Learning to Respect

When I was eleven and younger, my mom and dad were always the “parents” in my life. They were always telling me what to do and frustrating me. So, when I decided it was time for me to become a young lady, I wanted respect from my parents, as well as my siblings. Soon, I realized that I needed to respect my parents first, or they would not respect me; because, as the golden rule stated, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In time, my parents would become more like best friends than  “annoying parents.”

For a couple months, I had been watching my family interact with each other, and I realized that we hadn’t been respecting each other like we should. For example, when I visited my relatives in December, my aunts, uncles, and grandparents all had great respect for each other because if they did not respect each other, their relationship would not be strong, and they might not see their loved ones very often. So first, if I wanted to start respecting my parents and siblings, I needed to learn what respect really was.

So, what is respect? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, respect means to “express high or special regard.” But, I believe that respect is treating a sibling or parent how you would treat a friend: comfortably, but giving them personal space, physically and mentally. Now that I knew what respecting was, I needed to put my respecting attitude in action. So, I told my parents about it one morning and asked them to try to respect me too; they agreed. That day went pretty well, until I disagreed with my mom about something, and I did what had been my habit for my whole life: grumble a bit and run off. So, my mom treated me like she usually would, by approaching me and telling me that I had to get back to school. But, I refused and went to my favorite thinking place, our tree house in our backyard.

After climbing into the treehouse, I thought hard, in the fresh air, about what my parents did when they did not agree with my aunt, my uncle, or grandparents: they talked about it in an orderly fashion, tried not to talk for too long when it was their turn to talk, kept the discussion at a mature level, and talked calmly about the issue. So, I ran back inside and talked the issue out with my mom. Now, respecting others was not always easy-peasy; in fact, it was hard, always thinking about others and your actions. But, if you want to have good relationships, then you need to respect the other people in those relationships. If you are having trouble respecting others, think about how you felt when someone did not respect you and your feelings.

This event matured me greatly, and it prepared me for when I go away from home and need to form strong relationships with people. So, to respect your parents is to obey them because they have lived longer than you and know much more than you. If you disagree with your parents, you need to talk to them about what is upsetting you in a mature manner. Respecting people is essential for any type of relationship, even a relationship with a young child, or your own child.


Don’t Kids and Teachers Need a Break to Function?

Recess is as important as education. Recess isn’t only good for your health, but it’s also good for your mood. When you wake up in the morning, you usually think about school, but that shouldn’t be the case, should it? You should be thinking about free time and education.

Part of the reason why kids don’t like school is because there is not enough recess. Recess should be extended. School should be 50% learning and 50% recess because free time is as important as learning. When I interviewed other students, Isabella G. from Booker T Washington School said, “I believe that kids should have longer recess because it gives kids the chance to have fun. In addition, when kids come to school they are normally tired and feel as if they are going to fall asleep, but when they get to recess, it invigorates them.” Recess puts people in happy moods, which is important. It helps a student learn, because without recess, your brain can’t function and you can’t focus on working.  

Extended recess will make students focus more during class time. Anne L., who is close to my age, said, “Recess means exercise, and exercise means clear thinking and more concentration. Exercise is like a vent for your patience and concentration during class.” I think that this is important because when you’re at recess, you need exercise or else it’s not healthy. If it’s not healthy, it defeats the purpose of recess. This is also very good for people who are a little bit overweight so that they can get their exercise at recess. Also, not only do students need breaks, but teachers need breaks as well so that they can teach better, and so that they are happier when they teach.

I think that teachers need breaks because they also get grumpy and tired. Also, even when we do have recess, most teachers just spend time planning the next lesson. Not only should kids be complaining, but teachers should be too. Some schools don’t even have recess. Issent that… I don’t know how to explain it. How do kids function? It’s mind boggling that schools would do that. There are too many reasons why recess should not only be an option, but also extended to some schools. But, I strongly think that it should be a law that there is, at the very least, two hours of recess.

From now on, I hope that after people read this, they will take it in, and think about what I’m saying, and really think about what would happen with longer free time.    


The Golden Book

All I knew was that it was a job and that I was looking for a job.  

When I saw the ad in the newspaper, all it said was: “Tutor needed for the son of Mr. and Mrs Ordake.” They were paying a lot of money. Well, I was a teacher, so I applied for the job and somehow got it!

So the next day, I caught the bus uptown. I arrived in the fanciest neighborhood I had ever seen; even the squirrels had bushier tails and walked like they owned the world. I even thought I saw one with a necklace. I followed the directions, from the letter they sent, and walked the few blocks to get there. Number 23 was just as big and grand as the other houses on the block, trim and elegant. I nervously walked up to the door, picked up the stone knocker, and tentatively tapped it against the tall, oak door. No one answered. I knocked again, this time louder, then a little louder. Finally, I heard footsteps. Smoothly, the door opened, and a man in a dark suit stood in the doorway.

“Are you the new tutor?” he asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“This way.” He gestured me inside.

I walked in. I tried not to stare at the crystal chandelier and the plush red carpet. I knew they were rich, but this was unbelievable. The man led me up five flights of stairs and into a small room with a bed and a desk.

“This is where you will sleep. You can put your bag in here.”

I did so and followed him, down three more floors, into a humongous room strewn with toys and video games, and shelves filled with more toys and games, and on one wall, a gigantic T.V. with millions of remotes and DVDs. And there, lying on the bed, was a skinny little boy with mousy brown hair and dull green eyes.

“Give me cake now!” he ordered.

“And this,” said the man, “is your pupil, Allen.”

Later, I learned that his mother and father were always too busy with their work to pay any attention to him. Mrs. Ordake was an extremely successful businesswoman, and Mr. Ordake was a famous actor. I’m not saying they were bad people; it’s just, if they had paid more attention to their son, he might have not been, well, such a brat. Allen was very spoiled; his parents gave him ridiculously high amounts of money and hired servants that would do whatever he wanted. But, since his parents neglected him so much, I was sure he was a poor, misunderstood child.

“So, how far have you gotten in math?” I asked Allen the next day.

“None of your beeswax,” he muttered.

“Yes it is. I am your teacher.”


“So, you need to learn, and I need to teach you.”


“Please, stop saying ‘so’!”

“You’re saying it too.”

“No, I’m not.”

And that is how it went, over and over again. It was very, very exasperating. I missed my grandmother. I took out her last gift to me, her (now my) book. When my entire family perished in a bizarre accident, my grandmother passed the book on to me. I was alone in the world now, with no money–that’s why I had to take this blasted job. The moment before she died, in the hospital, she told me to be careful and heed any warnings the book said. The book’s cover was made out of solid gold. There were two pages torn out in the very beginning. I could have sold the gold and gotten out of there. Instead, I had opened the book. Inside the front cover, there was a short message:

Be careful what you write, for it will become your reality.

That’s strange, I thought, but I didn’t really worry about it. It was probably just a quote. I placed the book on my bed and hurried downstairs to supper. I was down there longer than usual because Allen would not eat anything, except for candy, and when I asked him to please, eat some real food, he stormed upstairs. After I finished my meal, I went up after him. He was in his room writing! I couldn’t believe it! After all these weeks, he was finally putting pen to paper and forming words; it was a miracle! Allen looked thoroughly absorbed in his work, so I left the room, not wanting to disturb him.

The next morning looked to be a promising one. The sun was bright, and there were just enough clouds in the sky. Allen did not whine once during breakfast. After breakfast, for once he seemed eager to start his lessons. In fact, he asked if it was okay if he worked on his writing. It was amazing. He was abnormally focused.

“Can I see what you are writing?” I asked.

“No,” Allen said.

“Why not?”


“Because what?”

“Because, I don’t have to.”

“It seems to me that you don’t want to show me it. So, why don’t you want to?”

“Well, why should I?”

“So I can help you.”

“I don’t need help.”

I sighed; this kid was very stubborn. I glanced at the book he was writing in; the cover was solid gold.

“Allen,” I said, “where did you get that book?”

“I found it.”


“Why should I tell you?”

“Because that is my book, and you need to give it back right now!”

I stood up and extended my hand. Instead of giving it to me, he took off, running down the corridor. He was faster than me, so he beat me to the door and ran outside.

“It’s too late!” he yelled. “When I am done, you will never order me around again!”

This did not sound good. I wanted to run after him, but he was already too far away. I searched for the rest of the afternoon. Then I told Allen’s parents, (they hadn’t even noticed) who then called the police. I think they felt guilty. But, who could be sure? They never said anything to me, so I stayed at their mansion without their knowledge. After a week went by, without news of Allen, I started to look for him again. I needed to stop him, and I needed the book back. I didn’t know what it did, but I knew it had fallen into the wrong hands. I searched for about a week. I read the newspaper every day, trying to find news of him. Eight days after Allen ran off, it was reported that leaders from all over the world started to go missing. I never thought Allen would be behind it.

One night, when the air was particularly crisp, I came back to my room to find the door open. Through the door, I could see the window also wide open, with the curtains blowing in an unmistakably creepy way. I rushed inside. I have heard that the simplest mistakes are the worst ones, and I definitely saw that. The person who had opened the window was still in the room. I had fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Allen was behind the door. I turned around to face him. He was holding the golden book, my golden book.

“Allen,” I said with all the calmness I could muster, “what are you doing here?”    

“You’re the only one who can stop me. For this, you will die. My parents never noticed me; I spent my whole childhood trying to get their attention. But this, ruling the world, will get their attention.”

As he went on and on, about what he would do once he ruled the world, I started to think. There was no way to stop him, unless the ripped out pages. . . I wondered . . . suddenly I understood how it all happened. I had seen Allen writing in the book. What if what he wrote somehow came true? Or, maybe the book had taken over his mind. Back to the ripped pages, if I could somehow tear the pages out, maybe… maybe everything would go back to normal. But, how would I get the book out of Allen’s hands? I decided to go with instinct. While he was distracted, (yes he was still talking) I lunged at the book. I grabbed and, as quickly as I could, opened the book and ripped out the pages. The world was spinning round and round; it was over.


The next week (after I had guilted Allen’s parents into paying more attention to him):

“So, Allen where have you gotten so far in math?”

“Not so far.”

“Okay, let me help you with that then.”




Green Grass



The elk stood together. The forest around them was covered in a thick blanket of snow. One doe stood away from the rest of the herd. Her coat was wet from the snow collecting on her back. The breath of the elk gave the area the illusion of smoke rising. The crack of a branch sent all ears facing the old oak that had given up one of its limbs. Its branch lay. The oldest doe turned her head and walked out towards the river.

The rest of the herd followed the eldest does, then their fawns, then the young bulls. Most of the elk were starved, only the fawns of the matriarchs had full stomachs. The elk trudged through the three foot snow banks. The elk were two miles from the river. At the river, the snow was not as deep, and the herd could easily get to the grass that laid in waiting. For thirty minutes, the elk moved in the powder snow, moving their heads at the smallest sound of a bird singing or a chipmunk running up the tree.

When the herd had finally reached the river, they rushed to the bank, drinking. The cold  wind blew across the water, creating ripples that splashed the thirsty, till they could no more. Most of the elk had slipped away, into the dense brush surrounding the river bank. Three of the herd members stood, watching over the thicket that the group laid in. It was late November, and many packs of wolves were prowling the area to feed pregnant females.

The sun had set on the cold land, and the elk huddled together in the snow. As the snow storm got stronger, and the night got darker, the sound of the forest, breaking, scared the animals. In the morning, the forest was quiet. Nothing moved. The elk herd made their way back to the area where they had bedded down the night before. The elk sniffed around the area for anything interesting. The scent of death hung in the air. The group looked to see one of their own, dead, lying on the ground. Frozen in place. The blank eyes stared towards the river. A young fawn, only about five months old. The herd, unable to understand what had happened, moved on. All moved on, except the elks’ mother who  hung back. She would later die too, most likely from wolves.  



The cold wind kept blowing, and the elk were forced to move to a warmer area. The town of Bozeman seemed the only place. As the herd moved on, the wind and snow picked up. They  walked toward the town, but stopped at the edge of a cul-de-sac. The people, who lived there, went out of their warm houses to view the beautiful creatures. As the sun set on the town, the lights of the shops came on, and people started to move about. The elk, scared from the movement, moved farther out of town. The herd stopped, at the edge of a golf course, and settled in for the night.

The herd woke, with a start, as gunshots fired. They turned and ran as a man, in a golf cart, came at them, holding a rifle. He yelled at them, and they pounded the ground, sprinting to the town. They ran, oblivious to the the highway in front of them. The sound of metal on fur stopped the animals dead in their tracks. They looked at the road to see a young bull, lying on the side of the road. They continued to move to the plains.  



The snow kept coming, and the winter was long and hard. Death was always an enemy, hanging there, waiting for the weak or the sick to come to its gates. As the white turned to green, the mood of the forest and plains grew happier. The Spring and Summer was the best time for the elk. Babies were being born, and the air was sweet with the singing of birds. As the months moved on by, the herd grew with every passing day.



As the sun set on the beautiful day, the elk settled in for the night. They sat under the brush and saw the light fade away. The old cow stood alone in the green grass.


Please Stand By (Part One)

An audible click floated from the front doorknob; Julius grunted as he heaved a large bicycle, with fading yellow paint, through an inconveniently sized open doorway. After tossing the hunk of transportation to the side — making a crashing noise against the nearby wall; then it landed on top of his shoes — he carelessly shuffled through a pile of envelopes he had found in the lobby’s mailbox. He slapped the bills on the kitchen counter, moved aside the three-month late birthday card from a family member, and came across the last one.

It was an envelope of the lightest, faded brown. One could fit two of them on their forearm; the paper was wrinkled and whatever folded contents in there might not have been money, but nonetheless, it was thicker than any average handwritten letter. Of course, it had all the necessities of any letter: his name, Julius Coleman, his apartment number and address, 24 Quove St, Apt. 3-A, and everything else, except a return address. At least, a legible one. There was definitely something written on the top left corner of the envelope; it was written quite clearly and in the neatest handwriting, and Julius was sure he could read it, if he had recognized the language it was in to translate it. It looked much like Latin, with elements of other languages such as Hindi, Swedish, and even Japanese. Whatever this was, there was no turning back. Not a very good way to start reading an unknown letter, was it?

Julius stared at the envelope. His eyes were growing heavy, he had faced a tedious day at the office from God o’clock to six p.m. Honestly, he wanted to do nothing other than eat something from the fridge and sleep.

So, while logic screamed to stop, Julius ripped open the envelope. A folded piece of parchment was now in his hands, the same color as the envelope. Curly handwriting, a single sentence, lay on this first fold and face. Thankfully, this was in English.

Please take your time to have a good look at your surroundings, and remember them.

This had no point at all, it couldn’t have, but Julius had the urge to obey against all logical odds. He blinked, yawned, and moved his glance around the room he was in and the rooms that surrounded. Julius’s apartment was a palette of dull beige and canary yellow light, mixes of white, black, and an excess of gray. The rooms were simple, there weren’t many to begin with, and descriptions of any inch could not go far. In front of him was a black, dirty counter. Near that was the small refrigerator, containing not much but enough.

A table covered in magazines. A cabinet full of hair dye. A mirror near the jackets. Julius himself. Short, bright red hair, short and skinny body; that body wearing a plain gray T-shirt and khaki shorts with all kinds of pockets, completely matching the palette of his home.

It was nothing special. Why was this needed? Why was this important? Why did Julius need to look at some of the most boring things on the face of this Earth; why his home, his sources of enjoyment, himself?

He knew why when he opened the folded letter further.

Once you are done with remembering your surroundings and the world you once knew, please stay calm and know that you are safe, no matter the circumstance.

Something seemed to be stuffed inside his lungs; he was no longer able to breathe, and no longer able to see as all went black seconds afterward.



Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Ti–

That was his watch’s final breath.


Charlie froze. Something was off. Everything around him was slowing down. The other people on the sidewalk — they abruptly stopped. It was windy out just a second ago, yet, now it was dry. The wind — it just vanished. He was weirded out, although he assumed it was some kind of a prank. He looked at one of the people who was walking next to him. His face was expressionless. Charlie put his hand to the man’s mouth. He wasn’t breathing. Charlie walked to the person behind him. The person had the same expressionless face and wasn’t breathing either. Yet, both of them were somehow mid-walk.

“What is going on?” Charlie said out loud.

“Hello? Anyone there?!” Charlie screamed.

Charlie heard crying from up the next block. It sounded like a child’s cry. Charlie rushed to the street, seeing the cars all frozen in place. He ran between the cars as he saw a child running to him from up the avenue. He had a small, round face with a sad frown. He had dark brown skin and had a twinkle in his eyes. The child was holding a small action figure in his hand. He looked to be about eight years old. As the minor got closer, Charlie noticed his expensive watch. It was almost identical to Charlie’s watch. It had the same gold rim and leather strap. Charlie looked at his own watch. He found it wasn’t moving. The child saw Charlie looking at his watch and looked at his own.

Suddenly the world was full of life again, except for two humans. Two people–one man and one child– were now frozen in place, stuck on a busy street.



Maya energetically scrubbed down the counter of Witchcraft Bakery, limbs sore from a long, tedious day of work.

Only six more months working at this hell-hole, then I’ll have enough money… And people won’t suspect what I am as much一I mean, who names a shop Witchcraft Bakery when witches are treated the way they are?

Maya would know, she was one herself. Her fingertips itched to cast a spell that would make the counter shine in a matter of seconds, but she knew it was too risky.

With that in mind, Maya continued her task, spraying a few more drops of bleach on the unclean, metal surface. There were still a few more hours before closing time, but Maya’s eyelids felt as heavy as lead.

She swiped a hand across her sweaty forehead, trying to ignore the ache in her arms. All of her coworkers were either on break or simply ditching, so Maya was alone in the shop. It was up to her to clean, serve customers, and man the cash register. Fortunately, there were no customers in line at the moment, so she had taken this moment of respite to tidy the area.

The bells over the front door chimed, signaling someone had opened it and entered the bakery. Maya glanced up from the counter, her eyes meeting those of the stranger who stood in the doorway.

He was tall, dark-haired, probably around sixteen, with fair skin. His cheekbones were high, and his nose was angular, perfect for looking down at people.  Beneath dark, bushy eyebrows were cold, brown eyes, which penetrated Maya to the core. She shivered, face blazing.

She searched the boy’s face for any trace of revulsion at the sight of her, but his face remained impassive, thin lips drawn in a straight line.

Well, he sure was good at hiding his emotions, Maya bitterly thought. Her reflection shone in the bright metal of the counter. Her long, black hair, her tan skin, green eyes. Her freckled nose, and her red lips. But, her features were often ignored, obscured by the scars, sores, and red, angry burns on the right side of her face.

Maya tensed as the beautiful boy walked toward her. She subconsciously brushed her hair in front of the scars and bowed her head.

“Welcome to Witchcraft Bakery,” she began neutrally as he reached the counter. “What can I get you today?”

“A chocolate chip cookie and… A date with you,” was the answer.

Maya’s head snapped up in astonishment, meeting the boy’s eyes. Something told her he was used to getting what he wanted.

“I-I’m sorry?” she stuttered, sure she had heard incorrectly.

Her cheeks heated up even more than they already had.

“You heard me,” smirked the boy, raising an eyebrow. “A date with you.”

“A…What?” gaped Maya.

The boy laughed softly.

“You know what? We can forget about the cookie. How does the date sound?”

Maya hesitated, examining him from head to toe. When she said yes, it was for all the wrong reasons.

* * *

As Maya scavenged through her nearly empty pantry for food, the events at the bakery, a few hours ago, really began to hit her.

She had been asked out on a date.

Her first date.

And it had been by a complete stranger. And she had said yes.

Maya still remembered the boy’s satisfied smile as she agreed. She knew his type. He was the kind of boy who always got girls on the first try, and then dumped them after the first date. She had seen him scan the place, lips curling in an expression of disdain for a second, before turning neutral again.

“Then, it’s a deal,” he had said.

He had dropped a business card on the counter. As he passed the cash register, he had dropped a twenty-dollar bill in the tip jar, winking at Maya one last time, before exiting the bakery.

Maya stopped her search for dinner to go to her purse, taking out a crisp twenty, and a now-rumpled business card. She unfolded the card, rereading its content, and debated whether to laugh or cry at it.

Call me, it said. Underneath it was a number, and the name Gregory Oktresson.

And twenty dollars could probably keep Maya going for three days, but he had dropped that amount in a tip jar as if it were nothing. In fact, that was the main reason Maya had agreed to the date with Gregory in the first place. Yes, his charming smile (and adorable dimple) had played no part in convincing her.

Well, almost no part. But, that was beside the point.

You see, going on the date with Gregory could very well bring Maya’s plan to an early end. He was rich. Maya, or just about anyone for that matter, could tell. Perhaps it was because of his silky, beige coat, and the way he was always flicking invisible specks of dust off it. Or, maybe it was because of the way his black dress shoes were so shiny, you could have seen your reflection in them. Of course, it could simply have been the way he stood tall and straight, and looked at everyone condescendingly with his hooded eyes. The way he had just seemed out of place in the small, mundane bakery. He was like a jewel in a pile of cheap, plastic beads.

Maya was going to get close to him. She would make him fall in love with her, she decided. She would be the very first girl he brought on a second date.

And when their relationship was serious enough, Gregory would begin to give her money. And Maya would begin to ask for more, subtly, of course, until he eventually gave her enough to hire a private detective. Then she would dump him, and he would never see her again.

In this way, Maya would finally find out who had killed her parents.

With that, she continued preparing her dinner.

* * *

Maya swore. She was certain she still had a loaf of bread in one of the cabinets, but apparently, she was wrong. All Maya had left now were three apples and half a bag of Fritos. She quickly devoured one of the fruits and a handful of the chips.

Her stomach grumbled in protest at the incomplete meal, but Maya ignored it. She was used to it anyway. When she was fourteen, Maya had escaped her foster home and come to the city. She had saved up enough money to make all of the fake papers and IDs she needed to survive alone as a minor. Maya had rented the apartment she was currently staying in from a family who owned it. They hadn’t glanced twice at her false papers, and had barely asked any questions. Since Maya could cover the rent with her paychecks from Witchcraft Bakery, the current setup worked for the family as well. She knew this couldn’t last forever, but she tried not to think about it, pushing the unpleasant thoughts to the back of her head.

For now, all Maya could do was live by her motto, never let your guard down. If she trusted the wrong people and was found out, they would do things to her…

Like they had done to her mom and dad.


It was a normal December evening, and the little girl and her parents were eating dinner in the kitchen. The atmosphere shifted in a matter of seconds. One moment, the three of them were chatting and laughing around the table; the next, the little girl’s mother was grabbing her arm and turning deathly pale.

“Maya,” she whispered urgently, “There are some bad people coming to the house. I need you to pretend you’re playing hide and seek with us, only this time, it’ll be a little different, okay? You can only come out when you don’t hear anything anymore.”

The little girl wordlessly stared up at her parents with wide eyes, sensing something was wrong, but unable to understand what it was. Her father squatted down in front of her, and for the first time, the little girl saw fear in his eyes.

“Honey, you have to do what Mom told you. These people coming are bad guys. If they find you, they will do bad things to you; they hurt people like us. You need to hide, okay? Do you understand, Maya?”

The girl nodded.

“But, will Mommy hide with me?” she whispered. “Will you, Daddy?”

Her father was silent. The little girl looked up toward her mother. She was looking out the window, hands clenched around the windowsill and muttering words under her breath. The air seemed to be shimmering around her mouth. She looked toward her daughter, eyes filling up with tears, but never stopping her chant.

The little girl tottered toward the window in uncertain, meandering steps. She saw the bad people. There must have been around seven. They were all dressed in black, facial features completely concealed. The two leaders of the group carried maroon staffs topped with strange, silver symbols, in their hands. They were trudging up the path to their house.

“Maya!” half-whispered her father, “Come with me, now!”

He forcefully grabbed her arm and led her to the living room.

“Daddy?” asked the little girl, tears spilling over her eyes. “What’s happening?”

“Nothing, Maya, nothing,” he replied.

He pushed away the rug covering the floor of the living room, revealing a small trap door the little girl had never known was there. It was not very deep, but relatively wide.

“You need to stay in here until it’s silent outside,” ordered her father, hiding his desperation behind a calm facade. “Remember, Mommy and I both love you very, very much.”

The little girl felt her father’s lips on her forehead one last time, before he wrapped her up in his arms and lowered her into the little alcove. She met her father’s eyes one last time before he slid the trapdoor closed over her, engulfing the girl in darkness.

It was almost pitch black in the shelter. The little girl was scared, but she knew she couldn’t cry. She had to be quiet, or the bad guys would find her. She curled up into a ball, shivering with cold, and fighting against the tears. Where were Mommy and Daddy? When were they coming back?

The shelter was almost completely soundproof. The little girl could feel the vibrations of heavy footsteps thundering over where she was hidden. She shrunk into the shadows even more. If she strained her ear, muffled shouts and crashes could be heard.

The relative silence in the shelter was broken by two screams. Two inhuman shrieks of agony. They pierced the air, resonating through the entire house, their echoes following them long after they had died down.

The little girl wrapped her head in her arms, rocking her body back and forth, and cried herself to sleep. When she woke up, everything was silent. The little girl was thirsty, hungry, and sore. She could see a small crack in the trap door, so she reached for it, and pushed it open, some light filtering through, despite the carpet that still covered the entrance.

It was strange, she thought as she hoisted herself out, how hot it was all of a sudden. Then the little girl saw why. The living room was slowly being devoured by little flickers of orange light. She knew what they were—Mommy and Daddy had told her. They were flames. Fire.

At the thought of her parents, the little girl’s eyes anxiously darted across the space, ears straining to catch sounds around the house, other than the crackling of the fire, but to no avail. Her tiny hands balled into fists as sweat trickled down her forehead and tears dripped from her eyes.

“Mommy! Daddy!” She cried, sobs shaking her tiny frame. “Where are you?”

The little girl tottered to the entrance of the kitchen, precariously avoiding flames that still licked the floor and blackened, fallen furniture scattered around the space. As the girl pushed open the kitchen door, a horrid smell assaulted her nostrils and she recoiled. There was still a fire burning in the kitchen as well. It was burning something, but it wasn’t furniture. A horrid feeling in the little girl’s gut told her what, or who, it was.

“Mommy! Daddy!” She yelled, the smoke burning her throat and eyes.

She stumbled toward the charred, unrecognizable masses that lay on the ground. The little girl didn’t realize that she was growing dangerously close to the fire, until it was too late. Her cheek grazed the flames, and that was all it took to send excruciating pain through every fiber of her being. She fell backward, clawing at her face, tortured howls escaping her mouth.

And then, she saw it. Half-melted, lying on the floor, feet away from her. Made of silver, small enough to fit into the palm of her hand. She knew it belonged to the bad guys. Somewhere from within her pain-induced delirium, the girl’s fingers curled around the little crest as she committed the image of it to her memory forever.

The flame inside the seven-pointed star. Then everything went black.


A tear slid down Maya’s scarred, rough cheek as her hand closed over that same crest, and the cold metal dug into her palm.

* * *

Maya took a deep breath as the two uniform-clad men, standing at the mansion’s entrance, pulled open the shining double doors, bowing as she daintily stepped over the threshold. She carefully arranged her mane of hair so that it fell over the scarred side of her face. Hiding her trembling hands within the folds of her midnight blue gown, she attempted to calm her beating heart.

The gown, as well as her heels and matching clutch, had been gifts from Gregory. Maya remembered her phone call with him from a few days earlier. It had been short and sweet, with Gregory simply asking her dress size and then her address. Maya had answered him mechanically, any common sense she may have had before had flown out the window at the sound of his husky voice. All she knew was that the package containing her outfit had arrived in the morning, and a man driving a shiny limousine had stopped in front of her building, at a quarter past eight, precisely to drive her here.

Maya’s heels clicked on the wood floor as she joined a throng of glittering guests chatting underneath a magnificent crystal chandelier, that hung from the high ceiling and illuminated their faces with its warm, golden light. Her eyes darted around the large room, and her stomach sank as she realized that most of the guests were adults. Maya’s sweaty hands feverishly gripped the clutch as she walked around the room, inconspicuously trying to locate Gregory. Her gaze finally landed on him, and she hurried towards the corner he was standing in.

As if sensing her presence behind him, Gregory slowly turned around and offered Maya one of his signature smirks as she stopped by his side. Despite the warm air, a shiver snaked down Maya’s bare back as he appraised her from head to toe.

“I have to say, you do clean up well,” he stated, finally meeting her eyes.

“I-I wish I could say the same about you,” Maya managed to blurt, trying to maintain her stony facade despite her mind screaming quite the opposite—Gregory looked absolutely dashing in his black suit.

Remember why you’re doing this, she schooled herself. But Gregory frowned slightly and hurt flashed across his face at Maya’s sharp words. Her gut twisted inside her, and she nervously bit her lip. Had she gone too far? Would everything she had worked so hard for come crashing down because of a single rude comment? If something went wrong, Maya would never forgive herself. Neither would her parents.

A husky laugh with an undercurrent of disdain broke through her thoughts. Gregory stared down at her with mirth in his eyes.

“Gotcha,” he grinned, and Maya’s guilt was quickly replaced with anger, which only fueled her determination to bring her plan to a successful end. Now, not only would she use Gregory to avenge her parents, she would take pleasure in doing it.

The words Maya grumbled to Gregory next made a rather portly woman, standing near them, throw the pair a scandalized glance, before waddling away.

“You wound me, Maya!” replied the boy, sarcastically bringing a hand to his heart. His bicep flexed under the fabric of his suit, and Maya grudgingly decided that maybe the heat blossoming on her cheeks wasn’t completely due to the warm lights overhead. She was about to jab him with another sharp reply, when she saw Gregory stiffen slightly, and the expression slowly faded from his face as he looked at something behind her. Maya turned, and realized that a couple was advancing toward them, a man in a dark suit and a woman in a maroon cocktail dress, who looked so much like Gregory; they could only be his parents. Maya’s face grew hot as she looked inquisitively at him. Gregory threw her a quick glance before turning back to the couple and gesturing towards Maya, who suddenly became very focused on a patch of carpeting at her feet. Her heartbeat seemed to have tripled its pace.

“Mother, Father, this is Maya,” he quickly introduced her. “And, Maya, these are my parents.”

Maya peeked up at them from beneath her eyelashes, muttering an incoherent greeting.

If the couple had any thoughts on Maya’s disfiguration, they hid them well, faces remaining studiously unreadable as Gregory’s mother held out a hand for her to shake first. Maya nervously gripped it and let go almost immediately, a shiver snaking down her back. Something was wrong; a cloud of something dark and ominous surrounded these people, she was sure of it. And as Gregory’s mother retracted her hand, Maya saw it glittering on her finger.

Silver. A ring.

The flame inside the seven-pointed star.


An Overview of “Overwatch” : Best Game of the Year

The new hit first-person shooter (FPS) game, “Overwatch,” by Blizzard Studios, is not your ordinary shooter game. This is why it’s breaking game stores all over the world. The Blizzard workers are some of the most popular in the gaming industry, and all of their ideas are always highly anticipated. Some of Blizzard’s most well-known franchises are “Diablo” and “World of Warcraft.” Blizzard’s new first-person shooter perspective, “Overwatch”, is a must play game for it’s unique design, exciting array of heroes to choose from, and addicting multiplayer modes.

Overwatch has attracted gamers and non-gamers, of all ages, mainly because of its flawless design in both heroes and maps. In Vince Ingenito’s IGN review of the game, he says, “Overwatch exists at an intersection between design and artistry, a crossroad at which pure tactile joy meets refined intelligent design.” In this comment, Ingenito is stating that Blizzard’s main focus, after the gameplay of course, was to make the game as clean and colorful as possible. We think that they accomplished this for sure. The maps are a main part of this. We guarantee you’ll love “Overwatch” just for its beauty alone.

Furthermore, the 22 unique playable heroes will have you falling in love in no time. From a gorilla rocket scientist with some very fragile glasses, Winston, to the high flying egyptian soldier from Egypt, Pharah, there is truly a hero for every type of gamer. What separates these heroes from each other are their unique weapons and abilities. Every hero’s partner in crime is their main weapon. Main weapons are the reloadable, usually projectile, firing weapons that each hero primarily uses. All heroes have around two to three abilities, which help them out in battles. Some well-known abilities in “Overwatch” are Reinhardt’s “barrier field”, Soldier 76’s “helix rockets,” and Genji’s “deflect”; these abilities are helpful, but a hero’s ultimate ability (ults) can easily change how a match plays out. Ultimate abilities are usually for taking out a whole truckload of enemies, like Mcree’s “deadeye” and Junkrat’s “drip tire” ability, which is a controllable tire bomb that deals crazy damage. Some ults, though, are used for healing, shielding, or other purposes. All of the support class heroes have these kinds of ultimates. The 22 playable heroes, and their backstories, are magnificent and extremely addicting to play with.

Despite the main heroes, “Overwatch” provides many smaller elements that complete the game. The most popular side factor is loot boxes. In the typical FPS, a loot box, or crate, is equipped with guns and boosts, but Blizzard decided that there would be no boost or extra weapons for heroes. Instead, there would be alternate skins, emotes, highlight intros, sprays, and more.  Loot boxes are each filled with four items of different frequencies: common, rare, epic, and legendary. Players can achieve these boxes in multiple ways like leveling up, winning their 3rd, 6th, and 9th games in arcade mode (it resets each 7 days), and other ways. Another exciting addition is the seasonal events. Seasonal events bring new loot box items and the most recent event, Chinese New Year: Year of the Rooster, has brought capture the flag, an exciting new game mode. Other events have been the Summer Olympics, Halloween, and Winter Wonderland.

Many have said that “Overwatch” has certain flaws like no solo champaign, the matchmaking process, and others. This is a somewhat valid argument, but every good thing comes with flaws, and unlike a movie, Blizzard can fix these “problems” in the future considering that this game is fairly new. Besides, this game has received extremely high ratings from IGN, Metacritic, Common Sense Media, and has won best game of the year. What I mean is that if this game is one of the best of all time, with just multiplayer options, then does Blizzard really need to make any big changes? The answer is no.


Pokemon GO Should Not Be Given Another Chance

Pokemon GO should be banned because the game is addictive to an extent, where it takes away lives. Pokemon GO should be banned because of the problems it imposes on our society and others around the world. Additionally, this fun game can be problematic for those who are not directly involved with the game.

It should be banned because of the violence it causes. People die from this game as a result of careless people, who put their phone game over people’s lives. In 2016, a truck driver, playing Pokemon GO, killed a pedestrian in Japan. People got injuries from falling off a cliff while trying to catch the rare Dragonite. By looking at these two incidents alone, we can see the damage Pokemon GO is doing to our society and how it is hurting those who have nothing to do with the game. It’s wasting our lives (for those who play it), and it’s wasting all our efforts (because people, who have better things to do, are dying from it). People who play Pokemon GO should be more cautious, so they don’t waste other peoples lives, who are not directly involved with the game, but ultimately, banning it will stop all the accidents caused by it.

It should also be banned due to fact that people in the world, who play this, can ruin their productivity at work, even when they are handling decisions for countries. According to CNN, one article said that the leader of Norway’s liberal party, Trine Skei Grande, wasted the country’s resources playing a game and betrayed the nation. She did not pay attention at work and was scolded by the other members of the hearing. If Grande put Norwegian lives at stake, she would be disgraceful to her country by not fulfilling her responsibilities as a partisan leader. By doing so, the quality of laws and actions made would drop significantly. For those citizens living in the nation, it ruins the quality of their lives as residents and can make them protest against those in power (even if they did not previously indulge in such activities). If people protest against those in power, it looks like the country is carefree. Especially after what happened in Norway, with the liberal party leader, Pokemon GO should be banned, so it looks like the country is taking steps to stop people from not fulfilling their responsibilities. If Norway bans this game, other countries might follow, and Pokemon GO may be banned from most countries around the world.

In conclusion, Pokemon GO should be banned. It should be banned because of how it is affecting people’s lives and quality of life. This game really does affect the lives of so many people around the world, so it shouldn’t be ignored. The entire game can ruin the lives of those innocent people, who are not related to the game in any direct way. Many other games also have similar kinds of outcomes, but Pokemon GO is a major concern because it requires lots of walking and constant activity with the phone or device in action. By banning the game, people won’t get physically hurt, and many people will be protected from careless acts.



Britton, Blanca. “Politician Caught Playing Pokemon Go.” CNN. Cable News Network, 26 Aug. 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Delzo, Janissa. “Men Fall from Cliff Playing Pokémon Go.” CNN. Cable News Network, 16 July 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Riley, Charles, and Yoko Wakatsuki. “Pokemon Go-playing Truck Driver Kills Woman in Japan.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.


A Study in Self Titled (Part One)

She waits for a taxi. In that specific moment, or rather on that night itself, the world is drained of color. Or, maybe it’s filled with too much color. She can’t tell. No one can.

It’s not that big of a deal for some people. You see where I’m coming from, right?

In that moment, only little details matter. Her phone is dead. She ought to know why, but her friends have those answers. Her sneakers feel soggy, and water is seeping in through her socks, despite the fact that there is no rain. She could’ve stepped in something wet, but she really can’t remember. It’s as if she has just been born. Or reborn.

Across the street, a group of people are loading a coffin into the back of a hearse. She doesn’t know the man, or woman, but all of a sudden, she’s sad, and the morning sun comes out, nearly blinding her. Her hands are in the pockets of her hoodie, one clutching a folded up piece of paper and the other balled into a fist.

She has wanted to give Anita her letter, but Anita hasn’t been in town for two weeks. The thing about Anita is that she fills up the space of about twenty people. When she isn’t there, it’s as if the town is deserted, as if Constance is the only one alive and the only one roaming the streets.

When she had tried to explain the concept, of how wild it is to feel like the only person alive, to her friend, Harold, he had told her that that was “complete bullshit.” The only problem is that Harold says that about everything, so it kind of lost its meaning after a while, and it becomes harder and harder to tell if he really means it, or if he’s just drunk.

She’s so lost in thought that she forgets she has been gripping the letter with a force that she didn’t even know she possessed. She lets go. The apartment door behind her has been left ajar ever since she left, and she has been standing on the sidewalk ever since, mesmerized by the sunrise and the mourners across the street, who are now arguing in low voices about who should ride in the front of the hearse and who should be forced to sit in the back with the dead man.

The tallest man in the group, who looks like he’s somewhere in his 50’s, stares blankly at the ground, clearly in deep thought. The others are either sniffling into crumpled tissues or hugging each other, but this man seems to feel indifferent about whoever is in the coffin. Maybe it’s his worst enemy who is in that coffin, or maybe she’s thinking too much. However, she isn’t the only one who has a bad habit of doing that; everyone she knows is like that.

Whether it be by coincidence, or because she just happens to be living in one of the most run down places on Earth, it is true. The one who seems to overthink things the most is Anita. Constance would always get missed calls and frantic voicemails early in the morning from her, where she would ramble about how she didn’t understand the assignment, that had been given to her in her English class, and how her dad was mad at her. The voicemails usually only lasted around 30 seconds, and they always cut off towards the end, which Constance assumed was because Anita was still figuring out how to get her new phone to work properly. When Constance would call her back, she’d always answer in the same frantic voice, although she always sounded a bit calmer than she did before. Anita has a nice voice; everyone liked that about her. That is one of the things that Constance misses the most about her after she left, or rather disappeared.

No one can explain it, really.

But, we’re not here to talk about Anita.

The mourners across the street still haven’t moved from their spot, their feet still planted firmly on the concrete, surrounding the hearse. The trunk is open. Now it’s getting ridiculous. Are they just going to have a funeral out in the rain? It could be some sort of tradition, but no one wants to deal with a corpse left out in the rain, not even spiritual people.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh wow, I expected better from Constance. She really shouldn’t be making assumptions about strangers.” However, Constance knows what she’s talking about. Constance’s mother was a spiritual woman. She would preach ancient legends and light incense in the living room every other month and pull her daughter close, whispering phrases that no one could really comprehend. She didn’t think twice about it.

You don’t know Constance like I do.

The woman closest to the trunk slams it shut quickly, making a few of the other mourners flinch. She is wearing a long, black coat. There’s no fur on the coat, no fancy jewelry draped on her, just the sleek coat. A tote bag hangs by her wrist. Constance wonders if she bought the coat and the rest of her outfit specifically for this occasion, or if she had it before. Fashion is an abstract concept. The woman is rich. How do I know this? I don’t. But she looks like she is, and that’s all you need to know.

The rain is gone; the streets are still scattered with puddles here and there. There was no rain in the first place, but we, here in Mountain Oak, don’t like to assume. Our weather has been so unusual, lately, that anything is possible.

Constance sighs, stepping forward and looking both ways to cross the street. There are two cars parked on the street, none passing by at that moment, neither of them moving. Right foot, left foot. Before she can speak, or even think, she’s on the other side of the street. No cars whiz past behind her, and the absence of warmth is unsettling. She isn’t exactly face to face with the mourners, but is still pretty close. One by one, they begin to turn their heads, their gaze drifting from the coffin to Constance.

“Why are you here?” the rich woman asks, squinting her eyes with disapproval.

Constance does something, kind of like a shrug, in response to the rich woman. There’s a pause, not an awkward one, but one filled with deep thought. As if the rich woman is trying to figure out what to say next.

“Lydia, I can feel you glaring from here. Be nice. She probably just needs directions, ain’t that right?” a voice from inside the car booms as a man pokes his head out of the window, flashing a smile at Constance.

He has a thick, booming voice. A chill travels throughout her body. Not because of the way he talks, but because she’s never met someone so straightforward before.

“Not necessarily.”

There’s a thoughtful pause, and suddenly, he tilts his head to the side a bit, as if he’s about to ask a question. She steps closer, hesitantly putting her hand out. The driver probably thinks she’s going to shake his hand. That would be insane; they’re just two strangers on a sidewalk. He squints a bit, as if he’s trying to read her expression like you would read a book for English class. He raises his eyebrows for a second, and then nods.

“Do you need a ride?”

She looks back at the mourners, wondering why he’s so casual about giving a stranger a ride and abandoning the mourners that clearly need to get somewhere.

“The mourners do,” she whispers, and he smiles a bit.

“They’re family. I can send one of my other guys to help them. They’ll understand,” he chuckles, and Constance wonders if he can see the rich woman, who is crossing her arms and glaring in his direction.

They don’t seem that shocked; a few of them are being a bit too nonchalant about it. A few of them are staring at the sky, spaced out and suddenly far away from the small town. The rich woman turns her head. The engine revs up, and all of a sudden, Constance’s mind goes blank. She can’t remember what she was going to do before, or why she even walked up to the car. All she knows is that she’s getting into the back seat of the car, behind the man. Why does she do it? She has places to go. She tucks a piece of her hair behind her ear as she looks up at the driver, or the back of his head at least.

“Your family must be really understanding if they’re okay with you just abandoning them to drop a random stranger off.”

She cocks her head towards the back, the people behind fading as the car drives on. No response, but there’s probably a good reason why he doesn’t answer. Something lingers within her, like she’s forgetting something, but that might just be her suspicions rising. As they’re driving down neverending avenues, it’s as if time doesn’t exist. Everyone feels like that at some point, and if you say you haven’t, you’re probably lying. Local shops fly past her, and in the back of her mind, memories are there. If she concentrates really hard, maybe she’ll be able to access them again. Pizza places, apartments, and bookstores all whiz past, a sea of color in a colorless town.

“So, lil’ lady, where are you headed? Most people tell me that I’m a pretty flexible guy, and these blocks are a lot longer than I remembered, so feel free to speak up and tell me when,” the driver booms, turning his head to flash a toothy smile at Constance, and then continuing to watch the road.

The world is becoming fuzzier by the second, and all of a sudden, she’s slumping down further into the back seat, trying not to fall asleep as she’s overwhelmed by fatigue.

“Tell you when what?” she mumbles, her words becoming more and more jumbled together by the second.

“You know, when to stop, when to go, when we get to where you’re going,” he responds, his tone of voice suggesting that he thinks this is obvious.

The streets are becoming less and less complex, the driver’s voice is fading bit by bit. The story goes on.

“Where are you going, anyway? Hey, are you still there?” his voice booms from the front of the car, disguising the hesitation he possesses.

Constance blinks, and the voices and places fade in and out. The streets don’t seem so crowded anymore. She takes a deep breath in, and she falls into a deep sleep, muttering something that sounds like, “I’m going to find my friend.” Or maybe she said something else, like, “I’ve finally lost my head.” We don’t know.

Maybe we never will.


The True Tale (Part One)

Loud coughing filled the train car. Kat sighed, leaning her head against the advertisement for Samson’s Sandwiches. “New double-bacon combo available for only $3.99!” She looked up at the resting bitch face of the woman standing above her, who was scrolling through her phone. Kat unzipped her backpack and took out a bag of chips. She opened them loudly, shrinking under glares from phone-woman and a guy who forgot to plug his headphones into his phone.

Really, how could you miss that? And Beats weren’t particularly quiet either. Kat swallowed a Pringle and checked the red letters above her head. Sixteen more stops until Atlantic Av.

That was the sucky thing about going to a school for Gifted and Talented Young Scholars. You know, other than the mounds of homework and that one persistent nerd who always asked if he could have harder tests. (It wasn’t nurturing the brain or whatever other bullshit he had in his head.) GTS, the high school that Katherine Webb, “genius” sophomore, attended was approximately twenty-five subway stops from the obscure area of Queens, where she lived.

The good part about that? Extra homework time, you know, for all the crap that she was too lazy to finish the night before. The bad part? She had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. so she could leave at 6:15. I mean, let’s get real here. She didn’t really leave at 6:15. More like 6:30. That’s why her attendance record was going down the drain. But still.

Also, the whole subway thing in general was a bit tiring after you’d done it five days a week for a year. I mean sure, to tourists, riding on the Subway (to Times Square wearing an “I <3 NYC” shirt) was cool and exotic, but to Kat, it was annoying as hell.

And you shouldn’t get her started on the people. God. From the homeless people who yelled at you when you didn’t give money, to the woman who screamed at her kids on the train, to the man who took up four seats, it was too much to handle some days. Just the other day, a boy her own age had yelled to her, “Hey, sweetheart, drop the frown. What’s wrong?” Kat had thought that kind of behavior was reserved for creepy, old men, but now, future pedophiles were starting early. Kat had grimace-smiled and walked away, too afraid of the guy a full foot shorter than her to do anything.

The phone lady had dropped her phone into Kat’s lap. Kat handed it to her with a grimaceit was wet with her sweatand the lady snatched it up from her with a glare. Maybe it wasn’t just a resting bitch face.

Kat shifted her little purse to sit on her lap and shut her eyes. With probably an hour or so left of her subway ride, she might as well get a few minutes of rest.

As soon as she shut her eyes, however, she was awoken by a startling jolt of the train. Her eyes flew open, hands protectively flying in front of her bag of chips. But, once she saw what was in front of her, she released her chips, and the bag fell to the floor;  her mouth hung open.

Kat was staring at a blue wall, decorated with awkward family portraits and posters of random bands and TV shows. A Salvador Dali-style clock hung above a bulletin board with a calendar on it. A black beanbag sagged lazily against the wall; a light-oak wardrobe hung slightly open.

Kat’s stomach lurched as she stood up and turned around. The second wall held a long window with draping curtains against it, a closet door, and a cage which used to hold a parrot, but it was empty now. A dangerously full clothes hamper hung from the ceiling.

Kat slowly rotated around the room. In the wallright next to a bookcase and side tablewas a bed.


The same bed that she slept in every night.


Kat took a step backward and wondered how in holy hell had she ended up in her bedroom.

She looked down at herself. She was fully clothed, and she was sure she had put on her monkey PJs last night. She didn’t have much of a history of sleepwalking, and anyway, who got up in the middle of the night, let their chickadee out of its cage, put their clothes on, and woke up?

And seriously, who dreamed about subways? I mean, it was one thing to dream about killer robots, (her recurring nightmare when she was six) but the subway? Only the most mundane person in the world would have that dream. And she wasn’t mundane. At least, that’s what she liked to think.

(She briefly ran over the other options in her hand. Time travel, teleportation. Both not probable.)

Then, of course, there was the option that this was a dream. Again, pretty mundane. And this seemed pretty real to her. She gave herself a pinch, just to be sure, but all that happened was a throbbing in her forearm and a bruise in the same place. She blinked a few times, but nothing changed. Only the empty birdcage was in front of her, gently lit by the early morning light.

Or was it early morning? The light streaming through the curtains was unnatural, uncanny, too bright. Kind of like the lightbulbs that gave her migranes at school. The morning light was soft, gentle, and incredibly annoying when she was trying to get an extra two minutes of sleep.

She looked over at the clock on her bedside table. It was off. She kneeled down to put the plug into the wall, but the plug was still there. She fiddled with it for a moment. Nothing happened. Dad was always buying faulty plugs.

Kat crossed the room to the window and pulled aside the curtains.

The light outside wasn’t coming from the sun. It was bright, but not so much that it hurt her eyes. Instead of the warm yellowish color, it was milky white. She didn’t know what the light was, but it definitely wasn’t the boring brick wall of Mr. Morrison’s apartment building that she looked out to each morning. This definitely wasn’t the view from her window.

A door quietly closed behind her.

“Have you figured it out yet?” a voice from behind her said smugly.

Kat spun around and sputtered.

“Whatwherewho the hell are you?”

A girl stood in front of her, short and black-haired, leaning against the wall as if she owned the place, wearing a self-satisfied smirk along with her jeans and a T-shirt. She casually surveyed her nails, picking the nail polish off one. She folded her arms.

“That doesn’t matter,” the girl sighed. “Anyway, have you figured it out? You were being extremely slow. I can’t just wait around for you, you know.”

“Figured what out?”

Surprisingly, Kat was doing a good job at stopping her hands from shaking. The girl rolled her eyes.

“The door,” she said.  “You’re supposed to go through the door. It’s been, what, ten minutes, and you haven’t taken a step toward it. What kind of idiot opens the curtains before the door? I gotta say, I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Kat asked, then shook her head. “What are you doing in my room?”

“Well, at least you have your priorities straight,” the girl said sarcastically, in the same voice Kat used when she argued with people, which was pretty rarewhen you looked past her startling hair, her height, and her death glares, she was pretty awkward.

Except, apparently, when strangers broke into her room. Then she was in tip-top shape.

“What am I doing in your room? I’ll tell you what I’m doing in your room. I’m here to make you go through the door. You were being slow. I don’t have forever. Happy?”
“N-no,” Kat said, fiercely trying to keep her voice steady.

She pressed her hands together behind her back. Her entire body was shivering a little bit, but it wasn’t cold in the room, which was a rarityher parents both liked the house at below-sixty temperatures. It was the only thing the two actually had in common.

“Tell me what’s going on. What’s behind that door?”
The girl smiled mysteriously.

“Well, I suppose you’ll have to figure that out, won’t you?”

She turned on her heel and opened the door, showing Kat a glimpse of the same brightness outside her window.

Squinting her eyes, Kat yelled, “Wait!”

The mysterious black-haired girl turned around.

“I told you, I don’t have forever-”

“This isn’t my room, is it?” Kat asked.

The girl rolled her eyes again.

“Genius,” she said, and then she was gone, disappearing into the white light that swallowed up her body.

The door clicked shut behind her.


Kat had said that she wasn’t in her room to the mysterious intruder, and she was certain she wasn’t.  Aside from what was outside her window not being what was outside her window, her chickadee, Oscar was gone, and her clock wasn’t working. Besides, the whole room was quiettoo quietnot full of the usual yells from her mom for her to get up, clean her room, do the dishes, or the insistent meows of her cat Lulu to get into her room. Obviously Kat never let Lulu in because she would eat Oscar, but it was mostly just because Lulu was annoying.

Whatever this place was, it wasn’t her room, and it definitely wasn’t her house.

Kat closed her eyes for a second, 99% convinced that this was just a dream, and she would wake up any second on the subway, holding her bag of chips. But, all that greeted her was the same room, lit by the same eerie, white light crawling through the curtains. Kat stared at the door, then back at the window. Kat wasn’t stupid. There was only one way out of there, and it wasn’t the window.

Kat grabbed the door handle. She had lost count of all the times she had yelled at characters in horror movies.

Don’t answer the phone! Don’t go into the basement! Don’t yell “who’s there?” Don’t split up! Don’t trust the mysterious black-haired girl who broke into your not-room and is telling you to go through a door!

But, Kat’s heart was pounding in her chest and something made her walk toward the door. It had gray marks on it from when her parents used to measure her height. When she was three feet tall, four feet, even five feet. Until they stopped caring.

Kat put her hand on the doorknob that was still warm from the girl’s hand. The door clicked as it opened, and Kat shut her eyes against the light that was so bright that she could see it behind her eyelids, but it was barely warm.

With her eyes almost shut, she reached out a hand into the light. Not to go through the door, just to test the waters. It was, indeed, warmkind of like a welcoming hotel pool, but thicker, more foggy than just air. Kat could feel wisps of fog curling around her hand, and then farther up her arm. She watched a thin tendril crawl up her upper arm with fascination, not even thinking to panic, until it reached her neck. She jerked away, startled, but the fog was stronger than it looked. Kat grabbed the doorframe as the fog tendrils that had crept up her arm reached across her torso, and other wisps reached out from the doorframe to latch onto her feet and slither up her legs.

Kat pulled her free arm away from the fog to grab onto her bedpost, but the rest of her body was being dragged forward. It had enveloped her chest, arms, and legs, and was inching up her neck. If she had wanted to go through the door before, she definitely didn’t now. In her chest, along with constricting panic, she felt- no, she knew, that what was pulling her away from her not-room was evil, something dark that made her heart skip a beat; Kat finally understood when characters in horror stories said they were paralyzed from fear.  

Her bed slid a few inches with the weight of her body being pulled away from it. Her hands, sweaty with panic, scrabbled at the post, trying desperately to hold on and drag her body out of the fog, but she had, after all, avoided gym class for six years. Her feeble arm muscles gave way and her fingernails scrabbled at the bed, leaving a long scratch, before fog engulfed her arm.

Her legs and torso had far passed the edge of the doorframe, her body wriggled aimlessly, devoured by the mist. It was uncomfortably squeezing her legs, but that was the least of Kat’s worries as she struggled to take a breath, her throat constricting with fear of the fog slowly covering her face.

Kat’s hand, now grasping at the doorframe, was nothing but the tips of fingers emerging out of a white cloud. Her vision was getting hazy, the outline of her bedroom getting fainter and fainter.

She felt as if there should have been some dramatic, suspenseful background music to play behind her as she felt her fingers get sweaty and her hold loosen from the doorframe. Striking chords echoed from the empty CD player. A chorus of violins grew louder and louder. She thought that, at least, the white mist should have made a sound, preferably a loud hissing or rumbling. But, Kat’s not-room was filled with only her ragged breath.

She knew that she could only hold on for so longat best, another minute. There was no chance of pulling herself out of the white cloud now, and even if she did, what would she do, bust through the ceiling? (Her not-room was unfortunately devoid of chainsaws and jackhammers.) The door was the only way out, even if the barely warm mist filled her with an undefinable chill.

So, Kat took one last look at her not-room and let go.

Instantly, a gust of white wind pulled her backwards and away from the door that she could barely see. It was more than free fallingit seemed a strong force was pulling her fiercely in one direction, faster and faster and faster and, whoa, she was getting carsick. Or mist-sick. Whatever.

Kat vaguely felt herself falling faster and faster. Her stomach was in her throatnot because she was nervous, just because she felt incredibly sick. (I mean, she was nervous too. Let’s get real.) She felt her chest constricting, not only from panic, but also from an invisible force that was making her head pound and throat squeeze.

And suddenly, it went from discomfort and dizziness, to each bone in her body being torn apart, smashed; her chest was being ripped open by a flock of mist-white birds with vapor claws. More pain than she had felt her entire life, each scrape and fall and twisted ankle, combined into something much worse.

And then it was over, and Kat was blisteringly aware of grass pressing through her shirt and sun shining behind her closed eyelids.


The Lost Sky



A girl disguised by the somber mists of taunting loss,

Glooming shadows escaping the night’s bitter sky,

The latent stars vanished without gloss,

Wishes muted by a concealed lie.


The damaged dominos,

Steadily collapsing,

From one heart to another,

The ghost emerging from the shattered spirit.



I was once the light of a radiant character,

The breath of a cub,

Gentle kisses extending the sky,

Now a shadow absent from the dust,

No bear to protect my warmth,

Like a music note that has never been played.



A girl surrounded by an ocean without water,

Yearning for a sturdy hand to hold,

Instead, she is trapped in her own echoes.


I once held that little hand,

I was the bear that shielded her from the terror of this world,

But now I lie in the vacant sky.




Depression is my remedy,

I soak in my loss,

Constantly gazing at the sky for a source of existence,

Yet all I see are the faint memories dying in the darkness.



Suffering with a damaged soul,

The girl lingered in this horror story,

The disappearance of two bears at once,

One puzzle piece gone, another misplaced.



It took years of suffering for a sense of wholeness to appear,

Slowly my mind slept from a fear,

I recognized my worth of gold.


We are all not presented with chance at life,

The world works in a incomprehensible fashion,

We see the stars, the sun, the rainbows,

We experience the rainstorms and the hail,

So when life presents you with the gift of growth,

We must understand our fitting puzzle piece.


I now walk in my crooked footsteps,

Indenting a distinct shape,

My mind was once possessed by a devil,

But now an angel has stolen my soul.


The devil remained in my presence,

Reminding me of all the absence.


I am my own angel who represents self-concept,

Identifying my past ratifies my future.


I often attempt to erase the visions that blur my mind,

Of the distant thoughts it features,

I am the figure I never had.


My cubs carry fur of enchanting colors,

With a shaded bear to shield them from the terror of this world.



The girl grasped her own dilemmas,

Conquering the rings of misfortune,

She even played the unknown note of melody.


Whatever wind blows past your fragile ears,

Whatever pain that cramps your body,

Life is a mystery,

Like a dead plant placed in front of sunshine,

The rain does not wash our future away,

Instead it paints a fresh picture,

A life for us to start,

I am proud of my girl.


Island: Horror

I wake up. The island is empty, and yet a low rumbling begins.  It startles me, waking me up from my deep sleep. Everyone else is gone, vanished into the winds. Chills run down my spine, and I tense, my instincts warning me that something is not right on this island.

I ignore my gut feeling. Logic, not emotion, is what will get me out of this nightmare. This horrible nightmare that left me here, alone, stranded. I have to stand up, go for help. I need to get off this horrible island.

This horrible island. I had read and watched so many movies and books about this type of situation. I will not end up like Chris McCandless, so seduced by the wild that he forgot common sense. I will not end up like the Andes crash survivors, who fed off human flesh and forgot their morals. I will not, cannot, end up like those pitiful human beings. I have to live.

I get up shakily, my legs weak. My mind flashes back to yesterday, was it just yesterday? It was just yesterday. I was with Nicole. Just yesterday I was going to see my child. I was going to live again, to be who I needed to be.

I banish those thoughts. I will get back to civilization. I have to. Not only for myself, but for the rest of the world as well. I’m going to be able to help people with my work. I’m going to be a star. I have to get back.

I look around me, my hands clenched into fists, my breathing unsteady. I’m mad that I’m here, outraged at the island, at fate that I’m here. I should not have been here, not when the world was going to be my oyster. I scream, a scream full of anger and outrage.

I scream for a bit, letting my frustration pour out of me till nothing’s left. I take a breath once I am done with my temper tantrum, and I scan my surroundings.

The beach we landed on is just one sliver of the island. A lush forest, only so far inland, awaits me, tempting me to go in. I take a deep breath. I could wait for the others to come back… or I could go into the wild.

I shouldn’t wait for the others. For all I could know, they’re in the forest. But what if they’re here? What if Nicole is there?

I should not wait. I have to get back as soon as possible.

I take my first step towards the forest. The sand is red, I notice dimly. As concerned as I was with making it to the forest, was it that color when I arrived? I take another step, and another. Then my foot hits flesh.

I scream, my fists clench, my mouth drops open. I step back and see the body I had stepped on.

It is Nicole. Her body is covered in blood, the insides ripped out, her heart next to her, half eaten. The look on her pretty, pale, face is one of horror.

I scream again. As I look up, other bodies line the beach. I did not notice them as I was warped in my thoughts, but now… now I can smell the stink of rotting flesh, hear the buzzing of flies.

How had I not noticed? This was something that I should have seen, should have been aware of. I look around slowly, really looking at the island. Who are all the rest of the bodies? I gasp as the answer comes to me.

Everyone who had been on the lifeboat is dead, all of them looking like Nicole, their bodies mangled, their hearts chewed up and spitted out. My stomach churns at the sight. I want to throw up.

What could have done this to them? I wipe my mouth, trying to cover my scream. Whoever had killed them would surely come back to kill me as well. My hand comes away with blood that is not my own.  

I stare at it, not comprehending, at the blood, and the black fur that is growing on my hands. An epiphany makes my eyes go wide.

My scream echoes throughout the island.


The Strange Realities from My Soulmate


Everything has a balance,

A limit.

A rule to abide, or an exception to demonstrate

A carbon atom must only have a specific number of protons

A strand of DNA writes novels of identity out of our control

A swipe of scarlet nail lacquer applied without a proper top coat will flake away in a matter of days

But lying in the soft folds of your bed, hearing soothing fantasies

Of magic and souls, of love and physics

Of time and nebulae

You gain an inkling of

The necessary ingredients for breaking the rules

Why those in conjunction with their other halves always seem to have more power

Why you see so many lost pairs of eyes with holes in the sides of their sneakers from wandering too long on the battered playground

Why an unlikely isotope is the definition of true love

And the government prioritizes maintaining an even population

Does this explain why your eight-year-old body hums with undeniable emptiness?


Is there someone out there waiting to turn the universe on its side for you?

Channel Flipping

The first thing I register in the morning is my head. It’s pounding like the bass line of an AC/DC song. My throat is parched. The next thing I realize is that I’m not alone. My arm is wrapped around a female, her hair spreading over the pillow case. I jolt, my eyes flying open, my head banging the metal railing. Ouch.

The girl’s eyes don’t open, but she turns, seeking body heat. She nestles into me, and I curse the world.  She isn’t any girl. She’s my arch enemy, the one drives me insane, basically, the bane of my existence. Why is she here?




The girl is crying. Tears are slipping down her cheeks, her eyes are red. She falls to the ground, her knees hitting the dirt with a thump. Her hands are covering her eyes. She is a pretty, young thing, but she looks awful, like she is half-mad. She screams, her keening sharp with pain.

A black casket is being buried, its mahogany lid closed and sealed. Dirt is being thrown onto it. The sky is grey and stormy, and it looks like it’s going to rain.


Roll Eyes.


“You want me to what?!” Maria yells at the Speter.


“You. Really.”

“Yes. Really.”

Maria starts, then stops to take off her armor.

“Do I have to?”


So. Last. Year.


“That Bunny wants to kill us?” she whispers, but her voice cracks at the end, going higher.

The bunny flicks its ears at the sound.

“Keep your voice down!” he whispers angry. “The Rabbit of Dall has amazing hearing!”

“Really?” She rolls her eyes as she says this, but her voice is noticeably quieter.

“Yes, really.” The third person speaks up.

Her eyes flash under the black hood she wears.

“And are we going to kill the thing or what?!” The hooded figure stands up, her cape whirling around her, the sword that she wore at her side raised…




The woman is lying on the couch, her blond hair lying on the arm of the couch as she flips channels. Everything is old, everything she has seen before. She’s watched every action movie, seen every tragedy, heard every variation of boy meets girl. She’s so tired. This was supposed to be her escape, but it’s too much like work. No, it is work. She’s been doing this for ages. She sighs, the noise echoing in the still living room.

Viktora comes in from the second room, her limp audible. Viktora throws the soft drink at her, which she catches without looking.

“So, your reflexes have come back?”


“My limp is still…”

“Don’t worry. I won’t leave. ”

“I know, I know.”




The Television is a work of art in the technological world. It is a masterpiece of looking into worlds without disturbing them, a keyhole into what-could-have-been.

It’s perfect, except in one respect.

Whoever watches it would see only what their world could have been.

And sometimes, see their own.


Getting a Pet

Living your life without responsibility makes your life unorganized. A pet provides comfort, love, humor, responsibility, and an adorable face. A pet will be there when you are sad, and any pet, from a fish to a cow, can be all out hilarious. So, in your life, should you get a pet?

I believe that yes, you should get a pet. I have had a hamster and four guppies in my lifetime. Their survival was actually my responsibility. The hamster died after a year, in the middle of a very busy time. I neglected her by forgetting to clean her cage, and she died. Now, I learned a very important lesson because my hamster’s life was in my hands, and I failed. Having a pet showed me the importance of responsibility and the importance of life.

Pets are actually good for your health. For example, petting a rabbit reduces stress, which is a considerable problem in our everyday lives. Having a dog strongly encourages walking, and even a short five minute walk can impact your health. Any pet can be a best friend for you to talk to or cuddle with. A pet will love you no matter what. The best conversation starter is a pet. A dog, cat, fish, bunny, or lizard can help start a conversation and break the tension when you are with a stranger. Also, pets are so silly. Something that might be normal to them might make you fall on the floor, laughing your head off.

Pets make you think. Pets do interesting things — they have interesting behaviors, and they have intriguing textures. Most pets don’t have hands, so they have to use other alternatives to pick up things, feed themselves, and clean themselves. Some pets use their mouths to pick up things, but others use their trunks, legs or arms, and tongues. Humans use hands, forks, spoons, and knives to eat, but most pets skip that step and use their tongues and teeth to transfer their food to their mouths. The textures on pets can have the oddest feeling in the world — they could be rough, scaly, fluffy, smooth, soft, or bare — dogs would be soft and fluffy, snakes would be scaly, a hairless cat or dog would have a bare texture, and an Angora rabbit would be very fluffy.

Although pets can be awesome, some people are allergic to pets, or some people are not allowed to have a pet. In that case, they could buy an exotic or neat plant to take care of. I think pets are very fun and silly, but you do have to take care of them and you do have to change your schedule sometimes because of your pet, but that should not stop you from finding a pet to have. Pets have so many upsides and benefits. I strongly suggest you look into getting a pet. I have had about 13 pets in my house, throughout all my life, and they have all been big blessings to me and my family. So, when you have the chance, get a pet.


Three Dreams


A Dream of a Butterfly

Everyday resembles a blank canvas,

Any color can accommodate the dull lines,

Our dreams arrange like butterflies in the rain,

Pattering down in rattled drops as the sun beams beyond them.


An idea forms simply from effortless imagination,

Processing concepts to ratify their senses,

Then blossoming into an established innovation.


Sometimes pain attempts to keep us locked without a key,

But our wings are stronger,

Not only do we fly,

We soar above the chants.


A Dream of a Starfish

I grow,

I create,

I manage,

I build,

I express,


I fail.


I grow again,

I create again,

I manage again,

I build again,

I express again,


And just like a starfish,

I succeed.


A Dream of a Tree

I sprout from roots that simply hold my weight,

A superior force of foundation beneath me,

My bark is solid in firmness,

Its fresh scent of wet leaves absorbed by the humid air,

A strength that yields away the controlling wind.

I continue to grow upwards,

Now small segments of colors burst at the tips of my twigs.

My branches sway in the luminous path of sunlight.

My wood constantly develops in short portions of purity.

My leaves now create a beautiful image of reflection.

I stand above the constant echoes of dying plants,

Their somber remains disappearing,

Plants that didn’t thrive in their negativity.


But I am still here.

I am the dream of a tree,

A dream that unlocked the chamber, even without a key.