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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Cut, by Delaney Trezise

For 20 minutes, Jess had sat and stared at her reflection in the mirror. She could pay no mind to the mounds of hair clumped and scattered in the sink’s basin. “I did it,” she uttered shakily to herself. “I finally did it.”

Upon first glance, it seemed like any other Tuesday. Jess rolled out from under her weathered bedspread and got dressed for school. She inhaled her cereal, keeping a close eye on the time on her phone. She offered a quick “so-long” to her father who smiled and nodded, reclining contentedly on the family’s beloved chesterfield while sipping his coffee before his morning commute. She attended her classes and was pleased that she hadn’t been called on by the teacher, as she allowed her mind to drift from the grey chalk dust and outdated world maps adorning the classroom walls. Her pulse lulled into a steady synch with the gradual tick of the clock in the back of the room. Things were quiet. Things were normal. Things were fine.

But today was different. Cora looked at her. Today, Cora looked at her.

It was just a brief passing glance in the hallway. Jess had finished up early in Study Hall and had a few moments to spare before making her way to Geology, and so decided to take the slightly longer route. She enjoyed taking the scenic passage when she could, passing by the windows to catch a glimpse of the stubby shrubs garnishing the front parking lot. Spring had settled into their roots after months of lying cloaked in snow, as the small buds at the ends of the branches had sprouted into splendid, crimson red blossoms. She appreciated the silence in the hallway which, on any other day, would be empty. But today was different. As Jess reached the staircase at the end of the hall, Cora descended the steps.

Cora was easily the most brilliant and defiant student in the senior class. Her expressions of genius in her classes as well as her regular demonstrations of civil disobedience had garnered the attention of many in the school, Jess included. Though, for Jess, that wasn’t all that drew her to the rebellious teen. As if her blazing passion for knowledge and justice wasn’t enough, Cora was absolutely immaculate. She had hips that could shake a mountain and a gaze that could pierce diamond. She dressed in tight sweater dresses that complimented her ample curves, and had an owl pendant that rested comfortably on her bosom. Her hair color changed from week to week. She was never the same, but she was always perfect. Someone like her couldn’t possibly exist. But she did, and that Tuesday, she looked at Jess.

In that brief glance, Cora’s emerald green eyes pierced Jess’ soul. She felt everything all at once. It was an eruption of emotions and raging hormones, lashing at her gut to break out of years of her cultivated sexual restraint. Years of questions immediately pointed her to the same answer, in the form of this 18-year old nonconforming goddess with beauty radiating even against the dingy staircase. Cora smiled politely, shaking Jess down to her very core. As Cora continued down the hallway, Jess looked back. In that moment, she knew that she couldn’t hold back any longer. No boy could ever rock her entire being the way Cora did. She finally knew what she had to do.

Jess tugged gently at the ends of the strands, lingering slightly as she considered if some kind of remorse over the loss of her gorgeous golden mane was in order. She quickly pushed those thoughts aside. They wouldn’t be necessary anymore. Not to her, anyway. “Maybe a little too short, but I’ll make it work.”

Always second-guessing herself, she never told her secret to anyone. There was no turning back from a decision like this. For the longest time she had convinced herself that she was just having some momentary lapses in judgment. Consistently, she reaffirmed herself that teenage hormones were constantly running wild in high school. She couldn’t possibly know who she really was through all of the cluttered feelings and emotions.

After the incident in the hallway earlier that afternoon, however, Jess knew exactly who she was. For three years she had known, to be honest. She had grown accustomed to hiding her vibrantly blushing face in the girls’ locker room upon catching Cora undress, assuming it was just a phase. She had turned clearing out her search history on the computer into a sport, deleting her searches faster and faster each time in attempts to hide the burning questions she’d asked on countless Internet forums. But she knew now that this wasn’t just a phase. She knew who she was, and she couldn’t hold back anymore. Jess sought freedom, and her key came in the form of a pair of kitchen shears and an afternoon in front of the bathroom mirror.

A knock at the door, however, shattered her newfound confidence into pieces. Jess froze, mortified, suddenly realizing that facing society would mean starting with her family. “Jess, you doing okay in there?” Her father called out. “It’s been a while. We haven’t heard from you.”

“Just a minute!” Jess replied, scrambling to clean up the mess and trying her best to hide the tremble in her voice. It clearly didn’t work. Her father was always good at picking up on when something was wrongShe stuffed whatever strands of hair she could fit into her trembling fists, as she considered all at once the people in her life that she would have to face. She wasn’t ready. In seeking freedom, she had trapped herself between a dirty mirror and the bathroom door.

Can you please just open up? If there’s a spider that’s freaking you out in there, I can get rid of it for you. It’s just a bug, kiddo.”

Jess stopped her desperate gathering of hair strands and took a deep breath. There was no hiding any of this, no turning back. They would find out regardless of when she stepped outside the stuffy bathroom. Glancing at her reflection one last time, she accepted her fate. She reached weakly out to the vanity and gripped the scissors, hoping they would dispense some sort of security to her. Slowly, she grasped the door handle and pushed her way through.

The normally-pleasant disposition on her father’s face faded into confusion as he gazed upon his daughter’s newly-cut locks. The corners of his mouth gradually dissolved into a frown. He looked Jess up and down, and focused in on the pair of kitchen shears grasped tightly in her fist. He returned to his daughter’s eyes. “Jess?” he beckoned softly. “What did you do?”

The life immediately drained from Jess’ attempt at a reassuring smile, and she began to shake as all of her fears washed over her. She saw not only her father’s face, but the face of every friend, relative, teacher and peer, gawping at her in bewilderment. “I-I’m sorry Dad, I j-just…” she stuttered incoherently, the tears forcing their way through her façade in a constant stream down her cheeks. She paused and took a long, quivering breath. She peered down, her eyes focusing on what she had only moments ago viewed as the key to her freedom. Now the scissors felt heavy in her hand. “I didn’t have much of a choice,” she whispered.

“What are you talking about Jess, why are you sorry?” her father asked, the slight edge of his tone making her flinch. Noticing the weight of his words, he hesitated briefly before proceeding. This time, he spoke with more caution. “I just don’t understand. What’s going on?”

“I’m done pretending to be someone I’ll never be,” she uttered quietly. She took a deep breath and spoke the truth for the first time in three years.

“Dad, I’m gay.”


Her Fire, by Nathan Wohlrabe

A warrior is running through the forest. He is running madly, being chased.  The forest is on fire and it is raging.  He is being chased by demons.  He is slaying these demons with a glistening sword.  Fighting for his life, he feels the heat as a cold embrace of death covers his body in sweat.  He kills demon after demon.  Their deformed bodies and grotesque faces are shrouded by a blazing forest.

He kills and kills until every demon lay dead, and the burning forest takes them.  He is covered in sweat and blood.  He is wounded and bleeding, however the forest continues to burn.  He runs until every inch of his body is on fire with a desire to live.

The fire is behind him; life and pain surround him.  He reaches a pool with a waterfall making soft and gentle music.  He goes to the pool to wash off the blood.  He falls to his knees and begins to cry.  He drinks from the pool like an animal.  He takes off his clothes and walks into the shallow water.  He looks up to see a woman with a pitcher.

She does not frighten but looks at him and she sees him bleeding.  She fills her pitcher from the waterfall and places it on the edge of the pool.  She comes to him in the water.  She takes off part of her clothing and bandages his wounds and covers his nakedness.

She looks into his eyes and says to him, “I saw you running through the forest, and I started the fire.”


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!


February, by Tyler Odeneal

            “We may have lost him.” She stared deep into the eyes of her deliverer. “We’re trying but there’s no heartbeat…There’s no heart beat.” He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. The doctor was finishing pulling a pair of latex gloves from a box, being sure to dramatically pop his wrists as he pulled them on. His large spectacles glowed in response to the monitor he was studying. No one said anything. No one. She looked up at the doctor in a panic, but the anesthetics and anesthesia were already engulfing her. Christine watched as tears rolled down the young woman’s face. She watched as the doctor flexed his fingers, and then reached up into the girls insides.

She heard him say something about a caesarian section. Emergency! A red light circled and flashed in her mind. Christine’s eyes shot up at the doctor. Oh, an emergency c- section. She turned to face the garbage, thinking she might throw up. She was hung over. Ruth thought about what she was looking at. She pondered the bloody gaping hole that had now culminated between Michelle’s big thighs. What…what the hell? And to think my son did all this. Her heart beat, fast. It beat for Michelle but more importantly it beat for the being inside her. If only he would come out to know everyone. If only her son would have come to the delivery room. If only Ruth could grant her beating heart to the baby.

And with Michelle, there were only maddening screams trapped, all in different colors, swiveling inside her mind. Her mouth could not let them out, and her heart gave a sudden, stern warning. Hoping death didn’t await her, she drifted away. When she left them, she could only feel the throbbing of her heartbeat.

Boom boom, boom boom, boom boom…

 

“Girl, don’t even worry about her. Her weak ass.” Carina sat down next to her sister. She was a senior, ready for graduation in a few weeks and couldn’t afford to get in any trouble. She kept her distance from her little sister. She was high on life as she’d once heard her mother say. How ironic, she thought. Humph, wouldn’t that be a great solution to all the cra-

            “I’m not worried about her! She the one keep bumping me Carina. I’m getting tired of her.” Her little sister’s agitated voice interrupted her thoughts. She tried to avoid even looking over at Ava but she could feel her snake like eyes peering over at their table. She peeled open her chocolate milk carton. Looking down at her sister’s feet, she tried to change the subject.

            “Why you wear those shoes to school? I would’ve saved them.” She was jealous of her younger sister’s new pink and white Nike’s. The box was sitting next to her bed at home.

            “Girl I wasn’t gonna wear these but Mavis wanted me to since he brought ‘em.” Carina looked up sharply at her little sister. The girl brushed a long strand of hair away from her face. She was beaming. Her grin was bigger than she’d seen in a while.

            Carina’s eyes darkened. She tried to suppress a groan. “Yeah, I bet. Have you seen Julius today?”

            “Nope,” she responded, glancing over at Ava’s lunch table. “You see she keep mugging me. She think I’m scared of her since she bumped me in S. Hall.”

            “What you doing in S. Hall anyway? You need to stay on your floor.”

“Girl, you know Mavis be walking me to class.” She smiled and stuffed a chip into her mouth. Ugh, Carina thought, probably aloud.

            “All I hear is Mavis this, Mavis that…” Then she stopped. At that moment, Carina stopped everything. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The splatter from the contents of the tray was drenched all over her, her little sister and all her other friends at the table. She watched in amazement as Ava and her clique marched by laughing, with Ava dutifully dusting her hands of the tray. They were laughing a phony, sarcastic, hysterical laugh, cavorting around the garbage, throwing their heads back and holding their stomachs. This meant war. She could feel her breathing grow heavy. And before she could even get up her sister was already in Ava’s face.

            She was speaking Spanish, maybe. And she was a magician. Who would’ve known? Her little sister was a Spanish speaking magician because she didn’t even see her get up from her seat before she jumped in Ava’s face. And she was talking so loud and fast she could barely understand any of it. She must’ve been Penelope Cruz, laughed Carina. Her mind was all over the place. She jumped up from her seat, pivoting around to try and do something. The room seemed perfectly still in that moment. Everything and I mean everything seemed to slow down except for Carina’s pulse. Her mind was racing furiously. Peace. Her cheeks were tight and her face, serious. Peace, be still. She could hear her grandmother as clear as she could hear her little sister cursing out Ava and everybody with her. Loose strands of her imagination conjured up a vision of Jesus walking on water. Why was she thinking about this?

            “Hey, hey!” barked her cousin Julius who was a few tables away. She could see him pulling up his windbreaker pants trying to rush over. With his big frame he unconsciously knocked people’s lunch trays out of their unsuspecting hands and onto unsuspecting, neatly dressed individuals who were blatantly superficial. They were pissed, without a doubt. Carina shook her head. Then her mind began to race again. She kept thinking about Jesus walking on water. And something about Peter, or Luke, or another one of those Bible people. When her thoughts cleared up her eyes could fully see her little sister. She was beautiful, like their mother. She had skin that glowed and long, black hair. Carina shook her head. She couldn’t figure out why her mind was not fully allowing her body to intervene in the situation. By the time she snapped out of her trance she could see Ava lying between her little sister’s legs. Her face was red – bloody. And the fists and shoes continued to lunge into Ava’s light skinned face. She watched as one of her front teeth went bouncing across the lunch room floor. Carina cringed. What the hell just happened?

                        “Carina!” Julius was screaming her name, and had been for some time. The lunch room had somehow erupted. There were people everywhere, fighting anybody connected with Ava. Carina watched as lunch tables toppled and cracked in half under pressure. Julius looked at her with fear in his large eyes. The way he was saying her name – exhausted and exaggerated – let Carina know he’d been screaming at her for a while. A fat girl in a too-small t-shirt that spilled her gut had her little sister’s hair and refused to let go if she wouldn’t release Ava. Carina almost laughed at her little sister’s stubbornness. The smirk on her bruised face said she wasn’t loosening her legs anytime soon. Carina sighed. On impulse she punched the big girl in the face and from there it was all over. She felt it on the inside.

It was all over. Senior.

As she fought to fend off the girls from hospitalizing her younger sister, she began to think. Her mind began to race again without permission. She could see her class at graduation, in gleaming cap and gowns. She could see herself. She was smiling, grinning hard as she walked across the stage, the crowd cheering so loud she couldn’t fully hear her name being called. Someone took a picture – too close up! They took another…perfect! And everyone threw up their caps and she was taking pictures with family members and faculty and friends. And she was laughing and finally she was beautiful.

You’re a senior! She could hear the phrase condemning her long before she would ever step foot into the principal’s office. You’re a senior, Carina! You have a 3.8 grade point average! What are you doing? What the hell just happened? She’d escaped and opened her eyes for the last time fully. Two disheveled, out of breath police officers stood at either side of her. She looked down, her shirt bloody and ripped. She was already in cuffs. She could see and hear Mrs. Boatwright, her rosy cheeked principal asking her questions with bold frankness. Carina! She called her name. Carina! What in the hell just happened?

 

Mavis was ready. And he hoped she was too. As a matter of fact, he knew she was. He got up and grabbed his Cubs baseball cap from his wooden dresser. He was ready. And he knew his girl would be too. The keys flickered in the bright spring sunlight as, in a flash, Mavis was pulling out of his parents’ driveway and down the street headed towards Karol High School. His good looks and candy red Sunbird was exactly what most of his friends thought, a magnet for females, but at the moment he had his eye on only one girl. And ‘at the moment’ meant almost literally that.

            There she was. She was always right there waiting for him, next to a newly planted tree. Mavis wondered for a second if he could pick one of the fruit from the tree. He thought about all the others who had probably contemplated it. He knew she loved him. And he really liked her, too. She stood with a book in her hand talking to one of her female friends. And man, she looked good. She was the perfect size, with a big chest and nice, juicy thighs. And boy, when she turned around! Come to think of it, Mavis had most likely saw her backside before he got a good view of her face. The very sight of her made him want her even more. He bit his lip, and simultaneously checked for his box of condoms. As he approached her, he thought about how he’d used the same box with Ava. He was glad she was still young and wasn’t nosey yet. He thought briefly about Ava. Man, that’s a girl that’ll check something like how many condoms you used. Ha. He laughed to himself while opening the door for his angel.

            “Hey bae,” she said, reaching over and hugging him.

            “What’s up,” he said and kissed her on the lips. They had just recently started kissing on the lips. Mavis was excited about it. “How was school?” he questioned, their faces still inches apart.

“It was alright besides some petty drama. How was your day?” she reciprocated, staring at him. She brushed a long strand of hair away from her face.

“It was cool. I washed the car and stuff,” Mavis responded slyly. “What book is that?” he asked, trying to seem interested.

“Oh, uh ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God,’” She began, glancing down at the novel in retrospect. “It’s good so far but it’s was written with a strong southern accent. It was giving me a headache,” she laughed. Mavis gazed at the school building and sighed desperately.

He always dreaded dropping out of high school but he’d never admit it. He was working on his G.E.D. That’s good enough, he’d thought. But he felt in his heart that it wasn’t. He didn’t want to think about this so he turned on the radio. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” blasted from the rigged speakers he’d set up and his girlfriend joked that he’d been listening to this all day. They laughed as he quickly turned the dial to “Hip Hop Hooray” and proceeded to sing along with its catchy chorus. They pulled up to the next stop sign – the one where everybody crossed – and Mavis went ahead and spoke to a few of his old buddies.

“When you gone come get double crossed?” laughed Calvin, a tall, second-year senior who was headed for the basketball court.

“Not today, I’m chillin’ with the Mrs.” Yelled Mavis back, laughing. “I’ll catch y’all later!” They sped off down the street, with Mavis making a left on Wright way, towards her house.

“Don’t even say it!” she cried out as they drove up Wright way towards her house. Mavis faked a shocked look.

“Say what?” he responded playfully. “Point out the fact that you gotta go left on Wright way,” they said, almost in unison. He smirked.

“Ha ha, you always make that corny joke,” she said reaching down to tie her shoe. “I need some new shoes,” she sighed.

“I know, but you like it,” he said, gently pushing her. “And didn’t I tell you don’t worry about that. I saw these shoes I want to get you,” he continued. “They’re kind of like mine.” She sat up and glanced down at his all-white Nike’s.

“They better be a different color,” she said, giggling.

“Just shut up,” he said, grinning. He had his head tilted, gazing out the window like a dog panting in the breeze. His eyes shot from the road to every inch of her body. He was pondering tonight.

Mavis zipped up his pants and flushed the small toilet, stepping toward the outdated, porcelain sink. When he looked up, he stared at the man looking back at him. The person in the mirror was a lot of things; sexy, smart, energetic, young and charismatic. Mavis smiled, careful not to show teeth. In that moment he thought of his father. Those lifeless eyes glaring at him, almost paralyzing him as he walked. His father’s dark, emotionless face condemned him before he even had the chance to do anything. He held his breath, continued, then exhaled. Then he thought of his mother; she was the true definition of beauty, inside and out. He remembered her reading to him from the large fairytale book his grandmother had given him, and consequently his advanced vocabulary and reading abilities in elementary school. Mavis never told his mother how much that meant to him. He never told Ruth how much she’d helped him. He took off his hat, critiqued it, and ran his hand over his freshly cut hair. Then, after much avoidance, he gazed into his own, real eyes.

He looked away, pondering how his mother must’ve felt when he dropped out. He part resented her. He resented everybody. He was trying to find someone to blame, but when he went down the list he couldn’t find anyone. He couldn’t find anyone but the person looking back at him now.

Stupid!

There was a dry sigh, and out of nowhere he felt his chest rumble. He felt his eyes beginning to water. He took a deep breath, and held back whatever crazy emotion was happening to him. It damn well better not be tears. He could see his father’s face. There was blackness, glaring down upon him with pity. Disgust.

The sun had just begun to go down and the house was dark. And as usual Ms. Christine was at work or somewhere. Mavis pulled his girl in closer to his waist, in between his legs. She didn’t reject his touch. He moved down and kissed her neck, and then climbed on top of her. Slowly he removed his t-shirt and then her shorts. Her troubled eyes gazed into his. “I love you,” she whispered. Her brown eyes searched his. Suddenly Mavis’ mind began to ricochet all over but he couldn’t escape her glance. I love you? Well, if it meant getting what he wanted – what they both wanted – then lying wouldn’t hurt anyone. It never really does, does it? He sighed and kissed her lips. “I love you, too.”

 

Somebody help – wait, no. No. No. No. Hell no. I’m a grown woman. I’m about to kill this bitch! Quinta punched mercilessly, dodging a steady, unrelenting stream of blows herself. Her nose bled and she didn’t mind it dropping down on the little slut’s face. She grabbed a large handful of the slut’s hair, and pulled her into the street. By the time she let go there was a gaping hole and scalp showing. And it was her blood this time. The truth was, she had been taking a beating and she was tired of it.

                “They were near the curb, screaming and yelling and things were getting intense. And that little girl from next door! Ooh, I know she’s some kind of crazy. But that damned lady was too big to be fighting that girl.” The old woman let out a sigh. Officer Thomas looked intently into her eyes. He could still see fear. Blatant fear.  She was nervous, almost trembling. Her face displayed dried, vertical lines from earlier tears. She sat, gazing out from her porch into the street where the altercation had occurred. The scene was now filled with squad cars, flashing red and blue lights. An officer used yellow tape to section off the area in the middle of the street. She shook her head in disbelief, and then placed the ice pack back on her lip.

                “You sure you don’t want to press charges, miss?” beckoned the officer, concerned about the old woman’s swollen lip.

                “No, I’m fine. I know what comes with breaking up a fight. What’s important is that those young ladies are alright,” she paused and thought for a minute. “It’s just a shame though. That woman looked like she was about thirty fighting that fourteen or fifteen year old girl.” Officer Thomas peered over at the squad cars, thinking about the fate of the women. He tried to be optimistic but then a whirlwind of realism set in and his mind resorted to the worst. They were going away for a while.

                Ahh! Ahh! Quinta almost laughed as the lowlife screamed. Let go of my hair. Let go of my hair! She was victorious, but in the back of her mind she hoped someone would come out and break it up. The girl somehow got loose and sprang to her feet in a move Bruce Lee couldn’t have even attempted. Then Quinta felt her head plunge downwards. It bobbed for a while, and she realized it was from the hits she was taking – some to the face, others to the sides of her head. Her knees ached as she dropped down to them, an apparent reaction to being kneed in the stomach. The same knee met her face as she dropped. She watched as one of her front teeth went bouncing across the faded gray pavement. Her blood began to boil.

                Then, suddenly, somehow she was winning again! The little tramp had let up only to be pulled into a chokehold. She watched angrily as the girl flailed her arms, rocking back and forth. Huh! Huh! She was gasping for air. She made starved attempts at grabbing Quinta’s arms but she was small. It was time to let her ass know. You might as well give up unless you want to keep getting beat. Her heart beat faster. Bitch! She added. Quinta’s saliva met the young girls face. She smiled and watched her pant. Again. Then again. She spit a few times, and then slapped the life out of her panicking face. That’s when Mrs. McCall ran out onto her tattered porch.

Get off that little girl! Get off that little girl ‘fore I call the police on you! She was yelling, screaming, pleading. Her arms were flags waving in the air. Quinta glanced over at her. She smiled sarcastically and belted out a victorious siren of No’s. No! No! No! Mrs. McCall continued to scream. She ran back into her house and grabbed the telephone. She’d warned her. No! No! No! Quinta decided she’d switch it up. Nope! Hell no! This little slut needs to learn to stop messing with Ava! Then she felt it. The pain was sharp and intense. What was this feeling? Had she been stabbed? She had, actually.  Again. Then again.

“She started stabbing her, over and over again. With a big kitchen knife. That’s when I got scared for the older lady.” She paused and sipped tea from a faded, once decorative mug. Slowly she eased the icepack back to her lip. “But more scared for that little girl.” The old woman’s face lit up in fear as if she were seeing the events over again. “It was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen…” her voice faded as she sipped tea from her cup again. She shook her head and continued to stare at the bloody spot in the middle of the street. There were no cars. No cars anywhere. There wasn’t one other person around to intervene. Proudly, she gazed into Officer Thomas’ serious eyes. “God made sure I was there.” So when the elderly woman made the choice to go into the street and grab the young girl she knew it would be a major risk. That’s when she felt the girl’s elbow collide with her quivering lip.

                Haha! The small girl was laughing now. It was gruesome. After a bloody struggle, Quinta began fading into unconsciousness. She gazed down at the blood running down her legs, but she knew the girl didn’t care. She continued to stab her with the kitchen knife, its red handle gleaming in the sun. Through the pain she thought about if she’d be able to ever have sex again. Thoughts of her boyfriend, and later her children, popped into her head. She thought about if she’d be able to ever give birth again. There had been some serious, gruesome damage done between her thighs.

Once she’d felt the blade go so deep inside her stomach that at that moment she asked God to take her home. She thought about if she’d live. She thought about the afterlife. Ouch! Ouch! She couldn’t even let out a sound anymore.  As her vision faded, and police surrounded her she had one final request. If she was going to die then she wanted to take someone to heaven with her. Heaven, she thought casting out her doubts of otherwise. The sound of police sirens drained in and out of her ears. And she thought: Lord, I hope I killed that girl’s baby.

 

The bars for her cell flung open and before she looked up, she hurriedly dried her tears. “Towns, you have a court appearance today. Get up.” The older officer spoke with no fluctuation in his tone as if he were giving military orders. She glanced up at him from the dirty toilet bowl, then back down at the dark water. He had thick glasses that helped him identify her and his blank stare strangely never left the cell’s back wall. She tried to stand, but as she did a thick spill of vomit poured from her mouth, only part making it into the toilet. The officer didn’t budge and his eyes did not leave the back wall. Instead, he repeated exactly what he had said – down to the very diction of each syllable. She looked up at him and wondered who was crazier.

                The sun was blazing as the officer and she made her way to the courthouse. It was a long and tedious journey – she couldn’t stop vomiting. “Morning sickness,” said the strange officer, finally looking at the young girl. She looked at him, her lips slightly parted but nothing coming out. “It must be morning sickness, you throwing up like this. How many months? Weeks?” he asked, his tone still the same as earlier. His gaze was fixed on something down the street. The girl wanted to ignore him, but feared what might happen if she did.

                “I don’t know. Probably nine weeks,” she answered him, her voice low and shaky. She had recently discovered her pregnancy at a doctor’s appointment a few weeks earlier. She remembered being in disbelief. But even the home pregnancy test her boyfriend had bought confirmed the inevitable. Most of all she could remember the look on Mavis’ face when she showed him the white stick. It was obvious that their plans to eventually get married were out the window. She could feel her heart beating, fast. As she sat on the small toilet looking up at her boyfriend, she thought her heart had broken.

                The officer unnecessarily decided to turn on the siren as they drove from the woman’s correctional facility down the upper end of Right way to the court. She gazed at him from the back seat. She knew he was purposefully trying to embarrass her. And it was probably what she deserved. They passed people, all of them staring because of the police car’s blaring siren, and she could make out a few faces. She moved her head as far down as possible. Her head still ached from the hair she was now missing. Her lip was swollen and her eye black and puffy. She had failed herself as a person and woman. The t-shirt she had on itched horribly as they approached the stairs of the courthouse. Then she was angry, but not for long. She spit on the ground as the officer helped her up to her feet. The fall didn’t hurt as she dropped on the stairs leading up to the court’s doors. But she’d thought she had done enough harm to her baby already.

                The whole court room was a blur. All she could remember were the doors slamming open as she entered, thanks to the dramatics provided by her escorting officer. Then she was sitting in a wooden chair, still cuffed and listening as people in suits talked about her as if she weren’t there. The judge centered in on her. It felt like a frame from a Spike Lee movie. Her eyes were dark, almost creepily so. And she watched the young girl. The contempt and discernment on her face made her look as if she might vomit, too. She blinked a few times and grimaced as if the young girl smelled. And the people in suits, with the same looks on their faces, poured over her.

                Let her go. Send her. She needs to be punished. LaQuinta Fuller almost died your honor! A poor mother of three almost lost her life due to the recklessness of a wild, promiscuous young girl. Might I add something your honor, she’s eight or nine weeks pregnant. She is fourteen, your honor! Att…He attempted to catch his breath…Attempted murder! Filth. Ghetto. Scoundrel. And that poor old woman. Thousands in reconstructive surgery. She doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.

             She doesn’t deserve to live amongst civilians.

Attempted murder.

Attempted murder.

There was an objection. The judge, looking exasperated, studied the young woman. Michelle. The judge called out to her in the midst of her confusion. Do you have anything to say for yourself? And with Michelle, there were only maddening screams trapped, all in different colors, swiveling inside her mind. She struggled to pull herself together. Your honor, that woman attacked me. The tears began to flow. Come on! A person in a suit yelled out. The judge ordered he contain himself. She came to my house and pulled me out of the doorway. I was simply trying to protect myself. She could remember the moment it happened exactly, as Whitney Houston’s version of “I’m Every Woman” played on her mother’s stereo. I’m so sorry for the damage I’ve caused. Michelle was nearing unconsciousness. She could feel vomit arising in her stomach and creeping up her throat. There was no holding back. Bluahh!

The judge’s eyes were glued to her. She had almost no concern for Michelle, but she realized Michelle had not even realized her own destiny just yet. She didn’t realize that the child she was carrying could be the next…president. She knew it was unlikely but she didn’t doubt God. She closed her eyes as it was her turn to make a decision. Either she could send her to prison, where she would bore her child, or she could give her probation and a stern curfew. She contemplated these things and sighed.

“Michelle,” said the judge, glancing over at the young woman. She sighed. “God is with you today. If it had not been for…”

When February came, the young woman was happy, regardless of the circumstances. No one could take away her smile. As she, her mother Christine and her child’s paternal grandmother Ruth walked into the hospital, she breathed deeply and kept her eyes on above. Then she came rushing back like a salmon to its birth spring. And with Michelle, there were no more maddening screams and the different colors were no longer swiveling inside her mind. She began to cry salty tears of joy as she beheld her newborn child. At that moment she promised herself she wouldn’t name it after Mavis. And when she was finally able to hold her spawn, she drifted away. Later, when everyone had left them, she could only feel the throbbing of her and her son’s heartbeat.


The Horse and the Bear, by Dawn Utech

Deep in the night, the full moon laid a blanket of silver light over the vast and rugged Shield’s River Ranch. Per usual, the river trout nestled in the rocks for a good night’s sleep, and fluffed up ruby and brown feathered pheasants hid in the bush to protect their young from nocturnal bandits. But for the low eerie calls of the elusive grey wolf, the August night was still and all was peaceful in Big Sky country. It was always at this time that the lone grizzly bear conducted his nightly security check around the border of the ranch. All the residents of the land knew that Mr. Bear would protect them while they slept. With his massive head and powerful dark brown body weighing in at 800lbs he was an imposing figure. No one would dare try to loot in his domain.

Just as Mr. Bear came to a rest during his nighttime routine he heard the heavy clomping of hooves and scattering of stones on the worn gravel road that lead to the sturdy metal gate of Shield’s River Ranch. His round ears perked up and he bolted like the wind to see who ventured to come upon his province in the middle of the night. There before him appeared a blue roan mare. He thought she was magnificent at 18 hands and so dark she was almost invisible but for the white underbelly the moon reflected upon. She came to a screeching halt. And, in due time, she held her head majestically high and allowed her black mane to cover her like a royal blanket. But, all the while she shivered deep in her bones with fear; wondering if she shall ever see the light of day again. With all the courage she could muster, she lied, “Good evening, sir. Dare I say what a lovely night it is for a run? I couldn’t help but take to the night and enjoy the warm summer air.” Worried with fear, Miss Blue was really out looking for her lost colt. Now she was hopeful Mr. Brown hadn’t eaten him and wouldn’t eat her, too.

“Good evening,” replied Mr. Brown. “This is my land and I wish you to turn around and go back to where you came!” he said, as he bared his long sharp teeth and raised his gnarly clawed paw to hold her off.

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Miss Blue. “Please, please do not attack! I am looking for my innocent young boy. He wandered off after dinner and I have been looking for him since. I fear he might have come upon some trouble. I meant no harm, Mr. Brown! Please allow me to continue. I promise I won’t disturb you or your land!”

But before Mr. Brown could reply, a loud crashing sound came from the top of the knoll that they had been standing near. The crushing of tree limbs and birds screeching as they fluttered to safety broke the calm of the night. It seemed only an instant before a huge jagged boulder made its way right for them. Miss Blue froze in her spot on the road, but Mr. Bear rose on his hind legs, and, with all his might and gentle soul, pushed Miss Blue out of the way of the inevitable collision of stone and bone.

“Miss Blue, are you alright? I hope I didn’t hurt you! My goodness, that happened so fast!” Mr. Brown shook his head. “That boulder is sure to be a problem for Mr. Shields when he leaves for town in the morning.”

Amazed, Miss Blue stares at Mr. Brown for an instant. Her mind racing as to the bravery and concern her new ally had just displayed. At first she could only stutter a “thank you,” but, she quickly recovered and in her steady voice she whinnied with gratitude, “Oh, Mr. Brown, you are my hero! I shall be forever in your debt! Thank you for saving my life!”  – Just then, her naughty little boy rustled through the trees. Unharmed, but baffled and his jet black eyes as big as saucers, he gawked in awe as he witnessed this most unlikely friendship develop before him.

 

“The moral of this fable is to never judge a book by its cover.”

Three supporting morals:

  1. You will find good in people when you give them a chance without prejudice.
  2. Friendship is more of how you treat someone versus how similar you are.
  3. He who shows care for others before his own is a selfless act – a virtue.

A Dashing Traveler, by Dawn Utech

The usually quiet train station platform is overrun with students going to the city. Being a holiday weekend people my age are out on a splendid mission to make the most of the extra free time. The sun has finally re-emerged after a false start to fall. I hear my fellow traveler’s shouting to each other “See you there!” and “Wow! This is going to be so much fun! Can’t wait to get there.” The air is full of melody with the sounds of suitcases rolling on the cold cement flooring paired with voices rising in their final goodbyes.  Thoughts of meeting up with old and new friends, sitting under an umbrella, sipping steamy Cups of Jo with a cute waiter or waitress meeting your every need at a sidewalk café, and simply relishing the freedom this weekend has kindly bestowed upon us; that is what my fellow citizens are listing at top of the list as to how to spend this perfect autumn day. But not me; I have a grim mission to complete.

The night before I faced the biggest challenge I have encountered thus far in my life experience. Although, I have made confident choices on my own, this time I was at a loss as to what would be the proper thing to do. “I can’t do this!” I thought to myself. With helpful guidance just a phone call away I sought the help of my dear auntie. Her soft, kind voice offers me the support and direction I desperately need.

So, here today, I board the train with my well-worn black suitcase. Heavy with precious cargo it wobbles on the stair leading to the inside of the train. A thought pops into my head as to what a scene I would create, if, the suitcase fell open amidst all the hustle and bustle of happy travelers. I would be called out – my secret safely held within the tattered black canvas would be exposed. I would be shamed and ridiculed. Maybe even thought to be a deviant. My emotions running high I quickly attempt to find an empty row of seats. I find one close to an exit and I nestle in near the window. The suitcase is safely in place between my shiny brown Ralph Lauren boots; my knees quivering from effort. But my shoulders ease and at last I am closer to completing my daunting task.

Before I realize someone is standing near, I hear a strong, masculine voice. So lost in thought, I am actually stunned by his sudden presence. “May I sit here?” His electric blue eyes fringed with jet black lashes, so long they must tickle his cheek when he closes them to sleep, look at me earnestly. I can’t force myself to say no.

Like an Adonis before me; solid shoulders, slim physique, a star football player, perhaps. Impeccably dressed in pressed dark denim and a red cable knit sweater, he sits with ease in the seat next to me. I am instantly drawn in as his musky Drakkar Noir envelopes the air around me.

He asks, “Such a beautiful day to go into the city. Are you meeting friends?”

“No. I am going to see my family.”

“Oh, is that why you have the suitcase? Are you staying for a few days?”

Fear runs through my veins. No one must know what my travel entails. I am too vulnerable to be exposed. “Ah, well, not really. You see, my grandma passed away recently and this suitcase has a few of her things in it. I’m taking it to my aunt’s house in Brooklyn.”

It must be his easy smile, the way his sandy-blonde hair effortlessly frames his perfectly tanned face. He knocks me off balance and I lose my capability of remaining silent. Why else am I telling a complete stranger my plans? Even though I am not really telling the truth, why are words being spoken about my suitcase at all? – Those eyes! I am flustered and not thinking straight. This handsome traveler is seducing me; distracting me from the importance of my delicate task at hand.

“I am getting off in Brooklyn, too. Maybe we can walk together once we reach our stop? I’d like to get to know you better. Is that okay?” My mind tricks me, and I say, “Sure.”

The train rolls along from stop to stop. The landscape changes from tall oaks just turning color to steel and concrete. Conversation with my handsome seat companion rises and falls with comfortable simplicity. Before I am aware that time has passed effortlessly, we reach our stop. It is time to de-board.

I feel mixed emotions and my mind is racing. I feel sad that my time with the attractive stranger is quickly approaching its end, as I am never the girl who gets the guy. Is this my only chance of being singled out and find true romance? – Oh, how can the timing be so wrong! I can’t be thinking of true love, I have to remain focused on my delicate mission. Soon the precious cargo will reach its final destination while no one is the wiser.

I put my reality in check and rise from my seat and head toward the exit; my suitcase in tow. Lead by determination I plod along with the rest of the crowd. Just as I am nearing the welcoming exit the sunlight suddenly blinds me as it bounces off the cold, grey steel of the train I had grown accustomed to. In the moment I try to regain my clarity the man with the electric blue eyes, sandy-blonde hair and red cable knit sweater is at my side offering to help me with my suitcase. I almost shout “No!” but I remain calm and instead I kindly decline his offer. To my astonishment his hand envelopes mine anyway. We are now both holding the handle of my suitcase. The power of his touch repossesses my attention. I am lost in thought as to how this unpalatable journey has turned into a joy of meeting a possible suitor. But before I can start planning our first date I am quickly snapped back to the present. An instant later I am hit with an overwhelming feeling of panic as my suitcase leaves my protective hand. There is no time to recover as I watch helplessly, as if in a fog, his effortless attempt to relieve me of my belongings. Confident and assured in is choreography through the crowd he holds my suitcase in his arms and pushes his way out of the cold steel to the awaiting platform. Now free, he runs like the football star he truly must be.  He is gone from sight protected by the happy hustle and bustle of the crowd found at the other end of ones journey.

I stand frozen. My boots failing to move me forward, I just stand there while carefree people brush past me. Numb to the human contact I am overcome by loss. My throat tightens as I try to hold back the tears. Gone, my suitcase is gone! My precious cargo is gone! The hole in the backyard of my aunt’s house, neatly dug with care, shall forever remain empty. This is a sad turn of events, indeed. I try to come up with a rational explanation to tell my aunt. I know she won’t believe me.

But, just as easily as the tears formed in my eyes and before I can stop myself, a laugh escapes my lips. “Ha!” I say aloud. I wonder what Mr. Blue Eyes will think as he opens the suitcase? I transition from sorrow to being beyond thrilled that his anticipation of finding valuable treasure will soon be ruined! The joke is on him. There is no treasure for him to find. Well, at least not a treasure he seeks. It is only a treasure to me. My precious cargo is lost to this dashing traveling thief.

Held within the confines of the tattered black suitcase, she is lovingly wrapped and secured in pink tissue paper and a plastic zip-loc bag for her burial, never to be seen again. I pay respect to my beloved toy poodle. With a sad smile I say aloud to no one, “Bon voyage, Coco. Bon voyage.”

 

 

 

 

 


The Adventures of Suzzie Q: 14, by Malcolm Broadnax

The Adventures of Suzzie Q: 14, by Malcolm Broadnax


The Adventures of Suzzie Q: 13, by Malcolm Broadnax

The Adventures of Suzzie Q: 13, by Malcolm Broadnax


The Adventures of Suzzie Q: 12, by Malcolm Broadnax

The Adventures of Suzzie -Q: 12, by Malcolm Broadnax


Coming of Age, by Kabntsig Xiong

The car stopped. John stepped out of the car towards the abandoned warehouse. His older twin brother followed after him. A gun weighed down in each of their pockets.

“Hurry so we can eat cake at home,” the younger sister, who was still sitting inside the car, said. John backed away from Scott as the car drove off.

“You are the defect,” he said and reached for the gun in his pocket, “Mom and dad always knew that I was stronger. I will be a better son to them than you will ever be.”

Scott dived through the open door into the darkness of the warehouse just as a shot hit the ground where he had been standing. He reached for his own gun as his eyes adjusted to the dark interior. Above the pounding of his heart in his ears, he could hear John’s confident footsteps approach.

“Scott, you were a good brother, you know, but there could only be one of us.”

Scott hid himself by the door and stretched his foot across the doorway right before John took a step in.

Hours after five shots rattled through the warehouse, Scott sat outside of the abandoned building as their family’s car pulled up.

“Get in,” the dad said. “I’ve called The Collector. They’ll be here shortly.”

Scott slid into the passenger seat as his dad asked, “Which one are you?”

“Scott,” he answered.

After a long pause, the dad said, “I’m proud of you. Happy fourteenth birthday.”