Chapter 1: Camp

I opened my eyes. I was in some sort of toy room that preschoolers would use for fun. I looked around. Then, I saw something. I looked closely at it. It turned out to be a video game. It was what I had asked for my whole life. I walked towards it slowly. Odd, it seemed. The video game I wanted forever was sitting on a bookshelf. I reached for it and grabbed it. Suddenly, an alarm went off. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

“What is it?” I heard a preschooler ask.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, child.” said a lady. “I’ll go check on it!” She busted down the door with a rake in her hand. I was nervous. The janitor busted through another door with a mop.

“Shame on you!” yelled the lady. “Stealing toys from little kids, you rotten thief! Attack!” Preschoolers swarmed into the room like bees. Then they charged at me. Let me tell you, it was not easy. I was in seventh grade, but there were about three hundred of them punching and kicking me. I felt like I was going to die. That woman was the criminal.

“That’s fifteen years in jail for you!” she said angrily. Then, I heard something. I couldn’t quite make it out. Then I heard music. It was this terrible song called “Chair.” I closed my eyes. Then opened them again. I was in my bed and my alarm clock was flashing 8:30.

“Okay!” I yelled. “Who messed with my alarm clock?!”

My older brother David entered the room. “You better get up or you’ll be late for school again, Jake.”

I grumbled. Of course it was him. it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. There was one advantage, though. Today was the last day of school. I, however, was scared because we were getting our report cards back today. It was not the most fun thing in the world, or at least for some people.

Dad drove me to school. “Jake,” he said, “what are you planning to do this summer?”

“I’m making a list of thing I want to do. It’s not complete yet, but here’s the incomplete version: rock climbing, sky diving, jaywalking, bungee jumping, video game playing, food eating, soda drinking, more video game playing, swimming, shark taming, daring, rocket shooting, –”

“Or,” interrupted Dad, “you could go to camp.”

“Fire breathing,” I continued, “giant slaying, kidnapping, drunk driving, evil plotting, ninja slicing, window breaking, jaw slinging, decorating, ball playing, water fighting, vandalizing, computer hacking,–

“No.” said Dad. “I’m serious. I went to a camp called Camp Zelo. It’s named after Erik Zelo, the discoverer of the land. It’s been in their family for generations. It’s full of adventure and discovery and the family really liked me. I was one of the best campers and…you’re not even listening.”

“Modeling,” I said. “ Dabbling, more video game playing, garden destroying, rock throwing, door slamming, soccer playing, and that’s it. Happy?” I got out of the car and went to school. I got my report card sixth period. My grades were not bad, but they weren’t the highest in the class. My highest score was a 92% and my lowest was an 81%. There was this one girl who was really smart and got 100% in every subject. During lunch, I talked to my best friend Toko.

“What are you doing this summer?” asked Toko. “I’m going to a camp called Camp Zelo. I’ve been going there for about five years now.”

“No, wait, really?”

“Yeah. Five years. It’s really fun.”

“Well,” I said. “my list is quite long and I haven’t yet finished it.” My day didn’t get any better after I went home. Dad signed me up for camp.

“Hey, sport.” said Dad. He sounded extra cheerful. Anytime my dad sounded cheerful, you knew he was planning something. “You excited for camp on Monday?” I froze. He signed me up for camp.

“Yeah.” said my dad. “I signed you up for Camp Zelo.” My whole summer was ruined. This meant that on Monday, I had to go to some stupid camp. No jaywalking. No skydiving. No vandalizing.

“You what!?” I almost yelled.

“It’s fine,” Dad said. “You know, I’ll go with you. We’ll have a great time. Go hiking, roast some marshmallows, tell scary stories, play games, swim, climb trees…”

Hiking, swimming? What about jaywalking and giant slaying? What about fire breathing, what about skydiving? I was ready to throw Dad’s computer out the window.

“You sent Jake to camp?” asked my mom. “Why? Why would you do that? Jake just wants to stay home and hang out with his friends and play video games. Why can’t you just let him enjoy his summer?”

“Because,” said my dad. He always, always answered a question with a ‘because’ and said something that would start a fight. “He needs to learn responsibility. When he comes home, he’ll be a man. He’ll know how to tie knots, swim, pitch up tents, and survive in the wilderness. Plus, I’ll go with him. It’ll just be us, and the rest of the camp on an adventure. No TV, no video games.”

I went outside to enjoy two days of summer before going to that awful camp.

Chapter 2: Zelo Time


Believe it or not, Dad actually won that argument and convinced my mom to send me to this dumb place. We drove to camp on Monday morning with a whole bunch of lame camping stuff. It took a whole hour to get there. My dad had his stupid radio on the whole time.

“You know, son, Christopher Zelo was my best friend every single summer. His dad was the leader of the camp, and now it’s being passed down to him. How awesome is that?”

“Whatever.” I sighed, looking out the window. My dad was not like the others– he was a bit embarrassing to be around. Suddenly, I passed what I thought was the campground.

“ Dad?” I asked. “Is that the campground? It’s so awesome! It has a beach, and a free snack bar, and a dinner spot, and a recliner, and an entire lake. Wow.”

“Of course not.” said Dad. “Where you’re going is way better. That’s Camp Awesomeness. The lame camp.” We finally arrived at camp.

We first unpacked and then went to our camp spot. I was in the older group because I was in eighth grade. Dad took me to my camp director and got me to my group.

“Hey, Will.” said Christopher. “How’s the family? It’s good to see you again. You wanna sign up your son?” I immediately knew that they really had a lot in common. Dad spent fifteen minutes chatting up with him before they got serious again. Then, they spent another fifteen minutes doing form stuff.

“Spot 7,” said Christopher.  We walked all the way over there. It took ten minutes. After that, we set up our tent. It took twenty minutes to set up the tent, and then we met each other.

“Hey.” said a guy. “Can you pass me that wrench?” I saw a toolbox next to my foot.

“Sure.” I said. “But why do you need a wrench?” I gave him the wrench. The kid looked up.

“Hey,” he said. “I’ve never seen you here before. Are you new here?” I saw he was using the wrench to tighten a bolt.

“Uh, yeah.” I said nervously. “I’ve never been to this place before and my dad said this was Camp Zelo.”

“Well, you’re right about that.” he said. “My name is Gale Zelo. My dad’s the camp  director. Let me introduce you to the gang. Apparently, I’m their leader. No counselors, just us. So, over there is Jack, Tom and Pom are right over here, and there’s Steeler, Josh, Kate, Larry, that’s Girl, Gabby, Zipline, Yoko, Hags, and over there is Millie. I think she likes me.”

“Okay, okay.” I said. “I’m Jake, and that’s my dad over there. Your dad obviously knows him. So what do we do here?

“Sadly, my dad says that we don’t have enough money to do all that stuff we did last year.” Gale said. “Last year, we entered something called the Campetition. We haven’t actually qualified for a spot in the Campetition this year, but it was one heck of a ride.”

“Okaaaayyyy…” I said slowly. “I’m going to find my dad now because I didn’t even have breakfast yet.”

I walked over to my tent and found my dad.

“Dad?” I asked. “Can I have my breakfast now?”

“Uh…” mumbled Dad.

“You ate my breakfast!?” I shot.

“Sorry.” said Dad. “Mom ate my breakfast this morning. I was hungry. I had to eat something.” I knew this was not true because there were two bags sticking out of the bag with both of our eaten breakfasts in there.

“You’re lame,” I said. “Now can I have my 3DS?”

“Sorry,” said Dad. “Christopher took it because he has a strict rule about electronics on campgrounds. So he’ll be keeping it for the rest of the summer.” This was not going to be fun.

Of course, it wasn’t. Camp today was awful for the first half of the day. We went hiking, ziplining…all that lame stuff. Until lunch, I didn’t have a bite to eat. Without my 3DS, my life was completely over. So I decided to sneak into the main house and take it back. The problem was, I didn’t have one clue where it was. I searched for fifteen minutes and then I saw it. The Main House was atop a few steps. I walked up them and opened the door. Luckily, nobody noticed me. They were busy discussing this lame problem.

“Apparently, we owe about $100,000 in debt to some lame studying camp where all you do is math and boring stuff.” said Christopher. “It says that if we don’t pay by the end of the summer, they will take our camp away!” I saw my 3DS next to the camp director. I really hated that guy.

“What is going on here?” asked his wife. “They don’t own us!” I suddenly came up with a brilliant plan.

“Apparently, they do,” said Christopher. I burst in.

“Hey,” I said. “Where is the bathroom? I really have to go.” They were quick to answer that one because they probably knew I was here for another reason.

“Uh, there’s a Porta-Potty near every group site,” said another counselor. “Now scram, kid!” I quickly fled the scene, scared and with anger of failing. I could still hear what they were saying about their stupid debt.

“How do we pull a $100,000 move off this time, Chrisie?” said Gale. “Let me guess, we can enter the Campetition again. The first match starts this Friday night. If you can sign us up tonight, we’re all set to go.”

I did not like that idea. I heard that we lost the first match every single time. I returned to lunch with the bad news.

“Bad news, guys,” I said. “We’re entering this Campetition thing. Also, I failed to get my 3DS back.” Everyone cheered.


Chapter 3: A Spark of Luck


To make a long story short, Christopher Zelo signed us up for the Campetiton. We lacked skill, preparation,  and many other things. We were playing a pretty decent camp in a relay race. It was a long one too.

“Okay.” said Gale. “I’ll go last. Who wants to go first?”

“I will.” said Yoko. “It’s not a bad start-off, is it?”

“Okay,” said the Ref. “First competitors to the starting line. 3, 2, 1, GO!” Yoko and the other first competitor dashed along the obstacle course. I had to admit, I was pretty impressed with how he was handling all of this. He had dodged every single hurdle and started taking the lead. He slid under a few hurdles and grabbed hold of a rope vine hanging over a giant mud puddle. After reaching the halfway point, he turned around and made it back seconds before the other person. He tagged Zipline’s hand and he ran. Now, these guys were very average, no offense, but before I knew it, it was my turn. I was the second to last one, but they were already on their last. Hags tagged my hand and I was off!

“Okay.” I said. “This is it!” Suddenly, I hit a hurdle and fell down. The last guy zipped past me.

“Get up!” said Christopher. I slowly used the hurdle to stand. After that, I wasn’t very fast with the hurdles. I was cautious but inept with fear. Then came the mud rope. I stopped to get a good jump. Then I tried to grab the rope, but missed and fell in the mud. It was quick mud to be exact. I tried to get out.

“Come on!” yelled Gabby. “Don’t you have the strength to get out of mud?”

“No,” I said. “I can’t even do a pull up.” But I was able to save myself from possible death! I grabbed onto a rock sticking out of the ground and hauled myself up. It took every single ounce of muscle to do that. I crawled out of the quick mud and somehow stood up. It was  painful. I was able to trudge on, and crawled under a few hurdles and found my way to the halfway point. The problem was that the other guy was very close to home. I turned around and got up. I took five seconds to heal and then crawled under the hurdles again. This time, I actually managed to grab the rope dangling over the mud. I tried to swing back and forth, but it was useless. I jumped off of the rope and hit solid ground. I picked myself up and ran, only to hit a hurdle. Then, I heard cheering.

“Camp Awesome wins!” said the announcer. “This means that they get to go to the second round!” With sadness, I crawled back to the starting line.

“Did we win?” I asked sarcastically.

“Attention, all audiences!” said the announcer. “There have been some changes to the score! Camp Awesome has been disqualified. They were caught shooting rocks at Camp Zelo.”

Everyone but me cheered. I was bruised. We may have gotten off easily this time, but it will never happen again. Luck is never something that you can count on for long.


Bunny Bites

I was bitten by a bunny, or, how I managed to overthrow the human race.


Chapter One

“I’m never picking up a bunny again!!!” I shrieked, dropping Walnut from my arm and clutching my arm close to my chest. I saw Walnut run around in the enclosure in circles, frantic to get out of the open. I took my hand away from my arm, carefully studying the red patterns that had been stained on my fingers. I winced as a shot of pain ran up my arm, refocusing me onto what I should be doing: going to the infirmary. I carefully cradled my arm and started speed-walking away from the animal enclosure. I walked down the gravel path to the nurse, which was halfway across the camp!

I tried to keep my pace up as I went down the path, but I started to feel dizzy– that bunny had bit almost half the length of my arm! I was approaching the younger girls’ cabins, so I quickly stole into the bathroom to see if I could take care of the blood myself. I stumbled across the white tile floor and over to the paper towel dispenser. I quickly grabbed a few and wrapped them around my arm, hoping that that would stop some of the bleeding. I grimaced a little as the towels touched my already-inflamed bunny wound.

I walked out of the girl’s bathroom and continued on my way to the infirmary. I slowly dragged myself across the campus and finally, I made my way up the steps. I banged my fist down on the door and let myself slump a little as drowsiness crept over my body. I knocked again, no answer. I peered up at a sign hanging off the door. It said: “Closed for the day! If you need anything, ask your counselor! :)”

I let a moan escape my mouth as I tried to straighten myself up. What was I going to do now? I looked down at my bloodstained paper towels and decided it would just be best to head back to my cabin.


It took me a while, but I finally crossed the whole campus, and the baseball field, to get to my cabin. Tonight was the big soccer tournament, so I was sure no one would be around to  notice the grave state of my arm. I was kind of surprised that no one had noticed me in my disheveled state, but I was too tired to care. I walked into my room and looked around, it was only 4:30. My roommates, Elly and Mary, would be back in a half-hour.

I went over to where I kept my clothes and rummaged through them. I pulled out two white kneesocks. I kept rummaging around in my clothes pile until I pulled out a pair of scissors. (The counselors would freak if they knew I had scissors in the cabin!) “Oh well… It’s, uh, too… bad these had to go to waste… uhhhhh…” I mumbled. I think the blood loss was getting to me.

I took the pair of scissors and shakily cut off the tops of my socks. Then I gently took the paper towels off from around my arm and slid the two socks over my wound. Hopefully that would stop most of the bleeding. I threw off my shoes and flung on my soft pajamas. I thought all I needed was a good night’s sleep. I tottered over to my bed and flopped down onto my mattress. I thought my roommates would understand if I skipped dinner that night. I pulled the covers over my head, and almost immediately fell asleep.


Chapter Two

I blinked my eyes open to the sound of Elly shifting out of her bed.

“Good morning…” she mumbled, before immediately pulling the covers back over her.

“Mmoorning Elly…” Mary muttered back.

“Hey guys… how was last… night?” I managed to mumble.

“We didn’t really… do anything, we just…ate food and, uh, messed around on the field…” Mary responded.

“You were… out cold! We didn’t want to disturb you.” Elly chimed in.

I slowly lifted myself out of bed and checked my arm.

“Whoa! That is one nasty cut!” Elly said.

“I know, Walnut bit me… hard,” I said, while sliding my makeshift cast off of my arm.

I inspected my cut. The bleeding had stopped, but it didn’t look attractive.

“I’ll go to the nurse later,” I said, sliding one of the socks back over my arm. I got dressed and went out to eat breakfast with Elly and Mary.

“You still seem tired. Are you sure you don’t need anything?” Mary said.

“I’m okay,” I said flatly.


I sat myself down in the dining hall and stared into the milk in my Cheerios. “Lucy, you’d better eat or your cereal’ll get soggy!” Elly said. I slowly began to eat my cereal.

After breakfast we all headed back to the cabin to have a little more downtime. I decided to put on my hoodie. That day, I didn’t feel like showing off my sock to everyone.

“Do you want to head back to the farm today?” Elly said.

“I’d really like to go and see the goats…” Mary added.

They looked at me. “Fine. I’ll go with you, but I’m not getting anywhere close to those bunnies.”

“Yay!” Elly said.


Later that morning, the three of us went up the hill near the baseball field to the place where the van would show up. Every day, at 10:30, a big van would stop to transport anyone who wanted to go to the farm, well, to the farm. You could walk there, of course, but it was kind of a long walk. The van slowly pulled up a few feet away from us, and we all hustled to get a good seat in the back. As I sat down and buckled my seatbelt, the last few people piled on to the front seats. Elly was practically bouncing off of her chair during the car ride. Mary seemed a little uncomfortable around the older people sitting in the front. They sure did have a lot of energy for ten in the morning.

Finally, the van pulled to a stop and I stumbled out the door. With my feet on solid ground, I felt a little better about facing the bunnies. “Come on, you slowpoke! You’re gonna miss feeding time!” Elly said as she rushed ahead of me. All three of us walked over to the bunny enclosure, even if I was a little nervous.

“Hey, you there!” A farm counselor said to us. “Have you seen Walnut anywhere? I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon. I think someone might have left him in the enclosure alone.” My heart stopped for a second. I had totally forgotten about Walnut! “Have you seen him, miss?” The counselor said to me, getting a little too close for comfort.

“N-no, I haven’t seen him at all.” I said quickly. Well, it was true, I hadn’t seen him after he bit me either, but I don’t know what made me lie like that.

Mary gave me a glance and then added in, “We’ll keep an eye out for him!” The three of us walked over to Walnut’s hutch. It seemed strangely neat for a rabbit’s cage.

“Oh well, how about those goats?” Elly said. It seems like she had forgotten all about the Walnut incident. We walked slowly over to the goat pen. Mary picked up a bucket of feed near the gate and let herself in. “Fernando! Where are you? It’s time for breakfast!” A gray goat trotted out from a small barn and bleated loudly at the sound of food.

“Yeah, go Fernando!” Elly screamed over the fence.

Mary carefully poured the feed into Fernando’s food bowl, and then she stepped away to let Fernando enjoy his meal. Mary gave Fernando a pat on the back, and then she left the goat pen.

“What do you guys say we head back?” I said. I didn’t want to risk another injury today.

“Sure! How about we look for Walnut on the way?” Elly said. She sounded very excited over the prospect of adventure.

Something was seemingly drawing me back to the nurse.

“I… I have to go to the nurse… uh, look without me.” I said.

“Oh, that’s too bad. We’ll see you around then!” Mary said.

The two of them walked down over to the hiking trail, while I left to go back to the nurse. I hoped that she was there today because I was worried about my bite becoming infected. I mechanically strolled through camp, stopping occasionally to listen to other campers having a good time.


I finally reached the wooden steps of the infirmary. I trudged up and looked up at the door. The same sign was on the door from yesterday, telling campers to go to their counselors. I unnaturally moved my hand to the doorknob and touched it. The door creaked slowly open. I stared into the dark infirmary. I stepped into the room and called out, “Hello?” I walked over to the nurse’s desk, where I saw the faint glow of a computer screen. But, behind the computer was not the nurse.

It was Walnut.


Chapter Three

“Wh-what?” I stuttered. Walnut tilted his head and grinned.

“Yes, I know. What is little Walnut doing? Why is he here in the infirmary? Where’s the nurse?” Walnut’s words boomed through my mind as he telepathically projected them to me. “Well, then, I’ll tell you everything. Sit.” He spoke.

I felt myself being forcefully pushed into the office chair, unable to resist the strange invisible pressure. I sat down in the office chair, and Walnut looked back at the nurse’s computer before he began his story. “I’ll tell you a secret. I’m not your average run-of-the mill bunny rabbit. I am a member of the new dominant master race of aliens that will conquer humans and become the rulers of this world. I have been very busy in that hutch, you know. After years of sending and receiving transmissions, I am finally ready to begin my plan against humanity!” Walnut shifted a little atop the computer before staring back at the screen, absorbing all of its contents. “I have already subdued the nurse and her assistants, and they are powerless under my control. Next, I must pursue the camp director. This camp will no longer be a sports camp– it shall be a labor camp! And I have just the person to help me….”

I felt myself paling after this speech. “There’s no way you could do this! I’ll-”

“Stop, you- yes, yes, how scary. Well, the thing is, you can’t. After I bit you, I implanted a nanite that is now multiplying and running through your bloodstream. With my powers, I can control you. There is NO WAY that you can resist my brain washing. In fact, I could erase your memory of everything I just told you, but I won’t. There is simply no way that you could resist. My nanites tell me all of your thoughts, and I think that Mary person would make a good next victim. Now then, go along and stand up, we have work to do, SLAVE.”

I briskly stood up, feeling very dizzy. I would have sat down if I could. To me, the prospect of thousands of little things entering in my bloodstream was not appealing.

Walnut motioned to me to go into the back room. On one of the cots, there lay the nurse and her assistants, tied up. Their eyes were closed in sweet silence. I tried to scream but my mouth was sealed shut. “Do not worry, pet. These tools are not needed just yet. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of them very soon. Anyway, that is not the reason why you are in here. Check the upper left cabinet.” I felt my arms and legs become loose as I realized I could control them. “Don’t do anything funny, or I’ll make sure you won’t have this freedom again.” I winced a little and walked over to the cabinet.

I gently opened the door and peered inside. Sitting on a little holder, there was a small scalpel, some bandages and cleaning rag. “Take them.” I quickly stuffed the scalpel into the rag and then into my pocket. I then used a few bandages to seal up my cut, which had healed nicely since the day before. “Now, then, it is time to begin our work.”




I watched,

but I could not see clearly.

I stood,

but I did not move an inch.

I opened my mouth,

but no words came out.


I watched, with tear-filled eyes

as those around me were taken away.

I watched, as the soldiers came like a storm,

with no mercy in their hearts.

I watched men’s, women’s and children’s lives being taken.

I watched, as they came like a fire,

consuming everything they believed to be wrong.

I watched, with fear in my heart,

but still I could not grasp what I saw.


I stood, with unstable feet,

as the gunshots echoed in their neighborhoods.

I stood as their forces struck like a hawk on a newborn rabbit,

with pain in their closed minds.

I stood, as children starved,

with no one to care for them, to look after them.

I stood, when their men came,

taking lives, taking their victims’ dreams.

I stood, only protected by my identity,

but still I did not move an inch.


I opened my mouth, only to hear silence.

I opened my mouth to their cruel deeds

but fear kept my words trapped inside.

I opened my mouth when they marched

with blood-red arm bands alongside one another with pride,

but imprisoned by their own hatred.

I opened my mouth behind their backs,

but my silent prayers

would not penetrate their stone-hard minds.


I watched,

but I could not see clearly.

I stood,

but I did not move an inch.

I opened my mouth,

but no words came out.


I heard.

I heard the knock.

The single knock.

The one that put my family’s life on the line.

The one that fixed my distorted view.

The one that mended my broken legs.

The one that quenched my dry mouth.


Two women and a child begged for safety at my door step.

I knew who they were.

I bought leather from their shop in the Jewish quarter.

Many thoughts raced through my confused mind.

I could not take them in, nor could I be responsible for their deaths.


Suddenly, I looked with new vision.

Suddenly, I stepped forward with stable legs.

And slowly, one word came out of my mouth,






Unaware of the journey I would take.

Unaware that my temporary offer to keep them hidden in my well,

would extend to a year in a double wall, that I would build for them in my barn.

Unaware that I would feed and take care of them,

when I could barely take care of my own family.

Unaware that I would trade my protection for their lives.

Unaware that I could stare into a Nazi’s eyes and lie.

Unaware of the courage that I would need to survive.

Unaware of the amount of compassion in my heart.


Now I see clearly.

Now I stand tall.

Now I speak the truth.

Now I feel my humanity.

This poem is inspired by a true story of one my close family friend’s mother (the child mentioned, who I interviewed), grandmother, and great aunt (the two women mentioned). They were hidden for a year during the Holocaust by a family, the Rajskis, in a double wall in an attic of a barn. The Rajskis were the only non-Jewish family they had known because they had shopped at their leather shop. After losing communication for forty years, the families now keep in touch and share a special connection.




The salty waves rose in glimmering cinereal crests before body slamming the sand and fanning around my feet. Struggling to be heard over the gabbling seagulls, I twist toward my companion. “It’s not that cold. I dare you to go up to your shoulders before me.”

Sand crunches as she backs away. “Not a chance. It’s freezing.”

I curl my toes as the water rushes back and is eaten up by another oncoming swell. “Scaredy-mouse. It’s pretty warm, for late September.” She shifts her weight from her left leg to her right, pausing for a moment with a bored glance in my direction before bounding into the ocean.

“Not fair!” I hurl myself after her, my longer legs closing the distance. In movies, scenes like this are often played out in slow motion, but in life, it couldn’t be more different. It’s a heady, jagged rush and the sudden unbalance with your foot leaving the water and hot flesh and blood crashing through icy whitecaps, the action making everything fast and alive. We both stop, breath rasping, our heads poking like buoys above the sea, squinting through the spray at each other, unsure of who had won. The real shock of the cold didn’t hit me for a moment, but when it did I began to laugh. There’s nothing particularly funny about the bone-gripping chill, but I’m shivering so hard that I think it came out verbally, the thin sound punctuated by my chattering teeth.

She sloshes water at me with a brisk swipe. When she speaks, her voice is rapid, and higher than its usual pitch. “Come on, nutcase, let’s get you wrapped up in a towel. Hell, let’s get me wrapped up in a towel. Pretty warm for late September, yeah, right.” We trudge back through the waves, me watching the sea swirling around my legs, her gaze lighting on the puffed-up gulls. The sky is darker than when we arrived, and it almost seems like an old-fashioned film, until her neon green bathingsuit catches at the edge of my vision.

“Are you going home on the ferry?”

“Yeah.” She scrapes her foot through the sand, agitating it into a small mushroom cloud that shifts apart in the current. “We have to be at the dock by three.”

“What time is it now?”

“No idea. Do you want the orange and white striped towel?”


“Well, suck it up, because I call the dragonfly one.”

I tuck the rough cloth around me, trying not to feel like an oversized clownfish. My companion rubs her arms vigorously, the tips of her hair, spiky and soaked dark by the tide, flicking with the movement of her head. I sink down, trying to leech out the remaining warmth the sand stole from the sun. Staring at the slatey, undulating ocean, an empty, uncomfortable feeling throbs in the pit of my stomach. I’m not ready for her to go.

“Girls! Come on up to the car, if we don’t put the pedal to the metal we’re going to be late!” I stretched out my hand, and she pulled me to my feet, muttering, “Lazy ass,” before we scuffled toward my mother’s silhouette, hand in hand, kicking sand at each other’s ankles.


As the ferry is pulling away, we call out over the water, “See you later,” and “I’ll call you sometime,” and “Taco breath,” and “I love you.” But this link that our voices establish, it’s slipping away, and then it dissipates, like salt into the sea. I suppose her presence will do the same– teachers will take her name off of roll call, her seat by my side at the lunch table will be encroached upon, and then taken. This change is internal, not visible on the surface except for the faintest of fadings, a single vibrant thread teased from a vast tapestry. And I don’t know when I’ll see her next, or if I’ll see her ever again. The future is an uncertain thing, wobbling aimlessly like the needle of a broken compass.

Turning to Mom, I smile, saying that we better go, that I’m getting cold. I fail to mention that it’s not the kind of chill that can be thawed by the heat of the car’s radiator. Now, I strive to siphon warmth from her words, our moments together. The Earth’s sun has shed its downy winter cloak of clouds, but mine has set. And unlike its non-metaphorical counterpart, the probability of it rising tomorrow is uncertain.


Star Bright

Star Bright by Anna McNulty

            My room is shrinking. My walls are covered in old photos glued to the paint. The photos are fading and wrinkling, and I have no new family photos to replace them. It’s going to be two years on Friday, two years since life released my mom into the heavens. She fought and began her own quiet war, but the medications failed on her and us. All of us.  But, family therapy has helped. I tell my therapist, this lovely lady named Patrice, everything. I’m made of laughter and tears, joy and pain, but pain doesn’t have to be part of me forever. I can set it free.

            My mom told me when she was sick that I needed to move on and Dad and Franki had to, as well.

            Before she slipped away, she said, “I’ll always love you guys, and I wish I could be here and watch you all grow, but life is ready to take me away too soon. I’ll always be watching down on you. James, you were my first real love and you always will be. Franki and Stella, I’ll be there for your graduations, your weddings, your baby showers, wherever life leads you. I’ll always be there, waiting and watching.” Then she kissed us all on the forehead and her hands went cold. Her bed of tubes and wires fell asleep forever.

            I walk on Column Avenue, the main street in Beaver Creek. After therapy, I take the shuttle home and run inside past my red door, covered in snow, and into our navy blue house that sits on a hill.

            “Hey, Stell, how was it?”

            “The usual, fine. Kinda borin’,” I say in a hurry, grabbing my gloves. “I’m going to the woods.”

            “Why? It’s freezing, and anyways, the Reynolds are coming over tonight.”

            “You know, I always go to my fort in the woods. Just call me back when Jesse comes over.”

            I walk into the forest like I do whenever I need time to think.

The trees calm me and help lighten my day. The crisp whispers between the leaves, the calming laugh of the wind, and the echoes of the trees help me relax. I’ve only taken three people here, my sister, Dad and my best friend Mia. I only take people who understand me, and who I trust. I started building my little fort in the woods the day after my mom passed away, right before her funeral. I needed a place by myself where I could go and escape my haunting reality. My fort now has a mattress, tree lights, a little couch and a mini fridge. It’s in a tent, and I put it right where my mom used to take me at nights to watch the stars shine.  Once in a blue moon, we’d see stars fly across the banner of twilight.

            I lie on my mattress, and for once, I try to think about people other than my mom or Jesse, but I can’t. Jesse, my best guy friend and a good family friend, was the first person I called when my mom was diagnosed and the first one I told that my mom passed away. He’s not complicated like my friend Mia, he just gets me. I stop daydreaming and grab my jacket, the Colorado snow is caving into my tent.

            Someone knocks on the fort outside,

            “I’m coming, Dad!” I say as I zip open the door.

            I look outside. “Franki!” I scream as my older sister jumps in and hugs me. I hold her close as I start to cry with joy.

            “I didn’t think you would come back from college ’til March!” I burst out as my body shakes.

            “I’ve got so much to tell you. Does Dad know you are home yet?”

            “Of course, I wanted to surprise you!” She says as she kicks the snow in my face.

            “Ohhh, Stell, the Reynolds are coming over tonight. That means Jesse, too!”

            “Shut up, Franki, you promised you wouldn’t tell anyone or make jokes, seriously. I haven’t even told Mia.”

            “I know, I know, I would never,” Franki says laughing at me.

            We open the door and Dad comes and hugs us both.

            “It’s been so lonely without you, Frank. We’ve missed you.”

            “Franki, please stay. I need you here for the rest of 8th grade.”

            “I can’t, Stella, I would love to, though.”

            The kitchen smells of chili and cocoa as the fireplace sparks, and jazz music plays through the speakers of our loft-like house.

            “The Reynolds are here,” I say as I wave at Jesse and his younger sister through the window.

            Franki winks at me, and I start to kick her, and Jesse runs in and starts hitting Franki. We and the Reynolds are like family, which in some ways is good, but it scares me in others.

            At the end of dinner, Jesse, Franki, and I walk outside and talk. We sit there ’til 11 o’clock, and then Franki leaves to go upstairs.

           “I know this is an important and hard week for you, Stella, but I want you to know I’m here for you, if you need anything.”

            “Thanks,” I say, holding back my tears.

            “Jesse,” I say choking up, “You were the first person I called when my mom died. I trust you with everything.”

            “I thought you called Mia first,” he said looking at me through his hazel eyes.

            “No,” I said my throat dry, “you.”

            “Don’t be scared to cry in front of me,” he says.

            ‘I’m an ugly crier,” I say, and we both laugh.

            My laugh becomes tears, and he gently puts my head on his shoulder as I cry. My sadness is only a dream with Jesse, as he holds my head and keeps me strong. We sit there on the steps of my house, as we watch the stars.

            “Look, a shooting star–Make a wish!” he says and points to a star that is flying through the night.

            “You’re crazy,” I say as I giggle and wipe my tears away on my sweater. I silently make a wish.


            Friday comes as I feared. I hoped it would never come, I hoped I could pause life or maybe fast forward past this day. But I can’t run away from reality, I have to face it. I don’t go to school today, and Franki is staying home ’til Sunday. I lug my body to her room and hurl myself onto her floral bed.

            “Two years,” I say under my breath.

             She looks up at me and then grabs me close.

             “Mom would have loved to see the little woman you’ve become. She was so strong and did everything to put others before herself, just like you, Stell.”

            We lie together on her bed in silence as Dad walks in. He lies down with us as we stare at the walls as a family. Yes, we are an injured family, full of confusion and pain, who love each other more than words. “We love you, Mommy,” I say.

            “Mom didn’t want us to suffer because of her. She told us not to stick to her, but for us to live on and move on with her in our hearts,” Dad says, trying to lift our spirits and convince himself.

            “You’re right, Dad, let’s make some breakfast.” Franki says.

            We make Mom’s famous pancakes as a family and light candles as snow whispers outside our windows. The day moves on slowly, as we mourn but try to move on from our solemnity. I go to my fort with Franki, and we sit and look through photos from when we were little. We share our favorite stories as we cuddle in blankets and pillows. Finally, we walk back home and sit with our dad. In the afternoon, the doorbell rings and Jesse stands there in his big jacket with flowers.

            ‘Hey, Mr. Milam,” Jesse says as he leans in and hugs my dad. “I’m so sorry.”

            “It’s so kind of you to stop by,” Dad says.

            “I brought you guys some flowers, and my family sends their wishes. Can I see Stella and Franki?”

            “Yeah, they’re upstairs,” Dad says.

            Jesse walks upstairs and comes into my room.

            ‘Hey,” he says and leans in and hugs me. “How are you doing?” he says.

            “I’m fine,” I say as I pull my long curly brown hair up.

            Franki comes in and hugs Jesse, and we share our favorite memories of our mom with Jesse. He sits there and listens like a good friend and doesn’t interrupt. When we break down in tears, he waits and calms us. Franki eventually leaves to call her best friend, and I think I should probably call Mia, but I wait.

            “You know, I’ve never taken you to my hiding place. Where I go to escape. I’ve only taken Mia, Franki and Dad, but I want you to come. I started building my fort the day after Mom passed away.”

            “I’d love to go, Stellie,”

            My eyes widen and almost smile; He’d never called me a nickname before. We walk through the snow and I tell him about my fort.

            “It’s the most important place to me, and I only take the people I trust.”

            “I’m honored,” he laughs as we walk on.

            When we enter the fort, Jesse freezes.

            “This is amazing, Stella. It’s magical.”

            “The first memory I had with my mom is right here, it’s where we would go to talk and watch the stars.”

            “Stella…” Jesse says struggling for words. “This is hard to say, but I’m going to try, so please listen. I’ll always be here for you to talk to, and I always want to be. You mean beyond the world to me and I want you to know that. You’ll always be my best friend.”

            I look at him startled.

            He grabs my hand, and it starts to snow.

            I hold on to his hand, as he protects me, and I place my head on his shoulder. The trees guard us. He gently stops walking and pulls me into him and kisses me. My body heats up, and I hold onto him closely.

            “Is that okay?” he says, “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

            “I’ve always wanted you to,” I say and laugh.

            Out of the corner of my eye, I see a star fly by.  Finally, I’m set free as my mom lets me slip away.


there was a boy

a boy i once loved

our friendship was first

and then came

our nonexistent love story

we knew each other for years

before i discovered him

his never absent smile

his deep brown eyes

the way he makes me melt

like chocolate chips in pancakes

before i completely fell

we became friends


was our main topic of conversation

i tripped without warning

i fell

and my skull clanked

on the cold dusty floor

but it didn’t hurt me

i was too long gone

it was then decreed in my mind

that he was forever

and i was in love

i was unafraid to tell my friends

about my incurable infatuation

but he didn’t feel the same way

this i knew for a fact

as he had kindly informed me

that he was incurably infatuated

with my best friend

of course

he told me this information

because our main topic of conversation was


upon his discovery of

my undying love for him

our main topic of conversation

became nothing

the bruise on my skull

that had never hurt at all before

now made the blood in my veins

pulse painfully

a kind of ache I had never felt before

and my brain took note

that this was what everyone called


after that melancholy

nonexistent love story

eventually the ghost of our friendship

came back to life

and i had to get back up off the ground

brush off the dust

forget about the bruises

caused by my fall for him

and start over

and keep starting over

i’ll fall a million times for him

until my bones are battered and broken

and our skulls have matching bruises


I was standing in the middle of the cafeteria, it felt as though there was water reaching over my head. It ran through me and rushed over my skin making me feel lifeless and invisible. I was gasping for air and being pushed down to the bottom with the pressure of the water, choking. “Jackie don’t be such a girl, it’s just a little prank” said Junior “are you tough or not”. I was snapped back into reality, the water drained and I realized that I was in need of a snap decision. We had run into the cafeteria and grabbed a peach fruit cup, Junior had gotten his group to play a prank on Mrs. Chutney and some how I was pushed into it too. I looked at the stained yellow walls and blue tables with small benches attached to them. I felt the walls slowly closing in on me, I don’t think I should do this,  I thought. A few minutes later I found myself standing around Mrs. Chutney’s chair pouring Missouri’s finest peach slices all over it. The room was silent other than the faint pouring of peach juice and the occasional plop of a peach. What are you doing, I thought, you let five no good kids pressure you into doing a horrible thing, what have I done. When the job was done I placed my hand on the chair and felt the seat, it was soaking wet and when I picked my hand up it was sticky and smelled like peach.  The room was overcome with the smell of peaches, the chair was wet and covered in mushy fruit, I was a trouble maker. All I could think about was the fate that I would sucome to if Mrs. Chutney found out what I had done. I stood up from my crouched position at the teachers desk and saw the giggling children, some of them were jumping out of their chairs and running around the classroom just thinking about Mrs. Chutney having peaches all over her bum.

Everyone sat down when Mrs. Chutney walked in, she stopped as she walked in and sniffed the air and she let herself smile at the lingering smell of the peaches. She wrote something on the board however before we could read it, she sat down. The kids began laughing when she turned white, as she stood up I immediately regretted what I had done. She turned around to look at her chair and we saw her soaking wet skirt covered in gross looking peach sauce, then she turned around we saw her face had turned from white to completely red. The oldest trick in the book had hit her the hardest. As she ran out of the room I buried my face in my hands. Then when the class turned silent I looked up, they were all looking at the board. I looked over at the large words in white chalk and immediately became largely puzzled. Mrs. Chutney was new, she had questioned the work we had done and the way we were taught, the boys who put me up to this dirty work were upset and ruthless towards anyone who questioned the ways they were used to, Mrs. Chutney was innocent… She was ready to apologize for her fault. I walked up to the board and ran my hands across the smooth black surface to see if it could be true. I ran back to my seat, my feet thumping against the floor with every step. I felt so diminutive… I tried to quell them but the hot tears that were building up came through and the lump in my throat made it hard to breath, I couldn’t live with myself. The fact that I had made someone feel so utterly terrible made me feel like a piece of rotten garbage.

I had never gotten in trouble before, I knew what Momma would do to me and how bad Papa would think of me. The second I heard Mrs. Chutney say my name of the people she wanted to see after class the next day I made a run for it. I jumped out of my chair and tried to squeeze myself through the crack in the window. I looked directly at the scratchy bush that awaited me when I fell, still I didn’t care. I was clawing at the rough bricks that left crathes all over my hands, just then a gust of wind flew my dress up and everyone in the class began to laugh at my underpants. Then I felt a tug at my ankles and someone’s sweaty hands pulled me in.

“Miss. Wilson thats not the way out. Please see me after class, same as the rest of you I called” she said. She had gotten everyone who was in the conspiracy. I groaned and sat back down not acknowledging the laughter and staring of all the kids who had just witnessed my attempt of escape.

After class Mrs. Chutney explained to us that she was not upset about our little stunt. She just merely wanted our help instead of calling our parents. In a nutshell we were sentenced to community service. She said that the next  day we would help load some scrap paper to a company that will use it for other goods. We all agreed thinking that it would be easy and that we got off easy. Boy were we wrong.

The next day we were pulled out of class to begin loading the paper. We walked down the hall thinking that we got to miss class and all we had to do was be outside and load paper, like a second recess time. When we got outside we were smacked in the face by our own dreams, we gaped at the giant stacks of paper that were standing in front of a small wagon labeled Waldoorf Paper. We lifted many stacks, five minutes in our hands were clammy and our muscles were sore. For the next few hours we both regretted our prank and forgot about it by having contests with who could hold the most paper and racing to get the next stack. The wagon workers laughed at us and our juvenile behavior. The boys yelled things at me like “come on Jackie carry more paper, don’t be such a girl”. And at that point I had had it. I put the stack I was holding on the truck and turned to face the five boys. I was infuriated at the trouble these boys had gotten me in.

“I AM A GIRL! I WON’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE! YOU ARE THE REASON I’M IN THIS MESS! You’d better be glad I’m not smacking you upside the head. Now be quiet and don’t wrap me up in your dumb acts for attention ever again” I yelled. Once we had finished we walked back the the halls the boys jumping around and joking with each other about their strength, I however walked on the other side of the hallway with a giddy feeling in my stomach that came with the new found confidence that I got from standing up for myself. I walked down the hallway with confidence, I had stop the water from flowing and floated to the top breathing the fresh air and feeling like I had conquered the world.

The Wind and Other Poems

The Wind

Gentle breezes, summer winds,

popsicles dripping down childrens’ hands,

a laughing cry,

a sighing thought,

borrowed time,

a traveling drought,

lemonade set up to sell,

beautiful windows,

a little bird travels like a leaf in the breeze,

its life the gunman seized,

to make a dinner,

a silly thing,

for a life,

taken in the night,

oh, what a sight,

lost feathers traveled down,

the summer’s downy snow,

I feel sorry for those who’ve died,

those who’ve cried,

in the silent night.



A closing verse,

to finish the first,

a clock turned back,

to the time when we thought,

we could do anything we wanted,


embarrassing words make me feel,

like I’m wound up on a reel,

spending time with in myself,

a crazy action,

that made no sense at the time,

I feel…..



In the Night

In the night,

they come,

in the night,

we run,

in the night,

they scream,

in the night,

the thought makes me shiver,

in the night,

I wonder,

in the night,

I think.


A Poem

When you write it,

you feel…



like you aren’t the one controlling it.

Like floating.


Oink in a Rock

A little sound

came from the rock today

it was a pig’s

an oink

a bodiless voice

that calls me

makes me wonder

are pigs adorable?


The Adventures of Mr.Toast

Avery: Frederick, Mr. Toast        Barah: Mr. Toast, Customer

Sophie: Angel, Celene              Jack: Narrator, Employee

Lila: Bob, Rockman                 Djuna: Director


Act 1, Scene 1: Empty table and chair with piece of toast

Narrator (Jack: Warning: some events in this story are not suitable for gluten-free audiences. In a small suburban house…

(Bob enters)

Bob (Lila): (yawns) I am well rested, but I need breakfast. Where is my toast? Ah, there it is!

(he walks to table, seats himself, picks up toast)

(Mr. Toast enters)

Mr. Toast(Barah): No, wait! Don’t eat me! I am a valuable object!

Bob: How so?

Mr. Toast: I have traveled the world, seen all you can imagine!

Bob: (crossing arms) How so?

Mr. Toast: I will tell you, just sit back and enjoy. It was a foggy night…


Scene 2: a street in Paris

(Celene and Toast are walking, Celene drops purse)

Toast: Allow me.

(he picks up purse)

Celene (Sophie): (accepts purse) What a gentleman! I’m Celene.

(she curtsies)

(Toast bows)

Toast: I present myself as Mr. Toast.

Celene: How lovely!

(Toast offers arm)

Toast: Shall we go?

Celene: (excepting arm) Yes, we shall.

(they exit)

(Toast comes back on)

Toast: And that was only an example. Later on, we married…


Scene 3: they sit in front of crackling fire, holding hands

Toast: I love you.

Celene: And I you. I’m so glad you’re my husband.

Toast: Yes. I, myself, am glad that you accept me for who I am, even if I am a little…toasty.

Celene: Actually…

Toast: What?

Celene: (quietly) I’m sorry.

(Frederick enters, hugs Celene)

Frederick (Avery): Ready to go, honey?

Toast: Honey? What is this? Is something wrong? Is this man assaulting you? I’ll call 911-

Celene: No…Toast, Frederick is my new husband-I’m sorry.

(Frederick and Celene exit)

Toast: (crying) Why? Why? What’s wrong with me?


Scene 4: back to Bob and Toast

Bob: And that proved your point how?

Toast: (sadly) It didn’t prove anything, huh? I’m still a pointless, lovestruck nobody. Go ahead, eat me.

(Bob pulls out knife and fork, sawing Toast)

Toast: I love you Celeeeeeeene!

(falls to ground, dead, curtain closes)



Act 2, Scene 1: A bright light, Toast lays on floor, asleep

Narrator(Jack): After the sad death in the last episode, Mr. Toast was reborn as a…

(Toast wakes up)

Toast(Avery): A bagel?! Why a bagel? Why couldn’t I be a muffin? Or a cupcake?

(Angel enters)

Angel(Sophie): Because that’s who you are, Toast. Inside.

Toast: Excuse me?

Angel:(whispers) Be the bagel…Be the bagel…

Toast: Who are you?

Angel: Your guardian Angel…Angel…Angel…

(exits, waving arms)


Scene 2: New York Bagels Store, Employee sits behind counter, Toast next to him.

(Customer enters)

Employee(Jack): Welcome to NY Bagels. What can I get you?

Customer(Barah): How ‘bout that bagel?

(points at Toast)

Toast: What? No! You can’t take me! I don’t want to die AGAIN!

(Rockman walks over)

Rockman: Excuse me, but did that bagel just talk?

Customer: Yeah, I heard it too!

Toast: I didn’t talk-I mean! Bagel sound. Bagel sound.

Rockman: Oh. Never mind, I guess.

Customer: Yeah. How much is it?

Employee: $3.00

Customer: Deal.

(hands over  money, grabs toast, starts walking)

Toast: Whyyy?

(they stop)

Customer: The bagel! It-it talked!

Rockman: (yelling) Everybody run!

(everybody runs off stage, then all come back)

Everyone: The End

A Wonderful Happening

CHAPTER ONE: the truth

April 23, 2014

Mom is still in the hospital, Aunt Cathy took my notebook away and told me to keep my journal entries in here, on this laptop. she said if i have them on paper, they could be burnt and could disappear forever, but i’m pretty sure the same thing could happen on here, just a click of a button and everything is gone. but whatever makes her happy. she’s been really grumpy lately about taking care of me since Mom is in the hospital, it’s a bummer really, Mom’s been in the hospital for three months now, her cancer isn’t going away, or getting worse, either so thats good i guess. Aunt Cathy is calling me down for dinner, better not make her wait…..

– Desiree



I turned off the computer, watching the screen turn black.

“Desiree! Dinner is ready!” Aunt Cathy yelled from downstairs. I rolled my eye.

“Coming!!” I yelled back, slowly walking down the wooden stairs, the white carpet covering them felt soft under my bare feet. I stopped halfway down, staring at a picture of mom and Aunt Cathy when they were six, hugging each other in front of a crashing wave at the beach. Mom wore a small pink ruffled one-piece bathing suit, Aunt Cathy had the same one on in green. Mom had always been more of the tomboy of the two, Cathy always loved pink, fancy drinks, and clothes.

I sighed.

I began walking down the stairs again, turning down the hall and emerged into the kitchen. Cathy was sitting at the round black wooden table eating cooked salmon and carrots and rice.

I sat in the chair across from her.

The same dish was placed in front of me by Jess, Aunt Cathy’s stay-at-home maid. She had long curly brown hair with piercing blue eyes and freckles covering her nose. She smiled at me and laid a napkin on my lap. I nodded my thanks and picked up a scoop of rice with my fork and swallowed it.

“So, Desiree, how are you dear? You’ve been upstairs most of the time, clicking away at that computer, you know I’d rather you type your entries instead of write them, but-”

She took a big bite of salmon and chewed, holding up a finger, then swallowed and continued. “But, you also have to get a social life darling,” she said. I frowned.

I took another bite of my salmon. “Are you going to say anything?” she asked, a little annoyed. I shrugged.

“See? This is what I mean darling!” she said a little louder this time. She began a speech about how having a social life is important and how she wants to introduce me to some young girls my age. I ignored her, staring at my plate.

“My gosh child, speak!” she yelled this time, which got my attention. I looked up. she was glaring at me, her eyes filled with annoyance.

“I want to see my mom,” I whispered.

She stared at me, shocked. I was shocked too. I can’t believe that just came out of my mouth. I was never allowed to see her, the doctors wouldn’t allow it. Until four weeks ago, when he offered a chance to see her, I refused, afraid of what I would see after not seeing her for two months. But I guess i had enough of my Aunt Cathy, I guess I needed to get away from her, to see my mom, to be comforted with the sight of my mother. I felt like a lost puppy searching for its mother.

Aunt Cathy dropped her fork. She looked at her lap and wiped her hands on her napkin awkwardly.

“Umm..” she said, not looking up.

I noticed that Jess had stopped washing the dishes like she was frozen.

“What?” I asked a little worried but mostly angry. She has been wanting me to talk and now that I have, they give me nothing?!

“What!?” I asked again.

Aunt Cathy finally looked up as Jess came over and put a hand on my shoulder. She stared at me, I ignored her and looked at Cathy. She took a deep breath and let it out.

“Your mother, darling,” she said very softly, “she’s in a coma.” She winced as she said it, like someone was going to hit her for using that word.

My jaw dropped when I heard this. I felt tears welling up inside me, and Jess hugged me.

“I should’ve told you sooner, but i didn’t want to hurt you,” she whispered.

“How long?” I asked in a trance.


“How long has she been in a coma?” I asked more clearly this time looking at her directly.

“Two weeks.”

“What?!” I stood up from my seat, the chair falling over.

“Oh!” cried Jess, stepping back from my sudden burst of anger.

“You kept this from me for two weeks?” I yelled, anger engulfing me in a cloud of rage. “How could you do this?!”

Aunt Cathy stood up. “I’m sorry bu-”

“No!” I yelled, my voice scratchy. I stopped, and turned away from her. I loosened my fists. “I still want to see her, we go tomorrow,” I said walking up the stairs. Before I started walking up, she said, “If that’s what makes you happy.”

I sighed, and ran up the stairs.


*         *          *          *          *

April 24, 2014

Aunt Cathy lied to me. i asked her last night if i could see mom, she told me she was in a coma. i have never felt this angry and sad before. i dont know what came over me, i yelled at her and Jess, now i regret it. i told them that we’re going to see my mom today, i’m not sure if i want to now though.

we are going to go see her at 12:00 right now it’s 11:43 so we’re going to leave soon.

i wonder what she’ll look like. what if she looks different? will she even look like herself? i dont know. guess that’s what life’s about. to discover things on your own.

— Desiree


I climbed into the car. Cathy was driving. Jess wanted to stay home, so it was just me and my aunt.

We drove for fifteen minutes. We passed a field of grass, in the distance I could see black and white cows and brown bulls grazing in the field. I rolled down the window to smell the countryside air. The smell of manure usually irritates Aunt Cathy, but today, she stayed silent and just kept driving.

We drove for ten more minutes until we drove back into another city. We drove up to a big white brick building. Many windows covered the building and in bright red lights, letters on the front read: “Nature’s Hospital.”

We parked in the parking lot and got out of the car.

The air in the building was very cold and stale, it smelled of plastic and medicine. People in white robes ran around with clipboards. I stayed close to Aunt Cathy as she checked us in to see Mom. A nurse wearing a purple shirt and pants came up to me. She too had a clipboard.

“Hi Desiree, follow me, and I’ll take you to your mom,” She said with a sympathetic smile. I followed her down a series of hallways, Aunt Cathy following close behind.

Coughing was all I heard. That and footsteps running around on the white tile floor. It was so shiny I could see my reflection.

She lead us to a door with a small window and a paper taped to it. I didn’t get to see what was on it before the nurse opened the door to let me in. Cathy stayed out with the nurse to talk about something with the door closed.

Now it was just me and my mom.

She was laying in a bed with rails on the side to keep her in. She had clear, wire-like things coming from her nose. Something was attached to her finger, with a wire attached to a big machine on the right side of her bed. It had a screen with a green line going up and down, beeping.

The heart monitor.

I forced my eyes to settle on my mom. She looked the same for the most part, just skinnier and a little more pale. She was dressed in a rough looking sheet-like dress. Her hair was pulled up in a bun. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing. She just looked like she was sleeping.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I sat next to her on a stool. I grabbed her hand, the one without the weird thing on it and grasped it tightly. A single tear rolled down my cheek.

After ten minutes, I couldn’t stand looking at her any more. I stood up, wiped my tears away, and opened the door. Aunt Cathy was standing right outside, waiting for her turn to see her sister. I let her in and closed the doors, leaving my aunt to see my mother.



April 28, 2014

it’s been four days since i saw Mom. i’ve decided i don’t like hospitals, at all. i haven’t really been socializing at all lately, even less than usual.

Aunt Cathy said she was going to introduce me to a girl my age. she didn’t tell me anything else really. she’s coming at two. which is nowish.

– Desiree


I heard a knock on the door. I walked down the stairs, stopped on the second to last step to see out the door.

Jess opened the door. At the angle I was watching at, I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know what she looked like. “Oh hello!” Jess said.

Jess turned and saw me. She motioned with her hand to come. I slowly took the last step down and walked to the door.

What I saw was not what I expected.

A girl, my age: thirteen. She had golden blonde hair and sharp green eyes. She had rosy cheeks and small purple glasses. she was wearing a purple ruffled shirt that matched her glasses and jeans. The only odd thing out about this girl, was that she was in a wheelchair.  A big wheelchair with handles on the back to push it around. Behind the chair was an aid. She was short and plump with a bandana and a thick sweatshirt.

“Desiree, this is Anne.” Jess said.

I smiled and gave a little wave. She smiled back. She had a big goofy smile with white teeth.

“Lunch is in an hour. I’ll call you when its ready.”

The aid left and so did Jess. They headed to the kitchen to cook.

“Hi!” Anne said happily. She acted as if she didn’t even notice that she was sitting in a wheelchair, forced to sit and stay put.

I smiled again.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?” I gestured to the wheelchair.

“I was in a car crash,” she said. “I broke both my legs so badly they had to cut both off in order for me to survive. They replaced them with fake ones.”

“Wow,” I said, not sure what to say exactly.

“Yah, but please don’t treat me differently, I like to feel like a normal child, not a child that has no legs. Please.”


Anne stayed for the rest of the day. She ate lunch and dinner with us. She was quite enjoyable to have around. She was happy and funny. I have never been one to make friends very easily, I’ve always been so shy around new people. But Anne was different. I felt like I could tell her anything, I knew I could trust her. I told her about mom and how I felt about living with my aunt. I even showed her my journal, the one on the computer since i still can’t find the original.

When she left I was so tired I could barely see where I was walking. Aunt Cathy helped me up the stairs and tucked me in.

That night I had a dream of Anne. I witnessed the car crash in my mind. I dreamt about my mother too. I woke in the middle of the night crying. I stared at the ceiling, tears falling down my cheeks. It was two before I finally fell asleep again.


CHAPTER THREE: journal entries

April 29, 2014

anne came over again today. we went in the backyard. we had a picnic on the grass. i had to help her out of the wheelchair with Aunt Cathy’s help. we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with tomatoes. we made lemonade from the lemons on our neighbor’s tree. i had to climb the fence in my backyard and reach over to grab them. it was really fun.

i also raced her on the street.she won. it was very sad. we also got ice cream. i wanted to punch the ice cream guy in the face. he looked at Anne like she was an ugly alien that came from another planet.

– Desiree



April 30, 2014

today i did nothing.




May 1, 2014

Anne went to a bakery and brought back a chocolate cake. it was really good. i feel like Anne is becoming my best friend now. i’ve never had a best friends before. so this is something new. i enjoy it.




May 4, 2014

I haven’t seen Anne for three days. i know it’s not much but i miss her.

– desiree


may 8, 2014

Anne called, she said she couldn’t make the picnic we planned today. now i’m getting a little worried.



may 13, 2014

i went to see my mom again. she was getting better. at least that’s what the doctor said. but she still hasn’t woke up.





I woke up to the sun shining in my eyes. I turned on my side, groaning. I heard some shuffling in the hallway. I kicked off the covers and slowly made my way out of bed.

I opened my door.

No one was out there, but Aunt Cathy’s door was opened a crack and I could hear muffled voices.

I tiptoed across the hall, resting my head near the door to hear what she was saying.

“I’m sorry. That is just so unfortunate…yes…my grandmother, and my sister…no…of  course…I’ll break the news to Desiree when she wakes up…all right…bye now.”

She hung up and I could hear her standing up. I tensed up as she opened the door. She gasped when she saw me. I could tell she was close to tears, I was too.

Whatever she was going to tell me, it had to be bad.

“Oh, Desiree. Come here, come here,” she said motioning me into the room.

We sat on the bed.

I stared at her, she stared at her lap. “Um, Anne’s mother called with some…news…” she said quietly. I moved closer. “The reason why Anne hasn’t come over, is that, um, she-”

“She what, Aunt Cathy?”

“Anne has been diagnosed with cancer. She is in the hospital right now, it’s really bad, Desiree, it’s not likely that she will survive.”

I stood there shocked. Sadness clouded my vision as tears started to fall. i curled up in Aunt Cathy’s lap, crying like a baby that tripped over his own feet. Aunt Cathy tried to comfort me. It didn’t work.


*          *          *          *          *          *


The next day, I was too sad to write in my journal, so I asked Jess for some chocolate ice cream and watched Spongebob (which I never do) the whole day. I cried and sighed, and watched and ate and slept and did nothing.

I sat on the couch, chewing on some licorice and covered in a soft pink fluffy blanket.

Suddenly I heard a knock on the door. “Jess!” I yelled.

Jess hurried over and opened the door. She let in a tall woman with blonde hair and green eyes. She looked like Anne’s mother, which she was. She came over to me on the couch while Jess closed the door. She hugged me, I hugged her back and we cried. I barely knew this woman, but I felt like I had known her for years.

She pulled away and looked in my eyes. Sadness. That’s all I could see in her eyes.

“Desiree.” she whispered.


“She’s gone.”

I started crying again. Anne had died. She was gone. I would never see her again…



Two days later, I was dressed in black. I wore a short loose black dress with black flats. My hair was braided down my chest.

We were driving in the car to the funeral. Her funeral.

We entered a parking lot of a church. It was Anne’s favorite place for picnic in the field in front of the church under a big cherry blossom tree.

Aunt Cathy, Jess, Anne’s aid, and Jill, Anne’s mom, and I were walking across the field to the big group of people surrounding Anne’s body.

When we reached it, I went straight to her. I leaned on the small stool and looked in. She was dressed and beautiful pink dress. Her hair was curled and her eyes were painted with eyeshadow. She would’ve hated that.

I held her hand and stayed there for a few second before standing up again and walking away.


*          *           *         *            *

I stood up at the podium. I stared down at my paper I had written.

“Anne was the best and only friend I have ever had. I don’t know who to react to her death. I was a wreck when she got cancer, but I enjoyed every second of my time with her…”

Two minutes later, I was done with my speech, and two hours later, we were heading to the car.

Aunt Cathy’s phone buzzed. she stopped and pulled it out of her pocket. Putting it up to her ear she said, “Hello…what!?” she asked excitedly. I moved closer to her, eager to find out what she had heard.

“This is wonderful! Thank you! We’ll be there as soon as possible!” She hung up and smiled. A big aggressive smile. “What?” I asked gloomily.

She hugged me. “She woke up. Desiree, your mother is alive.”

“What!?” I screamed and hugged Aunt Cathy tighter. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” I smiled so hard it hurt.

We jumped in the car, and Jess drove us to Mom’s hospital.


*        *        *        *        *        *        *

The hospital room was just as it was before. But it was different this time. The woman laying in the bed was now awake. She looked really tired, yet her eyes looked excited. When she saw us come in, she sat up in her bed.

I rushed over to her and gave her the biggest hug. She kissed my head and stroked my hair.

“It’s a miracle,” I said to her.

“You’re a miracle,” she whispered. “I love you darling,” she said.

The Subway

Donnie was surrounded by thousands of bodies, all moving toward the exit of the subway station. He was also blind. With only noise around him, the world black was black, unfeeling and unseeing.

Bang! Bang! Were those…gun shots?

“Help me! Please, someone get me out of here!”

He pleaded with the crowd from his post on a bench, waiting for his mom. But no one was listening; everyone was preoccupied with their own safety.

Suddenly, he felt something cold by his temple. He reached up to feel it. The cold, sleek metal, round, sometimes thin, was attached to a hand. It was a gun. Pointed at him. “Did’ya not hear me? I said put your hands up!”

But Donnie was lost in a trance.

Bang! He pulled the trigger. Donnie fell to the ground.


So today I posted a video on facebook that I was going to do something that most people would regret, but I would never think about regretting it. Last month I got my gun license; then I got a 44 magnum. I walked to the subway station after I posted the video.  I wore a big coat to hide my gun; I had previously loaded the gun at my apartment. If you want to know why I am doing this, it is because I am a nobody. No one cares about me. So I am doing this particular thing because I want to be known in the world. I want people to know my name.

I took out my gun that weighed 2 pounds and shot.

:One, two, this is almost over, come on Frank you can do this,” I thought.  

I saw this man asking for help stumbling around like he was blind. I went up to him and held the gun to his temple. I was afraid. I said hands up, but he didn’t do anything so I said,

“ Did you not hear me? I said hands up!”

Again nothing. So I shot him right in the head. I have heard on the news that most people that do this shoot themselves. And they become pretty famous so, I shot myself, with pride, and some dignity.



Dear Flip Flops,

Dear Flip Flops,

I am very disappointed with you, flip flops. Your design is all worn and you’re getting small. Why are you shrinking? How is that even possible? Before you, at the store, there WAS a pretty little pair of beach shoes that were originally cheaper than you. They were BEAU-TI-FUL! They were sparkling, crazy, just my type. They were black, looked like they came from a designer themselves, had a little heel, seemingly sparkling at first sight, and were PERFECT FOR ME. At the last second, my mom just HAD to see the worker guy putting up the 75% off sign (I don’t blame him, he was just doing his job). Oh, but you flip flops…why did you have to be so boring that no one wants to buy you….(sigh) SERIOUSLY!!!  Goodbye, my pretty little pair of beach shoes. I would take you back, but…I can’t seem to find your receipt. I bet you hid it. It tires me out just complaining about you. Tsk, this is wasting my precious time. This is twenty minutes I will not get back.

But, you just had to be so boring. No girl my age would want to wear your blue little self. Like at the pier, I almost fell off that swingy ride because I tried to save you. I was on the edge while my friend was on the other side. You had to feel the air in between your not squishy material and I reached my hand out to save you. There was only a chain protecting me from my doom. No belt. I was pissed at you, so I went barefoot and stuffed you at the bottom of my bag.

Another time was at my house when I was playing kids golf outside and YOU SUDDENLY FLEW IN THE WAY OF MY GOLF BALL AND WENT AND KNOCKED IT WAY OFF COURSE. Why?! I wear you all the time! Pssh, not because I don’t have another pair…Ok, you are right, I don’t. Why did you have to be at that store?! I could have been all stylish if you weren’t there. The other pair was a dollar cheaper! WHY?!?! Ok, calm down…. But really! You and your plain design….you’re plain blue! The base color for your pair! That should NOT be able to wear off.

You will/are the only pair of flip flops I will have for maybe another year. I hope we can get along. We could put some cardboard on the back of you, paint you black, and add some cute rainbow designs. That is just like my dream sandals…Forget it, we will never get along…That’s right, flip flops. I hope you feel bad.


My Feet

Insecure Insecurities

She pranced around the living room in her new dress, a sparkle in her eye accompanying the glitter of the clothing. The dress was as pristine as a crisp winter wonderland. It would shine bright in the darkness and seemed as though it could light up the world with its bright personality. The blue seams were invisible as the dress flowed like silk while she was twirling it again and again and again. I envied her, clothed in that beautiful dress, the most beautiful dress I had ever seen.

I continued to sit and watch her, as there was nothing else I could possibly do. It would be rude to leave the crowded room, since my parents had planned endlessly for this New Year’s Party. Although I doubt anyone noticed me, anyway. As the loud voices enclosed me in silent thought, I stared out the window. The weak winter sun, a mere orange speck fighting to restore its power, began to go down behind the spider legs that were bare trees. I remembered where I had been this time yesterday, not caring about the long, cold, Aurora winters, celebrating the new year with my friends. Scratching at some dry paint on my arm, I mindlessly looked up from my thoughts about streamers and balloons to find my sister, still twirling and twirling and twirling again.

I reluctantly stood up as the guests continued to applaud my sister, her long blond hair trailing behind her, as swift and smooth as silk while she danced. I slowly migrated over to the plates of food, sneakily snatching some: crackers, adorable mini sandwiches, chips, salsa, olives, and more. Stuffing myself with food, I didn’t notice one of my parent’s friends coming up behind me. “Hello,” she said. I jumped in surprise and turned around, chewing like a chipmunk, my dark chocolate eyes barely visible through a mess of my short, straight brown hair.

“Hi,” I replied hesitantly, fully embarrassed while talking with my mouth full. There was a moment of silence while I managed to choke down the rest of the food.

“And who might you be?,” she asked with a tone of superiority. I felt that pang of frustration I often feel when my sister is recognized and praised for her many talents, while I am left behind like an old rotten banana, that wonderful bright yellow swallowed by a dark brown cloud.

“I’m Juliette, Leanne’s sister,” I answered as politely as I could.

“Oh, I didn’t know Leanne had a sister.” There it was again. I could just never understand how people didn’t notice me – I wasn’t invisible.

“Yup,” I answered, not sure what else to say.

“So, how old are you?” Her bright green pantsuit blinded me for a moment, as I had not noticed what she was wearing before. There was a moment of silence before I answered, as I was thinking deeply.

“I’m twelve, four years younger than Leanne,” I stared into her wrinkly face. This woman looked familiar. Where had I seen her before? My mind raced like a running horse.

“Interesting. You certainly are older than you look. Well, enjoy the party!” And she walked away. Just like that.

I woke to the sound of my sister’s name, tear stains on my blotchy face. It was my mother’s voice, yelling up to Leanne that it was time for dance class. I heard Leanne mutter something while she slid out of bed like the slug I sometimes see her as.

It was Saturday, the saturday after the first week of school after winter break. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week, as the lady in the green pantsuit had slipped in and out of my nightmares since I met her. It was always the same dream— she held me by a thin thread that sprouted out of my head and held me painfully like a vulnerable doll, dangling me over an endless pit. Terrifying. Horrifying. Petrifying. Even when I awoke with a cold, white face, the fear never left me. I can still feel that pulsing blood, those cold, clammy hands, that layer of grime and sweat, that pounding head, that fear. I still just couldn’t seem to grasp who that lady was.

I lifelessly pushed myself down the stairs to find that there were not enough pancakes for me, that Leanne needed four to give her extra strength for her dance class. The usual: me living in Leanne’s shadow, making “sacrifices” for her success. As I pour myself a bowl of cereal and Leanne gobbles down her four pancakes, my mom talks to me before she takes Leanne to dance, which is a first.

“So, Juliette, I’ve been meaning to tell you did you meet a lady in a green pantsuit at the New Year’s Party? She was your old preschool teacher— and Leanne’s too. I was hoping you got the chance to talk to her.” Suddenly it all made sense. The lady in the green pantsuit WAS my preschool teacher. I remember her torturing me. She was the first person to give Leanne all the credit and leave me behind. I hate that woman.

Another week passed, full of constant thinking about the lady in the green pantsuit. Through my contemplation, my feelings about the lady did not change, however I had a new and reinforced strong hatred for one other person. Leanne. Even though there were other people to blame for the unfairness, it was not as if Leanne has ever tried to give me a chance in the spotlight— or even been sympathetic. She had just been rude to me like I was an annoying little mosquito, not even remotely important, my only contribution to the world being able to provide an irritating presence. And that time, I wasn’t going to let Leanne get away with her selfishness.

Once again I found myself sitting in the living room, watching Leanne show off one of her many talents. At that moment she was showing us her singing that she was preparing for an upcoming competition on Saturday. However, unlike many other times I had been sitting in this same spot, that would not end in silent tears and me playing sad songs on my clarinet, an instrument I had played since I was six. Until now, my clarinet had been my only outlet for frustration, but now I had another plan to finally release the anger that had been be boiling up inside of me.

As Leanne belted out the final word to her song and my parents started to applaud, I ran up to her and joined in the last few words. I sang loud. I sang as loud as my heart would let me, bursting with passion, letting my wonderful, strong, singing voice go, the voice that had been caged inside of me for twelve years. Those wonderful few moments, when Leanne’s voice melted away, it was just me. A spark ignited inside of me, something I hadn’t ever felt before. I heard fireworks, I felt fireworks, and I made fireworks. This time, they weren’t Leanne’s fireworks, they were mine. And that was the best feeling in the world.

Leanne gasped. My mother looked astounded with awe and my father was just sitting there seemingly paralyzed. I smiled at the amusing scene before me, and took a bow.

“Thank you, thank you,” I laughed. My parents applauded vigorously for me, just me. Leanne just stood where she was, continuing to look offended.

“WOW, Juliette, I can’t believe you would do that! Always trying to steal the spotlight…” Leanne suddenly burst out accusing me. I began to fume, angry as ever.

“WHAT? ME? I’M TRYING TO STEAL THE SPOTLIGHT FROM YOU? You are the one who always gets the credit, who always get the praise, and who always gets the applause! It’s not fair! I’M TALENTED TOO! DON’T YOU ALL SEE THAT?” I yelled.

“THAT’S NOT TRUE! Don’t you remember that time when…” Leanne trailed off, clearly at a loss for words.

“SEE?” I bellowed.

“Girls, girls enough. We both love you equally,” Mom tried to sympathize, but she was never good at sympathy and she never will be.

“You see, the thing is, a lot of the time it seems like that isn’t true,” I angrily stormed off to my room and slammed the door, hard, leaving my shocked family behind.

I entered my room strong and defiant, but by the time I reached by bed, I crumpled into tears. Sobs. All that anger and frustration I had built up inside of me just melted away, and a feeling of complete sadness and hopelessness took its place. I had tried many, many times, but it just has never worked.  Leanne always won, while I never could. I just didn’t know what to do anymore, I felt like a squashed flat cartoon character that couldn’t get up. I cried and cried, deeper and deeper into my pillow, feeling more and more pity for myself. It was as if I was drowning in a black hole, drowning, drowning, drowning…

After a few minutes of crying, I had to come up from my pillow for air. I turned on my back and looked up at my ceiling, at my room, at my life. The calm green walls and the fresh white ceiling, my pine wood desk, my creaking wood floor, my colorful carpets with neverending patterns and shapes, and my sliding glass and gold door leading to my vibrant closet. That was the only place where I had ever felt at home. No one bothered me. My room gave me a sense of sympathy no human had ever given me before. I suddenly felt very lonely, realizing that I didn’t really love anybody. I buried my face in my pillow once again and continued to sob.

About an hour later after I had been hearing hushed voices I could never seem to make out, Leanne knocked on my door. She had never done that before.

“Um, Juliette?” Leanne said unsurely.

“What?” My voice was muffled by my pillow.

“I uh, I wanted to say sorry.” That was a first.

“Continue,” I said, not trusting Leanne’s words. Leanne slowly opened the door and walked in hesitantly.

“I was thinking about what you said, and I realize that you’re right. I guess that I should give you more of a, uh, chance to shine,” Leanne admitted. I was both surprised and honored.

“Leanne, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” Leanne smiled and walked over to my bed.

“I do love you, Juliette.”

“Then why don’t you ever say it? Or show it?”

“I don’t know, I just get so absorbed with being the center of attention…”

“I’ve noticed.” There was a moment of silence before Leanne spoke again.

“You know, we used to be really close when we were little.”

“Really? I never knew that.”

“It’s true. I’m going to try to take a step back now, I promise. I want to have what we used to have, and I want to you to remember it this time.”

“OK, I will try to.” I smiled. Leanne reached over and gave me a hug. I squeezed her tight, not wanting to let go of my new friend.





I Remember…

I remember rushing through the forest on two wheels,

For the first time.

The wind blowing not only alongside me, but in me,

Acting as my own personal encouragement and pushing me along.

The green and brown patched quilt of trees that hang over me as a canopy passing by in a blur of color; The vibrant, extraordinary detail,

Unseen to the eye.

Scratching the paved path, moving along,

The vehicle ticking each time a wheel turns.

Bumps on the path jolting me upwards,

Holes in the path forcing me down.

Letting the road take me forward,

Unsure of where I will land,

But not stopping nevertheless,

Because this is the ride of my life.


I remember the crisp white paper,

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

Everything neat,

Like a newly made bed.

Walking through the halls as a new person,

Starting fresh.

No scribbles,

No ripped paper,

No feeling that I just can’t work anymore.



I remember the dozens of plates on the table,

The warm glow of the room.

My family’s smiling faces,

A sister I had not seen in so long.

The biting cold that sliced my face,

Whenever a crack of an open window revealed the outside world,

To a warm, cozy fantasy.

We all rejoiced in saying:

“DIG IN!”.

Gobbling down the food brought wonderful tastes to my mouth:

Flavors, shapes, patterns.

All forgotten as I swallowed mouthfuls,

Of wonderful, wonderful food.


I remember the rooftop sunset in front of me.

The final bit of orange sun peeking out from behind the clouds,
A mere speck fighting to restore its power.

The clouds are swallowing the sun.

Mounds of white fluff tease me,

As I long to lounge on them.

Striking orange, yellow, red, and blue,

A vast rainbow of colors stretched across the evening sky.

I was on top of the world,

Staring down at the sunset.




“As I am sitting on the bench I see this familiar man with a white and black dog saying my name.”

“I felt a rain drop wondering if I was crying because I saw him.”



“Yes how are you Sydney I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

“I am good thank you for asking how about you?”

“I am good thank you I wanted to see if you wanted to see Bella again soon in the fall?”

“I said I don’t think , sorry. I have to go, but it was nice talking to you.”

“I saw her. She was shy but said oh Sydney.”

“I was happy she was out of my life, thats why I smiled.”


“I breathe in with it is okay you will get past it.”

“You breathe out with “whatever” in a rude tone.”

“I get excited about the little things.”

“You get excited about nothing, the unimportant things in life.”

“Life is more than that, did you know that?”

“I imagine what life would be without you.”

“Do you imagine life without me… because that would be nice not having to be around you for once.”



A Glowing Smile

I am a writer. I write all my stories in a small room in a 13 story building near the ocean. This room is my home. I share an apartment with other writers. We all live in one room of the apartment. I was lucky to get the nicest room. I have a desk where I do all my writing, a small bookshelf to keep all my books that I have written and a really small kitchen/eating area plus a bed. I love my home. I enjoy my writing time.

Every morning I go out to sit by the ocean in a small cafe called Blue Lavender with outdoor seating surrounded by trees and flowers. I always carry around my notebook for observations. Today I was more excited to go out than ever before. The cafe was holding its 10-year anniversary. They were giving out free samples of all their foods: pieces of cookies, muffins and brownies and they were also offering 60% off all their drinks. As I walked up to the line where one of the staff was giving out the samples, I noticed that he seemed to be very sad. A minute later it was my turn to try a sample. I was the last one in line. Luckily there was one left of each of the different samples–perfect just for me. I took them, thanked the sad man, then went over to the other side of the cafe where I bought myself a large cup of juice.

Years ago, when I was smaller, I asked my dad for a list of all the jobs that were out there for when I got older. I never had any idea what I wanted to be until recently, when I decided to become a writer since no jobs on my dad’s list seemed to make me happy. One night my father told me that I should choose a job that I really wanted, what I am interested in, or what I am good at doing. This has  been a very important lesson to me. I remember his advice for whenever it comes in handy.

As I was walking over to the door leading to the outside seating, I ran into the same sad man that I had taken my samples from. This time I had the to courage to ask him what was wrong. He brought me out to the outside seating area and he led me over to a table on the grass right by the water. The seagulls chirped in the background. I could hear the waves crash up against the land. It was my favorite place (aside from my room) in the whole world and where I like to spend my time. The man stared at me with his melancholic smile. Slowly, he started to talk to me in his unhappy voice.

He said slowly, “ You look like you’re a very smart young writer.” There was a long pause. The only noise was the chirping of seagulls and the crashing of waves. I looked up at the man who had seemed to be staring at me the whole time. His eyes looked angry but at the same time a sweet and innocent look was in them.

He said, “I need your advice,” then he stopped talking again. “ I absolutely don’t like this job at all. The boss seems to take control of me way too much.”

I thought about the first time I met the boss and how I was so impressed by how understanding and sweet he was that I actually went home and wrote a whole story about the kindest boss in the world.

“Well,” I said, “I think he is the nicest boss that I have ever met.”

The sad man looked me with anger. “I want the world to give me another job, a good job that will make me happy and will make me look good. Please give me some advice.”

“The world owes you nothing. The world is not a wish-granting factory,” I said, recalling the lines delivered in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. “I have not the power nor ability to choose your job. You need to do what you wish to do as an occupation that will make you happy. You must follow your heart. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first, said Mark Twain. The world was here first before anyone else. Human life came after, so the world has nothing to give you. You can do the world favors but you can never expect something back. That’s the way it goes, so you can’t say the world owes you a living, because it doesn’t. You can give to it without expecting anything in return just to show you care. You need to work hard to get what you want, you can’t just expect it to happen . In your case, you should not rely on a company to give you a job. You need to work for it and get it on your own.” I did not know how I said that; it was like my dad was inside of me speaking all of his wise advice. Again was a large moment of expected silence.

“ I suppose you are right.” His sad face gleamed in the sunshine making it stand out above everything else. Then he walked away. He walked up to the door leading back inside where he stopped and waited, then he turned back and stared at me, the sad face still shining brightly in the sun.  He suddenly went from sad to happy and soon there was no longer a sad face, harmed and lonely. A smile had spread across his face which seemed to light up the whole world. He waved goodbye and walked in. In less than five seconds he came back outside, made sure that no one was looking, then blew me a kiss, and threw me a paper airplane and then left and I never saw him again. I picked up the airplane from where it landed and stuffed it in my pocket.

Later on, once I was home, I sat down on my bed, took a deep breath and opened the paper airplane. A little red heart came out and floated down onto my bed. I carefully unfolded the paper and read the following:


Dear Writer,

Thank you so much for your advice. I appreciate all your time you put into me. I will take into consideration what you said. Thanks again!

  Yours Truly,

        Bob Williams (staff at Blue Lavender)


I stared at the letter for a few minutes, then put it off to the side.

Three days later letter came for me in the mail. It said Bob Williams at the top. Clueless of how he got my address, I opened the letter.


Dear Writer,

Just to let you know I left my job at the cafe. It was a hard day, but resulted well. Now I am working as a designer for the newspaper. If you have any writing that you wish to publish you may contact me and I can get in touch with the editor easily. Thanks so much for all you have said to help me choose what my heart wants to do and what I really want to be deep, deep, deep down inside.


           Bob Williams

P.S. I will send you a free copy of the newspaper each week.


I walked over to my desk, put the letter on top of my huge pile of papers and smiled a warm, glowing smile. I picked up my pen and began to write.



The End



“I feel the sand sticking to my feet, falling off my skin, the air touching my skin as if someone was blowing on it.”

“The salt water getting in my mouth, spitting up the horrible taste, then eating watermelon, and dripping down my fruit pop.”

“As I get out of the water, I sit down in my chair, closing my eyes as I hear the airplane and the helicopter banners zooming past me. Behind those noises I hear the wave rushing by, and the seagulls caca-ing around me looking for food.”

“I smell the fish that the fishermen are fishing from the ocean, trying pull away, trying to save their lives, but they cannot do so.”

Smudge of Me

Right then and there I wanted to take him by the hair and throttle him full force off that bridge. Wind would dance in his hair before grabbing mine and pulling it to my eyes. Oh the cries he’d gargle out. Oh the shouts I’d exclaim upon him.

“You idiot!” I’d shriek over the bridge’s rim. He’d fall mortified, but only after he’d get in on that last rattling laugh. Those numbers still nestled in his hands. Water upon friend, more like cement upon fire.

I flinched and snapped away those thoughts. The salty air stung and ate its way into my eyes. The moon was already too bright for them. I looked right at him. His blistered fingers wrapped themselves upon a slip of paper blotted with ink. Waves crashed against the bridge’s wavering bodice as my glazed eyes stared at his unnerving smile.

“I did for you pal.” He beamed. His sharp teeth, white like the moon, showed through.

“Bartholomew,” I wheezed, “Why?” My forehead creasing as my head made its way towards the sky, “Why?” Searching for an answer in the stars.

“Frederic, don’t worry, they’ll never find us out. You’ll win it. Just take it. Just follow me.”

But I didn’t. I just ran.

He didn’t even call after me.

Came back home empty handed, but the piano still hadn’t shed its last croak. Playing and playing and playing does the piano go. It all started weeks ago, when the new neighbors came in. Those nimble fingers jammed upon those keys, the sound muffled by the walls. It sounded like the hollering of a hostage with their mouth all crammed up in cloth. I stared at the walls, tickets, worn and new, had densely swarmed and glued their bodies to cold cement walls. All of them a fluorescent yellow already smudged with black. Failed numbers, failed doors, all closed. But their music, oh sweet music, played muffled and choked way in the back.

Found limp in a hotel room, Bartholomew smelled of cigarettes. Hours just before that, witnesses swore they heard gun shots crackle through the air. Even children are told not to pass around those plastic little bags Bartholomew! The piano stopped its playing because of you. Those fiery red cardinals kept singing through. Their voices shrilling high up in the stars, ignoring me and you.

He had already his will played out though. I got the numbers and his favorite ferocious Ferrari. It roared red like blood that stained his carpet.

“I didn’t see her, I swear” I muttered more to myself than near bystanders. A hit and run. The blood was hidden perfectly on the front. That didn’t fool not me, not them, not anyone. Rain started to hit the ground, tap dancing upon the smudge of me that they kept dancing upon. Is it all okay? If the drain just drains me all away?

I got the numbers. The trials next month.

It starts today. I stop in front of the glowing alabaster shop. I look at the numbers, piano keys frolicking in my head. Dancing and dancing do the drops of rain go. I look at the numbers, and back at the red stained sheet that you held so dear that night. I look at the numbers and realize that I won! Millions and millions and millions. The lottery you rigged all for me! For me God dammit, for me! I clasped my eyes shut till they burned. They wanted to rain about the smudge of me, finish off what the you had all started. I crumpled the numbers back in to my pocket. My eyes opened wide just to see them stare right back at me. All locked doors opened, with their music spilling out, drowning out my fears. In the midst of it all I failed to notice the moon, that was already too bright for my closing eyes. I had drowned in music.

This Is Where I Belong, In The Waves

Part 1: The First Wave

“The joy of surfing is so many things combined, from the physical exertion of it, to the challenge of it, to the mental side of the sport”

-Kelly Slater

I grew up in a small town in New Jersey on the beach. So, you can guess, I was gonna grow up to be “Daddy’s little surfer girl”. If you don’t know what I mean, then I will put it in a simpler way, I was going to be a surfer and there was no way of stopping it!

Every weekend was spent with my father watching surfing documentaries.

“The Endless Summer, Step Into Liquid…” my dad could list a whole bunch.


We mostly watched The Endless Summer. I loved it! Seeing the surfers ride these massive waves that towered over them. I was amazed by their courage and hypnotized as a child by how easy everyone made surfing look. The smooth curves of the board and the quick white wash of the wave. It was during those moments, when the white wash surrounded you, that you knew you had just had a great ride.

I started surfing at age three. I was maybe about two feet tall. I would climb onto my dad’s board that was 6 times my size and want to ride the mystifying waves of the great ocean. The first time I could actually surf was in Hawaii, the Big Island. A crowd had gathered on the beach to watch me and my little brother ride the tiny ripples of ocean that seemed like waves to me at the time.

“Yay!!!!” the crowd would yell and clap each time my brother and I reached the beach. My brother and I would have shining eyes and bright smiles as we rode up onto the sand.

“I was super excited, extremely proud and at the same time trying to take video and pictures while ‘enjoying’ the moment. It was great to see other tourists taking pictures of them as well and asking me ‘Are those your kids?’ and me proudly responding ‘Yes they are!!”

-Patricia Demas-Anderson (My mom)

This is what I like to call, “The first of many great waves”. It is the first wave you can remember that gives you the thrill of success, the relief that you made it through and the moment where you jump off your board into the ocean yelling “Yippeeee!!!”


Part 2: The Emotion and Experience

“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun”

-Phil Edwards

With challenge comes fear, joy, courage and many more emotions that lead you to what you do on that wave that makes you think.

“What in the world was I thinking!” but, the greatest part is that there is no turning back because you feel the tipping of the board, you hear the rush of air in your ears, you smell and taste the salty ocean water being washed into your face and you see the exhilaration of speed underneath you and the feeling that comes after makes you forget the doubts and think of what is the next challenge you will take on.

That is what I feel on every wave along with every other surfer out in the water. It’s the ones who throw on a wet suit in the middle of February and paddle in the numbing water until their arms feel like noodles. Those are the surfers who are there to feel the emotion and enjoy the experience.

-Frosty Hesson surfing mavericks

“Winter surfing is when you stop trying to find yourself, and start creating yourself.  The water is cold, dark, and heavy.  The winter swell carries a powerful punch.  The crowd is always thin.  Paddling in to a great winter swell forces you to confront your fears, while in search of your joys, the reward being dignity.  I did this! There is something incredibly powerful, giving in to something bigger than yourself, Mother Nature, and coming closer to what makes you truly happy, as a result.  Surfing might hold the key to happiness.”

-Jeffrey Anderson (My dad)

“How I feel when I’m surfing has changed dramatically over the last few decades. When I was a young man, surfing was straight up fun. It was fun to go surfing with friends in Bay Head, at Jenks and in Mantoloking, it was fun to travel to exotic places like Central America and the South Pacific and it was fun just lounging around with friends on a summer evening talking about how much fun we had had surfing earlier that day.”

-Ty Torres

Each surfer feels a little bit different with each day but, my dad always likes to say,

“One good wave out of ten is much better than a bad day at work!”

No matter what, surfing brings a lot of emotion to most. And even though each way we feel might be a tiny bit different because that comes with each wave, we still all know that surfing is great. It is a trait that was born into our blood that we will never be able to remove, just to enjoy.


Part 3: The Challenge

“If you’re having a bad day, catch a wave”

-Frosty Hesson

With surfing comes troubles and challenges. We all have our falls and wipeouts but, there are other troubles that are on a surfers mind when he/she is out on the water. For one thing, I am constantly thinking about speed. If I had to choose one of the many challenges that comes with surfing, it would be speed.

Speed is very important when it comes to surfing. You need speed to slice through incoming waves to get past the break line. You need speed to pop up on your board so you can steer around other surfers and, actually surf! You can’t surf without being able to pop up and stand with speed underneath your feet. So many times I have had to ride to the beach on my belly of my board because I couldn’t pop up fast up enough.

“The hardest thing about surfing is learning to go, to push yourself over the ledge and just have at it.”

-Ty Torres

Of course other surfers have their own opinions of what is a challenge when it comes to surfing. I agree with many other surfers, there have been so many times where I panicked because I am about to send myself onto this huge wave but, you have to just let go. In order to learn how to surf, there are going to be those moments when you don’t want to ride the next level wave but, it is great if you do that because then, you can learn, and that is a challenge within itself.

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”

-Bodhi / Patrick Swayze

Fear is another huge challenge when you are trying to surf. There is the fear that you might wipeout. There is the fear that you might fail when you try to ride the next wave. And, depending on where you surf, there is the fear, not always present but always lurking, that you could get ripped to shreds by the huge jaws of sharks. When I am surfing I don’t think about these fears. If anything, I think about those fears when I am on the shore. As soon as I run and dive straight into the water, my mind gets cleared.

The last time I went surfing, I was sitting on the middle of my board, dipping my hands into the freezing ocean water. I turned to my dad, and said,

“This is where I belong, in the waves.”


“Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life”

-Matt Warshaw