Secrets That Lie Beyond the Front Door

Chapter One

“Looks can be deceiving.”

I wipe my eyes as I close the door behind me. Walking down this uneven dirt road brings back memories of when she used to skip down a sunny road with the cherubic face of a child wedged in her arms. As I keep walking towards the yellow school bus, I think about the time when I refused to go on the bus without my mother right by my side. As I walk on the bus, the whispering automatically stops. I hear kids making fun of my clothing. The hand-me-downs I wear still smell of her perfume, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. So many years later and these are the kind of memories that still haunt me. I don’t dare say a word to the “popular kids,” so I won’t end up on the floor of the schoolyard. Not that it would be any different from the floor in my bedroom.

It all started ten years ago, on Friday the thirteenth, the afternoon my mother died. I was eight years old when I heard the gunshots that caused my mother to lay on her deathbed. My “dad” wouldn’t even speak to me for the next week. When I asked him where to put all of mom’s clothes, he threw the glass he was drinking from at the wall nearest to my head. Even to this day, if I say the name Dana, he flinches.

This morning, I was sitting on the white plush chair in my room asking my dad if I could wear mom’s dress for my eighteenth birthday. He slid the chair from under me which made me land on the somewhat fluffy rug. The next thing I knew, I had a black and blue mark on my forehead when I heard the school bus halt to a stop.

Eventually, lunchtime came, and I texted Syd and told her to come to the library (our daily meeting spot). I opened my pale purple JanSport backpack and took out my book. As I was opening to page 134, Syd walked in saying, “How surprising, Laila has her head stuck in a book.”

“Shhhhh. I am in the middle of someone getting saved from drowning.”

I took out my PB&J from my sparkly purple, black, and blue lunch bag. As she sat down, she pulled out a white and blue striped box saying happy birthday in pink letters.

“Thanks,” I said, as I pushed the gift box to the side to make more room for my book.

“Aren’t you going to open it?”

“In a second. The girl just got saved by her prince charming (cliche), but she is still unconscious.”

“Still waiting.”


As I was opening the gift, I saw black and rose gold pieces of clothing peek out of the box. First, I took out two rose gold rompers with the shoulders cut out. Then, I took out a black dress with a halter at the top.

”I wanted to ask you what happened to your forehead.”

“Oh, that. Um, I was hit with a softball… ”

“You don’t even play softball.”

“You know… um… the bus gets crazy sometimes.”

Okayyy. Anyways, I wanted to take you to a movie for your birthday.”

“Sure. What time?”

“Five sharp. I’ll meet you outside the AMC on 109th street. Okay?”

“See you then.”

The bell rings…

In break, on the phone.

“Hey, Dad. I’m going to study in the library after school.”

“You need to be home by eight and no later, or you’re going to regret it.”

“K. Bye.”

Hangs up the phone…

I’m not going to get caught. It’s fine. I’m totally fine.

After school…

“Hey. Do you want to eat something quick before the movie?”

“Sure. We have a lot of time on our hands.”

“What? Why?”

“I forgot to buy the second ticket. Then, the tickets sold out. So… now we are going at 7:30 instead of 6.”

“Okay. I don’t think that’s a problem.”

A few hours later…

“So what movie are we going to see”

“It’s called, Life Is Like Riding a Bike on Fire.

“What is it about?”

“It’s about this girl that has this crush, and he doesn’t treat her right, so she breaks up with him. Kind of a cliche, but I heard it’s good. Let’s go in. It’s going to start any minute.”

Entering the room…

“Oh my gosh. WHO IS THAT.”


“The guy next to my seat.”

“Oh. That’s Michael from our school. He’s in our grade. He’s just not in any of our classes. He’s one of my brother’s best friends. He’s like a brother to me.”

We sit down…

“Hey, I’m Laila.”

“I’m Michael. I’ve seen you around school.”

“So… did you come here with anyone.”

“No. My friends ditched me. Hey, Squid.”

“Haha. Very funny, Michelle.”

I almost forgot that Syd was next to me. It was like it was just me and him in this moment.

“Ahem. Look I know you guys are vibing, but I’m here too.”

I didn’t even hear Syd. I was just focused on his perfectly shaped, tan face. His deep blue eyes pierced into my skull. Is it bad that I was just staring at his lips. Oh my gosh. I totally forgot I was supposed to be at home right now. Have you ever felt like your heart was melting all because of someone’s gaze.

“I could kiss him right now.”

Oh my gosh. I said that out loud to his face. I just got to keep my cool. I can tell he likes confidence. All he did was smirk. He knew I said that by accident.

“I have to go now. Maybe I’ll see you later.”

I was liking this new confidence of mine. Maybe a new wardrobe would suit this new attitude. After all, I did have enough money from the job I worked at in the mall.

“Come on, Syd. Let’s go.”

I gave Michael a shy smile to go.

“Hey. I need to tell you something,” said Syd.


“Please stop crushing on Michael. He’ll just break your heart, and he’s like a brother to me, so it’s really weird. K?

“I’ll try.”

“Is that a promise.”


The Case of the Missing Gem

This piece is inspired by the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Conan Arthur Doyle

Chapter One

One day, Sherlock Jr. (Lock) got a text from Watson Jr. (Watts) telling him to come 31st Avenue. Lock rushed out and called a cab. When the cab arrived, Lock told the driver his address, and the cab sped off. When he arrived, Watts told him that the British Museum in London was robbed from the biggest diamond in the world.

The security guards recognized the detectives and waved them over. They walked over and asked the guards, “When did this happen?”

The security told them that it happened this morning. Lock asked the guards if he could go to the room where the diamond was held to do some investigating. When they got to the room, the glass cap that was previously covering the diamond was on the floor, and the diamond was gone. The room was cold but bright, and there were some windows. Watts and Lock looked around the room for fingerprints and clues. There was no one else in the room except for some guards. They found there was a green hat in the corner of the room with the letter M on it. Lock instantly knew that this hat belonged to Moriarty, Sherlock’s (Lock’s dad’s) enemy and also London’s most wanted criminal. He must have left it behind when he was escaping. They came out of the room and told the guards what Lock had found. Then, they walked out to continue their search.

They wanted to track down Moriarty to find the diamond and figure out what he was planning to do with it.

Chapter Two

Lock and Watts walked around the big museum building, looking for ways Moriarty could have escaped without being noticed. They looked around for two hours, but they found nothing. Every corner of the building was clueless.

“He must be one of the world’s greatest criminals to get away like that,” said Lock. “No wonder Dad had so much trouble catching him.”

“Moriarty could have jumped out of a window and ziplined across to some other building.”

After their discussion, Lock and Watts went to a nice cafe where they could get some coffee and discuss the case.

Chapter Three

After their coffee, the detectives went home to get some sleep. The next day, Lock and Watts went out to the nearby buildings to see if Moriarty had ziplined in and out of the museum building. The first building they checked had no signs of Moriarty, but the second house had a broken window which the criminal must have done. The detectives asked the house owners about the broken window, and they said it was not there two days ago, which is when the robbery had happened. Lock looked around and found a piece of some wire under the windowsill with the name 23rd Street Wire Company. Finding this, Lock showed it to Watts. The detectives said thank you to the house owners and walked out.

Chapter Four

The detectives headed towards 23rd Street on their motorcycles to investigate the building. From their past cases, the criminals always used the building of a company of something they’re using or wearing. When they got to the big brown building, it was as dark as night. They looked through the windows. They saw part of a big room where they expected the wire was made, and there was no one there. They entered the building. It was cold and dark. They walked through the hallway and looked through into every room. They got to the stairwell and walked up to the second floor and saw a light.

Chapter Five

The detectives walked towards the bright light. They snuck up to the corner to get a glimpse of who or what was there. At a large, brown, wooden desk sat a fat man with the same hat they found at the museum.

“This guy must be Moriarty. Quick, let’s get out of here before he notices,” Lock whispered to Watts.

“Yeah, we’ll notify the police too,” Watts answered. Suddenly, the man on the desk got up and walked towards them. The detectives ran towards the stairs.

Chapter Six

Dashing down the stairs onto the ground floor, Moriarty was gaining up on them. Luckily, the detectives got onto their motorcycles, and they got away. They rode towards the police station.

When they got to the police station, the detectives told the police to hurry up and follow them before Moriarty could get away. They sped off with five police cars following. Lock told them to circle the building and hide until Moriarty would come out. The detectives waited outside with the police. They waited for one long, cold winter hour.

Chapter Seven

Everyone was starting to fall asleep standing against their cars and motorcycles, when suddenly they heard a scuffling noise. The detectives rose to their feet where they could see the same fat man was walking out with that green M hat. The detectives gestured to the police to wait until he was closer, so they could capture him without him running away. They waited a minute or two. Moriarty started walking their direction. Watts whispered to Lock that the diamond he stole might be in his green backpack.

When the criminal got closer, the police officer said through his blow horn, “Police. Stand still. Don’t move.”

The criminal tried running the other direction when two more police cars came in and circled him. Finally, Moriarty dropped his bag and put his hands up. The officer walked up to him and put handcuffs on his hands. In several minutes, they were cruising down the street towards the police station.

Lock said cheerfully, “Another case well solved.”

The next morning, Moriarty was sent to court.

“Why did you steal the diamond?” asked the judge.

“I wanted to become a better person and sell it to some rich guy and give the money to charity,” answered Moriarty. “But if you want, you could put me in jail. I was just trying to make the world a better place.”

“Okay, I believe you, but you will still go to jail for a year, and if we catch you doing something wrong, you will go to jail for the rest of your life.”

The end

After one year in jail, Moriarty became a really nice and good person and donated a lot of money to charity.

The detectives continued solving mysteries.

The actual end.

The Diary of Evil Chicken Dude

Today, the craziest thing happened. It seemed like an ordinary day, but it wasn’t. I went to the kitchen like I do every day and waited for my mom to make me a hard boiled egg. But when she grabbed the egg, she dropped into a big pot of moldy stew. But I ate the egg anyways.

Soon, I noticed I was pooping out eggs and suddenly craved corn seeds. Then out of nowhere, I grew a beak and feathers. I turned into a human-sized chicken, then I started to do evil mean tricks and pranks. I then came to the conclusion that all my mean tricks and pranks started because of the mean old mold. I went to see the M.O.L.D. doctor for villains, and he told me my theory was true, and the M.O.L.D. doctor also said he’d ask his friends if I could join M.O.L.D..

I started my new life living alone being an evil chicken. Finally, the evil villains of M.O.L.D., which stands for mean, old, lazy dudes, called me, and now I am robbing banks and living a life of crime. I am no longer accepted at my parents’ farm since I robbed my parents of all their chickens, to make mold egg stew. I live at the M.O.L.D. headquarters and bunk with a giant lemon named Pablo.

Black Roses

We planned our funerals together. You told me you wanted black roses.

“Black roses, where can I find those?” I asked.

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” you smiled.

I think about that conversation a lot. I think about black roses a lot. In fact, I think about black roses so much that last summer, I tried to make one. I painted a white rose black with acrylic paint I found in my garage. It didn’t work. I threw it away. The black paint smeared on the garbage bag, leaving ugly dark streaks. Last summer was the last time I saw you. Last summer you winked at me and told me to let you know if I ever found a black rose. That was the last thing you told me before you boarded the airplane. The airplane that would take you to Guam. Guam. The island. To be honest, I’m not even sure where that is. I’m not sure why you leaving bothers me. I’m not sure why I’m still looking for black roses.

A Mother Knows Best

“What about George National High School?” asked my mom. I immediately felt my chest tighten. You had to take an admissions test and have a perfect GPA to get into George National High School. And I didn’t have the best GPA. It had its flaws, but I knew very well that I couldn’t disagree with my mother, so I had to put George National High School as one of my options. “Love, why don’t you say what you think about it? I’m just suggesting a school.”

“I don’t want to go to that school, but I don’t know why I would say that because you never take into consideration anything that I say,” I answered.

Mother ignored me and kept flipping through the big, fat book that named all the high schools that my social studies teacher gave me at the beginning of the eighth grade year. I left Mom alone in the living room and headed to my bedroom. I grabbed my laptop from my nightstand and opened it to the application page. The application started in two days, so I still had time to pick the last two schools that I needed for the list, without Mother’s “suggestions” or “recommendations.” Mother had other visions for my future: she wanted me to go to a boarding school or a private school, then have a career that was in the science or medical field. I, on the other hand, had plans to go to a good high school that was in the city and then… just let fate make my choice. Of course, I couldn’t tell this to my mother. She would argue with me and say she knew what was best for my future. But that fact was counterfeit. How could she know what was best when I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my future?

“Dalilia?” asked Mother. I immediately closed my laptop and opened up the nearest book. “Where are you?”

“Ma, I’m in my room,” I yelled back. A few minutes later, my mother entered my room with a cup of milk and tea in her hand.

“Would you look at that… you’re back to reading,” said Mother.

“What do you mean? I always read.”

“Yeah, but you are doing it because you want to, not because I told you to… ”

“Alright… ”Another lie, but I didn’t want to argue with her. Mother had seen me read in the cafe right next to my school many times before. I kept reading while my mom placed the milk and tea on my nightstand, on top of my history notebook. Right on top of it. I felt like she forgot that tea is liquid, and the notebook had my notes for my history final.

“So, what are you reading?” she asked, tentatively.

Call Me By Your Name by — ”

“Andre Aciman,” she finished.

“Yup, that’s the one… ”

“Dalilia, you are always reading that book! Try being more diverse… ”

“I really like the book — ” I stopped myself before my mother could give me the death stare. “I will, Ma. Do you have any recommendations?”

“Try Milk and Honey,” she responded, then left my bedroom. That conversation was so unnecessary, but now I had a book recommendation. I went back to the application website and saw that some high schools allowed you to apply early. I looked at the screen and contemplated the choice I was about to make. I had always been a good child and taken my mother’s recommendations, but now something was making me rebel against my mother. I trembled as I clicked the blue apply button next to my top four choices and then watched the computer load and accept my selections. I immediately felt a wave of catharsis and sent a text informing my counselor.

Dalilia, you know your first choice was Dule Jet High School, right? she texted back.

I told her yes and the reason why I picked the school (for the puppy shelter after school program). She then sent me a picture of the school’s graduation percentage rate and the safety rate. Only 34 percent of the students had graduated in four years, and only six percent of the students felt safe in the school. This meant that the high school’s seats were not filled, and I suddenly experienced a rush of stress as I realized that it was official: I would definitely be going to this school. I threw my head face-down onto the pillow and screamed into it: College was never going to happen now. My counselor called me right in the middle of my breakdown.

“Dalilia, you might not get into the high school, maybe… ” she said. It was clear that she was trying to find a scenario in which I wouldn’t be accepted into the school, and it was also clear that she couldn’t find one. A huge sob came out of my mouth. “W-Wait, um. You could always apply to a boarding school or a private school. I believe you are smart enough to get into one… ”

I stopped crying for a good second. If I did apply for a boarding or private school, then I would have to tell my mom that I needed to take a test to be accepted. A test that I hadn’t studied for because I didn’t have time, and I’d wanted to rebel and — and — and… I broke down again.

“Ms. Sar, I’m going to have to tell my mom,” I said, between sobs. Ms. Sar stayed quiet as she listened to me weep.

“Our mothers tell us what to do for a reason, Dalilia. It’s because at the end of the day, they want us to become someone who is respected and valued. Even if your mom annoys you and punishes you, she does this so that you won’t make mistakes that affect you in the future. A mother knows best, so right now you should go talk to her about this. It’s not good to be keeping lies from her.”

I thanked Ms. Sar and hung up. I headed to the bathroom, washed my face, and dried it. Knowing my mother, she would punish me or maybe even scream at me, but you couldn’t always assume the worst. I headed downstairs and found my mother sitting on the kitchen island on her laptop. She had her glasses on and her favorite coffee mug that I gave her for her work promotion gift. I sat next to my mother and took a deep sigh.

“Ma — ”

“I know, you don’t need to tell me.”

“Wait, what? You know about the high school — ”

“Yup, I keep tabs on your computer and your phone and your Netflix account.” Yeah, talk about privacy. “And I’m proud of you for being honest and coming to me to tell me about your naive choice.” Mother’s eyes were still on the laptop screen, and surprisingly she was being very nonchalant about this whole situation. I stayed quiet while she kept typing on her laptop.

“I plan on applying to a boarding school,” I quietly added. Mother had no reactions and kept typing on her laptop. A few seconds later, she stopped and took a sip of her coffee, then looked at her laptop again.

“Dalilia, I feel like you’re mature enough to make your own choices about your next steps, but right now I’m thinking about sending you to the church school that your uncle has recommended since you were in fourth grade,” Mother responded. I opened my mouth, but she kept on talking. “Don’t answer me right now. Why don’t you go and think about it — go outside and get some fresh air or something.” I really needed it, so I didn’t bother to argue with her.

As soon as I stepped outside, the smell of my neighbor’s Smeraldo flowers hit me. I hadn’t been outside for so long that I’d forgotten about the Smeraldo flower and the placid winds that made the chimes on my window move and tinkle. I remembered my neighbor telling me that the meaning of this flower was, “the truth untold.” Fun facts, huh. My mother coughed and interrupted my contemplative moment. I came rushing back to reality and thought of my mom, the woman who I respected most. I admired her yet abhorred her for making me abhor myself. I admired the fact that someone could be powerful enough to make someone else hate themselves: a power of hers that I both hated and revered.

I texted my Aunt Pam who was like another mother to me, but I never told this to my mom because I knew she would get jealous. Aunt Pam was in her 20’s and had her hair cut short last November because she strongly believed at the time that women who cut their hair wanted to change their life. She was still stuck in the 90s, since she wore mom jeans and a wide shirt with a finishing touch of a dark red matte lipstick. Personally, I loved this aesthetic look unlike my mother who thought that Aunt Pam needed to “wake up.”

Aunt Pam texted back, inviting me over since she heard about my choice. In the family, when you did something wrong, all your family members know about it, no matter where they were. I could call a family member who lived overseas, and they would know about my choice too. I headed over to Aunt’s Pam house, a couple blocks away. As soon as I entered her house, the smell of cinnamon rolls hit me, which brought memories of when I stayed over at hers when Mother was away.

“Oof — ” I said as I body tossed myself onto the couch. “I hope I don’t get food poisoning, don’t need any more problems.” Aunt Pam came out of nowhere, sat next to me, and kissed my forehead.

“Ha, you know you want them, but I don’t plan on giving them to you until you tell me what’s up,” she responded. I let out a stressed sigh as my response.

“I know that Ma is surely applying for the nearby boarding school, even though she said that I should go to that obtuse school all the way in Boston with a Nun. So, I guess that at the end of the day, she does design my future… ” The house was quiet, making it feel like even Aunt Pam was experiencing the same epiphany I was going through.

“That how it goes, boo. Your mother kept you in her stomach for nine months and had to grow through vomiting, urination, and other worse things — just to bring you into this world. She knows you the best, even though you claim to not know yourself… ” Aunt Pam stood up and headed back into the kitchen.

“So, Boston it is,” I responded. Aunt Pam nodded. That is how I made my decision. I didn’t have to think about it —


“Wait — so you made a choice to come here in a matter of seconds?

Dalilia nods and pats her roommate’s head. The roommate is a freshman and comes into the room, complaining that she could have thought twice before picking a horrible high school that her mother didn’t allow. It was sort of similar to Dalilia’s story, so she sat down at 5 am on a school night and told her freshman roommate the story as a way to console her. Plus, Dalilia also thought it was a great icebreaker.

“Well, I’m going to sleep,” said Dalilia. The freshman pouts and has a tiny tantrum. After the tantrum is over, the room stays silent. So silent that you can hear the birds talking to each other and the leaves fighting each other and if the sun could make a sound, you would hear it too. The freshman looks at her hands and lets out a tinkling giggle. “Hm?”

“By the way, how do you remember the story so vividly?”

Dalilia laughs and thinks for a moment. “Some things are just so important that it’s impossible to forget them.”

People say that they created mothers because God couldn’t be everywhere, but Dalilia didn’t believe this. However, that doesn’t mean that she forgot about it. Dalilia had finally decided to come to her senses when she graduated high school with honors in all classes and got into one of the best colleges in the country, thanks to her mother’s screaming when Dalilia wanted to give up, the tight hugs when girls were being rude, and the inspirational texts in the middle of the day. Since then, Dalilia figured out that she would always need her mother — no matter what age she was, no matter how mad she was at her.

The End