Author Archive

A Walk in Our Shoes, by Sarah Krolikowski

The sun was going down and the ground was starting to freeze. I held my sister close to me and whispered, “I’ll keep you warm Lily.” Mom had left us again, supposedly to find us food. She smelled of cigarettes and sweat and I noticed the dark marks on her arm again. This meant another night on the streets, to fend for ourselves. If she did come back, we knew she’d be strung out again. At least she’d come back to find us at some point, unlike our dad, who was stuck in a cell and couldn’t leave.

I wrapped my sister in the extra clothes we had and put socks on her hands. There was no way I was going to let her freeze. I told her we had to start making the voyage. Her eyes filled with tears, but she found enough strength to stand up. “Everything will be okay,” I lied. My plan would allow us to make it through the night though, if trouble is avoided.

We made our way to the grocery store, walking swiftly to stay warm. Inside, the colorful fruits and vegetables immediately caught my eye. I stopped at the apples, inspecting them for imperfections, like any other customer would. The apple was alright, so I stuffed it in my coat pocket. Next stop was the carrots because I knew my sister loved them. As we passed, I knocked a bag onto the floor, and stuffed it in my jacket as I got up. Lily looked at me with sad eyes, as I grabbed her and headed for the door. She was old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, but too young to know the swiping skills.

Nearby was a park, where we found a bench to rest on momentarily. I gave her the carrots and she immediately gorged on them. I ate the apple to the core, and licked my sticky fingers clean. My confidence peaked as I saw her filling up on her healthy snack. It was fuel for me to keep pushing on. “You done for now?” I asked, as I got up and extended a hand to her. “Yeah,” she said quietly as she grabbed my hand and sluggishly rose.

As we continued the journey, I noticed a forested park area in the horizon. “It’s better than a park bench”, I thought to myself. The trees were very close to each other, which would serve as protection from the elements. I sat my sister down and gave the carrots back to her so she could eat the rest. I let her know we were building a fort, like we used to when we were young. She smiled and sprang up, excited to help me. We scavenged twigs and leaves to create our home for the night. To a passerby it looked like a pile of leaves, but it would keep us hidden.  After our fort was made, I tucked her in with leaves and extra clothes we had in our bag. She dozed off almost immediately.

Sleep came easy for Lily, but for me, it seemed virtually impossible. No matter how tired I was, I had to figure out the next plan of action. Every day was a new day to bring us trouble or hope. “Maybe we will run into our mom and she will have food for us and a warm place to take us to?” I thought to myself as I pulled out a picture of my family. In the photo, the sun was shining, with no clouds in sight. That was long time ago though. Whatever was in store for us, I knew my little sister could rely on me. I would make sure trouble didn’t follow her, like it chased our mother.

The Holographic Charizard, by Jake Raffaelli

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having moral principles. It was a foreign word in my childhood, but it was about to unexpectedly have a huge influence on my development as a person.

I was always a slightly awkward child. I had a couple friends, but instead of hanging out with them I often chose to stay indoors doing my own thing. My older brother, on the other hand, was a cool, rebellious teen at the time. He had his group of friends who were also rebellious, and I wanted to fit in with them.

One day I got the chance to prove myself. I was hanging out with my friends: Sasa, Dejan, Nick, and Adam. We were hanging out upstairs in the apartment hallway area, a place in which we frequently gathered. They were comparing their Pokemon cards, which is something I was never very into. I was more into Dragonball Z than Pokemon, but that’s neither here nor there. Nick, who wasn’t really my friend, he just hung out with my friends, kept bragging about his favorite card he had just gotten.

A holographic Charizard.

While zoning out from the constant bragging delivered by Nick, I remembered a trick my brother once taught me. It was a simple, nifty little trick in which you slip the card into your sleeve while no one is looking and the card simply disappears.

I started off small, taking only the cards that come in every pack, the cards that you have ten copies of. I felt so sly, nobody noticed that a single card had gone missing. My confidence

was growing, cooking up a storm. It was time I went for the unprecedented card.

The card was so precious to Nick, he hovered over it like a hen hovers over her egg. I felt as though he’d never let it out of his sight. After a few minutes had passed, Adam was feeling courageous. He challenged Nick’s Charizard with some minuscule card.

Nick laughed arrogantly, “Ha! That card is nothin’ compared to my CHARIZARD!” He reached for the card to shove it into Adam’s face once more, but the podium beneath Nick had suddenly collapsed.

The card was in my sleeve.

Nick lost his cool. As he ran home to his mom, I went inside and showed the card to my brother. He was pleasantly surprised, and placed the treasure into the little safe he had for all of his best cards. Suddenly I heard Nick’s mom outside.

I joined the others back outside, so I wouldn’t look guilty. His mother was hysterical, screaming so loud it must have echoed for miles.


My story didn’t budge.

“I don’t have his card; I don’t know what happened to it!” I responded innocently, shaking with fear.

Finally my mom came to the rescue, “Jake is a good kid. He would never have taken that card!” she explained; all the while I snuck back to the safety of our apartment.

The guilt consumed me after my mom had said that.

I begged my brother to give me the card so I could return it, but he insisted that everything would fly over soon enough. The guilt was eating away at me like maggots feeding on a dead body. After reflecting on this moment for months, something good finally came from it. While my brother influenced me to do something bad, I learned that it wasn’t worth it. That’s when integrity began to replace guilt’s consumption within me, and I began to grow into a better person.

The Blind Date, by Laura Rodriguez

All the sounds of the pitch black night are diminished by the suffocating air. The heat cloaks the cricket’s song in irritation while the owls exhausted “Hoo” is muffled by the heavy air. An uneven path can be felt under the soles as wild pawing in the darkness is used to grasp the humid air. Only after furious blinking are you convinced it is not your eyes but the night that is blinded by the lack of moonlight. As the pace slows the feeling of helplessness is replaced with dreadful fright of what might be waiting in the unseen path.

“Is anybody out there?” the anxious horse whispers. “I can’t see a thing, please tell me if anyone is out there! All I can smell is dirt and hot air.”

“Where are you? What is your name? Are you alone? My name is Mare; I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. Will you be so kind as to help me get out of here? My family will reward you handsomely for your assistance.” Claims Bear in a dainty gentle voice.

“Yes of course I will help! My name is Ace and I have traveled very far unaccompanied in search of a place to call home.” The horse exclaims proudly. As Horse’s fear fades he boastfully offers “In exchange for your safe return do you think your family will consider providing a lonesome wanderer a home and nice meal?”

Then in a flash the dark night lit up in a dazzling spectacle of meteor showers. Horse glanced over at Bear wearing night vision goggles, just in time to see his sharp jagged teeth bulging from his gaping wide mouth.

“You will be the most delicious meal I’ve tasted in a long time.” Declares Bear in a husky voice as he chomps down on the rear of frightened Horse. “Scrumptious!” He croons through his blood stained teeth.

“You liar!” Screeches Horse in agony as he fights to get away. “I thought you were Mare, I should have trusted my instincts! You reeked like a disgusting hibernating animal all along.”


The morals of the story are to never trust what you hear on a blind date and always trust your instincts. No matter how appealing someone sounds they may very well end up being the biggest pain in your ass ever!

Well-Groomed Wonder, by Laura Rodriguez

I sat waiting patiently on the cold hard bench while staring at silvery white and cream veins of the marble floors. I examined people passing down the long bland corridor judging them even thought I knew I shouldn’t. I could hear the tapping of their heels across the floor. Gentleman with long dress coats shuffled past in a rush to their hearings. Women burdened with their own weight in paperwork hurried by. It seemed as if everybody had a place to be and should have been there ten minutes ago.

At that moment an African American woman appeared through the long elevator doors. Her flawless ebony skin was surpassed only by her impeccably groomed hair. She moved down the hall with the ease of a ballerina, dangling an oversized bag on her right elbow. She held her forearm outward and upright as if to display the medium tear dropped ring that sat proudly atop her hand. Her French manicure gleamed as her left arm adorned with a beautiful gold and diamond bracelet swayed with each step. As she moved closer I could see she was wearing a fashionable cape jacket and freshly pressed tailored pants. Gliding even nearer I was amazed that her ability to move in five inch stiletto heels despite being heavy set. Her essence must have demanded admiration as I noticed several people walk past her then glance back for a second look. Her appearance was so polished and well put together that I imagined her to be a CEO or possibly even a lawyer. The only noticeable imperfection about her was a crescent shaped heliotrope mark hiding beneath side swept bangs near her left eye. She drew quicker and began to smile and I could see perfectly straight brilliant ivory teeth.

While smiling back, “Good morning” I nodded.

As she paused, “Hi do you know where room 711 is?” she inquired.

“I think it’s that room over there.” I gestured as I corrected my posture.

“Thank You!” she said, “Do you know if that’s where I can file a restraining order?”

Startled by the question I raised my eyebrow “Sorry I’m not sure but I think so.”

She appeared a bit hesitant at first as she glanced down the hall. Making her way to room 711 she took a deep breath and paused before pulling the handle and walking in the room. With a newfound realization that the mark under her eye was probably a bruise, I couldn’t help but wonder why someone of this stature would be abused. Had I ever heard of Queen Elizabeth being hit? Of course not, and this situation seemed equally unfathomable.

I spent most of the day thinking about that woman. Wondering what her situation was and if she was now safe. I contemplated why at first sight I hadn’t assumed she was there for a restraining order. We were right outside the doors of the room where they were filed. Was I so prejudice that I assumed someone so proper couldn’t be touched by violence? Of course I was! I had been groomed since I was a child to believe that violence coexisted with poverty just as respectability did with wealth. At first glance that woman had demanded respect so I categorized her as I had every other person that walked past me. Now every time I find myself classifying a person I remember the well-groomed wonder and how she taught me to never pass judgment so quickly.

Baptism, by Gabriel Villa

It’s the only way into heaven

But no one understands

I have been baptized

By desire

By passion

By confusion

By depression

By questions

By tears

I have been baptized


The Chosen Few, by Gabriel Villa

If I’m not one of the chosen few

I’d rather not be called

So I’ve laid in beds – gasping for air

It’s a sin, but I don’t care

The danger is not sin

But what you become after it

So why must you want me to repent

when I haven’t done anything yet?

Am I not the same person I was yesterday?

Or the day before?

Or the year before?

The called one – still unchosen


The Oblivion of Love, by Gabriel Villa


Here among thorns I sleep

The pain is almost unbearably relentless

It keeps me shuddering; how can I rest?

But the loss of blood makes me weak

I dream about celestial grounds

Golden roads, crystal seas

My immortal body drifting upon absolution

But the pain in the awakening returns the oblivion



I make love to shadows:

Imagination, a murderous whore

Leaves her mark on my judgments

I loved every skin and bodily fortress

Keep my trust and I’ll forfeit my love

I know it is not reality – it is only imagination

But the pain in solitude forces me to the darkness

The darkness that follows;

The convenient shadow of oblivion



Dust falls from the ceiling as I contemplate

(No time to worry)

I must find my mind;

My mind that I seem to have lost

I don’t remember when but I remember where

In Barcelona; in your bed; gasping for air

They say it’s a sin – but I don’t care

I’ll find you again;

An encounter that must leave us bare

Sin and oblivion: that is the cost



Who is to blame for the solitude?

Who is to blame for the solstice?

Is it I of little faith; is it I of earthly skin?

Is it the God in Heaven?

Is it the invisible principalities?

Who is to say?

I cannot remember



The beauty of ignorance

The peace of blindness

The splendor of oblivion

A world of autonomy

I may not remember much

But, I know that I loved him

I know that I loved

I just cannot remember the sensation



Are we souls; Are we bodies?

Are we alive; Are we phantoms?

Are we forgetful; Are we deceitful?

Are we demons; Are we lovers?

Let us not waste more time asking

Let us just answer every question with “Yes.”

Let me go back to sleep among the thorns…

…to forget again

…to forget again

Stereotypes, by Guinevere Hicks

Pick up your sword
Dear child of this forsaken society
Fight. *Tatakae
You are no object
You are no symbol
You are no slave
Dear little girl of this wretched society
Stand with your sword
Defend yourself!
You shall not allow men to have their way
Body of intelligence
Core of philosophy
Embodiment of spirit energy
That is who you are
This is your true self
You shall not bow down to evil men
Rise with your sword
You shall not be a plaything
Get ready to strike
You shall not be told how to live
Blade at the ready
Dash towards your opponent with complete confidence!
Do not wavier as you cut away at him
Cut away the unethical clothes
Cut away the overpriced make-up
Cut away the subordination
Cut away at the gender roles of this society
Keep fighting!
You must win against the stereotypes

*Tatakae means ‘fight’ in Japanese

Brick Wall Dragonfly, by Guinevere Hicks

Brick Wall Dragonfly, by Guinevere Hicks

Brick Wall Dragonfly, by Guinevere Hicks

Kansas City’s Tabernacle, by Guinevere Hicks

Kansas City's Tabernacle, by Guinevere Hicks

Kansas City’s Tabernacle, by Guinevere Hicks