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Winter 2021 Issue

FEATURED LITERARY PIECES BY FEMALE CREATIVE YOUTHS

 
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Daydream

BEA BOLONGAITA

Gushing wind through outstretched
branches of green
pine. An undulating sight—
vertical field of grain I see
in the sliver of a window against
cream piping and pale yellow wall.
Look at the sky (in the other window). It coexists
with mid-morning lawnmower
runs (synonym: sound pollution). I can’t
help but wonder why cerulean
blue is but a backdrop to human abuses.
(Why has it been relegated to doing
such a chore?) I used to think
that the never-ending blue
was a green screen—a perfect wallpaper
superimposed in post-production. They sky
was just too silky for belief,
not like the lavender
laundry detergent that coated the mudroom
floor and my calloused heels.

 
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A Fool's Game

ANYA ZHANG

February 23rd, 1895

I scan the shelves that line my father’s library, the warm scent of aged paper and cracked leather seeping from every pore of the room. The library is my favorite room because it is my safe space to crack open a book and fall into another world. But most importantly, I get to be with my father. He and I share a special bond unlike any other, including the bonds I have with my older siblings. He was the one to teach me how to understand the scrawling symbols — letters, that is what they are called, and the one that guided my hand as I wrote my first ones. My father is strict and firm, but he is a strong and just man. He is my role model, my Zeus, my Julius Caesar, and I vow to be just like him one day.

  My fingers trail over the worn spines of the books in front of me and linger on the one with the green cover with embossed gold letters that curled around the spine. Taking the book in both hands, I pull it out of the shelf.

“This one,” I proclaim, swiveling around to face my father. “Let’s read this one.” 

I carry the book over to the heavy palm desk that sits in the middle of the library and set the book down gently, blowing off the layer of dust that sits like light snow on the cover. “African Empires”, the cover reads in the same golden letters that cover the spine of the book. Delicately opening the cover, I see my father’s name on the bottom left-hand corner of the end page. “Marcus Garvey Sr.'', it reads in faded black ink.

“Ah,” my father leans over the desk, examining the book. “Good choice. This book holds the story of our history. It tells the tales of our people, our culture, and our home. Come along now, pick a chapter and read it please.” 

Nodding, I flip past the first few pages and start reading the top of the page out loud. I read about the Mossi Kingdoms, a group of African kingdoms that began sometime between the eleventh and fifteenth century. The kingdoms began when the son of a princess and a hunter, Ouedraogo, defeated his grandfather, the king. The Mossi peoples’ religion was closely interconnected with nature and the Supreme Being. Two groups of people existed in the Mossi kingdoms: the nakombse, the Mossi royal ruling elites, and the tengbiise, the common people living in the kingdom. But what surprises me is that the nakombse and the tengbiise held equal amounts of power.

“How could they have been equal?” I ask my dad nonchalantly as my head fills with fantasies about princesses and hunters, people praying out on the vast plateaus, and a godly figure looking over it all. 

“A great deal of the land in the Mossi Kingdoms was assimilated,” my father leans back on his wooden chair, crossing his muscular arms in front of his chest. “So many of the tengbiise were not Mossi originally as they were native to the land taken by the Mossi. Because the Mossi’s religion was closely tied with nature, they recognized the tengbiises’ ties with their land. Therefore, only the tengbiise were allowed to authorize the command of the nakombse, so without their spiritual blessing, the nakombse’s rule would be seen as illegitimate and wrong”.

I nod my head slowly as I gradually wrap my head around the unusual system. “So they were truly equal?”

“The nakombse recognized that the tengbiise were human beings, just like them, and were just as connected to the land by history just as the nakombse were connected by blood.” My father suddenly sighs, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. “But no one is truly equal; friction always happens between different groups in every single society. Fighting for true equality is a fool’s game." 


July 2nd, 1921

The crowd churns like the sea, the black heads roiling like an obsidian wave. I stand at the head of the crowd, a single human in front of a mass brimming with power and purpose. I have to admit, it scares me to speak in front of so many. Gazing out at the swarm of people that I call my brothers and sisters, sweat trickles down my back and my cheeks turn a furious crimson in the oppressive heat. My heart races in an unsteady cadence as I shuffle uneasily at the podium, plastering a smile on my face. It feels more like a grimace.

I look down at the slips of paper in my hands. Everything I want to say is there, and reading the familiar words brings me some comfort. Words are a funny thing, my father had once said. He had just come home from a day of lugging stone blocks and sat near the fireplace, his feet propped up on a small stone stool. They hold our dreams and our visions. He looked into the flames flickering in the hearth. They paint our past, our present, and our future. Our words are our soul, and our soul is our words. Don’t you ever forget that.

 I smile a small, bittersweet smile, remembering my father’s gentle, rich voice. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I look at the crowd in front of me, the passion inside of me burning hotter than the Harlem sun. A hush spreads like a wildfire through the crowd, and thousands of pairs of eyes turn to look expectantly towards me. The silence, only punctuated by the light fluttering of my heart, reminds me of the moment of stillness before a whirlwind hits.

“It is for me to inform you that the Universal Negro Improvement Association is an organization that seeks to unite into one solid body the four hundred million Negroes in the world.” I proclaim, almost starting at the volume and powerfulness of my voice. “We want to unite the Negro race in this country. We want every Negro to work for one common object, that of building a nation of his own on the great continent of Africa. That all Negroes all over the world are working for the establishment of a government in Africa, means that it will be realized in another few years. We want the moral and financial support of every Negro to make this dream a possibility.” 

I know what my critics say about me. They declare with disgust that I am against equality, that I am accepting of the discrimination of African Americans, that I am one of the very roots of societal sin. Oh, those fools! I wish for equality too. I wish that one day, a white hand could be clasping a black hand at the park and no one would bat an eye. I wish that a black woman could go to get a drink at the library and there would no longer be two separate water fountains. I wish that a white man would not look at his black neighbor with disgust and malice in his eyes but with genuine love. I wish for a perfect world, but this is not a perfect world. I cannot simply wish for equality and make the racial prejudices a white holds against me disappear. Our white counterparts will never see us as true equals standing eye-to-eye and shoulder-to-shoulder to them. So we must face reality and look to ourselves, relying only on ourselves and become proud of our heritage by reaching back into our roots and returning to the waiting embrace of our motherland. Because a fight for true equality between blacks and whites is a fool’s game.

Looking into their eyes, I see my audiences’ longing for their family, their belonging, and their home. My voice soars like the swells of the ocean, stoking the fires that burn in the bellies of every single African American in the square. “If you believe that the Negro has a soul, if you believe that the Negro is a man, if you believe the Negro was endowed with the senses commonly given to other men by the Creator, then you must acknowledge that what other men have done, Negroes can do.”


June 8th, 1940

The cool evening air touches my face as I sit alone on the rusted park bench. I remain still, a fit of coughing occasionally interrupting the silence, shaking my entire body. Though I remain unfazed, I know my end is near. I am content with my life, and although I will never be able to enjoy the fruit of my work, I am at peace with that as long as my future kin will be able to. Maybe not Marcus of Julius, but maybe their children. But for now, the sounds of London — the bustling of children playing in the grass, the rumble of automobiles as husbands return to their wives after a long day of work, and the faint notes of a distant saxophone player  — put me at peace. 

A few yards in front of me, two middle-aged men stare intently at a small wooden chessboard. I can almost see the gears turning in their head as they ponder their next move that would topple the opposing color. The black side is at a significant disadvantage as the white side has a rook, two bishops, and a queen more than the black side. Mildly interested, I contemplate the outcome as I watch the slow series of fighting, capturing, and retreating. One by one, pieces are knocked off the board, and the pile of pieces by the side of the board grows. Finally, the white king captures the only remaining black knight, and the black and white kings stand facing each other in the middle of the board. It is a draw.

The men shake hands with respect glimmering in their eyes. They pick up their pieces and reset the board, preparing for another long game.

What if the game for true equality is similar to chess? I muse, the new chess match suddenly far from my mind. Chess is continuous, almost like the cycle of the seasons. No matter who wins or ties, black or white, the pieces are reset and another game begins. Maybe like chess, the game for true equality is never-ending. Of course, there are victories, defeats, and ties; but in the grand scheme, the game keeps going on. In some ways, Africans resemble both sides: the nakombse and the tengbiise, because we are connected to Africa, our motherland, and we are the champions and rulers of ourselves. So maybe our fight for equality is not a distinct chess match between the blacks and the whites, but a series of simultaneous matches. Ranging in size, from human against human to humanity against evil, we are all playing the same game. Maybe we have not been fighting, capturing, and retreating against the same enemy because our opponent changes their face after every match. We continue to play, to fight for equality because that is as natural as breathing or blinking. Because that is the nature of humans. Every human being is in a perpetual state of clashing with other humans, races, gods, and evils for some leverage of freedom and equality. Maybe we are playing the same game for equality. Maybe we are all fools.

 
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Scream

QUINN WILDE

A scream

Can be caused by just about anything

In a dream

She might be hanging by a string


Her scream can be provoked by many different things:

A cry

A daze

A guy

A phase 

A sigh

A phrase


But the best and worst scream

The one rooted in frustration

Where she needs to let off steam

Happens in her pillow


So scream, girl

Scream until you feel hollow

Scream until you feel mellow

Scream into your pillow


It will keep your scream a secret

 
Snakeskin

Don’t Show Me The Reptiles

OLIVIA WENT

Ecstatic emotions erupted in me as I stared eagerly out the window of my family’s car into a cramped parking lot. Bubbling with excitement, I was so giddy the world seemed to sparkle. All month, I had been aching to visit the 2019 Hilliard Reptile Show, located in the Northwest Parkway of Hilliard’s fairgrounds. A worker at PetSmart had informed me of the convention’s suburb and reputable vendors, and I was impatient to purchase a new terrarium for my bearded dragon, Rex. A grin grew across my pale face as I hopped out of the car, my family following behind me at a reluctant pace. My heart raced at the idea of meeting people who shared my interest and love for reptiles. Finally, I would be surrounded by others like myself, people who shared a passion for reptiles and their well-being. Tripping over my feet in haste, I made my way to the front door of the convention. Buzzing with anticipation, I stared at the door to an old barn, white as bone, the chipped paint peeling from neglect. Ignoring the twinge of apprehension growing in my stomach at the sight, I quickly pushed open the door. 

 Immediately, the odor struck me like a hammer on a nail. The building had a hot, putrid stench that reminded me of sour milk, so strong it made my lip curl in disgust. Drifting around the room like a ghost, the odor corrupted everything it touched. Cages lined the walls of the ancient barn, stacked like shoeboxes, cracked and corroded. With a lurch in my gut, I saw scaley, wriggling shadows writhing within twisted metal bars. My steps hesitant and halting, I grabbed my mother’s hand as she entered the building. Behind her, my sister’s eyes widened with shock, her blue irises reflecting the horrors that lay throughout the room. She stared at a nearby stall, where a boy of about ten years was clutching a beautiful ball python, it’s scales marbled in a gorgeous array of jet black and jade green. The snake flailed around helplessly as the boy spun in a circle with it, his pudgy white fingers digging into the snake’s scales. He swung the snake as a cowboy might swing a lasso, laughing with a voice that sounded too devilish for a face like his. Standing next to the boy, the vendor of the snake did nothing, simply smiling while he counted a fistful of crumpled bills in his greasy hands. Anger blurred the edges of my vision, but my mother pulled me along as we walked further into the building. As we walked, the cacophony of voices struck my ears head-on like a car crash. Voices layered on top of each other in a screeching symphony, reverberating around the building and my brain like bullets. Staring in utter horror, I watched as vendor after vendor displayed their specimens like candy in a shop. Snakes, geckos, and lizards of all sizes were crammed into Tupperware containers, take-out boxes, and glassware, their bodies coated in excrement and stinking of abuse. Shivering in the damp air, I swallowed back a scream at the sight. 

I forced myself to move on as my heart pounded, my family trailing behind me still. Vendors called out to us, but I ignored all of them, while shock pierced my chest like a hot knife. How could a place like this be allowed to exist? How was this even legal? Shuddering in revulsion, I moved past a salesman crowing about $50 terrariums. The cages in his stall leaned up against each other, caked with dirt and dried feces, and I could never imagine buying one of them for Rex. My family continued past cages crowded with reptiles, all of them trying to claw their way out of the enclosures. Tears brimmed at the corners of my eyes as my mother and I approached a small, withered old woman standing at a stall. The stall was cluttered in a collection of cages, containing numerous different reptiles, and I leaned forward to peer into them. At the bottom of the largest cage, six bearded dragons were piled on top of each other like logs, crawling and squirming, desperate to escape. Their scales were cracked and dry, oozing pus in places, while their eyes were bloodshot with fear and panic. Blotchy blue and black bruises ringed their tails, each one green with a festering infection. The blood in my veins turned to ice as I watched the bearded dragons, scrabbling up the sides of their filthy prison. The old woman, smiling a toothless grin, gestured at her display, saying something that was lost on my deaf ears. For all her kind talk, she seemed more like a gargoyle than a woman, her features a twisted gray mass of cruelty, lacking any compassion or caring for creatures unlike herself. Opening my mouth to tell the woman exactly what I thought about her display, my mother caught my arm in her hand before I could say anything. 

“Olivia,” Mom whispered, “we should go. Now!” Her voice quivered as she stared down at the bearded dragons, all of them writhing in a horrible dance. She slipped a clammy hand into my own and I held on fast. The world and my view of it seemed to crash down around me as I looked around, reeling in shock and harsh realization.

“How can they do this?” I hissed through my teeth, “I mean, isn’t this illegal? It’s not right!” Red tinged the edges of my vision as my blood seemed to boil. One of the bearded dragons stared up at me, his eyes clouded with a film of dirt and blood. With a gasp, I saw that one of his fingers was missing a claw. His little pinkie toe ended in a ripped, bleeding stub. A shard of jagged bone extended from his finger in place of a claw, the edge of it glistening in stringy globs of flesh and tissue, seeping crimson onto the floor of his cage. The bearded dragon continued to glare at me, while I imagined Rex in a similar situation, his beautiful brown eyes tormented with unimaginable pain and mistreatment, his healthy body wasted into a skeletal frame. Bitter bile rose in the back of my throat at the vision, making me nauseous. 

“Mom-” I started, but she cut me off. 

“Olivia, I know. This isn’t right, these people should be in jail. But, we need to leave. Let’s keep our mouths shut before we say something to offend these lunatics.” Already, I could see the looks other vendors were casting our way, eavesdropping on our heated argument. Part of me wanted to snap at them, to tell them what kind of monsters they were, yet I let out a slow breath. 

“Fine,” I grunted, pulling away from Mom and heading towards the exit. “Let’s go. We’re never coming back to this-”

“Watch what you say!” Mom snapped, her cheeks flaming red. She sighed and looked back at the bearded dragons. “Even so, I agree with your statement. This place shouldn’t be allowed to exist, but now is not the right time to talk about it. Let’s leave.”

Biting my lip with frustration, I followed my mother’s lead, trudging with the rest of my family out of that cradle of cruelty. Walking past the cages of trapped animals, watching their feeble attempts to escape, it felt as if my heart was made of glass, ready to crack apart. Yet, I refused to take my eyes away from the animals, refused to look away as we left them as if to memorize the sick lesson today had taught me. My rosy view of the world revolving around captive reptiles had been shattered. Instead, I saw the hard, honest truth. I saw the cruelty and inhumanity with which people treated reptiles, even in my own state. The thought made me blind with rage, but already I saw a light through my anger. A determined sensation began to smooth over the cracks in my heart, hardening them into something sharper, simmering with resolve. As my family and I drove away from the Reptile Show, never to return, I was no longer ignorant of the insidious crimes committed against reptiles and I promised myself that if I had it my way, no one else would be either.

 
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Letter to my Friend

ANNIE JOHNSON

Dear friend,


I haven’t seen you in a while so here’s a memory for you:

We’re kids with missing teeth and matching pigtails. You have chubby cheeks and I have arms marked with band-aids. It’s the second-grade spring program, it’s dark and humid and everyone in the whole class stands on the risers under the too-bright spotlights. We chant and wave our hands around in a confused frenzy as if we had just learned the songs yesterday, even though we spent months rehearsing them. The music teacher calls it performance, our parents call it cute, I call it torture. But soon the time comes for you to go up on stage. Everyone is looking at you. Hundreds of eyes watch you adjust the microphone, hear you clear your throat. I hold my breath. But you give your speech without missing a beat, the words slipping through your lips easy and clear as water. “There are four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. In spring, all the snow melts, and plants can grow …” I move my lips as you speak. We spent countless hours on your bedroom carpet practicing, so I know it as well as you do. When you’re done, everyone claps, and you smile at me from the stage. I smile back. After the music teacher plinks out her final note on the piano and preaches about how talented we all are, my parents take us to the ice cream parlor down the road. I eat chocolate marshmallow swirl with sprinkles and hunt for pennies with you on the ground so we can play the claw machine, my parents share a banana split and we pretend to gag when they kiss right in front of us. The midwestern sunset makes us cry because we know it means bedtime is coming soon; when night falls, we cling to each other in the dark until my parents have to pry us apart with cold fingers. I don’t stop crying the entire ride home.

Here’s another:

We’re girls with metal in our mouths and smoke in our veins. It’s sunny, and your backyard has never looked smaller. Our parents call it a barbeque, but there is no barbeque insight. Only cold hot dogs, burger patties with half-melted Kraft singles on top, and bags of Lay’s chips that people grab by the fistful. Your house is made of bricks and plaster, so sturdy and strong. I can almost hear my parents arguing in your kitchen if I press my ear up against the wall and listen as hard as I can. “Can we please just have this one thing without you ruining it? Please?” You take my hand and lead me away from the grown-ups into your dad’s garden. You’re different, a little dimmer, a little grayer. You tell me that your parents say you have to get a solo at your next dance recital or else they’re going to sell your pet cat. “Solos never go to fat girls,” you tell me, and pinch the extra inches around your face. You show me how you taught yourself to shove your knuckles in your mouth until cold hot dogs, burger patties with half-melted Kraft singles on top, and Lay’s chips that you grabbed by the fistful come sliding out of you onto the heirloom tomatoes. I show you how I taught myself to make tiny cuts around my legs to let all the badness out of me, all the thick smoke trapped inside me allowed to float away. Together we purge ourselves of our impurities until we are slick and clean inside, shiny. The midwestern sunset stains the sky, and we splay out on the grass as my father nurses another beer and my mother tries to make herself useful in the kitchen. “One day we’re going to be famous,” you whisper. “One day we’re going to rule the world.”

Here’s another:

We’re teens with bruises on our knuckles and rips on our jeans. You are tall and thin and I have deep lines under my eyes. We sit on the roof of my mom’s apartment complex and the cold fall air stings our fingers and leaves puffy clouds in the air. “It’s just until she can get back on her feet,” I tell you. “Since Dad got the house.” You nod and say you understand, but I know you don’t. You always talk about how your parents hate you, but at least they still love each other. That’s something I haven’t known in years. Even though I’ve held back your hair and helped you track your calories too many times to count, your cheeks are just as puffy as ever and you only ever wear shirts that hang over your twig arms like shower curtains. You smile at me when you say that you were promoted to principal dancer at your studio, but it is thin-lipped and flimsy. I smile at you when I say that I am happier now and that I never really needed love anyways, but it is shallow and phony. Only when I flick open my lighter can we smile for real, as sweet tendrils of smoke twist out of our mouths, out of our blood, out of our hearts. Everything becomes looser, funnier. We laugh recklessly as the endless midwestern sunset stretches across the sky, and I revel in the fact that at least I don’t have to be broken alone. At least you are here in the cold with me.

Here’s another:

We’re women with pencil lead smeared on our hands and bright futures up ahead of us. You were captured after you passed out in front of your parents, so frail and brittle that only a whisper was enough to knock you over. You disappeared for a while, spent some time in the hospital with smiley shrinks and clear liquid drip-dripping into your veins. I expect you to come back the same as ever, dingy and faded like old denim, like the carpet in my mom’s apartment, like me. Instead, you are brighter. Fuller. You exude warmth, and yet, you only act frigid to me. You quit dance. You talk to your parents, really talk to them. I see you in the halls laughing with the girls we used to make fun of, laughing in that personal kind of way that only I used to get out of you. You leave me a voicemail one night, your voice scratchy and soft, telling me that what we have isn’t healthy. That we enable each other. That you do care about me, you really do, and you hope I get better. That you have to leave. It’s not easy and clear as water. Words plop out like bricks, heavy and clumsy. They weigh me down. They tie me to my bed and drag thick tears out of my eyes because maybe you’re right. Maybe we made each other think that things had to be the way that they are but they don’t. Maybe you’re better now, really, and maybe I should be happy for you instead of jealous because you managed to pull yourself up and left me scrambling for a grip. The midwestern sunset is reduced to a tiny square behind my blinds, bits of color filling in the spaces in the shutters. It makes them glow, golden, as I try to figure out a way to say I’m sorry. 

… I’m sorry.

I’m sorry we had to cling to each other in the dark like that made it better. I’m sorry I held your hair back when you threw up and helped you track your calories. I’m sorry I made you feel like hating yourself was some beautiful, romantic thing. I’m sorry for everything. 

Here’s another:

We are older now, with gray in our hair and wrinkles on our faces. We sit down somewhere nice, like a cafe with huge windows or a restaurant with real wood floors. You order something without even looking at the calories and I wear shorts, showing off scars on my thighs, long healed. I smile at you sincerely. You smile back. And things are different from how they used to be, but it’s okay. Because we’re both better now, after spending some time to heal. We learned how to trust, how to love. We learned how to pick up the broken pieces and fix ourselves.

I know that last one isn’t a memory, but maybe it will be someday. I hope so. I don’t know what we are anymore, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know anything. But I do know that I love you, and I miss you, and I’m sorry, and I hope you stay better. I hope your cheeks stay chubby. And I hope your words will always come easy and clear as water when you speak of spring. 

Maybe one day we can watch the midwestern sun set together again. Until then I will watch it rise without you, keep hunting for pennies, and keep trying to clear the smoke from my veins, but in different ways.

Goodbye for now.


Sincerely,

      Your friend, always and forever

 
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Boys will be Boys

VAL ROMAN

Same time, same seats, same people, same lunch

My friends having a monotonous dialogue at our table

I am in a trance, half-conversing with the girls next to me in a bunch

Everything around me feels so calm, so still, so stable.


Until suddenly, a shout from behind, followed by a yelp from an unseen voice

We all whip around to look at the commotion, and someone says, “Look, it’s a fight!”

I do not feel myself stand up from my seat and walk like a zombie towards the noise

A friend yells my name, distantly, but I continue to walk, towards a frightful sight


I see two boys, of my own age, staring at each other intensely

One of the boys, of considerable height and size, smirks at the other, jeering him on.

The smaller boy seems to light on fire and sends his limbs into an uncontrolled frenzy

His humiliation emulates around the room as he misses the larger kid, who says, “Moron”


I suddenly cannot wait or watch any longer, as though some invisible force takes me over 

Pulling, pulling me towards the kid who missed, who is now on the floor

I crouch next to the small, hurt boy, and give him the once-over

I ask, “Are you okay?” to which he grunts in response, trying and failing to seem bored.


He heaves himself up, obviously hurt, looking like he wants to charge again 

His eyes shoot daggers at the boy, as he brushes himself off and gears up to do so

I cannot stand to see this boy try to take on the bully, knowing well that he will not reign

So I grab his shoulder and give him a look that I hope carries the message of “No”


A crash as an adult come through a set of doors and grabs the two fighters, taking them away

With me, pushed aside into the circle that had formed around the boys

With the fight now over, all go back to their lunch tables, resuming their average day

Back at my table, same seats, same people, and same lunch, I blend into the background noise

 
Image by Nathan Dumlao

Darker than Black

IVY WALKER

They call it turquoise blue waters, but looking out from the small square window on the starboard side of the ship, my eyes reflect churning black ink with flickers of white foam bubbling on the cusp of the boat’s steel underbelly. Murmurs from my surrounding family about oaky notes of red wine float about my ears, but the remote hum of the ship's motor fills in every crevice of my skull, threatening to shatter at any moment. My heartbeat joins in on the ruckus. I pick at the skin around my thumb and I'm vaguely aware that my father is telling me to quit it, but I am as numb to his words as I am to the blood now trickling from my cuticles. 


It drips and stains my new black dress. I didn't know something as dark as black could be stained, but I guess whatever was in the blood was darker. I turn my attention from my dress to gaze back at the water. I know it must be freezing, as it is 8:23 on Christmas Eve, but a substance has never seemed warmer to me. Could I dive in? The molten charcoal invites me and I wonder if it had not been for the inches of thick glass between myself and the sea, would I have dove in? What a wonderful thing it would be, enveloped by the blue-green but seemingly black waves of the Caspian Sea. My blood would stain the water, as it did my dress. Shall I dive in?


My absence of my family’s presence draws me back to my velvet chair. As I glance around, I see them walking to the onboard restaurant’s concierge. They didn't tell me we were ready to be seated, nor look back to see if I had caught on and followed. Sparing one last look at the waves, I see my own reflection spring forth against the frothing background. “Last chance to escape,” I say out loud. But there is no one to hear my words. No one to notice if I did manage to escape. Tomorrow, I will meet the turquoise waters that beckon to me so.

 
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The Glider

KENDALL ADAMS

Metal blades glide across ice 

   leaving scuffs of frost etched like scars

I crouch low, then high-

   a spinning take off into glacial air

Perfect landing, a curtsey and smile

   until my blood drips onto translucent ice