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Bliss

15 Dec

By Cassidy Nicks
8th Grade

Bliss.
When you try to describe her, her bright eyes and crinkled nose,
That’s the word that finally surfaces in the slow, murky depths of your mind.
She is in a constant state of
Bliss
As if she has never felt the pangs of starvation
Never been lost in an airport and felt that tightening of her stomach
And so she is naive in her
Bliss.
She does not know the clenching of fists, of words wielded like blades, the sound of a bone snapping.
She does not know the danger of her simple
Bliss.
She just soars, riding the Milky Way, dancing with the constellations,
Until she slips, or maybe we do, and she learns the truth, she knows our history, our future, and she tries to forget
Because ignorance is
Bliss.
She is sinking, pulled down, arms flailing, spine bent.
She is drowning in her
Bliss.
And by the time her dimpled smile has disappeared,
It has filled her lungs, choking her, smothering her,
And she is once again in
Bliss.

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Chain Smoker & Chain Smoker Continuum

27 Nov

By Jeanette Navarro
12th Grade

Chain Smoker

“I’d like a three pump, grande, whole milk, half soy, iced vanilla latte in a venti cup with seven ice cubes in it and extra whipped cream with a dome lid at the top.”
Uh.
What?
“Oh and extra caramel drizzle please!”
Okay.
What?

Maybe I was too busy thinking
about how the spaces between my fingers fit yours perfectly
or maybe it was the ridiculous requests that made me
question the modern diet in America:
where a drink like that wasn’t normal
but wasn’t obscure either.

“Yeah, it’s her regular.”

And perhaps the drink was a consistency to her,
like cigarettes were to you.
Or maybe it was that she specified seven ice cubes, instead of ten, or five.
Just like you only have seven freckles
In obscure places.
Like underneath your chin. Tucked away from the world
and only seen by those few with the honor
of getting to lean in and kiss you.

But, I can’t blame her.
There’s comfort in routine and maybe
she liked being known for her complexity
rather than for her diet—
Just like you’d rather me call you
“punk” instead of “beautiful”
because your dad once called you beautiful
and that was the last time you spoke to him.

You stand so tall and so proud,
with a cigarette in one hand and a coffee cup in the other.
And you opt out from wearing dresses,
they limit you.
You’ve never liked having boundaries.

I remember when you first told me you loved me,
you leaned in and
whispered in my ear
and I could smell the last pack of
Newports you smoked.
It meant the world to me.
Your lips were pressed against mine and
for a second,
all I could think about was
being with you for eternity.

But the ice melts,
and the soy tastes funky after it’s been sitting
in a plastic cup for a while,
mixed with dairy—
there’s a reason the two don’t mix.

I guess I forgot that you were a chain smoker and
I,
I was just another pack of cigarettes.

***

Chain Smoker Continuum

“I’m going on my break,”
I announced to my coworkers.
I grabbed my hoodie
and my bag and then
proceeded to head out to the back.

It was cold out,
65 degrees and windy. The air pushed against my fingers,
giving me the sense
of you once more.

I reached to grab the single cigarette I had left—
the last one in the pack
that you forgot about and left underneath my bed.
I’d been saving it.
Hoping that maybe,
you’d remember that you left it behind,
alone
in that empty pack.
Full of empty memories and promises
we once made
to each other.

I lit it.
And for the first time
I did it without you guiding my hands,
telling me what to do.

I stared at the fire,
challenging it.
My first intake was our first kiss,
so sweet and innocent.
I’d given you that.
The smoke reached my lungs
and then
hugged my heart.
It whispered your name,
and for a second I was with you.
But the smoke turned into fire
and my lungs were burning
and my heart was screaming
screaming
screaming
at you for leaving me

YOU NEVER LOVED ME
YOU NEVER CARED FOR ME
I WAS NEVER IMPORTANT TO YOU

I could hear you laughing,
telling me to cough and
that it was all going to be okay.
I held the cigarette between my fingers for a while,
maybe you were smoking one yourself, too.

And maybe you were thinking about me,
too.
But I’ll never know.
I put the cigarette in between my lips,
one last time
but I didn’t inhale.
I set it on the ground and
left it there,
sitting underneath a table.
But this time it wasn’t alone.
It was outside,
burning
waiting for its next victim.

Colors of Her

27 Nov

By Zoe Knight
11th Grade

I.

It was summer and all you would remember was broken blades of grass sticking to the back of your legs and meeting her. She was green and you liked that. If she knew of love, it was still fairy tale naïve, moss towers with princesses awaiting a kiss. Already serpent envious of innocence, you kissed her. And the jungle of the Amazon came alive inside you both. Her soft lips, your rough lips, grasping grabbing gasping, green dreams seeping out of her and into you. Together you wandered under tornado skies, drank from jade glass bottles that she dropped and then collected the broken pieces. Why, you asked her. And she said because broken things are beautiful. That’s why she loved you and you knew it. You were her bad girl, her rebellion. And she was your naïve girl, your green lover. Broken glass. Broken girls. Both green.

II.

Sea colored tassels hanging in translucent air, dancing bodies suspended quietly. Your eyes roll upwards and the ceiling is faded sky and you are aware of flying. Flying in the calm of your heart swelling like ocean waves as you trace the dips and crests of her body. The calm ends as the song fades because you did not wind the music box enough for the melody to play. And you swear the song is the color of her eyes, plastic blue rimmed in thunderstorms. You swear it is her eyes that match the song because she wound the box while you watched her in the mirror. Bare back, movements rippling across the fluorescent skin, blue jeans settling on her hips the way you wanted to settle your lips on hers. The song played again, blue. The tassels danced again, blue. Her eyes found yours in the mirror again, blue.

III.

The sunrises you watched with her were blinding, the harsh orange light pounding you into a pulp. She kisses you and her cinnamon taste scorches your lungs, leaving a fire in its wake. The only way to subdue the flame is with one more kiss and she gives it willingly. She’s another addiction, another smoldering cigarette you wrap your trembling fingers around when the sticky amber of indifference threatens to capture you like ancient insects. You see her smile and you’re fine and then you take a step back. She has you living in a tangerine dream and you’re not sure if you want to wake up. Autumn is long this year and the trees are still holding on to their dying leaves. So you do too, stroking the embers in your lungs, hoping for a resurgence. There is none. And so you ask yourself if loving her is an addiction or a habit. Is there joy in orange light? Is there desire in cinnamon kisses? Is there safety in amber cages?

Your favorite scent was lavender before she started wearing it. She wore it for you and you understood too much. She felt she was losing you and lavender began to smell like desperation instead of love. She didn’t know you were already lost, since the last sunset you watched together, the one where the clouds were colored wisteria. You were purple bruises and she was lilac veins, still whole despite your attempts to make them explode beneath her florescent skin. You started smoking cigarettes in your car, trying to drown her presence in nicotine and tobacco. Sometimes the smoke had a plum tinge and you would roll down the window and watch it float away. Her “I love yous” were colored with pansy fear, waiting to see if you would say it back. When you did, it was harsh and scraping. You kissed her violently, violet lips sticky with power. Your once sweet possession shifted into arrogance and twilight set upon you both. Her lavender bruises. Her pansy fear. Your violet power.

V.

You liked to drive when it snowed. You liked to take her with you, strapped into the passenger side, fingers fiddling with the heat. Hot, cold, hot, cold. Then the radio, sound waves bouncing through the bleached space between you. And you would drive, eyes never leaving the chalky road, mind never leaving her, going 30 35 40, through city streets and then out of them. Too cold, she said. She was too cold and was reaching for the heat with ivory hands when headlights made her an angel. White snow, white light, white mind. You are no longer the snow driver. You buried yourself in the ashes that floated around the wreck, buried your thoughts in milky smoke. The only thing you drive now is that memory around and around until the whites of your eyes are a continuous loop of that day. White snow, white light, white mind.

Blood.

The Popping

27 Nov

By Christian Wilson
8th Grade

The gymnasium stinks with the horrible stench of adolescent sweat. Sneakers squeak routinely against the polished wood. The piercing sound bites against my ears to a soundtrack of my own breathlessness. I huff along desolately as boy after boy laps me. Each time they pass, they whisper at me. Their insults weave themselves into a textile of fatties and lardos enveloping my body, making it even harder to breath. My knees ache from the strain, unused to relentless exercise.

I take one more shuffling step and collapse, slamming violently against the ground. My glasses snap, both sides eschew their respective ears. A kid runs by and goes out of his way to step on my hand. Pain tears through my arm like a tsunami. My nerves are enveloped, numb. Pain sucks my control from my fingers. A dam bursts beneath my eyes and tears flood my face, mixing with my sweat.

A group of boys crowd around me. I naively think that they’re concerned, but suddenly a blow is delivered to my gut and they unleash their primal terror upon me. A barrage of uppercuts and right hooks and karate chops pins me to the ground.

There’s a popping within me, I hear the short burst right behind my rib cage, reverberating in my brain. Heat clouds my vision as flames rip my mouth and envelope my body. An inferno devours the boys, charring them in its blistering embrace. And when the flame returns inside my chest, even the boys’ bones have been reduced to ash.

I meander from gym to science, smoke filling my mouth. The popping isn’t as loud anymore. A wave of relief splashes over me. It’s a mischievous sensation. It tap-dances over my body, inspiring wells of joy to burst from my psyche. But as it does, it leaves an incomprehensible feeling that it was waiting. Waiting to give way to the dreadful anger. Then the popping. Then the flames.

I slip into my seat. My science partner, Courtney, looks at me in disgust, scoffs, and scoots her chair away from me. Like always. I sigh, stroking my throbbing hand, ignoring the pain in my gut.

“Courtney, it looks like that skirt is too short for ladies your age,” our smarmy teacher, Mr. Pensworth suggests. “Let me go get my ruler and check.”

He walks over to his cluttered desk, almost skipping. He runs his hand through his greasy hair. He’s almost giggling, but his lips are sealed into a perverted smirk between a poorly trimmed mustache and goatee. He wears ill-fitting slacks, accentuating a bulge in his pants. He bends over his desk, sticking his middle-aged rear into the air and displaying it to the whole class.

“Two inches above the knee, Courts,” Pensworth announces as he snatches a flimsy cardboard ruler from behind a jar of pencils.

Courtney starts scooting closer to me and away from the teacher. I guess on a scale of creepiness, I’m slightly more attractive than Pedo Pensworth.

The smug jerk places the flimsy ruler above Courtney’s knee. He firmly places his ashy hands across Courtney’s thigh. Courtney looks like she’s about to vomit and who can blame her? I look at Pensworth and see him discreetly lick his lips as he looks up her skirt.

I become queasy also. My innards twist into smoky knots. As much as I dislike Courtney, I despise Pensworth more. It’s people like that who should be punished. He’s even worse than the bullies. Pensworth stands, brushing his palm roughly against her shoulder, his long fingers nearly touching her teenage chest.

“I guess you weren’t out of dress code after all,” Pensworth remarks. “Now onto our lesson!”

The popping is groggy. After the gym, it wants to rest. It tells me it controls me, not the other way around. It’s slow, the pops like ooze like lazy waves eroding away at my innards. My breath is labored, my soot-covered lungs struggle weakly as the pops lull them into a smoky rest.

“Esteban! I asked what the answer was.” Pensworth barks, slamming his hand in front of me. My eyes shoot up instantaneously to see his oily face contorted into an annoyed frown. I can feel viscous liquid clogging my throat. I wasn’t listening to his lesson. My apprehension causes wisps of smoke to fume from the pores on my arms.

“Don’t push me,” I whisper.

Pensworth laughs haughtily, “ Of course, I wouldn’t have to push you if you were paying attention to me, not off staring at the ladies.”

I make a groan of protest as rushed giggles ripple through the students. Pensworth smirks at my obvious embarrassment and winks innocuously at a quiet girl across the classroom.

“I’m sorry, Esteban, what was that?” Pensworth retorts, shoving his hands into his pockets.

I jump up from my seat, panic clawing through the murkiness in my chest. “You have no idea what I have to go though!”

Pensworth sticks out his lips in a disapproving manner. “I’m sorry, man, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write you up for back talkin’ me.”

I tremble for a moment as the popping reluctantly quickens. I open my mouth and thick black smoke emerges from it like a volcano about to erupt. My throat constricts and convulses as a dark substance spews from my mouth like an oil rig exploded in my stomach. The steaming oil throbs from my mouth, running down my chin, staining my clothes, pooling on the ground. The screams of my peers mix with the wailing of the fire alarms.

The popping grinds rebelliously against my thoughts and mixes with the alarm. I fall over, pulsating, my hands splashing in the oil. I fall over onto my side as the class empties. Boiling tears roll down my face. I’m helpless. Hopeless. I’m a freak. Everyone hates me so much that even when I try to do good, everyone hates me.

I look up to see the quiet girl standing before me, her eyes full of pity. I sneer as sparks tear from eyelids, slicing my skin. She shrieks and runs off. The oil ignites. The fire hungers, spreading quickly across the room. Its heat renders it blinding white and it melts plastic and metal instantly.

If you turned on the news that night, they would’ve told you a lot of things. They would’ve said that a freak fire consumed Franklin Roosevelt Middle School. That there were 257 casualties and more injured. That the police were investigating. I didn’t stick around to find that out. Before the firefighters and the news crews came, I’d already risen from the ashes and I didn’t look back. I walked out here. To the ocean. To think.

The sea laps at the shore like a playful puppy, licking its owner’s feet. Steam rises from my hands. I push them into the water. A bloodcurdling hiss erupts from my fingers and fades as my hands cool down. I wade into the ocean, dyed orange and purple by the sunset. I imagine that the ocean is cold. Its molecules slowly tumble over each other, initiating my fuming body in its freezing embrace. The hissing is deafening so I assume that the water is cold.

I imagine what life is like without the popping. What it would be like to feel frosty snow or chilly breezes or the pendular ocean waves. I don’t feel temperature. My grandmother called me el diablo and hit me with a wooden spoon because I spilled boiling water on myself and didn’t even flinch. The ocean rocks me steadily. The hissing stops. Water washes away fire like fire washes away men.

My grandma was Catholic. She took me to church every Sunday in a sweaty, muted brown suit that I eventually burned. Fourteen years ago, my mother found burns on her stomach and my grandma thought the devil was trying to hurt the baby. Now, she knows that the baby was the devil. When my crib kept catching fire, my grandmother had me baptized four times in four different churches. The holy water washes away. Fire is sin. I am fire. I am sin.

Tears well up at my eyes and evaporate when they drip onto my burning face. I dive into the ocean. I never learned to swim, but you don’t need to learn anything to drown.

Carbonation

27 Nov

By Tia Karkos
8th Grade

“Who do I have to kill to get a taco around here?” he asked. Everyone always assumed he was joking, but he’d killed for less. Eccentric, quirky, weird. That was 17C in a nutshell.

As he stared out the window of the Taco Bell, which might as well have been his second home, he couldn’t help but think that if depressed students all suddenly turned into flesh-eating Nazi zombies, this is the last place he wanted to be. People all around were slumped over binders, asleep on keyboards typing hundreds of M’s into their essays. A girl stared blankly at her Doritos Locos Tacos like a cow looks at an oncoming train.

Humanity was awfully dull, but they had better cuisine, 17C noted as he took a sip of this magical drink. He forgot what it was called, but it made him feel sad even though he just loved the stuff.

17C loved watching humans. Some wanted to be exactly alike, some tried so hard to be different. It was a shame this odd little planet would dissolve in six minutes.

Unspeakable Things

27 Nov

By Dennis Muldrew

A bloody and bruised Johnathan looked up at Lisa in astonishment. “Where on Earth did you learn to fight like that?” he said to the good-looking little Spaniard with the tomato-red hair.

“Simple… I went and learned Brazilian jujitsu in Cape Kiskadee during my summer vacation.”

Johnathan felt as if his question still wasn’t answered properly. “My question is… why did you decide to fight like that?”

Lisa sighed. “I’m gonna tell you something right now, bro. You know how many guys run after me all of the time right?”

“Yeah…of course. Your pretty and smart. Who wouldn’t want to?”

“Mmm-hmm…and how many do you think try and do unspeakable things to get their way with me?”

“All of them?”

“Right! It feels like a damn anime every time I have to beat them up. It’s so ridiculous!” A long bit of silence followed this statement. “You know Johnny-Boy I really don’t like to teach people to beat up other people, but after what Dillion Ruiz said to you, you’re gonna have to learn to kick him all the way to Scarpdesia!”

“I still don’t get why learning this helps my problem….”

“Your gonna be in an even worse situation than you are now when you decided to go off and fight for all of the students of this school.”

“Grrr! growled Johnathan as he thought back to how the entire incident even began in the first place…

The day that the incident happened was a clear day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the breeze swayed over the palm trees of the city. It was lunchtime and the students of Kiskadee Acadmy were enjoying their lunch…that is, until Dillion Ruiz showed up.

Dillion was a short yet quite pudgy teenager. His breath constantly smelled of weed, and he was held back several times because he was always cutting class, yet he would always show up for his finals and the school dances. He hated those who didn’t do what he did, most of all Johnathan and his friends. Because he always spent his money on weed, he never had any for his lunch. As all hungry bullies do, he would run off and try and get food out of everyone else.

This particular time Johnathan splattered his lunch into Dillon’s face, causing the challenge to occur.

The Loss of Love

19 Sep

By Cassidy Nicks
8th Grade

Juliet smoothed her wrinkled dress, fiddling with the stiff, unyielding laces. Who knew living in a death-like state for weeks could wrinkle a dress – she had never moved from her glass coffin, for gods sake! And who had tied her laces so tight? She was dead, not insensate – well, she wasn’t really dead. But that was beside the point! She perched precariously on the lip of her coffin, grimacing as her legs touched the cool side. It was a miracle she hadn’t died of pneumonia. She sighed, crossing her arms and slumping over, her face contorted in a pout.

“Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo? Thou must heareth my distressing news!”

Just than, Romeo strolled in the door, with her ex-betrothed TJM trailing behind him like a dog. Disgusting.

“Oh Romeo! Thou must heareth my news, but in private!”

“For you, my Juliet!” He pushed TJM to the door, but it wouldn’t open. (Let it be known they were pushing a pull door!) To solve the problem, Romeo promptly stabbed TJM, for he also had something to tell Juliet.

“Oh, Romeo, accept my kercheif as a symbol of my thanks!” Juliet beamed, then abruptly sighed. “We have parted from one another for many months too much. My love for thou is lost,”

Romeo brayed like a dying donkey, a sound that Juliet, sadly, recognized as his laugh. “That’s what I was going to tell thou!”

“What!?!?! You mean you don’t love me?! That is so ratchet!” Juliet yelled in fury, obviously forgetting to talk as she was taught. (I mean it is Shakespeare’s time, honestly.

Juliet wrenched the poison from where Romeo kept it in his tunic (in case The Prince caught him)…She had never realized how unstable he was! Juliet gripped the poison in a grip of iron, and as he started to protest, she threw it into his cavernous mouth. (Which happened to look like a snake who just unhinged his jaw. Sexy, right? What had she ever seen in him?!) Romeo choked to death.

Juliet cried out as her gaze flew around the room. She must destroy all evidence of her heinous crimes! She grabbed TJM and dragged him to the foot of her coffin, where she pulled his sword from the sheath and positioned it in his hand. She tore around the room, breaking the things, trying to make it look like Romeo and TJM had fought.

She then grabbed Romeo, dragging him to lay beside her bed, and pulled the bottle from his throat. God, she’d never be able to kiss him again – his mouth was so gross! She supposed it didn’t matter, since kissing corpses was so not her thing. Although, she did have a friend…No. This wasn’t the time for match making. But she was digressing.

Anyway, now it looked like he had killed himself over sadness at her death. She glanced down at his chubby cheeks, remembering the boy she thought she loved. Her eyes glistened with tears before she realized the truth: she had found her love for Romeo, buried under a lot of other crap!

In pain and desolation, she unsheathed Romeo’s dagger and plunged it through her stomach. The squelching sound made her retch, or maybe it was the loss of all her major organs. Now she could be with her love forever!!!

Epilogue

Juliet expected to see Romeo again, but, unfortunately (or maybe not), he went to Heaven and she want to Hell. So, she pursued her backup plan, became obsessed with him, and killed all his heavenly girlfriends in “accidents.”

PS- Love is fickle.