Just as Adi is heading to hand the basket to his father he sees Parvati, his fourteen year old
neighbor, in a scarlet bridal wear. Her mother is there too, walking her towards the altar where sits Anil,
the rich farmer’s twenty year old son.
“Baba, here are the flowers.”
“Is Parvati getting married?”
“But… but she’s so young, baba?” Adi asked stunned.

“So? We’ve been doing this for centuries. It’s what our ancestors did. And, she’s of age

“She’s fourteen, Baba,” he asks queasily.
“And? Your mother and I got married when she was just twelve years old and I was fifteen.

It’s nothing new. You’ll be here in a few years too.”
“Enough Adi!” he says walking away.

Adi looks around the temple at the two families gathered. The juvenile bride and groom sitting
distressfully close, unprepared to begin the rest of their lives together. The mothers are preparing the
altar so the priest can begin the wedding ceremony. And the fathers, softly disputing over the dowry.

The wedding ran pretty smoothly. The parents were happy. The kids were as happy as could be.
The Earth was rotating in the right direction. All was well. Throughout the rest of the day Adi watches
Amit conduct the daily prayers as he memorizes hymns as part of his schooling to become like his father
– a priest. But could he really see himself going through life like his father? Adi was barely getting
through the “easy ones,” or so his father called them. The mantras were to be recited in fluent Sanskrit
by memory and he was nowhere close. His father had learned it all by the age of thirteen and was already
assisting his father at the temple. But no matter how hard Adi tries, he just can’t get it. Since the day he
started helping out his father, Adi has watched him recite prayers six to ten times a day all by memory. If
only he could do the same.

As they headed home his father said, “Why don’t you go ahead Adi. I have some work that
requires my attention.”

“Again? Where do you go every day, Baba?”
“I’ll see you at home,” he says sternly and heads on his way. Adi watches his father go, and

right as he turns at the corner of the street he begins to follow. Every now and then he hides behind
shrubs and pretends to admire something at a stall. He walks cautiously, making sure his father doesn’t
see him or who knows what would have happened. They walk for quite some time before Adi realizes
they are in their neighboring town. They had come here once on holiday, but his father didn’t like it
much. And how could he, the people here lived life like royalty. The streets were lined with stalls selling
goods of all kind. His father hated that because he felt they robbed people of the simplicity of life. “But
why would Baba come here? What work could he possibly have?” Adi wonders.

He continues to follow him through the marketplace and finally to the houses. He stops. His
father walks to the first house in the street and stands there for a while. Then, he heads to the door and
knocks. A woman answers,

“Ahh Amit. How are you doing?”
“Good, and yourself?”
“I’m well thank you for asking. There isn’t much to do today inside the house, so you can start
with the front here.”
To his awe, he watches his father pick up a hose and broom and begin cleaning the front porch of the
house. His father, one of the most respectable man he had ever known, was here cleaning someone’s
porch. Adi was baffled. What was his father doing? Never in his life had he seen his father in such a way.

Amit gets down on his knees and begins washing the filthy floor. His white dhoti drowns in
mud, tarnishing him. But he had to do this. Adi speechlessly watches his father.

The Future of the World by Meghan Dincler

Everyone’s story has an end.
Fact: everyone has to die, eventually.
It’s just nature. Something we’ve all known and accepted since we were young. We
watched the willow in front of the house as it grew, standing tall against the

elements. Sometimes, it would crack. Sometimes it would be battered and beaten so much
that it fell, its great beauty crashing down into the yard. Often times, we’d watch it as we
grew, watch as it slowly decayed, getting weaker and weaker until it no longer produced
leaves or colorful flowers. Until it died.

It’s a common occurrence. Trees die, and so do people. They are tied to us, after all.
Tied by nature, as all things are. Bound together in an ever-growing web of life and death.

But what if we were more connected than anyone really thought?
Everyone knows what I stated above to be common truths. But the minority knows that it is
even more prominent than anyone really thinks.

Fact: everyone’s spirit is connected to a tree.
The beautiful willow in the yard? It’s an extension of yourself.
You don’t have to believe me. But it’s crucial that you listen to what I have to say.
When the tree dies, so does the person. The first summer you had your driver’s

license? It flowered with your newfound independence. The day you broke up with your first
boyfriend? It seemed to shrink, its leaves falling to the ground as you wept.

But what about those who’s trees lie in the forest?
Those whose death is brought about by man, driving into the bark with their axes and
machines, desperate to have it for this reason or that. If they found out they were killing
their fellow people in order to steal from the Earth, would they stop?

Fact: I highly doubt it.
That’s where we come in.
We’re dryads, a group of creatures whose job is to protect the trees and the lives

tied to them. We’ve always inhabited the trees, living peacefully amongst the creatures of the
forest. Now, we stand guard, doing what we can to keep the trees, and consequently the
people, safe.

You might ask- why am I telling you all this? Why should you care?
Do you care about your neighbor?
How about that man living down the street? What
about someone living across the world? Maybe
you do. Maybe you don’t even know them. But
every life is precious, just as every tree is. And right
now, many of those lives are in danger.

That’s why I’m telling you this. That’s why you
need to know. Because we need your help.

Fact: We are dying. Past and Present by
The fewer trees there are, the less of us there are. Some are Abhinav Ghosh
too weak to even leave the trees they inhabit. We need more

Listen to me. The future of the world is in your hands.
Please, help us. And in turn, you will be helping your
neighbors, your family, your friends, yourself. But you have to
heed my warning. The world and its people are dying.

Fact: You can help stop it.

T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E by Jasmine

Tupac said it stands for:
The Hate U Give Little Infants F's Everybody

Society has to deal with the aftermath of misguided kids

Not realizing if we were to give them love and hugs like a

To give them an adequate education to create a better nation

To give them hope so they can cope
There would be no riots or anger or division

There would've been no Ferguson riots or tear gassing of

Or smashed police cars or smashed windows or tears or


It's like we forgot Antelope Canyon by

That to be an American is to be inclusive to everybody Spandana Grandhi
It is to be selfless while having the natural instinct to be


It is to not automatically label them as criminals but as people who haven't been shown their

magnitude for potential

To be American is to be open to listen and be empathetic to the experiences of another

Those ghetto kids are not criminals but potential Harvard graduates
Those hood kids are not drug dealers but potential doctors and lawyers

Those black kids are not inferior but obtain the potential to achieve anything they want to

The Hate U Give Little Infants F's Everybody


The Love U Give Little Infants Helps Everybody

Now, America
Which acronym will we choose?

We Say the Names of:

Sandra Bland
Tamir Rice

Alton Sterling
Freddie Gray

Eric Garner

Michael Brown
Kalief Browder

Trayvon Martin
+ many more

We March to End:
Private For-Profit Prisons

Mass Incarceration

Racial Profiling

Police Brutality

+ many more

“Sometimes you can do everything right
and things will still go wrong.

The key is to never stop doing right.”
– Angie Thomas

By Prisha Selva

“hIate that”
You say with big motions,
Spittle flying across the keyboard.

“What did you just say.”
Someone dares to utter,
Mouth twisted nastily as a single bead of sweat
Trails down their forehead.
“I like it so you are invalid.”
They haughtily offer nothing but airy claims,
eyes so obviously blind.
“I heard from a tumblr blog that you were wrong.”
Another pest in the comments declares

In biased lilt.
“No I’m not lol”
You add humor to mask
The trembling fury behind your fingers.

“I disagree”.
A profile types quietly.

Hesitant. Panicked.

You scream.
The keys quiver in fear.

“NO. you shouldHATE this”

You are right.
You, clearly the world’s smartest person,

Are right,

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald


ART: 0.029 mph — Tessa Zecchino

Epiphany by Brighton Ecoffey 

And why wouldn’t they find it beautiful? 
Everyone's eyes brimmed with tears 
Feet aching and  
Throats raw 

And why wouldn’t they find it beautiful? 
Everyone’s hands intertwined  
Smiles blissful  
and Safe 

And why wouldn’t they find it beautiful? 
A melody swimming through everyone’s hearts 
A cry for love and  
A sea full of purple lights 

And why wouldn’t they find it beautiful? 
Because it wasn’t perfect 

But precious soul, it may not be so perfect 
But it is  
Oh so beautiful  

Fabric by Aran Sajjan

I feel a gentle tug into a deeper slumber.
I remember what it feels like to be alone, and for a brief,
Brief moment, the blank abyss grows wider.

(There’s a hand curling its fingers around your spinal cord.)

Eventually, I’m left to whatever my mind can craft.
Disingenuous, organized thoughts.

Why are you lying to yourself?
Does it feel good, make you happy?

I build my current experiences into the fabric.
A flourishing relationship, a funny joke,
A fleeting workload, a difficult goal,

A t e r r i b l e e x p e r i e n c e.

One that shudders you,
One that breaks you,
One that burns you,
One that makes you.

I can’t help it when the fabric fights back.
I can’t help it when it starts choking me.
When the terror grips me, it
Changes me -- flips me on my head.

There’s a bloom in your hair Ball
Did you notice it while you were painting? By Matt Cook
There’s a finger in your mouth
Did you put it there while you were crying?

And eventually it all comes back to me,
And I wake up in the middle of an empty room.
I’m no longer alone again.
My thoughts keep me company for the rest of the cold, dark night.

No Longer A Little Girl

by Advika Sumit

“Take your mark,” the official says ever so softly.
“BEEP!” I dive into the water, bubbles floating up all around me. Coldness encompasses me,
stealing my warmth from my body. The sound of my friends cheering for me to swim faster is drowned
out by the water surrounding me. I tell myself to focus. This was my last chance, and I couldn’t waste it. I
wouldn’t waste it. This was my final opportunity to get my 200 breaststroke Junior Olympic (JO) cut.
I started swimming for the Mason Manta Rays eight years ago. I was around five and a half,
and swimming was simply a place to have fun. It was easy to win then- mostly because very few people
competed at that age. In my little city of Mason, Ohio I could shine. But no matter what, I would swim
because I adored it and it made me happy. I would leap into the pool beaming with delight and pride.
I don’t swim for that reason anymore. I do it because I’m not a quitter and it pushes my
boundaries to the very furthest I can reach. As Mason grew so did the amount of swimmers. Now I
realize that there are as many fish in the sea as there are people swimming my age, and it sure is hard to
win. There are many people that are taller, stronger, faster. Some people who are homeschooled so that
they can put their life into swimming. But I’m technically not supposed to worry about that. No matter
what my coach tells us about how we are supposed to try and achieve our own personal goals, I can’t help
to think that I wouldn’t mind winning. I wouldn’t mind being the best.
Ever since I was a little girl, I haven’t exactly been the person someone pictures when they say
the word “strong”. I’m tiny, quite short, and just plain skinny. I’ve always been one of the “adorable”
people on my team. But that's not really the look I’m going for. People have always made me feel less
without even realizing what they said.
Coaches have told me, “You might not do so good until you grow a little more.”
And so maybe getting this JO cut wasn’t about winning… maybe it was about proving that I am
more than just a little girl. Looks are deceiving, especially mine.
Or maybe I should just accept that I can’t get this cut. Failure is a choice… Isn’t it?
My race was going to start soon, and I was getting uneasy. I told myself to relax and took a breath
through my nose while letting the air out through my mouth. I relaxed my arms to my side, to loosen up
my body. My teammate came up to me and she told me something that guaranteed whether I would get
the cut or not. She looked down at me with her shoulders lifted high, her face arrogant and filled with
pride. She was racing me and said that if I stayed slightly behind her during the race I would get the time
I wanted. I imagined myself rolling my eyes right in front of her. But instead, I simply nodded.
“Thanks, I hope I can keep up.”
Breastroke was her best stroke. Everyone knew her as the fast one, the strong one, the cocky one.
She expected me to lose, and I was losing the little hope I had. But that changed. Before my race started,
several of my teammates came up to me and whispered in my ear.
“Beat her.”
“Beat her.”

“Beat her bad.”
As I swim I reach out my arms as far as I can grabbing the water and pulling it as hard and fast as I
can. My muscles tense as my tempo increases faster and faster. I kick my feet crazily, my legs burning. I see
my teammate racing me in the corner of my eye. We are neck to neck, and anger creeps up my neck. I’m
focused on only one thing: reaching the wall.
I remember my coach had once said, “Don’t count the laps, make the laps count.”
I was sick of always just trying to be good enough. I was good enough, and I was going to prove it.
I gasp for air each time I breathe. I am racing the clock, and I will not let it win. No surrender. My
legs ache as if they are about to go numb. So close to the wall… to the finish. 3 feet. 2 feet. 1- I lunge into the
wall, slamming my knuckles hard against it. I release every muscle in my body, feeling the energy release from
me. I look as if a balloon were deflating. Light reflects off my metallic goggles as I yank them off. My friends
scream as the crowd cheers, but it happens so slowly. As if I was watching the world around me in slow
motion. I see my opponents time, and then I see mine.
“You did it!” my friends yell happily.
“I did it,” I whisper back, as a smile spreads across my face.
Three. The number three is my lucky number. It is also the exact number I beat my teammate by-
Three seconds. I was no longer the little girl everyone thought I was, nor would people judge me by my
appearance. I was a champion.

Hands of Power

by Francesca Voyten

Voices Anaya Joshi

I stood on the stance of block number 4, rubbing my fingers across the cool rubber
platform for the third time in the past 2 minutes. Rolling my shoulders back, I inhale sharply and
press my goggles further into my skin. My hands began to grow clammy and the cold feeling of
dread and anxiety slowly crept up and chilled down my bones, the ice cold feeling pounding and
ringing through my body.

There’s nothing to fear, Richards. Just like you practiced. I tried to ease my jumping nerves.
It was a method I had to practice daily. Positive thoughts. Breathe them in like oxygen. While I
drive my nails into my skin, my eyes fixated on the still water right before me, almost begging
me to jump in. Rolling my shoulders back, I heard a loud and satisfying snap with a crack I made
sure to “crack” both sides of my neck. Hyper mobility sucks, especially when you are a swimmer.
I was diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome when I was 12. Sure, being super flexible has
its perks, but when it interferes with the way you swim, then things get tricky.

I quickly snap my head to the side, earning another crack in my neck, to see a more built
girl, maybe a little older than me, stare at me with her eyebrows raised. Though I couldn’t see her
eyes through her blue-tinted goggles, it was clear: she was glaring daggers at me.
“Hey! You need a cane too, old lady?” She snarls as her team laughs behind her, flinging their
bodies forwards and latching onto each other for support. She high fives a few of them as I
return my gaze to the water.

Ignore them, Richards. They aren’t worth it. You’re in control. Breathe In. Breathe Out. I
follow what my brain tells me to do, inhaling and exhaling. “
Yeah, she needs a breathing machine too!” More laughter erupts from the team. I close my eyes
and continue to breathe heavily, envisioning myself tear through the water like a torpedo and
slamming the wall for first place. I. Will. Win. And then everything will be fine.

“On your marks!” A man stated through the speakers. At the same time, everyone’s hands
reach onto the front of the block, preparing to dive. “Get set,” My breathing becomes rapid, it’s
happening again.

Ignore it, Richards.
“GO!” He blared the horn and my body instantly reacted by my arms reaching up far past
my head, my legs as straight as my body arched forward slightly. I kept that position until I felt
my fingertips slice through the surface, like a new blade cutting through a fresh fruit. The smell of
chlorine filled my body, the sound of water whooshed past my ears. With each powerful stroke, I
felt the knot unravel in my stomach as it released all the weight and worries off my shoulders.
The wall was almost in reach so I tucked my body forward and my feet met the cold, tiled
wall and pushed off hard. After a few seconds, I began my rhythmic strokes. 1, 2, 3. I lift my head
out of the water, inhaling the oxygen while the cheers grew behind me. I felt my body push
harder than ever, my legs began to grow cold and tired.
I reach out my hand and my palm met the flat surface of the wall. Gripping onto the
ledge, I thrust myself up and over it, huffing a sigh of relief. I take off my cap, letting my curling
dark brown hair flow free as well as my goggles, revealing my emerald green eyes. I turn around
and stare at the scoreboard with shock and disappointment.

1st place: Stewart, Makayla - 1:03 Lane 3
2nd place: Richards, Blair - 1:04 Lane 4
3rd place: Johnson, Emma -1:06 Lane 2

2nd place?! That isn’t possible! I have worked so hard for this meet! I have pushed my
body to the max for nearly 3 months just so I could lose?! And I lost to the girl who claimed I
was an “old lady”? What if my parents see? Will I lose my scholarship? What’s going to
happen to my future?

My reputation is tarnished.
Slowly, I turn around and began to walk towards the exit, the tears mixing with the
chlorine and burning against my eyes. I hung my head low, feeling the shame cloud my
shoulders. My team came up from behind me and patted me on the back, a murmur of
“congratulations” and “you did awesome!” chorused through the crowd of my fellow
teammates. A soft gloss formed over my eyes, blurring my vision. Most of my teammates
stared at my confusion as I didn’t respond, running out of the door and towards the
entrance. The tears began to steadily fall down my face as I left a trail of watery footprints
behind me. I didn’t think twice as I ran into the parking lot, dodging the people who let out a
shriek, grabbing their children as I ran as I could from the building. I quickly spotted my car
and my feet beneath me picked up their pace. I began to vigorously pound on the door, fresh
tears spilled onto my chlorine stained face.

800 Years Strong By Jessica Li A soft sniffle escaped me as I began to give
up. I press my forehead into the palm of my hand,
resting my elbow onto the door. My steady tears
turned into a river, like a faucet being turned on.

“What’s wrong with me,” I think aloud to
myself. My insides felt hollow and broken, there
was no room for all the anxiety I used to hold. The
once pure globe of happiness burning inside of me
turned into a black orb of charred dust. I’m not
worth anything anymore. I am nothing. My fingers
wander over to the hand threaded bracelet my
grandmother gave me when I was ten. She’s gone,
but she’s everywhere I turn. When she was dying

in the hospital, she once told me with a raspy voice, “There is a voice inside your head, Blair.
For most people, it’s another mere thing in their body; nothing it says fazes them. But that
voice inside your head overpowers your thoughts, clouds your mind of the dirt it makes up.
It’s bigger than most voices. Sometimes, it’s the only voice you can hear. Don’t let that voice
change you. Don’t let that voice define you.”

I should have taken my grandmother’s powerful advice. It would’ve changed my
decision less than 12 minutes ago. I could’ve walked out of that building knowing that I did
my absolute best and nothing anyone says shouldn’t shake me up. But that’s not what I did.
That’s not what happened. My grandmother was right.

It did define me. Just not in the way I wanted it to.

The Fangs 

​Tess Brewer 

I stay up late into the night, working and worrying. The assignment due tomorrow, and the test is over that... I
feel my eyes growing heavy with exhaustion.
All the while, I feel it creeping up behind me, teeth bared- slithering with a low h​ issssss.​ My imminent doom at
it’s tendrils keeps me from accepting sleep.
Is it behind me? I can feel the hot, recoiling breath on my hair. My sweat makes it feel like there’s something
slimy on my neck...or is that a tongue?
I don’t want to feel the pain, the sharp pinch of the bite! I don’t want to deal with that, I won’t want to accept
it. I do have ways of avoiding it. I push myself further than I should, stay up later than I should. I don’t jump at
the opportunities that I’ve been presented with, hide in the corners of my life. But it always finds a way to bite.

I don’t want to feel the fangs of Failure.

When I was younger, I had the chances to step out of my shell. I
was quiet, shy, and obedient. I struggled making friends. I had
tried before, but that was when I first felt the bite of Failure. I
had to find a seat at lunch- but I didn’t know where I could sit,
and timid as I was I was afraid to ask. I did ask, and I did try, to
find seats where I would be accepted. But all I see is heads
turned away… and as I sit on my own, the h​ isss​ rises and bites-
Eventually, every potential friend seemed to have a pair of fangs
to me, and I stepped away from close relationships with my
peers. I avoided joining clubs for a long time, too. I didn’t trust
myself to do well in them, to be able to make friends or interact.
I tried to use my fear to protect myself, but in the most
unexpected corners Failure would come up and latch on.

The Fangs​ by Tess Brewer
As I grew older, the shell of fear began to subside slightly. Joining Cross Country was a tipping point for me. I
was forced to interact, and I was forced to face Failure when I didn’t get the time I wanted. Slowly but surely, as
I faced Failure more frequently, feeling the fangs, something about the searing pain and fear began to change.

High School is all about taking risks. As I put myself out there more, began to try out, began to try new things, I
found that when I was bit by the stab of Failure, I didn’t have as severe a reaction. If I didn’t get the part, I
found that there was always next time, and if I got a bad grade, suddenly I didn’t feverishly think that my
grades defined me.

Sometimes the pang of Failure’s chomp still gets to me, and it still stings. But it never fully goes away. The
hisssss i​ s always there, and the monster that is Failure never stops its creeping dread, never stops showing its
fangs. But with enough encounters with it, I’ve developed immunity in a sense. Now I h​ issss b​ ack, chase it back
into the recesses. Because now… now I’ve got the fangs too.
Now I bite back.

The Way You Are

Natalie Muglia

This is for the girl with 40 highlighters, the girl who threw herself into a world of organized
color almost without meaning to. The girl who has all her ducks in a color-coded row only
she understands. She may look like a mess to others, but she knows exactly what she’s doing
and where she wants to go.

This is for the girl everyone asks for a pencil from, one that she’ll
never get back. She’s too nice to say no, too eager to make friends, too
shy to ask for her pencils back. She wants to scream that bringing a
pencil to class isn’t hard. If you have your computer, don’t forget your
pencil, because it isn’t my responsibility to make sure you take notes, she
wants to say. But nevertheless, she knows that if she didn’t have a
pencil, she’d want someone to be kind to her. And that kindness, she
believes, is lost.

This is for the girl who threw herself into being perfect and still fell
Amor Aeternus by Vanessa Stroud short. She stayed up until 2am to make sure her project was perfect
but still got a grade she knew she didn’t deserve. This is for the girl who struggled to make sure
everything was detailed and immaculate, and to the girl who only ever reached second-best. Who will
never come in first place.

This is for the girl I used to be. For the girl who cared too much about school at the beginning,
ruining her in the end. For the girl who couldn’t speak up for herself, because she didn’t know how.
For the girl who thought that perfection was attainable and strived to reach it every day, and blamed
herself when she fell short.

I wish I could go back and tell her that school didn’t have to be the #1 Priority. Be yourself and make
friends instead. I want to go back and teach her that standing up for yourself and kindness can coexist, and to
never to be afraid of doing either. I wish I could go back and close her computer so she could go to sleep,
that staying up until 2am wasn’t worth it, it never has been. It only matters that you’re a better you than
you were yesterday.

This is for the girl who worked to make everyone around her proud before being proud of herself. For
the girl who felt trapped in the labyrinth of competition this school presented, with no string leading
her back home. This is for the girl who wanted to be independent but didn’t know how.

I would tell girls like these that the way you are is perfect, because you do your best every day. The
way you are is magnificent, because your hard work shows, even if it doesn’t always pay off. The way
you are is amazing, because you smile and keep your head up even when things get hard.

Be the girl with the organized color-coding system no one understands and one day you will make
friends who will learn every crazy path in your heart. Be the girl who has all the pencils but who isn’t
afraid to kindly tell people what she thinks. Be the girl who is perfect because she is.

You are. Perfect.


Deanna Hu

The clouds move ever so slowly, The water is clear of muck,
Puffy masses of rain droplets Frogs and fish lounging
A mystery to all on ground.
In the lukewarm paradise.
The sun moves centimeters at a time,
Barely enough to be noticed The clouds race across the evening sky.
The stars chase the glowing sun away.
Casting different angles of shadows. The grass shakes as if having a seizure.

The grass boogies with the wind, The water stays calm as can be.
Slight breeze rippling the green pool

Of newborn saplings.

Reflection Pool
by Grace Tang

Surround Sound Blurry Mirrors by Grace Bagadiong
Biding in front of the glass,
Rebeca Hefferan I see white steam covering
That surface of the mirror,
And I am trying not to be blind
To whatever stands in my way
Not ashamed of who I am,
No insecurities staining me,
It’s just the way that whatever in my sight
The girl who is looking straight back at me
Is hidden by unknown traits

But now,
The white steam starts to fade away
Yet I find the dark brown eyes,
A smile from her father,
The face from her mother,
And she has wavy dark brown hair
With red highlights glistening in the morning's
Which shines through the window
She looks so natural
With her inner beauty and her disabilities,
She knows she is perfectly imperfect

I discover my face,
My personality,
My life,
And my strength
I don’t need a blurry mirror
To show me that I am not worthy
Because I know I have a reason why I'm here
For that life matters
It’s clear after all

No blurry mirrors,
No expectations from the society,
My reflection tells me it’s me,
My voice is mine,
I won’t be labeled
The world is flawed
And I don’t need a blurry mirror

“As long as either person is still alive, that relationship survives.
It changes, but it survives.” — John Green


ART: The Colors of the Sky — Olivia Thomas

A “Friend”

By Avin Martin

I get it when we can't agree

On certain, select heresy

Such as politics and gender

Or how you should treat an offender

But when it comes to art

You have me falling apart

You push the blade into your skin

And you are dying to be thin

You say a big middle finger to the victims

That's the way you depict them

It's a choice and you do it for recognition The Last Leaf by Ben Terribilini

Anything to get that key into ignition

Self harm and eating disorders are beautiful, you do it for the aesthetic

And that is where I draw the line and just don't get it

You show no comprehension as to why your actions create tension

You are oblivious and blind when I stop being kind

I can't tell if you are a jerk or mentally ill

But what I get is that it all rests in a pill

You intoxicate your body just to watch it decay

You run around this world, waiting for it to play

For it to play out

For you to shout

You want to be done but you don't touch the gun until the last bell has rung,

until that last neck is hung

Until that last heart has broken

Until you can shape everyone to be your token

That is why I hesitate to call you my friend

That is why I won't be with you in the end

Farewell, My Love
By Olivia Rui, unfortunately

Michael contemplated holding a funeral.

But there were ​so​ many

considerations to be made before a

funeral could be held. First, he would

need to write up a list of guests. He

supposed that he himself would be the

only one. He would not invite his only

friend, Andrew, because the child’s

demonic screeches would prevent the

deceased from resting in peace. Michael

would also have to buy a coffin to

hold the corpse, a few candles to set the

mood, and perhaps some food for a F​ ork b​ y Olivia Rui

makeshift dinner reception. But as glorious and exhilarating as a funeral sounded,

there were a few major problems. For one, Michael was broke. He also knew that if

he held a funeral, he’d need to find a scenic venue; he would never allow his

precious fork to die away and be forgotten in a garbage dump. But on top of being

broke, Michael was also a driver’s license-less seventeen-year-old. And he was just

sane enough to know not to hire his parents as chauffeurs--he had no desire to add

another piece of evidence to his dad’s long list of meaningless activities Michael

had undertaken that would prevent him from getting accepted to college. To put it

simply, Michael was not in an ideal position for holding a funeral. But when was

the condition of one in need of a funeral reception ever ideal?

Michael tenderly lifted up the fallen corpse. What a beauty. He caressed the

utensil’s smooth handle and rinsed off the dried ice cream staining the prongs

before lifting the fork up to observe the twinkling reflection of light off the

stainless silver surface. Michael and his fork had really come a long way. The fork

was originally a present from his girlfriend, who had told him affectionately that

she found it “seriously disgusting” that he ate food with his hands. But all she’d

ever seen him eat was fried chicken, so Michael hadn’t seen why there was a

problem. Nevertheless, he’d promised to himself that he would treasure the fork.
And treasure it he did. Everywhere Michael went, the fork went. Everything
Michael ate, the fork carried into his mouth. Every moment Michael cried or
laughed, the fork was there with him, a mute witness to his teenage years. Yet as
Michael became closer to the fork, his girlfriend began to drift away. She was
strangely jealous of the innocent utensil. Several times, she’d drafted malevolent
plans to separate Michael from his fork. Finally, Michael could put up with it no
longer, so he broke up with her. Michael’s future partner in life would need to be
willing to accept his love for the fork. For as supportive as humans could be, they
would never be able to accomplish such dependability and tranquility as his fork.
Michael and his fork had persevered through the most emotional times (such as
when his parents went through a phase of insisting he use chopsticks for eating
fried chicken).

So although this was something that Michael had put off for months, he
knew it was time to say goodbye. Despite the various precautions Michael had
taken, the fork’s smooth surface was already littered with miniscule scratches and
depressions, and the small heart etched onto the handle had completely worn away
from use. Michael could not bear to see his beloved fork becoming frailer and
duller as the days went by.

Just that morning, as he had gazed at the fork, Michael could practically hear
it pleading in its metallic clamor, “The time has come to let go. Allow me to finally
take a rest.”

Michael nodded, steeling himself. A real man wouldn’t be emotional when
laying a utensil down to slumber. So when Michael set his fork, his companion of
five years, his most cherished friend, down under the shade of a swaying willow in
his backyard and covered it with pure white magnolia blossoms, he didn’t cry.
Tears formed a moist film over his vision, casting the world in a blurry filter. They
gathered near the inner corners of his eyes, heavy, ripe. But they never fell.
Instead, they were wiped away by Michael’s sleeve. Through gaps between threads
of cotton, the liquid vanished, hidden.

Like other things.

Her Name Is Envy
By Mikal Stoughton

Envy is a friend I've known since I was little. She's captivating with
long silky hair that shields her large doe eyes and batting lashes. If
you catch her in the sun you’ll see her bronzy shoulders shimmer
blindingly, she's clean but her smile is fake and her words are false.
Envy dates irrational. Together they force others that fall to their
beauty, to fall for their words as well. Envy loves mind games and
has since we played with barbies. The only difference between now
and then is that our conversations no longer consist of big
brothers having a later bedtime than us or not getting to keep all
of our halloween candy. All she seems to want to talk about now is
beauty money and how everyone has what she doesn’t. I know
envy… I know her too well. I remember when she went skydiving
with confusion once. I caught it all on snap and got like six
hundred views, it was insane. The people who slid up were freaking

out, after all, she did nearly kill
herself. Envy responded to
them saying she couldn't die. I
told her to never say never but
in a snarky overpowering kind
of way she simply refused.

Violet Envy

By Mikal Stoughton

No r

By Andrea Hefferan

What if

Similes and metaphors described nothing

The river of prose stopped flowing

The perfect phrase seemed just out of reach

Thoughts twisted into a confusing jumble

on the journey from my brain to the pen

All language lost its luster

emotions couldn’t be structured into sentences

No rearrangement of the 26 letters

Could possibly convey my thoughts

Without words

I am simply a body

Without words

I am another face in the crowd

Without words

I cease to be unique

Without words

I am nothing. Oils by Natalie Schmitt


Jewell Powell

The phone buzzed and kept buzzing in her pocket like bees searching for
pollen. It screamed “zzzzzz” in the voiceless room as it vibrated against the
plastic of the chair and her thigh. Grace is not someone whose phone usually
buzzes with popularity.

She was in second bell English and her teacher was a grumpy old man
with white string hair and was the kind of teacher that if he saw your phone,
you’d better wish you were dead because he would chew you out in front of the
whole class with no mercy. She had seen it been done before, so she was
cautious. As he turned away, just for a moment, Grace slipped out her phone
saw three missed calls from mom and one text from dad:

For a split second, she sat there, paralyzed and utterly shocked.
Thousands of thoughts came racing to her mind. How could this happen? Is he
ok? Will I ever see him again?

The salty drops of water flowed down her face as she came to reality
and ran out of the classroom. Mr. Lambert bolted up and shouted, “Grace! You
can’t just get up in the middle of class and leave with no warning!”

She didn’t care though. All she could think about was calling her dad and
getting to the hospital. Racing down the stairs almost tripping on her feet she
got to the white exit door leading to the parking lot and just kept going.

Fumbling to find her keys through all the clinking nicknacks at the
bottom of her backpack, Grace rushed with panic. Every second seeming so
urgent and priceless. She flung open the barren black car door and hopped in.
The tears were still flowing down her face, more rapid than a raging river.
There seemed to be no end.

Rolling out of the school parking lot, she unlocked her phone and called
her dad. It just rang and rang. No answer. She called again. He picked up.

"What happened? Is he ok? Don’t let him die please,” was all she could
mumble to him through the gasping.

"He is being transported to the hospital now. Meet us there. Hopefully, he
will be ok. I love you Grace,” her dad, Greg, reassured Grace.

Driving past Target on the corner of town, she saw two cherry red
firetrucks, five Johnson County cop cars and one pummeled Honda Civic--
black with license plates XYZ 1234. It was Teddy’s car. It was like looking at a
crushed soda can thrown carelessly out the window. There was no front to the
car, it was gone. The wheels were seeing the sky for the first time.

Grace’s vision grew hazy. All a blur. The tears and anxiety overruled her.
She looked back and saw a splat of blood on the front windshield. It looked
like a surreal CSI crime scene.

Turning her eyes back to the road her foot pressed on the accelerator.
Maybe going faster would help the worry, she thought. She sped through the
small town and arrived at the hospital in a frenzy.

Grace ran through the Emergency Room doors to her dad, “where is he?”
she demanded.

A monitor behind her dad started beeping, the lifeless screech rang in
her ears as she was still trying to catch a grip. Nurses started running
towards the monitor. Someone shouted “code blue”. Moving her dad to the side
to see what was going on, she saw Teddy lying lifeless on the hospital bed.

Working Title - Aron Olegnowicz

Willow Kaavya Ramachandhran

I hold the porch banister, blinking in the rain. I’m listening for the jingle of her

collar, the crunch of her feet through the leaves. I feel my forehead crease.
I call, then listen, and hear her this time. There’s a soft cry as she bounds through

the rain — her features sharpening as she emerges from the fog, flying over to meet me.
“Hey there,” I croon, letting go of the banister and crouching down on the steps.

She grins in that way dogs do, shuffles forward into my arms, nestles her dewy head into
the warmth of my jacket. I hold her quietly. She smells of grass.

Combing my fingers through her snarled fur, brown and caramel, I run my hand
across her head and her back. She stirs and I open my arms.

Willow dashes into the yard, then turns to look at me. Barking once, she
wheels around to scurry into the rain. I'm barefoot, but I stand up and follow her.

The rain races down my skin, dampening my jacket and my hair. I breathe in the
grass. Willow circles me, barking at the sky. I watch her dashing and leaping. Standing
there in the garden, I smile.

She turns towards me over her shoulder, her tail churning through the fog.

They told me things about Willow.
They told me words that I didn't really understand, words that glued my mouth shut

like peanut butter.
The tumor was an awful thing to look at. I couldn't bring myself to. On the back of

Willow’s right front leg — small, the size of a dime. They told me it was benign, feeding me
sweet itllbeallrights and dontworryaboutits until I believed them.

I believed them.

Willow lifts her head, sniffing the air, then dashes towards the forest. We're not allowed to
go very far into the woods, and I'm definitely supposed to wear shoes, but it doesn't seem
to matter right now. Besides, the grass is cool and damp, and the ground is soft.

The first few steps into the forest are easy, then nature rises to stop us. I brush aside
leaves and low-lying branches, ducking away from their dripping claws. Willow marches
before me, each step even and confident, parting the underbrush like the Red Sea.

A branch swings back unexpectedly, swatting me over the arm and face.
“We should turn back,” I warn Willow, no longer recognizing the trees and fallen
limbs. She takes two more steps before stopping, whimpering once in protest. I stoop over
to scratch her once behind the ears, then turn around towards home.
I start walking, retracing my path, and for a second I only hear my own footsteps,
trudging wetly through the leaves. Then Willow dashes up behind me, to my side.

They said these things happen. Blended mishmashes of color and notcolor. Tears that
tasted dry. A balloon of crinkled foil. Someone's arm around my shoulder. A blue pamphlet
of shining faces. Willow’s fur. Willow’s eyes. Willow’s paws padding down the hall.

They said words that tore into my brain like serrated blades. I cupped my hands
over my ears and held them there.

Held them there.

We emerge from the forest, back in our yard, near enough to the porch that I can see it
through the fog. I feel a pang in my muddy feet and realize that I’ve stepped on a burr. I
slump forward and sit down in the grass to get rid of it.

Willow sniffs curiously and approaches me. I remove the burr from my heel and flick
it aside. I sit still in the grass. Willow regards me for a moment, and jumps.

She knocks me onto my back in the grass, licking the side of my face. I laugh and
shake to get away, wrestling her off me only to have her clobber me from a different angle.
Grinning, I gently shove her away and lurch upwards, into a kneeling position.

Willow flops down on my knee, panting happily. I lay one hand on her head.

They said it two weeks ago. Final and unforgiving. I ran outside. I ran outside and tripped
and fell hard on the porch, digging my chin into the old wood. It didn't matter. I staggered
to the banister, held onto the wooden beam as if a storm was coming. I held on and called
for Willow. I called for Willow, I called for Willow.

And there she was.
And since then, whenever I held onto that banister and called her, she came back.
She came back.

I'm still sitting in the middle of the yard, one hand on Willow’s head, when my mother comes
outside. She steps on the porch and is standing there, silent, when she sees me and startles.

“Oh!” She starts running down the steps.”What are you doing out here?”
I really don't want to get up, so I call out to her from my spot in the grass.
“I was in the forest, Mom. With Willow.”
She pauses with one foot in the grass, one foot on the last step.
“With Willow?”
“Yeah,” I affirm. “She's right over here.”
I gesture to where she sits by my side. Only she's not there, where she was a second
ago. Odd. I get up slowly, brush the mud off my
jeans, pivoting slowly to look around the yard.
But she’s not there.
I feel my forehead crease.

Art: Bailey, by Vanessa Stroud


By Hiranya Atreyapurapu

Shrieks and shrieks in the noon.
My cries are heard all around the room.
Humiliation, regret, pain flash across my mind.
My face bears the brunt of your hand.
We made vows remember?
To keep each other strong and happy.
You make me weak.
The depth of depression in me can't even speak.
What are you? A man, a monster?
My tears water your palms;
your lying face smears into a smile.
My psychology degree is of no use.
Are you a psychopath, narcissist, sociopath, or what?
Within me is no will, within you is no love.
Within these walls, our marriage is crumbled.
I beg for you to stop, my hands cupping my face you so delightfully
My knees scrape the carpet, bleeding.
You look at me, your face red and eyes full of regret.
You pull me tight, close to you.
Stop. Please.
“Sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Pathetic fool.
Your arms embrace me.
I can’t let you go.

Hollow by Julanna Zhang

“Nobody knocks here, and the unexpected sounds ominous.” — D.H. Lawrence


ART: The Rise of Cheese Wizard — Kyndall Kilgore

a novel excerpt from​ ​Light & Darkness  

by Jessica Nelson 

T​he night was still. The warm summer air ruffled the leaves of the thicket of 

trees in the Wakefield Forest, causing swarming lightning bugs to change course. The 
soundtrack of nature was the only thing that could be heard for miles, except for the 
shing ​of shovels hitting the dew-dampened dirt. 

Three teenagers clad in dark clothes gathered around a hole, piling in 
shovel-fulls of dirt. By now, the only things visible in the hole were glimpses of a bright 
yellow sundress, a crystal necklace, and fiery locks of curls. The girl in the hole looked 
innocent in death.  

Except, well, she wasn’t completely dead.  
The girl awoke abruptly, as if being ripped back into consciousness. Her arms 
were crossed against her chest, pinned to her body by something. Realization and 
panic set in as she realized she wasn’t in the comfort of her bed, but of the ground, 
with mud, not blankets, trapping her inside. She couldn’t blink, move, scream. If she 
could laugh at the luck of her situation, she would.  
Is this how I’m going to die? Awesome. I bet the headlines will be “Girl Cheats 

Death, Dies Moments Later in 

She tried to squirm, roll 
over, do anything to free herself 
from her premature grave, but 
waterfalls of new dirt kept her 
from moving. Through the dirt, 
she could hear a muffled, 
feminine voice: “Colt, did you see 
that? In the mud?” 

Another, deeper voice 
responded, “Relax, it’s probably 
just a worm or something. It’s 
not like she’s a zombie.”  
Wait, they don’t know I’m alive, ​the 
girl thought. Clawing, wrenching, 
kicking, she used all her might so that she might have a chance to live. Dirt was 
starting to coat her throat and nose, grinding into her skin and fingernails.  
And then, a weight was lifted. Slowly but surely, shovelfuls of dirt were coming 
out of the hole instead of in, and the girl could finally dig herself free. 

“You shouldn’t be alive,” said a boy with pale skin, his messy mop of golden hair 
a beacon against the black sky. His sharp words sounded like crystallizing honey. 

The girl took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down and not freak out, 
except her panic was only replaced with rage. “Wow, sorry for breathing. Should I 
re-bury myself again?”  

“Woah, let’s not get too hasty here,” said another in a voice more soothing, less 
bold than golden boy’s, reaching out a hand to help the girl out of the hole. He looked 
like an extension of the shadows, his midnight hair 
almost dissolving into the air. “What’s your name?”  

Accepting his hand gingerly, the girl said, 
“Cleo. But the potential re-murderers don’t get to 
ask the questions around here. Tell me the truth. 
Who are you people, and why did you think I was 

“I’m Jax. My bitter brother over here,” he 
pointed at golden boy, “is Colton. And that’s my 
sister Willow,” he said, motioning to a girl in a 
ponytail leaning against a tree. Her face looked 
softer than those of the boys. Even so, she looked 
like she just saw a ghost. Well, she kind of did. 
“We’re demonhunters.” 

“Dude, what’s wrong with you? Speak up, I 
don’t think the Eskimos heard you,” Colton said. Jax looked just as aghast. 

“I don’t know why I’m telling her either.” 
“Hello? The girl you almost buried alive is still here! What exactly is a 
Jax hesitated before answering. “Exactly how it sounds. We hunt demons. You 
were a demon, but clearly you aren’t now.” 
Cleo scoffed, ready to blow up when Willow interjected. “I saw you die. The 
demon left your body, and you crumpled to the floor. You were dead. You ​should​ be 
“At least give my family a better place to mourn me than the middle of a f​ orest.​” 
Cleo paused. H​ er family. S​ he collapsed to the ground,​ ​her brain exploding with images, 
faces and places she had never seen mixed with ones she loved. And then, she was 
slammed with images of her twin brother, Cassian, trusting her voice when it said to 
run away with him, being knocked out and dragged away by two figures she couldn’t 
make out. And instead of helping him, Cleo’s body only shook from the laughter 
escaping her lips, the demon’s plan going exactly as planned.  
“Where is my brother?” 

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