White is a color that shines like the moon.

White is a color that breaks through the gloom.

White is so pale that it bleaches the dark.

White is the fog and the mist bright and stark.

White is the cotton balls, clouds, and the snow.

White is sharp diamonds and fangs just for show.

White is the truth and white is a lie,

white is the drab and the blank hazy sky.

White is the rough waters only just forming,

but white is the pure note that brings the dove’s mourning.

White could be thicker, and white could be fuller,

but let’s face it, white’s just the absence of color.

The tree I used to dream under was cut down to make room for the extension


There was a jar

filled with Ring Pops

that she would always

pull out for me.

Don’t tell your mother,

or she would kill me,

she laughed.

There was a

stream in the backyard,

and I used to pretend

I was in Bridge to Terabithia,

beside the girl,

dying, of course.

My aunt’s old room

was filled with Beatles posters,

and an elliptical from the 70s.

I never saw my mom’s room.

It’s funny, I said to her,

Your hair didn’t used

to be red.

She would smile that smile.

The house was sold and they

decided to move to

an apartment,

where I slept on

their pullout couch and

ate Fruit Loops.

Don’t tell your mother

she whispered. It’s

our little secret.

She likes to volunteer at every museum and park and organization in the city


The stream

looped around

the yard near the fence,

and I begged her to

put a bridge in so

I could cross it.

What would you be

crossing towards? She

always questioned.

I didn’t bother to answer.

How could you talk to

someone about the infinite,

when they could only ever

see to the fence?

When was she trapped in

a marriage by the time

she was eighteen

to a man she met when

she was fourteen? When

she got an 100 on her math

regents and went to

college, but had to stay

home to be a mom of the

Baby Boomers?

When her children were

raised in a home filled with

loud voices and bruises,

and nights spent crying where

she thought they couldn’t see her.

I used to wish that I would

Grow up to be just like her,

living in a nice house with a

stream out back.

Then I started to see

the paint peeling and

the wood rotting and

the stream drying up.

I used to wish I could be her

But she used to wish

she could be past the fence.

Isolated From Home

Adam stared intently at the engine, trying to find out what was wrong with it. He glanced around the engine room. Machinery and wires stuck out from the cramped walls of the room. He sighed in defeat, realizing that he couldn’t fix it. He heard the sound of something hitting the ship, rushed out of the engine room to a window near the control panel, and saw a planet growing larger. He fiddled with the controls, trying to turn the spaceship around, but nothing happened. The planet continued drawing nearer. The spaceship started speeding up as it entered the planet’s atmosphere.

He was supposed to be analyzing soil samples from other planets, seeing if they were capable of growing plants, but now he could see death drawing closer with every inch the spaceship traveled. Adam felt his heart beat faster and he thought, I wish I could go home and be with my wife and kids.  

He looked out the window and saw the planet looming over him. It was large and grey with no signs of life. The planet’s gravity pushed the spaceship downwards and the force of the impact propelled Adam backwards into a wall and he passed out.

He woke up to a crackling sound. He sat up groggily and looked around for the source of the noise. The face of someone appeared on his radio.  He was wearing a dirty spacesuit without the helmet. He had messy brown hair and had brown eyes staring intently at Adam.

“Hello?” Adam said. “Who are you?”

The person said, “I’m Kevin, my ship crashed on this planet days ago. Who are you?”

“I’m Adam, my ship also crashed here,” Adam replied.

“Where are you?” Kevin asked.

“I have no idea,” Adam responded.

“Do you have any food?”

“I should have some food in the kitchen.”

“That’s good, carry some food and try to reach the mountain,” Kevin instructed.

“How will I know if I’m at the right mountain?” Adam asked.

“It’s surrounded by craters and has a crashed ship next to it. You’ll know what mountain I’m talking about once you see it.”

“Also this planet has breathable air, good luck,” Kevin said sarcastically.

Adam headed towards the kitchen. While walking, he thought, Can I really trust Kevin? He might be tricking me. But Adam didn’t let these thoughts bother him. He opened the fridge and stuffed most of the food in his bag. He slung the bag over his shoulder and walked out of the ship. He scanned the vast empty land and saw a mountain in the distance. He started walking towards it.

“I’m currently walking towards a mountain,” Adam informed him.

“That’s good, continue walking,” Kevin said.

Adam continued towards the mountain looming over him and examined his surroundings. He saw many craters in the distance and a vast grey desert and prepared himself for a long walk.

* * *

Kevin bent over to place the landmines around the mountain. He carefully armed them and covered them with small sheets the color of the planet. He smiled slyly once he finished. He walked into a tunnel he carved into the mountain leading into his lair. He sat down in his chair and glanced at his different monitors. On one was a map of the planet and another showed a desktop with lots of folders containing his plans. Another showed a proximity alarm. He looked at his map and pinpointed Adam’s location using his radio signal.  He smiled, knowing that Adam would fall right into his trap.

* * *

Adam stopped at the edge of a crashed ship. He reached for his radio and said, “Kevin? I found another crashed ship.”

“You did?” Kevin replied, pretending to be surprised.

“Yeah, should I explore it?” Adam asked.

“I think you should, it might have more provisions for us,” Kevin answered.

Adam turned off his radio and entered the ship. He walked down the corridor until meeting a door. Adam tried opening it, but it seemed stuck. Adam ignored it and walked down a different hallway. Adam soon entered the kitchen and checked the fridges and any other food containers. All the food was spoiled or rotten.

The kitchen was connected to the sleeping quarters. Multiple backpacks littered the floor. Adam picked each one up and checked for things he could use. He found multiple glowsticks and a flashlight. Adam stored them in his bag and kept poking around in the room. In the corner of the room was a small portable generator.

He picked it up and asked Kevin, “I found a portable generator, should I keep it?”

“I think you should, it might be useful later on,” Kevin replied.

Adam picked up a backpack on the floor and stuffed the generator inside. He slung the backpack strap over his shoulder and walked down another corridor.

* * *

Kevin sat impatiently in his seat, anxiously waiting for Adam to arrive. He got up and paced around the room. He picked up his radio and spoke into it. “Adam? Are you ready to keep traveling?”

“Not yet,” Adam replied. “Still have a few more rooms to check out.”

“That’s good, but you need to get here quickly.”

Adam questioned that, “But why do I need to get there quic — ?

Kevin turned off his radio and sighed. If only I weren’t stuck on this wretched planet… and it’s all NASA’s fault, sending me to here, Keven thought. Kevin loathed NASA. They sent him to that planet and didn’t care about what happened to him.

* * *

Why would he want me to arrive at the mountain so quickly? Adam thought. A flicker of doubt crossed his face. He walked out of the ship and glanced around ahead of him. A giant crater stood in front of him blocking the way to the mountain. Should I walk around or across it? Adam pondered. He decided to walk across to save more time. He slowly slid down the walls of the crater. When he reached the bottom, he stared ahead of him looking at how much distance he had to cover. He turned on his radio and tried to call Kevin. He didn’t respond. Adam tried again and this time Kevin responded.

“What do you want?”  Kevin asked.

“I just want to talk,” Adam answered while still walking to the other side of the crater.

“Sure what do you want to talk about?” Kevin asked.

“Why did you want me to arrive at the mountain so quickly?” Adam pressed.

“I…uh…wanted you to arrive as quickly as possible, so we can…escape from this planet together,” Kevin lied.

Adam detected Kevin’s lie, but decided not to question Kevin. “Okay, I’m almost there I just need to cross this crater.”

“That’s good, keep walking,” Kevin said.

Adam turned off his radio and thought, What is Kevin up to? Maybe it’s just a trap to use my resources. Adam shook his head in disbelief. Adam looked up not realizing he was at the edge of the crater. He grabbed the rim and hauled himself over the top. He stared at the mountain looming over him, casting a shadow over him. Adam took a step forward and tripped on a rock. He picked up the rock and threw it forward. It landed on a bumpy spot on the land and Adam heard beeping. Instinctively, he dove into the crater. Soon after the beeping was the sound of a deafening explosion.

* * *

Kevin heard the explosion and rushed out of the tunnel. He ran toward the sound and was blinded by a cloud of smoke. When the smoke cleared, he looked around. Seeing no trace of Adam, he grinned. Satisfied, he strutted back into the mountain without bothering to look for a body. He walked into a room and picked up a chisel. He carved a mark among the 13 other marks.

“14 times astronauts have landed on this barren planet and 14 times I have outsmarted them and tricked them,” Kevin muttered to himself, “Soon, NASA will see how brilliant I am and will beg for mercy.” Kevin nodded in agreement to his own plan and walked into his planning room. He readied his laser preparing to shoot down another ship scheduled to pass by.

* * *

Adam crouched below the rim of the crater. He peeked above it and saw that nobody was there. He took off his backpack and lay it on the ground. He circled the perimeter of the mountain until finding the entrance. It was a simple metal door with no locks. He peeked over the corner of the door and entered slowly. He crept into an empty room with a chisel on the floor and marks carved into the wall. The emptiness of the room made a chill run down Adam’s back. He peered over the corner to see Kevin ranting to himself.

“Then I will go back to Earth and blow up NASA,” Kevin ranted. “After that, I will blow up all other astronaut programs!”

Adam gasped silently in astonishment, and continued to explore the mountain. He came to a room with a giant laser. The room had a retractable roof and was basically empty. He gazed at the circuitry protruding from the machine. He looked at a control panel and pressed the off button. All lights on the machine blinked off. Adam sighed in relief and heard footsteps coming in his direction. He looked around and saw no hiding place so he ran outside and hoped for the best. Behind him Kevin chased him with rage. He ran after Adam while screaming a string of insults.


Adam ignored these insults and noticed that Kevin hadn’t bothered to fix his laser. He hoped he could survive long enough to escape. Adam ran back inside the mountain and hid behind a large shelf. He held his breath as Kevin walked by seething with rage.

Adam then heard a loud noise that sounded like something large was landing. He heard the sounds of Kevin heading towards the exit. Adam stepped out of his hiding place and went to see what was happening. Adam slowly crept towards the entrance, hearing gunshots. He ran outside and saw Kevin shooting another ship that had just landed.

Adam snuck up behind Kevin and tackled him. Adam kicked the gun away from Kevin’s reach. Kevin lunged for the gun, picked it up and shot Adam. Before Adam could react the bullet pierced his flesh. My life is at stake, I’m fighting a maniac on a distant planet…What do I have to lose? Adam thought as he felt a throbbing pain in his shoulder.

He pushed away the pain and hurled himself at Kevin. Kevin dropped his weapon and fell to the ground. Adam picked up the gun and pitched the gun onto a landmine. The landmine exploded and created another large crater. Adam stumbled. He realized he had been running on adrenaline the whole time. Kevin stood nearby with a murderous look in his eye. Adam slowly walked toward Kevin while gripping his injured shoulder.

The hatch on the landed ship opened and a group of people stepped out. One of them handed Adam a bandage which he wrapped his shoulder with.

“Kevin, we need to talk,” Adam said.

“Why would I listen to you?” Kevin responded.

“Why are you doing this?” Adam asked.

“Because… ” Kevin sighed, “NASA left me here. When I crashed they never responded for a whole year, they abandoned me on this planet. When a rescue team came finally I shot them down with my laser that I created out of parts from my ship.”

The group of astronauts tapped Adam on the shoulder and said, “We’re your rescue team. When we heard that you crashed, we came here as soon as we could. We’re here to take you back to Earth.”

Adam said to the group of astronauts, “We need to secure him, he’s dangerous.” Adam, and the other astronauts, surrounded Kevin while he kicked and punched him. Eventually they held him down and bound his limbs.

Kevin sneered at the group, “What are you going to with me?”

Adam replied, “We’re taking you to where you belong. Prison.” Adam and the other astronauts, dragged Kevin, as he thrashed around in his bindings, onto the spaceship, where he was locked in a room. Kevin pounded on the door, “LET ME GO! I DEMAND IT!” Everyone ignored him and went to their stations while the captain stayed with Adam.

“What are we going to do with him?” the captain asked.

“I think we should confront him to gain more information,” Adam replied. The captain nodded and they unlocked the door. They opened it and Kevin turned towards them.

“Have you finally come to let me free?” Kevin asked with a murderous tone in his voice.

“We’re here to ask you some questions,” Adam replied. “Why did you shoot the first rescue ship after it came to get you?”

“It’s because NASA left me on that planet for a whole entire year. Leaving me to live off the little provisions I had with me,” Kevin answered, “But I managed to survive. NASA had lots of budget cuts and decided it would cost too much to organize a rescue mission, so they left me there to die.”

“That isn’t true,” the captain said, “NASA was trying to locate where you crashed, so they could send a rescue team.”

“Really? Is that true?” Kevin said softly.

“It’s true,” the captain replied. Then Adam and the captain left the room.

* * *

As the door slowly closed, Kevin felt a sense of dread cross his face. How could I have done this? Make false assumptions and kill 13 people because of it. If only I could turn back time. Kevin planted his face into his palms and felt tears flow down his cheek.

* * *

The captain asked Adam questions about his adventure then let Adam rest. After two weeks, they finally arrived back on Earth. Adam dragged Kevin out of the ship and gave him to the authorities. Then Adam and the rescue team was called to the head of NASA’s office. It was a big room with a wall covered in awards and medals. On another wall sat a big bookshelf filled with binders, folders, and books. At the middle of the room sat a desk with the head sitting there.

“Thanks to your bravery, you managed to rescue Adam,” the head said to the rescue team.

He turned to Adam. “Thanks to you, our astronauts will be able to travel safely across space.”

Adam received praise from the rescue team and he smiled in accomplishment and then went to visit Kevin.  Kevin was locked up in a tiny grey holding cell. There were no windows and a single light bulb hung on a wire on the ceiling. There was a stone slab with a pillow and mattress in the corner of the cell.  

Kevin was shaking the bars of his holding cell. As soon as he saw Adam he stopped. “Have you come to gloat, Adam?”

“I’m just here to check on you,” Adam replied calmly.

“Oh, you know, I’m in prison ready to be executed, so I’m totally fine,” Kevin said sarcastically.

“Executed?” Adam questioned.

“I killed 13 astronauts, so yeah…” Kevin said.

“I’m sorry Kevin, it didn’t have to end this way,” Adam said.

Adam started to walk towards the door, but Kevin shouted to Adam, “Wait!” Adam turned to look towards Kevin. “I just want to say that I’m sorry too. My anger got the best of me.”

Adam walked to the doorway then stopped. He turned towards Kevin, gave him a sad smile and nodded in understanding.

* * *

Kevin watched Adam slowly close the door.  Light from the outside slowly faded away until all the remaining light there was, came from the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Kevin collapsed on the ground. “I’m sorry Adam, I’m sorry NASA, I’m sorry everyone I killed…” Kevin whispered to himself. Then he closed his eyes and started to cry.


I used to have a life, I promise. But since last winter it’s just turned into giant loads of crap. The detectives and police who still come by to our house to give us false hope, the hundreds of empty, meaningless Facebook posts about how Graham was a beautiful person with a beautiful soul. Ugh, it makes me want to barf. The worst part is Mom and Dad. After Graham disappeared, it was like they transformed into grey, half-versions of themselves. Like the ghosts of who they used to be, floating from room to room stuffed with memories of their son. I can’t blame them though, I guess I’ve become a ghost too.

Me and Graham weren’t ever like normal brothers. He was my friend. My best friend right before Donald and Mindy. I remember so many little things I had always taken for granted. His smile, too wide and too friendly. His jokes and his lumpy pancakes that he would fry and stack with cascading butter, golden and warm, fresh, tart jam melting into rich syrup. His stupid obsession with the cat videos on the internet and his bubbling enthusiasm that could drown you if you weren’t careful. All of it is gone.

And I keep clinging. Clinging clinging clinging. To the fact that they haven’t found a body. To Graham’s messy, empty room. To Donald and Mindy – excuse me, Elle – even though ever since that night we’ve been drifting farther and farther away. To the past. My walls have transformed into maps, newspaper clippings, photos. Because Graham’s gone – with all the hope we had that we would find him. But I can’t give up. Not for some BS noble reason, just because I have to find him. He’s my baby brother. I – I can’t give up.

These words, these thoughts, flow and fly through my frazzled mind. I’ve stopped eating, stopped sleeping, stopped caring about anything else.  My shirts hang loosely around my frame and my eyes are perpetually lined with black and purple rings. My grades plummeted. I’ll probably fail my sophomore year. The only thing I haven’t given up on is the basketball team, and only because Coach Bennett refused to let me “choke on my sappy stupidity.” It was his way of trying to do what everyone else was trying to do – put my pieces back together. I can still win games with ease, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. My heart isn’t in anything anymore. And it’s all because of that night.

He shouldn’t have been there – he was only in eighth grade. But he’s always been tall and who knows who would’ve mistaken him for another freshman, I should have realized that. Idiot, idiot, idiot. It was just supposed to be me, Donald, and Mindy. It was our first party, our first real party. It had all the stereotypes: drunk kids making out in the coat closet, the smell of chips and cigarette smoke wafting into the air, and the bits of weed sophomores bullied us into trying. Man, I got wasted, so wasted – I had never smoked anything before – and everything just blurred together. Mindy, in her grey cardigan looking out of place and alone. Candy Evans kissing Donald while the guys wolf-whistled, and the girls whispered in amusement. And Donald, who disappeared shortly after with a plastered smile and something strange brewing in his eyes.

God, it hurts to remember.

I didn’t even know Graham was there until Mindy ran up to me and told me.

“Felix, what the hell? Did you know Graham’s here?”

I should have taken him home then, I should’ve, I should’ve. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to drag his sorry butt back to Mom and Dad and land myself in trouble. So, I told him he could stay as long as he didn’t drink anything and wouldn’t let a peep slip out about that night. Stupid, stupid, stupid. It went on for what seemed like forever. Drinking, dancing, and laughing — until I woke up the next morning on a stranger’s tan, smoky couch. And Graham was gone. I scoured the whole house looking for him, the backyard, the attic, everything. My emotions ran from confused, to annoyed, to worried, to panicked, to… gone. That’s when I spilled to my parents, who called the cops, and plastered posters with Graham’s face on the sides of milk cartons and on the faded bulletin board in the community center. A year later, and those posters have browned. Their corners curl up in tired wrinkles — like they know we should be giving up.

I can barely look Mom and Dad in the eye anymore. They never blamed me, or stopped caring about me; but I think they know, deep down, that it was my fault. If it weren’t for me, Graham would still be humming some light-hearted tune in the room two doors down. And I wake up choking on my hot, bubbling shame. It’s always there to rip me out of any peaceful dreams. It’s the cocktail of my life. And I down it everyday.

Donald and Mindy stopped hanging out with me. We weren’t bound together anymore. They found new friends, and I found solace in the soft, navy sheets from Graham’s bedroom, that still felt like him.  

Graham. I miss him. I miss him, I miss him. I miss him so damn much.

Because, honestly, life without him isn’t worth a cent.



It starts small

a thin line



maybe it wouldn’t count but

it gets big enough to count

for seven whole years

of bad luck

i wish i couldn’t see it

i wish i could forget about it

maybe if i focus on the

very top of the line

maybe then i won’t notice

the sun-shaped spiral

the spiral that’s

symmetric but lopsided

the spiral that makes me want

to crack my mirror on the wall

on its right side too

so that its even

but no one’s ever said anything

about cracking a mirror twice

maybe the bad luck would

cancel out but maybe

it would double and

i can’t risk it

my mirror on the wall would be beautiful

if it wasn’t recently repainted

in cracks liked it when my mirror on the wall

was untouched and smooth and even

my mirror on the wall

was flawless and i didn’t have to worry about it

but then it fell and

my mirror on the wall became

as shattered as me and

maybe my mirror on the wall is beautiful

after all, beauty and horror go hand in hand

opposites attract

that’s what they say

but they also say i’m crazy

why else would i

refuse to walk under a ladder?

i don’t know-safety, maybe?

i’m not scared for my safety

i just

can’t risk it

they say my throwing salt

is making the floor dirty

not blinding the devil

but i throw it anyway because

i can’t risk it

they call me superstitious

they use the word

in the same way New Yorkers say schizophrenia

then they turn around

and search for a four-leaf clover

they call me crazy

bend down

and pick up that lucky penny

they laugh in my face

then knock on wood

as they said something was going well

i guess they can’t risk it

i don’t call them hypocrites

that’s bad karma and

i can’t risk it

my mother took me

too see a doctor

he said that i might have OCD

and recommended Fluvoxamine

i wanted to recommend that he jump off a cliff

but that’s bad karma

and i can’t risk it

besides i’m not really sure

how to take medicine

in a safe way so

i can’t risk it because

the crack in my mirror on the wall

matches the crack in me

it starts small

but it ends big


Cross-Country Menace

One Week Before Tryouts

Jessica and I were talking and laughing on our way home from school when I decided to tell her my news.

“Hey, have you heard about the cross-country team tryouts? This is my only chance to prove to Coach that I’m capable of running. Every time I try out for cross country, I always end up in the Junior team, which really sucks. But not this time. I’m going to show him that I care and very determined to be on the Senior team. That means I gotta start training!”

Jessica instantly replied, “Good luck with that, I’m gonna be at the finish line cheering you on.”

We had a moment of silence, until Jessica said, “I can’t wait till next week!”  

And I knew why. The world’s soccer playoffs were next week, and Jessica was CRAZY about soccer. But that was the least of my worries. I was very nervous for the cross country tryouts, and I meant what I said, I really had to start training.

That was what I had been waiting for, for the last three years. I was determined to fulfill my dream and my mom’s, who had sadly passed away last year when I was only 11 years old. She was a champion runner. One day, possibly next week, I’ll be the champion runner on this team, and carry her legacy. I hope all of my training helps me win my way up to success.

I was always an under-confident girl, but there’s this one quote which my mom used to say, which always helped me, “No pain, no gain.” Every single day when we gathered around the dining table before we ate dinner, we had a tradition where we prayed before we ate. And everyone around the table picked whatever they wanted to say, mostly famous quotes that help your way up to success. Now, with only my dad and brothers, we just silently eat at the table and we don’t pray. Without Mom, my whole family just seems like complete strangers to me.


The Day It all Depends On


I knew this day would come eventually, and I was prepared. I was walking out my driveway, waiting for the school bus to come. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Jessica. She was in her front yard, probably also waiting for the bus. She was dribbling a soccer ball and doing all funky and really cool moves. She mastered a move called the “Ronaldo Chops,” invented by Ronaldo the Great, a.k.a Cristiano Ronaldo. I ran over to her.

“Hey Jess, are you ready to cheer me on today? I’ve been waiting for this day for nearly a month now,” I asked.

Her expression changed from really excited to not so excited. “Yeah, I can’t wait!” she sarcastically exclaimed. I knew something was up with her, but I wasn’t going to let that bother me, at least not for now.

In every class I seemed to pay less attention. I was really nervous, but also very excited. I was confident I would make the Senior team. Every day I jogged for at least half an hour or more with my dog. I also took dance, which helps on flexibility. If you have flexibility, you tend to run faster and you don’t get sore muscles easily. At the last period, the bell rang so loud, I was literally knocked off my chair. It was time.

Half an hour later, we were all were spread out across the starting line. I took a quick glimpse around to see who I was racing against, and I saw a familiar face.

It was Jessica!

I couldn’t believe my eyes! I knew something was up with Jessica, but I didn’t know it was trying out for the cross country team! She looked down at the ground as if she were trying to avoid me.

There wasn’t enough time for me to go to her and ask her what she was doing here. But now it looked pretty clear to me. The coach had blown the whistle to gather our attention. It was time for the real deal. I clenched my fists.

“Alright runners, today you will be running two miles. This is going to be timed, and your time determines if you are going to get on the team or not. At the count of three, you guys start running. Get ready! One… two… THREE!” yelled the coach.

I ran fast as soon as I heard his loud voice on three. I didn’t bother running to Jessica, because I knew that if I talked, I would’ve grown tired. I was running, keeping a pretty fast pace. Along the way, I saw people kicking a ball, which had to be soccer tryouts.

Then I began to think, Jessica knew all this time that she was trying out for cross country, then why didn’t she tell me? After I saw the one-mile sign covered with many bushes and plants in the forest trail, I looked back to see who was catching up to me which I know you should never do when you are racing.

I wasn’t looking ahead, and my leg got stuck in a bush. I tried to to jiggle it out, but instead a thorn pushed against my skin, and my leg started bleeding. I kneeled down, trying to pull out the thorn from my leg. I watched as people ran by including Jessica, leaving me behind in the dust. She gave me a nasty look. I didn’t bother, I had a much bigger problem to deal with. I took a leaf and some sap off a tree, and tried to pull the thorn out, and it worked! I figured that the sap would have a good grip on the thorn, since it’s sticky. Who knew that paying attention in my biology class actually helped in real life. Thank you so much, Mrs. Barnett, our biology teacher, I thought to myself.

I stood up, and this time I was fully determined to win and continue my mom’s legacy. This meant everything to me. Nothing mattered more to me now. Just winning. This is the moment where I show myself what I was cut out for. Being a true winner and fulfilling my mom’s dream, or betray my trust and my mom’s trust. This all added up to everything. All that training and time that I spent on cross-country. I started crying inside my head, this was the hardest part of becoming a champion, showing that you were a champion, and it was totally worth it.

You can do this Amber, you can do this, I kept repeating in my head. I whizzed past many people, including Jessica. She didn’t expect me to pass her, kind of like the story of the tortoise and the hare. I came across the 1.75 mile sign. 0.25 more miles left, I thought, and the torture would soon be over. My legs were getting tired and I started breathing heavily, but continued to run. I could see the finish line from here. I felt a wind pass by, and realized it was Jessica. Typical Jessica, trying to beat me and come first in the race, but I caught up to her. Then, I realized that Jessica and I were the only two who were in front of all the runners.

Great, I have to be competing against my best friend. Thank you so much, God, I thought. We were side by side, neither of us seemed to be getting ahead of each other and we stayed exactly at the same pace. I could hear Jessica’s loud, and hard breaths. Suddenly, I felt a grip on my back, lost my balance, and fell on the ground. Luckily, there was just dry mud which looked a lot like sand. I saw Jessica smirking and eying me. Right there, I realized that she pushed me, so she can beat me and come first. Then, and right there, I saw my destiny, for now.

My mind couldn’t think anymore. All I was focused on was reaching the finish line. I got up and sped across the finish line, passing Jessica. At that same moment I thought that this was the best moment of my life. I would never get that moment back, but I would always remember it.

I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish line and heard the coach say, “Whoa, Amber, you really did it this time. I’m really impressed with you for coming in first place this year. You really worked hard to get on top, and I have a feeling you’re going to be my best runner. Keep up the  great work.”

Jessica passed the finish line, and glared at me. I saw her grab her water bottle. She took a few sips and came to me. There was a sad and guilty look on her face. I stood there, frozen in happiness but puzzled at the same time.

“I’m really sorry about everything. I’ve been a really bad friend lately. I’ve been meaning to tell you this and it was really hard to try to hide it from you. I’ve been training to get in the cross-country team for a long time now, and finally prove to my mom that I’m capable of being responsible and dedicated. My mom always looks up to you and she really likes you, which I totally understand. It’s just that my mom thinks that I’m not capable of handling anything and she thinks I never devote myself to do anything. But I didn’t want to tell you because I know that this is really important to you and you’re doing this to make your family proud, especially your mom.”  Her eyes looked like they were made of glass. “And now, I’m positively sure that once they found out you came in first, they will definitely be proud. So, I’m really sorry. I was being a really unsupportive, terrible friend, and I hope you could forgive me.”

There were a million questions I had to ask: “First of all, why didn’t you try out for the soccer tryouts, when you told me you were going to? You have a real talent in soccer. You know that, don’t you?”

Jessica blushed a bit. “You might think that, but it’s the total opposite. Plus I never really had a passion for soccer. I hated it last year, and the kids used to tease me and make fun of my fails at attempting the moves and skills. I wanted to try to do something new, but I never meant for us both to compete.”

I stared at the ground for a few minutes. I was so still it looked like I was a statue. I had to think this through carefully, because I knew this was an important life decision that could affect me in my future.

“I know the pressure sometimes that parents put on you and even me, and I know you weren’t truly trying to hurt me. I know that in life you will never have the perfect friend but you having a really different personality makes you my friend. So I forgive you, and I really think you deserve to have a second chance. Honestly, everyone makes mistakes. Remember the time when I accidentally set your hair on fire?”

There was a moment of laughter, when I heard the voices of my brothers, my dad, and my dog barking. My dad looked happy for the first time since my mom died.

“You made all of us proud, Amber, even your mom. She would’ve been really happy to see you standing proud,” dad said happily. My dog barked as if agreeing to my dad’s statement. I was filled with joy. Jessica nodded in agreement.

My younger brother said, “How about we go to our favorite ice cream place, we haven’t been there since mom…. “ his voice trailed off. Everyone had a sad look on their face. But I wanted to end this once and for all.

“All we’ve been doing since mom died is just crying and weeping, but it’s time for us to change that. I say we to go to the ice cream place and celebrate. I’ll pay for all of you guys.”

“No Amber, this one’s on me. I think we both know that I owe you BIG time,” Jessica uttered. We both looked at each other with deep meaning.

“No,” my dad suddenly said, surprising us. “It’s on me. You deserve it.” He gave me a meaningful look, and I knew that he was talking about more than ice cream.

“We all do,” I said.

This was just one of my many problems I will face in my life, but my mom’s quote will always stay with me and encourage me to stay confident and believe in myself in whatever I do: “Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s only when you accept everything you are, then you will truly succeed.”  

I took Jessica’s arm as we were leaving the school. The sun was setting, the trees were swaying, and I realized we were the last ones there.

“Come on,” I said to everybody, “let’s go.”


THE END.                                       

Bloody Sunday

She mistakes blood for love,

which is why each time

his hands ache from

the punches or

her stomach is

smeared red,

her eyes gloss over


This, she thinks,

is what her mother meant

by “an endless honeymoon.”


She mistakes blood for love,

which is why when she looks

at her bony knees,

scabbed and dyed purple,

she smiles.

Her hands trace the

coarse surface,

each bump a love letter

typed in bangs and cracks.

This, she thinks,

is what her mother meant

by “modern romance.”


She mistakes blood for love,

which is why when he

comes home at 12:27 a.m.

on valentine’s day,

drunk on cheap liquor

and stale cigarettes,

she glows.

“Would you turn that down?”

he says,

“it’s too damn bright.”

She’s confused.

She thought he liked it

when her open wounds

glistened in the moonlight.


She mistakes blood for love,

which is why when he

approaches her,

eyes shaded a darker blue,

she does not cower.

His fingers wrap

around her neck.

This necklace is

the present no one

asked for.

A bouquet of

violet irises

and pale blue bellflowers

sprout from her throat.


He lets go.

So does she.



he says to

her limp body

now glowing a different way,

“A little color to remind you

of my arrow.”