A Lost Memory by Maxine A.

I visited her every Saturday. I never left town, and she  lived nearby which made it easy to do so. I was a teacher at the local elementary school that was a couple of miles away from where she lived. I taught the children English; how to write the alphabet, how to write simple stories, and how to write their names. Many of them falter and struggle, but they would always be determined to do better the next day.

I knocked on her aging door. I heard a muffled “Coming!” I stared at the floor, smiling at the sing-song way she said it.

“Jimmy!” I looked up. What stood in front of me was a short, white-haired woman with glassy, kind eyes. Her face was pruned but showed a healthy glow. Her hands that had reached out for me were frail and bony.

“Morning, Marge.” I said to her sweetly.

Her face smiled as we both embraced one another. I kissed her on the cheek, and she let out a giggle.

“You were always so sweet, Jimmy. Come in!” Marge motioned me inside and scuttled away to the kitchen to start boiling some water for tea.

I never liked tea, but after I started to visit her, the bitterness of it became sweet; at times comforting as well. The preference grew to the point where I don't drink coffee so much anymore.

I now prefer tea, but the tea that comes from her.

“I’m sorry for the mess, Jimmy. Haha, I seem to have lost something.” Her voice peeked out of the kitchen corner, and I turned around to see her scratch her head.

“What did you lose?”

“I’m not so sure.” She replied. Marge became fixated on the carpet below her. I walked over and placed my hand on her shoulder.

“I’ll help you find it. Don’t worry.”

She took her pale hand and placed it on top of mine. She smiled sweetly and said, “Thank you, Jimmy.”

I felt my stomach starting to collapse into itself. An uneasy feeling began to wrap my chest, and I couldn’t shake it away. Looking at her, seeing her pale eyes, and realizing how old Marge was slowly becoming almost brought me to tears.

A high whistle pierced through the air, and we both learned that the kettle was crying out that the water is boiling.

“Oh! Be right back. The kettle is boiling!” Marge hastily made her way to the kitchen to turn down the stove, leaving me alone once again.

I looked around the parlor. The TV was collecting dust in one corner. The fireplace held more ash than wood. The paint in the wall was dull and old. Looking around the house, everything was aging day by day.

Becoming a lost memory.

There was a shelf that held a bundle of pictures of happy groups of people. I slowly walked over and took on off of the shelf. It was an old family picture. Marge was there, much younger and stronger, holding two children, a hand that held onto each. Next to her was a man, smoking a large cigar. His shoulders were broad, wide enough to carry both of the children at once. His face was soft, a gleaming kindness like Marge’s I felt my face crinkle into a small smile but fell to a frown. The feeling inside of me grew stronger.

It was eating me.

Festering and possessing every piece of my heart.

“Jimmy, I have the tea!” Marge’s voice helped me escape the uneasiness. I hastily placed the picture back as I swallowed the lump in my throat. She placed the tray on the pine coffee table, and I sat down right next to her.

The tea was warm. I could see the misty steam coming out of the teapot. I’m glad it was warm. I liked the tea this way.

“Were you looking at the pictures?” She asked after pouring herself a cup.

“Yes, I was.” I nodded.

“Oh! Would you like to hear about them?” She excitingly sat at the edge of her seat as she asked me. I chuckled at the sight. Even at this old age, her childlike personality still shone through.

“Yes, I’d love to, Marge.” I placed down my tea as I watched her grab the same frame I was looking at.

“This is my family. I’m sure you know of them, Jimmy! You’ve met them before.”

I nodded.

“That’s my husband, Theo,” She pointed at the man smoking the cigar. “A very charming man, isn’t he, and one who is too flirty for his own good! At times, I would think he would be cheating on me, but Theo, he was a good man. He loved our children with all of his heart, and he treated me as if I was a goddess! You know how he and I first met?”

I shook my head.

“Well, he was with his friends, and I was with mine. I didn’t think of much when he started to walk over to me, and then, he tripped and fell in front of me! Before I could even ask if he was okay, he went on his knee and said: ‘I fell for you, Marge Simmons. Please let me be yours.’” She laughed lightly. “The absolue nerve of the man! I was flustered to the brim. The rest is history.” She patted my knee as I chuckled along with her. Marge fell silent for a bit, studying and staring at the picture.

“I wonder where he is now. It’s been a while since I’ve last seen him! He is visiting our children while I am stuck here at home. Theo does like taking his sweet time. He’ll be back soon, won’t he, Jimmy?”

Theo Franks is dead.

“Oh! These two!” Marge pointed at the children. “Michael and Millie, the Troublesome Twins. They caused so much trouble back then, didn’t they? Good thing that they’re all grown up now. Of course, you’ve met them, haven’t you?” She turned to me.

I slowly nodded, eyes fixated on the picture.

“They’re absolutely wonderful! Such little bundles of joy! Millie is in the city, I believe. Michael is off on his adventures. He was always so curious when he was younger, always wanted to travel.” Marge smiled.

“I miss them so much. I wonder how they’re doing everyday. I haven’t seen them in such a long time!” She sighed heavily and took a sip of her tea.

I stayed silent.

Millie Franks died two years ago after taking a day off from work to visit Marge. The truck didn’t see the red light in time.

“Can...can you tell me more about Michael?” I asked in a low whisper, not daring to look at her eyes.

“Michael?” She leaned in close and whispered, “Oh, don’t tell Millie, but Michael, he has always been my favourite. I know a mother shouldn’t have favourites, but Michael is such a gem! His mind is so bright and filled with such amazing things. He showed so much promise for his future even when he was just a child. Why, I could call him a gift from God! Michael was larger than anyone could ever be. I’m blessed and proud to call him my son.”

I didn’t realize that my vision started to blur at that spot.

I didn’t realize how cold my tea became.

I didn’t realize that I was crying until Marge pointed it out.

“Why, Jimmy? What’s the matter? Do you miss them too?”

I nodded as I gasped for air, wiping away my tears.

“Yes, I do. All of them, I miss all of them.” I stared at Marge the longest when I glanced back at the picture.


“Yes, Jimmy?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat.

“My name is not...Jimmy.”

She laughed loudly and slapped my knee.

“I know that, but that’s the name you wanted me to call you! You hated John because Mother never liked you.”


“You hated how Mother called you. You convinced everyone in town that your real name was Jimmy.”

John Simmons died serving his country in the year of ‘45. He never came home. He was only 25 years old.

I finally broke.

I just wanted to shout that I wasn’t Jimmy. I just wanted to cry to her that all of them were dead. I just wanted her to know that her Michael never left. I never went on those adventures. I never did.

I’m right here.

I’m right here by her side.

Mom, I’m right here. Your Michael, please.

I hated that she confused me for Uncle Jimmy. I hated that she remembered everyone else but me. I hated how every week I put myself in this position to hear her say these stories every time. I hated that I was the only one left who had to suffer seeing her like this. Oblivious of her condition, she continued life as if it was normal.

God, I’m right here.

I’m not Jimmy.

I’m Michael.

“Jimmy? Why are you crying?” I heard her say above my sobbing.

The tea was cold.

The TV was collecting dust.

The fireplace held ash.

The tea was cold.

My mother was slowly dying in front of me.

And I was becoming a lost memory.

A Cynic's Valentine by Sacha Franjola

“Valentine’s day is something of a joke to me. Up until maybe sixth grade, there weren’t any stupid connotations and the only condition was that you had to write cards to the whole class, but now there’s a whole underlying theme of loneliness and self loathing. Which sucks for a holiday whose whole purpose is celebrating love. My friends tend to say stuff like “Mel, you just haven’t met the right person yet” or “Just wait until you fall in love with someone,” which, in my opinion, is just some more toxic crap being spooned down my throat with all the train ads for lingerie companies. I don’t hate love. Just all the stupid stuff that comes with it.

I like people. I like love poems and heart shaped boxes and gifts that show that you actually know the person you’re giving the gift to. What I don’t like is the love that’s trying to sell you things, which, ironically, is the kind that most people are talking about when-”

Vera sets her stuff down across from me and shifts my attention. “Blogging again?” I nod. “God, you must be some kind of sage to sad teenaged girls by now! How long have you been doing this?”

I sigh at her. “Since the end of tenth grade. And it’s not as bitter as you think! I write about interesting stuff!” She takes a bite out of her croissant and replies;

“What could possibly be interesting in your life? You work, you study, you meet me for coffee, you sleep. And then you repeat it all. Mel, you’re bo-ring!” She says boring in that singsong voice I hate, and I stick my tongue out at her before going back to my post.

In the perfect world I’d tell Vera that I’m not actually boring, just hopelessly in love with her. If things weren’t complicated and if I hadn’t known her since sixth grade and if, if, if I could actually force the words out of my mouth (which I can’t), she’d know that I can barely form sentences around her unless she talks first, and when she asks me how my day is my mind melts into a series of “fine’s” and “uneventful’s.”

Vera is beautiful. She’s got this pretty hair that she keeps up in a bun and eyes that peer directly into your soul, which is appropriate I guess, because she’s an actress. She’ll watch people from across a room and say things like “look at how she carries herself!” and goes on to describe people’s entire life’s stories right on the spot. It’s infuriating in busy places (she talks a lot), but it always makes parties fun. She loves parties. I can’t imagine why.

We’ve been meeting here for coffee for years, ever since we chose schools that are on opposite sides of the city. This place is right in the middle, so every day we meet up for what she jokingly calls our coffee dates. I don’t think she knows how ironic that is.

By the time I’m home, I’m too flustered to keep writing, so I turn on my TV and flip through a few of the channels before my doorbell rings. I drag myself to the door and standing behind it is Vera, with a dopey smile on her face, holding my jacket.

“Did I forget it?” She laughs

“Third time this month. You should set a reminder for yourself Mel, you lose track of things every time you put them down!” We laugh and I take my jacket from her.

“One day I’ll bring it with me and never forget it again!”

“Yeah, when hell freezes over!” We laugh again, and Vera turns to go. She stops suddenly and turns around.

“And hey, Mel? I kinda love you. Just, ah, thought you should know.”

This blog post has been deleted

On Getting Older by Lola Simon

George had woken up to find that his feet had grown two sizes too big. He supposed they could be swollen but he was sure that this seemed a little more unusual than a simple case of swollen feet. He turned to his wife.

“Do my feet look large to you?”

She was sitting up next to him propped up against a pillow reading a book, her thin wire glasses resting cautiously on the bridge of her nose.

“Honey, I’m reading.”

“I really do think my feet look large though could you please at least look.”

She placed her book down with a sigh.

“You know maybe you’re right they do look a bit large. What shoes were you wearing yesterday? Was it those new brown loafers I bought you for your birthday?”

“No, just my regular shoes.”

“The grey ones?”

“No, the black pair, with the laces. The ones I wear practically everyday.”

“Oh. When are you going to wear the new brown ones?”

“When I have an occasion to wear them.”

“And when will that be?”

“I don’t know, soon.”


“But you do think my feet look large?”

“Oh right. Yes, I think they do. Maybe you should soak them in ice water.”

“But don’t you think they look, I don’t know, unusually large?”

“I don’t know what that means. They look a little swollen, that’s all. Go soak them.”

“Fine.” George swung his feet over the bed onto the carpet and sat there for a few moments staring at the sickening eggshell white of the walls. He wanted more of a cream color but Margie had insisted on this other shade.

“Honey, I think the walls are too bright.”

“Not this again. We agreed on the eggshell. Now go soak your feet.”

“No, you agreed on the eggshell.”

“Well you didn’t exactly object to my opinion.”

“I should’ve.”

“Okay but you didn’t. I don’t know what you want me to tell you. We went with the eggshell white. It would be a pain to have to repaint the whole bedroom, and to be honest I don’t see why the exact shade of white is so significant. Go soak your feet.”

George muttered something under his breath but finally stood up and walked to the bathroom. He leaned over to twist the faucet to turn the bathtub on. At first nothing happened, but gradually water spilled out and the tub began to fill up. The bathtub never worked right. He had been meaning to get that fixed. He waited for a couple minutes until the water had filled up the bottom of the tub. He turned the faucet off. He stared at the still water distorting the white porcelain and forgot what he was doing there in the first place.

“Is that helping?” Margie called out from the bedroom.

“I’m not sure yet,” George yelled back.

He sat on the edge of the bathtub and placed his feet into the water. He hated cold water but this was more lukewarm if anything. He wasn’t sure if lukewarm water would help at all but it was good enough.

“I think it is helping,” he called.

“Oh good I knew it would.”

He stared at his bare feet laying flat under the water. Now that he thought about it they probably were just swollen. More than that, they looked like the feet of an old man. He didn’t recognize them. He looked down at his hands. His hands were not his hands anymore too. They looked the way his father’s hands used to look.

“I’m thinking of making some tea would you like some?” He heard Margie’s voice from the kitchen now.


He pulled his feet out of the water and got up from the tub.

Ten Days by Maxx Carr

Ten days

Ten days left

I grind my boot into the pavement, trying to scratch off a piece of gum, listening to Ellie ramble on about the likelihood of surviving—well, just about anything. She goes on and on with the statistics on surviving certain situations. The lowest is, of course, a nuclear attack. Unfortunately, as she constantly points out, this is the one we’re going to face.

The attack happened at 12:33 p.m. yesterday, followed by a message from congress.

I think it was the first time that congress apologized for anything. Apparently, they had fired a missile onto the wrong base (or rather, a missile on the command of Mr. “I Have a Bigger Button Than You”) and the country (you can probably guess) declared war. The frightening thing is, they’re giving the U.S. ten days to prepare for it. Not really prepare for it, just ten days until they fire a nuclear weapon at a “heavily populated city.” It’s probably New York, and we’re all scared shitless. This has never happened in U.S. history—I know that battles in wars don’t start immediately after being declared, but never before has a country with a lot of military power given the country at a possible disadvantage time to prepare itself. And, quite frankly, we’re at a full disadvantage. This will be the first war waged on the U.S. with a stale, wrinkly, disgusting cheeto in the presidenc—

“Pen, are you listening?”

“No, Ellie. I’m not going to lie to you—you’re going on and on about the fact that we’re going to die, so I’ve been trying to think of kittens the whole time. Kittens are much better than the impending death of all we love.”

Ellie blinks for a few moments, and then begins walking away.

“Wait—wait, I was kidding.” I’m not. Ellie was always a downer, but never this much. I got used to it, found it endearing, even, that someone so smart and seemingly optimistic would know about so much bad shit and still be able to reiterate it all so cheerfully, as if it rolled off her tongue like one would talk about their favorite hobbies or shows.

“If you’re not going to take nuclear war seriously, then why do I even bring up the concept with you?” She takes out a pack of cigarettes. She said she wanted to try one before they become currency of a post-apocalyptic world.

“Because everyone else we know is trying to scratch everything off of their bucket list before the ten days are up?”

She struggles for several moments with the lighter—she’s always been one to live by the most cautious of rules.

“Need some help with that?” I try to reach for the lighter, remembering almost burning my thumb off when I had to light my cousin’s candles at her birthday party three months ago, which was the last time I touched a lighter.

“No, I’m alright.” She keeps doing it wrong, and I want to help her because this is somewhat embarrassing but all the same it’s pretty funny. She’s never so much as cut a class before, but she told me that tomorrow she’s going to try to cut her AP Latin class because, “Mr. Richards gave me a B on my last test because I wrote, in Latin, that Claire stole a watch from Mr. Durbin and sold it on the black market in exchange for Wiccan charms. We were supposed to come up with sentences out of the ordinary that followed the typical Latin sentence structure. He thought I was joking and showed it to Durbin. Durbin didn’t find it to be funny, but I wasn’t trying to be. He had been looking for that watch for three months, and I thought it would be useful for him to know the true fate of his belongings.”

“Then why’d you get a B if it was correctly formatted?”

“Oh, it was because the other sentence included a link to said watch on a Wiccan website, and apparently URLs aren’t a part of proper Latin sentence structure.”

“Maybe you can get Claire to help you with lighting your cigarette?” I suggest, hearing the click of the lighter and Ellie swearing under her breath every second she can’t seem to get it right. She never swore.

“Whatever,” she says, throwing the box and lighter out in the nearest garbage can, saying, “let’s go get matching tattoos instead, I’ve always wanted to do that.” She says it as if she’s serious, but I know that she doesn’t have that much of a daredevilish bone in her body. All the same, she did just try to smoke a cigarette with a lighter she barely knew how to work. And, to give her credit, she had to bribe an 80-year-old man with diabetes (who didn’t want to take his insulin) to get the cigarettes for her in exchange for enough money for a lifetime’s supply of chocolate.

It really is the end of the world, isn’t it?

Nine days left

I walk into homeroom the next day, and everyone is hotly debating why we were given ten days. The teacher, Ms. Albertson, is biting her nails at her desk, staring at her laptop, as if she’s hoping it’s all a cruel joke. Everyone is hoping that it’s just a cruel joke played on us by cruel people, one that would be the true revenge enacted by the world against America.

There are speculations flying left and right, not just during homeroom, but throughout the day.

“America deserves it,” someone says. “I mean, after all the country as a whole has done—”

“But what about all the innocent people—”

“Innocent? What really is—”

“I don’t think you—”

“We should—”

It’s all just noise—at least to me, it is. Everyone is trying to provide themselves with an answer that they hope will fix the problem. Even finding out the answer won’t fix it. It’s not like they’ll listen to us—they ignored us the last time we all banded together. It’s not a riddle—it’s real life. Holy shit, it’s real life.

Some of the teachers are making bets about which of their least favorite faculty members or students will go first. I could have sworn that I heard my name in one of the bets this morning.

Lunch is one of the only things that’s the same—it is bland and tasteless, as usual. Ellie, having successfully cut AP Latin, sits next to me, guiltily eating her pudding.

“I can’t believe I forgot about Elaine,” she keeps saying, staring into the dark, chocolate abyss. Ellie’s full name is Elaine Gother. There was another Elaine Gother in the school who also went by Ellie. They were in the same AP Latin class, and every day they had a ritual of picking which Ellie sat in the two assigned seats they had. “I wasn’t there to fight over a desk with her.”

“What’s one day?” I ask, trying to decipher if the food on my plate is mashed sweet potatoes or…mashed carrots? Pumpkin? Whatever.

“She saw me in the hallway. I paced for the entire period—I was afraid the whole time—and when the bell rang, she looked me in the eye with fierce disappointment. She said, ‘It’s the end of the world and I get the bigger desk. What a hollow victory to behold.’ She said it in Latin, of course. ”

“Ellie, listen to me,” I say as I push away the plate in front of me. I pull out a piece of paper and write out a single sentence. She tries to look over and see what I’m writing, but I shield it with my arm.

“What I’m about to show you is of the utmost importance. Think you can handle it?”


“Ellie! I need you to be absolutely sure that you can handle this information. Not even the FBI knows this information!” Yes, I have always been this melodramatic.

“Penelope, just show me what the paper says.”

I move my arm. I wrote, Death was inevitable in the first place.

“The FBI knows this already,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, and they’ve jumped ship,” Gordon says. “They’re frightened because no foreign power can reach any representative from the country who decided to kill us.” Gordon is Ellie’s boyfriend. He matches her in intelligence and reluctance to live a little bit.

“What about our allies? Are they going to help us?”

“Help us do what?”

“If we flee?”

“Canada is the most scared country currently. Part of it could get impacted if a nuclear blast hits a certain part of America. In fact, even if it doesn’t, if the U.S. goes, a lot of the economy goes, but still, there’s—”

There’s a sudden hush across the lunchroom. Everyone has gotten the same notification on their phones.

It’s been made official that New York will be hit in nine days.

The hush quickly turns into terrified screaming.

Ellie tries to yell over the screaming. “There are nuclear weapon protocols, war protocols—even car rental protocols—but nothing to be done about this?”

“That’s because no one ever does it. There’s always been, ‘If you do A, we’ll do B,’ or, ‘If you don’t do this, we won’t be afraid to do that,’ with nukes. Never, ‘Because you did this, it’s time for you to go.’” Gordon starts pacing, just like his girlfriend. Ellie starts pacing with him. What a couple.

“You forgot every war ever, genius.” I snag a fry off of an empty table. “A lot of wars were started for no good reason. It doesn’t surprise me that something similar has happened.” Someone brought a huge bag of fries to share before the world ends. Neat. “I, quite frankly, have accepted the inevitability of my own death, so it might as well be when everyone else bites the dust as well.”

The two of them look at me in horror.

“Kidding, this sucks.” I frown and take three more fries.

Hollow victories feel much better when you’re about to lose everything.

They also feel much more hollow.

Eight days left

People keep trying to escape the city and country. Someone told me that their family also owns their own space company, so if need be, they can get the necessary training to escape to the moon. I call bullshit. 
We’re on DEFCON 1.

So many people are leaving, but my family can’t, and neither can Ellie’s, Gordon’s, Ms. Albertson’s—so many people have to stay. Some people are just moving states, but it’s almost pointless.

Everything has become pointless.

Seven days left

They canceled school. Not just for today, but for good.

Ellie is halfway through her bucket list. She ate dirt and bugs, she went skinny dipping, she punched a tree, she got stitches (actually on her list), she got drunk and had an awful hangover, and so many more things that sound like it could have taken years, but that was just a couple of hours yesterday.

“Where do you think we’re going to be when it hits?” I ask, crunching some leaves beneath my feet. New York has become a less and less dense city. All of the people who are left are ones who can’t afford to leave on such short notice, ones who are stuck until their flight later on in the week, the homeless, those who just don’t care if they live or die, and me.

I don’t tell her that my family is leaving tomorrow. I’m not leaving with them. They’re moving to Canada. They all have their passports. Mine expired last month. Even now, with everyone fleeing, other countries have a strict “you need documents to get in” policy. Everyone is preparing to live and be free and happy. I have to die in seven days.

“We should go out in an epic way—dancing in a club and wearing ball gowns—” Ellie gets up and begins to walk around, each step adding another dimension of exaggeration to her already energetic self. She keeps pacing even though she’s still hungover. That’s Ellie.

“Ellie—” I hadn’t expected her to go into so much detail already.

“And we should get drunk and sing our hearts out—”

“Ellie—” I sigh, realizing how much she’s thought it through. How my vision is much more bleak than hers. It has always been.

I met Ellie on the first day of freshman year, when we were both bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids with high hopes and dreams. She stayed that way. I grew depressed. Throughout the whole ordeal I still had her there to remind me that life is worth living because one day I hoped to be as hopeful and happy as Ellie.


“And we’d have strippers dance all around us—”

“What about Gordon?”
“He’d be a stripper, too. And—and—”

“Ellie, take a breath,” Gordon says, handing her a bottle of water. He had left to get us coffee.

“I wanted coffee,” Ellie says, frowning.

“I know. I just thought it would be better to have water first.” He gestures to the tray he holds of two coffees.

“Wait, where’s Pen’s coffee?” Ellie asks after chugging her bottle down.

“Right here,” he takes out both my and Ellie’s coffees.

“Where’s yours?”

“Didn’t want any. What’d I miss? Apparently I’m a stripper now?” He quirks his eyebrows up in confusion.

“Ellie was just saying how she wants it all to happen before the end of the world.”

“With the club and stripping and drinking?”


Gordon sighs. “No matter what, I’m not wearing fishnets. Those make my legs look terrible.”

I take the train home a good three hours later. We spent the afternoon talking about what we think comes after death, what we think dying will feel like, and how we would have wanted to go.

Halfway through my train ride, the the train pulls into a stop ever so slowly. “Ladies and gentlemen, the train service has been discontinued indefinitely due to…unforeseen circumstances. Please exit the train in an orderly fashion, and make your way to the platform above.” Everyone gets off the train, and, in no way an orderly fashion, goes up to the street. The buses have stopped mid-ride, and the cars stopped as a result. Everyone is walking around the city, wondering what the hell is happening. I’m ten blocks from my house. I can walk home and it won’t be a problem. The woman next to where I’m standing is in a wheelchair, around 23 years old. She tells me, “I live 40 blocks away, and my boyfriend can’t pick me up because he’s stuck in traffic.”

“How far away?”

“He’s coming from our house.”

I speak to five other people while they wait for their rides to arrive before they resolve to just walk the distance. All of them treat this as if it were just another New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority incident on any Wednesday. It’s not, but the woman in the wheelchair is leaving with her boyfriend to go to Russia to stay with her parents tomorrow. There’s a couple who was going to visit Namibia anyway but moved the trip closer due to the same “unforeseen circumstances” that the MTA used to stop its service.

I’ve never trusted the MTA, and although it’s a major inconvenience, I’m glad that I no longer have to deal with them on a daily basis.

I walk home in silence, my hands in my coat pockets. I don’t want to listen to my music. My head feels so jumbled.

At first I made jokes to cope with the fact that everything I know is ending and everyone I love is going to die if they don’t get out. The fading sunlight hits my face and I almost start to cry. I can feel everything welling up inside and I can’t let it out. I want to, but I can’t. It’s the end of my world and I can’t do anything about it.

I always joke about how Ellie and Gordon are the ones who don’t know how to live a little. At the very least, they know how to accept things the way they are. I can’t. I was never good at accepting that I can’t save everyone, and now I’m faced with the awful reality that I can’t even save myself. It would be one thing, too, if I didn’t actually mean that the world was ending. If I meant it in the way that adults on television say that all teens exaggerate things and make miniscule things mountains. I honestly never thought the end of the world would evoke an existential crisis for myself. Go figure.

Six days left

The city is becoming a ghost town. Almost no one is here. I’ve lost my appetite.

My parents and five siblings left this morning. I’m the oldest of all six kids. They wouldn’t stop crying. I haven’t stopped crying. I think I don’t want to die. Too late for that, isn’t it?

I’m sitting in the park, my coat slightly unzipped, and a homeless man is rooting in the garbage for something. I make the joke in my head that he’s looking for a will to live. I immediately realize how unfunny it is—the suicide rates have gone up since people realize that they’re going to die at any moment.

My city is dying.

Ellie isn’t going to meet me today. She and Gordon wanted to have a day to themselves.

The evacuation teams aren’t doing so well. The government gave up—so many politicians jumped ship, so there weren’t enough to help get everyone out of the country, and some countries have begun to close their borders. I feel like some smirked as they did it, getting revenge on the America that hurt its people.

I see some of my former classmates sitting in the park, smoking weed and singing songs from the late 60’s about the Vietnam war that they, in their smoke-filled haze, find relevant to today’s dilemma. I almost want to join them, but, to be honest, I don’t want to spend one of the last days I have high and wandering like a lost child. Most stores are closed. In fact, the only ones that are open are those that belong to people who can’t leave.

I spend the day wandering the tunnels. No trains are running through them since they were all taken to the lots and shut down. People spend time down there getting high, drunk, or wandering around just like I do. I like seeing the city from down there. The third rails aren’t on, so I can wander safely through the broken glass and needles that litter the ground. And the people that lie still on the ground. So many bodies.

A lot of people weren’t able to leave. There are a lot more homeless people than the city cares to admit. There are a lot more poor people than the city cares to admit. There are a lot more people with more problems than the city cares to admit. Even before the government jumped ship, there were a lot more problems with the city than people cared to admit. It’s sad that nothing will fixed now.

Five days left

Ellie’s dead. Gordon says that she had wanted to try heroin. That’s enough said, I guess. I didn’t want to believe him, but then I saw.

I used to stay over at her house when we were younger, and she would always fall asleep before I did. She looked then like she looks now—calm, but this calmness has more of a permanence that will stay for an eternity even after all is said and done. I never thought that five days before the end of the world my best friend would die of a heroin overdose.

I never thought any of this would happen in the first place. It was all too much for me.

Ellie is on the train tracks, next to a couple of other dead people who I don’t know if they accidentally or purposefully died of drug overdoses.

Gordon and I walk away from the tracks, but I keep looking back.

I stop. “Should we bury her?”

Gordon stops and looks at me, as pale as ever. I think he wants to ask, “Where?” and, “How?” and, “Why?” all at once, but he doesn’t say a word. I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.

“We can’t just leave her.” My voice breaks. “What about her broth—”

“Albert won’t want to see her like this.” Gordon avoids looking back down. I don’t think he wants to start crying either.

We bring Albert down to the tracks anyway. It wasn’t hard to find him—he was sitting on a park bench trying to make friends with the squirrels. He is 23 and was a trying to become veterinarian before this whole ordeal. I say trying because he didn’t have enough money to go to college. He was saving up for Ellie. Now, he wouldn’t need to.

Albert Gother stands here, staring. His eyes slowly fill with tears. His hand goes to cover his mouth as he begins sobbing.

Their parents died in a car accident when Ellie was 5 and he was 11. They got tossed around from relative to relative until Albert turned 18 and their family collectively decided he was old enough to take care of his sister on his own. Ellie was his world.

“We gotta bury her,” he says, sobbing and on the ground, hugging Ellie to him.


“You!” Albert pointed at Gordon, his eyes red and sad. “You let her do this to herself!”

He isn’t wrong. Gordon knows this. He says nothing.

“And you—” He points to me as if to say I was an accomplice, too.

“I didn’t know she was going to try heroin. I would have stopped her if I knew,” I protested.

Gordon still didn’t have anything to say.

It was just the three of us and the bluish corpse of my best friend lying still on the train tracks. The blast would give them a proper burial.

Or at least that’s what I told myself as we walked away from the train tracks.

Four days left

Gordon’s gone missing. He’s probably not actually missing, it’s just that it’s too big a city to find someone in without a cellphone. He knows where to find us.

Albert is getting himself drunk, which is ironic. He’s singing old folk songs, just like the high kids in the park. He’s just more off key.

He keeps singing that Country Joe McDonald song, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag.” It’s clear that Ellie was the more musically inclined one in their family.

“We’re all gonna die, Penelope,” is all he says to me that’s not in song.

We’re sitting on a couch in someone’s house. From the looks of it, whoever owned the place seemed to be happy. The fridge’s contents have been emptied, either by the owners or looters. The windows are broken. That was definitely looters.

I wonder if they made it out alive.

“Albert?” I start slowly, hesitating in asking the question I want to ask. “What do you think death feels like?”

“Well, I, not being able to actually go to medical school,” he begins, each word being slightly muddled in a drunken sentence, “used to watch animal euthanasia videos on YouTube—”

“Oh my G—”

“—and also cremation videos—”


“—of both people and animals—”

“The f*ck is wrong with you?” I stand up and turn to face him.

“You’re surprised now? You’re disturbed now?” He takes another swig of his…whatever it is. I don’t know alcohol…well. “Do you know how many people we saw on that train track or on the sidewalk or in a ditch? For all we f*cking know we won’t get killed.”

It was confirmed we would be. Yesterday, there were reports of weapon tests off the West Coast.

Albert continues on in his very drunken haze.

“Honestly, right now, animal euthanasia videos sound much more soothing than whatever we’re facing.” He curls up into a ball on the couch. “Much more soothing,” he repeats, taking another swig. He falls asleep not too long after.

I can’t sleep, so I wander around the house.

The family was pretty well off, considering the nice house and assuming it explains why the house is empty. They had three kids, all seeming to be under the age of 16. They had a cat, once, long before the frightening scare of now. The cat died three months ago—the urn is sitting next to a plaque that was probably for the urn of someone’s Grandmother Margaret.

The bed in the middle of the master bedroom is broken; the mattress is gone and the frame is cut in half. Two of the five windows are broken, and the paint on the wall has what looks like dried blood spattered on parts of it. There is a mystery here that I will never have the joy of solving. I wanted to be a detective when I grew up. When it still mattered. When everything still mattered.

I wander around the now darkened house in the now dark, abandoned neighborhood in the now sullen, dark, abandoned city.

There is one bed still left intact—it is in a hidden room behind a bookcase. Once again, a mystery I will never have the joy of solving.

The room is covered in dust, and there is a sheet thrown over the bed, as if its habitant(s) knew that it wouldn’t be used in awhile since they left it. There are no windows in this room, but the lights still work, as if they operate on a circuit independent of both the house and the electric company.

The bed is comfortable and the sheets are relatively clean. I turn out my light and mystery, and fall asleep alone, hoping even now that it’s all a cruel joke.


Three days left

Albert comes in and sunlight creeps through as I hear the creak of the bookcase-door.

I tell him to let me sleep one more day away. He says nothing. I hear a soft thud. I look down and see him leaning against the bed frame, pulling the dusty sheet closer to him to cover him. I soon hear his soft snoring.

I’ve been having the same dream for the past several days, and when I close my eyes, everything’s the same.

I’m standing in the middle of Times Square, the hustle-and-bustle is back, and the skies are clear and the people are happy. At least, their mouths are. I can only see their mouths; the rest of their faces are a blur. All of a sudden, the sky darkens, and their mouths morph into horrified, horrible contortions. The rain falls as tiny missiles, and people get buried in piles of them, everyone around me until I do as well. And then I always wake up.

Except, this time, it’s not the dream that jolts me awake.

Two days left

There is a pair of eyes looking down at me.

“Get up,” a gruff voice says, kicking me. I quickly sit up and look around. There is a full room of light, both from the mystery lamp and the bookcase-door being wide open. The eyes and voice belong to a woman in her early thirties. She has matted hair and a smell coming from her, one worse than the one I or Albert have from not bathing in a couple of days. She seems to have been homeless before the world began to end.

“Can’t I just sleep one more day away?” I ask, no longer frightened by her presence. She pulls out a knife. My wave of fear comes back over me again.

“No, you’ve gotta get up. There are people outside who want to take people to someplace good. Someplace clean. They said that if I help them gather up people I can get extra food. Get up. I want extra food. California’s gone.”

“What?” Albert asks, groggily. He’s on the end of the bed, curled up like a puppy.

“New York has had the ten days. Haven’t you heard anything?”
New York had ten, California had nine. I didn’t know about the nine. Instead of putting out any declaration of war like they should have, the government took their money and orange man and fled.

“Get up, get up!” The homeless woman shoves Albert onto the floor.

We walk out of the house, myself wary of the van that sits in the front of the house. The only van. The rest of the street is empty and abandoned. All other vehicles, the two that are still there, have broken windows. This lone white van has dirt smudges as well as a metallic smell that reminds me more of blood than any actual car metal.

We look at the homeless woman. She has a different look in her eye, as if she needs us to get into the van for something else to happen.

“Get in.” She says, reaching for her knife. “Get in, now.”

I tackle her before she fully gets the knife out. I wrench it from her hands and point it back towards her while pinning her down.

“Who’s in the van?” Albert asks, bottle, although empty, still in his hand.

A man jumps out of the van and runs towards him. Albert sighs, breaks the bottle over the mailbox, half broken, and stabs the man in the stomach with the busted end. The man screeches, but the wails quickly fade as he sinks down into the ground.

He sighs like he has done this before. Well, there were the few days between when the end of the world was announced and when he was with me for an entire day.

The homeless woman screeches at me and tries to claw at my face.

I don’t know if I have any morals anymore. I don’t know what I’m living for. I guess it’s no surprise to me that I don’t feel anything when the knife glides smoothly across her—

When I—

Even though I did it I still don’t want to admit it.

One day left

The world is ending on a tuesday. A Monday would have made more sense, but I guess this is how New York crumbles. Like a cookie.

The van has a small amount of gas in it, but even if it didn’t we still wouldn’t have been able to get far in the span of a day. I don’t know how long we have left. The roof of that family’s house had a sundial, and I checked it an hour ago, when it appeared to be approximately 8:00 in the morning.

I think that, when it’s all said and done, it will be a swift end. Very quick is how I’d like to go. With any luck, Albert and I will be very close to where they decide to drop it. Albert is sitting next to me, all drunk and asleep. He told me to wake him up right before it hits so he can properly (yet drunkenly) say goodbye.

I don’t have many thoughts. I thought there would be so much I wanted to say, but the past ten days have gone by in a sort of weird haze. I don’t know what I want my last words to be. Not that anyone could record them. But I want to come up with something.

“I’ve always hated the MTA and the trains,” I mumble to an asleep Albert. Like a true New Yorker, my last words are filled with the disdain that all New Yorkers feel for the MTA. It’s never been fully functional, and the company always wanted more money than it deserved for crappy service. For years, the people of New York have had to complain on and on about them.

I mean, I’ve alwa

Space Baby by Talia Idelson


Eliza’s eyes grew wide at the world. The space around her was light and airy, she floated up and around the little room in the aircraft. Her face was soft, cheeks glowing and red. Her lips were thin and moist, but no breath escaped them.

For a moment everything was silent in the little white room with no windows. The baby floated higher. Everyone stood about the little child in a dome below her, waiting. Eliza’s mother had sat up, was staring almost angrily at her baby. Her eyes wanted to command the child to breathe.

And then a cry rang out. Bubbling from Eliza’s mouth a shrill, joyous cry that echoed throughout the tiny room and into the ears of her family, the astronauts, the doctors. Everyone had been waiting for this moment, and it had come. In only a moment, the scarily silent room became abuzz with laughter, crying, shouts, and whoops. Eliza’s mother silently sobbed in a corner, watching in wonder as her beautiful baby girl bounced around the room, crying gleefully.

Then it was time to take Eliza out of the room she was born in, to show her a world much bigger than the one she already knew. A universe.

    Carried in the arms of her mother, Eliza was led to an enormous window at the front of the aircraft.

    “Look, Eliza,” her mother said. “This is my world. And now it is yours.”

    Eliza cried again. But through her glassy tears, Eliza could see the world. She saw the dark sky with smudged stripes of purple and pink. She saw the sun’s bright rays and the moon’s pale, mysterious reflections. She saw the planets, which she would one day explore. And the infinite stars were reflected in her wide, elliptical eyes.

    Eliza slept in her cradle. A large paperweight held her blanket down and she snuggled into it. Eliza’s mother watched her newborn with sunken, hollowed out eyes.

    “You should get rest, your girl isn’t going anywhere.” The doctor gave an encouraging smile.

    “She won’t go anywhere, but I’m already gone. We’re years away from Earth; you know I won’t make it.”

    “We don’t know that. I’m not making any predictions yet. Hold on for your baby, for the future of space science. You’re making history!” the doctor insisted.

    Eliza’s mother smiled sadly and lay down on the floor next to her baby’s cradle. Her skeleton curved around the walls of the little cage. She cried. Her tears all gathered in the deep circles under her eyes. Bubbles of the salty liquid floated off of her face and made it looked like the walls were crying, too. Her face was a waterfall that didn’t flow. She was a broken woman.

    And they had made history. Even if both Eliza and her mother died, the first baby had been born in space.


Five Minutes Before the End of the World by Lola Simon


It was five minutes before the end of the world and a silence had fallen over everything, making Oscar feel like his ears were filled with syrup. He had never feared the end, and it was no surprise to him when it finally approached. After all, he had kept a countdown clock in his room since he was six. Still, he had never expected the silence, he had always assumed that we would all go down screaming, it isn’t like humanity to ever go quietly.  It was not completely silent; he heard the windows shaking softly from the wind outside and the low hum of the washing machine churning in the bathroom next to his room. He had told his mom it was pointless to put in another load; it wasn’t like it mattered now if his clothes were dirty or not.

He looked at his watch—four minutes left. With four minutes left on earth it’s hard to decide what your final thoughts should be. He wondered if he should be thinking something meaningful, or contemplating his life to prove to himself he had lived for something. But had anybody really lived for anything at all? If the world has ended, there’s nobody left to care except the void that will be left behind, and voids haven’t been known to be the most expressive of beings. So—he wouldn’t think of that. He fidgeted, and his eyes wandered to the pen he had left open on his desk. He should close that pen. He hated leaving pens out without the caps on. He hated leaving pens out in general. He felt himself fidgeting more. This shouldn’t be what he should focus on right now. He should focus on something else, he should focus on anything else. He felt himself get up and walk to his desk. He closed the cap of the pen, and placed it carefully into the drawer of his desk. He walked back to his bed.

Three minutes now. Three minutes left to live, three minutes until no one was living at all. His breathing started to get quicker, and he didn’t know why. He knew the world was going to end, he had always known the world was going to end. He had always known the exact time day and year the world was going to end. His feet lay flat against the wooden planks of his floor. The floorboards were so cold today. He hated the cold. He checked his watch.

Two minutes. He looked out the window. The trees outside looked like they were about to come crashing down. Good, there was no reason they had to keep on standing now anyways. One minute. He closed his eyes, and his breathing slowed. He felt his heart beating in time with each passing second. 30 seconds now. He thought of his dog Poppy. She was black, and had gotten hit by a car on his fifth birthday. Ten seconds. He opened his eyes and smiled, waiting for everything to come crashing down.

Add It Up by Stina Trollbäck

She's leaning against the black metal banister with a thermometer in hand.
    She's trying to add it up.
    I'm adding it up. The average body temperature hovers around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's normal to be as low as 97 degrees, and 99 degrees is normal too. That's a two degree range. And each one-degree causes a big shift. 97 plus two is still normal. 97 plus three degrees means the chills and insomnia start.
    Though, of course, Papa had 97 plus eight degrees, which is pneumonia. He kept shivering and looking at me and every time he shivered I would move a step away but then I would ask to take his temperature again just to make sure and he got mad. And when he got mad I would start drawing a picture and when I drew a picture he said I was just like his mama and then I would get additionally mad on top of his mad, and he would ignore my mad because he said it doesn't help to feed anger with anger. He said that his mama would've been proud of me and that was that, but I stayed mad because I didn't know her and it hurt. It hurt the most because I couldn't bear to swim into the stories that he poured out because I was afraid of the burden of having to carry all his stories second-hand and to not ever hear it from him again, so it was easier to not listen when he spoke of his mama. I sat next to his bed and asked to take his temperature again and he would lift his tongue and I would put the glass thermometer there and then I would look at the number after two minutes and subtract five from 105 and tell him it was just a fever, and he would blink and say I was too kind to become a liar. You're together all the time and your blood is fifty percent the same, only your blood is eight degrees colder. But you've never thought of yourself as a cold-blooded person like a shark, so this is very uncomfortable for you now and you don't like to think that you are ectothermic and need his endothermic warmth, but you touch him to take some of his heat anyway because you do need him.
    Papa liked to say that we are all like sharks, and I guess that still works because he could just be a Great White shark as those are partially warm-blooded, and I'd be a Hammerhead.
    I crawled into his bed at night because he wasn't contagious he swore he wasn't and so did the doctors, so I curled up next to his feet because they stayed cold even when his temperature was that high and his feet weren’t ticklish so I could feel the pulse of his blood in the middle of the night if I woke up afraid and know he was alive and that eight degrees had nothing on him.
    But the eight degrees won eventually because he was too nice and let the eight degrees stay and I'm not as kind as he thought I am so I started yelling at the doctors because they always added the eight degrees and they were the ones who made Papa believe that his insides were melting so clearly that he let himself melt, and you begin to lose yourself a little after that point. It all becomes bitter like thawed metal and diesel and green tea and you pour packets of sugar on your tongue to make the bitter feeling go away but you can't help being bitter at everyone and especially at those eight degrees because if he had subtracted five it would have just been a fever and if he had subtracted six that would have been 99 and that would still be normal, so the bitterness doesn't thaw, you just swim into the bitterness because you are a cold-blooded Hammerhead shark and that's what you do. You swim. I'm swimming.
    She swam in the tiny pool of liquid bitter Mercury that had spilled out of the glass thermometer when she broke it.

Untitled Short Story by Miyu Simpkins

photography by Todd Hido 

photography by Todd Hido 

 The shrilling bell for second period had rung, bouncing around the halls of Hubbard Brooks High School, and the congested corridor that was filled with chatter had soon dissipated, as the kids shuffled inside their appropriate classrooms. A young boy was still at his locker, pushing his glasses up his nose bridge, and hastily rummaging through his bag. He heard the sound of footsteps, and before he could turn around, someone had yanked his bag, and the young boy tumbled to the ground, his glasses skidding across the hall. All of the sudden, the cracking sound of his glasses erupted, followed with a cackling laughter. 

    “YO, get up,” the older boy had scoffed, kicking the younger boy’s stomach, and all he could do was crumble further into the ground, trembling in fear. The older boy had laughed again, and gripped the frightened boy, tears streaming down his round cheeks.

    “Dexter,” Another voice approached, and the young boy, through his tears, saw a blurry vision of Maya, pushing past the boy who attacked him-Dexter, a senior, who was notorious for bullying incoming freshmen.

    “Back off Maya, this is between me and that little twig,” Dexter grit his teeth, drawing near the shaking young boy.

    Maya rolled her, eyes, stepping in front of the crouched freshman. “Go back to class Dexter. You don’t wanna go to summer school for the fourth year in a row don’t you?” She pouted mockingly, crossing her arms.

    “Whatever…” Dexter trudged away from the two of them, slowly disappearing from their sight as he turned the corner. 

    “You okay?” Maya smiled, reaching her hand out, and the boy clasped onto her, as she pulled him up. 

    “I am now, thanks to you,” He smiled shyly, bending down to pick up his book bag.

    Maya checked her watch, and groaned. “I have to go to my Spanish class. I’m glad you’re okay. Don’t be afraid, not all of us are bad.” Maya smiled brightly, waving to the boy, who was completely in awe of the girl who had just saved him. 

    Maya ran to her second period class, and ignored the stares she got as she walked in, and made her way to her seat, next to her best friend, Liana.

    “Do you have a note Miss Soprano?” her teacher called out.

    “No, I was saving a freshman from getting beat up,” Maya shrugged, taking out her notebook from her backpack.    

    Her teacher smiled, and shook her head. “You can’t always save the day Maya,” 


    The day had gone by quickly, and after Maya finished debate club, she went home to smell fresh marinara sauce wafting towards her. 

    “Dinner’s almost finished if you’re hungry,” Her sister called from the kitchen.

    “I’m starving,” Maya sighed in relief at the thought of home made food. “You’re a goddess Jen.” Maya was exhausted, she had 3 AP tests that day, and dealt with college meetings whenever she had a free period. Nonetheless, she had gotten up, and tirelessly set up the table for her dad, mom, and sister for dinner. 

    Her  family gathered around the dinner table, and while her parents were talking, Jen and Maya were whispered on about their day at school.

    “Oh my god, this girl tried to steal money from my bag today…” Jen rolled her eyes, twirling her spaghetti with her fork.

    “What? What happened? Did you tell your teacher? Did you call her out? If you didn’t, I will,” Maya was hysteric, the thought of her sister being in the slightest of danger had always bothered her. Jen was younger than her, and ever since they were babies Maya had always protected her, since Jen was her only sister.

    Jen laughed, nudging Maya playfully. “Calm down, you’re too over protective. And yeah, I told the principal and she got detention for like 3 days,” 

    “Good,” Maya sighed, continuing to eat the pasta her sister had made. “Oh and your marinara sauce tastes awful,” Maya teased, and they giggled, continuing to talk about their day.


After dinner, Maya went into her bedroom, and started to do her calculus homework, when her sister knocked on her door.

    “Hey, can I borrow your black strapless dress?” Jen asked, nervously biting her lips.

    “Yeah… sure. Why? Where are you going?” Maya asked, putting down her notebook.

    “Jackson Leeman is having a party tonight and I don’t have anything cute to wear.” Jen smiled, with a dreamy look in her eyes.

    “Isn’t Jackson the one you have that massive crush on?” Maya mischievously teased, swirling on her chair. Jen didn’t answer, and bashfully looked down, her cheeks flushed.

    “Just be careful, it’s late... Don’t do anything stupid, I wouldn’t let you go, but I know you’re gonna hate me if I get in the way of you and jaccckksssonnnn,” Maya sang, and went to her closet, digging around for that dress. She wanted to lecture Jen more, but she was only a year younger than her, so she just reluctantly handed her the dress. Jennette squealed, thanking Maya, and ran back into her room. 


    It was 3am, and the sound of the ticking clock was the only audible noise that had ricochet around the room. Maya was in deep slumber, when she heard someone knock on her bedroom door. She languidly rose from her bed, and opened the door to see her sister with black tears flowing down her face. A jolt ran down Maya, and she was no longer tired after seeing the sight of her crying sister. Maya grabbed her sister’s wrist, led her to her own bed, and Jen sunk into Maya’s airy bed.  The only thing Maya heard was her younger sister’s muffled whimpers. And through the dark room, the moonlight had revealed Jennette’s cold, shuddering body, melting with the velvet duvet. For a long time, Maya had just sat there, stroking her sister’s hair, letting the inky atmosphere consume them both. Jennette lifted her head, wiping her tears, and her swollen eyes had painfully pierced into Maya’s solemn ones. 

    “What happened…” Maya whispered.

    “Ja-Ja… Jackson…” Her voice was tremulous, barely audible.

    “What did he do…”

    “I-I-I step… I stepped aw-away from m-my drink for a-a minute… an-and next thing I-I-I knew ev-everything was so bl-blurry, and Ja-Jackson was on top o-of me…” She choked on her own tears, shook her head, and her breathing began to quicken. “I-I tried getting hi-him off…” 

    Maya embraced her, and felt her sister’s small frame shivering once again. Tears began to well up in Maya’s eyes, tightening her grip on her sister. 

    “I’m sorry… I should’ve never let you go... “ Maya’s throat began to squeeze, guilt churning in her stomach. It was not long until sleep had submerged them, while they were still in each other’s arms. 


    The next day, Maya told Liana what happened to her sister. Jackson was senior in their school, and seemingly “one of the nicest guys”.

    “Are you gonna do something…” Liana whispered, twirling her fingers around, looking at her best friend apprehensively. She knew that Maya can get a little over protective sometimes, especially when it comes to her sister. Maya looked backed at her and raised her brow. Liana knew that Maya had something in mind.

    “Speak of the devil…” Both of them watched Jackson walking into the cafeteria, approaching people, and greeting them. Sure enough, he had come toward the two of them.

    “Hey ladies. Just wanted to let you know I’m throwing a party tonight. Only seniors invited,” He winked.

    “Oh… Jackson I dont thin-” Liana was abruptly interrupted when Maya kicking her legs.

    “We’re there,” Maya smiled.

    “Great!” Jackson laughed. “My house, at 10. See you guys.” He knocked the table, and walked away.     

    “What are you doing?” Liana asked, confused as to why Maya would even want to be near Jackson’s party.

    “Maybe Jackson would like to feel weak, and vulnerable… make him feel what he did to my sister...” Maya’s voice was low but vehement, filled with hatred and vengeance.


    That night, it was foggier than usual, devouring the houses on each street. The street lamps lit the cloudy roads, and through the hazy gray fog, one house was illuminated through the mist. Maya and Liana made their way into Jackson’s house, and was immediately thronged by loud adolescents. 

    “Find Jackson!” Maya yelled through the crowd, and Liana nodded. Before Maya could blink, Liana was engulfed by the flood of people. Maya pushed past the dancing teens, elbowing those in her way.

    “Maya!” She heard Liana’s voice from across the room, and made her way towards her friend’s distant voice. She soon caught a glimpse of Jackson, who was in the kitchen spraying his friends with an exploding soda bottle. 

    “Can you distract him for me?” Maya pulled Liana towards her, making sure no one can hear. Liana nodded and made her way towards Jackson. They began to talk, and Jackson put his cup down on the kitchen counter. Maya saw this as her chance, and swiftly made her way to Jackson’s cup, covertly pouring a powder into his drink. Liana saw that Maya had gave her a sign that she was done, and ended her conversation with him. 

    Maya watched Jackson, laughing with his friends, grabbed his cup, and lifted it to his lips, as he drank what was inside his red cup. He winced, put his drink down, shook his head, and started talking to his friends again.

    “Let’s get out of here,” Maya tapped Liana, and soon enough, they were out of the house, back at their own homes, as if nothing happened that night.


    The next day at school, Maya had walked into school, and suddenly sensed an unexplaiable weight that she felt on her shoulders. The air was dull and everyone around her wore a grim facade. Someone had tapped her, and when she turned around, it was Liana. Her face was gray, her eyes dous, and lips dry.

    “Are you okay?” Maya asked, putting her hands on her friend’s arm. Liana grimaced, moving away from her.

    “Maya… Jackson died last night…” Liana said.

    Maya’s stomach fell, and was drowned in her empty thoughts, a cold shudder washing through her blood. Was this a joke? Her mind paced faster and faster, and suddenly everything became vague, her vision swelling.


    “Maya, what the hell. How much of that did you put into her drink? He-He apparently went crazy last night, and ran out his house… A-and ran into some c-car that didn’t see him be-because of that f-fog…” Liana whispered, her breath cold. Maya stood there, in disbelief, a whimper coming out of her. 

    “I-I can’t be around you… Y-You never should’ve done that Maya…” Liana’s face hung, walking away from Maya. 


    Before Maya knew, she was taken to the police station for investigation.


The bright blue lights flickered above Maya’s head, the harsh edges of the shadows had swallowed her eyes, and the only thing visible was her quivering, pale lips. The cold metal below her legs had sent a shiver up her body, and all she could feel was the heavy air compressing against her head. 

“I-I just wanted to help my sister…” she muttered.

A Normal Tale of a Vermillion Woman by Annalise Edwards


A Normal Tale of a Vermillion Woman and Her Viscid Friends

I walked by a woman at the Bergen Street subway station today. The ground was covered in old chewed up gum blackened by dirt and grime from years of shoe soles stomping on them. People don’t think about chewing gum that’s been spit. People don’t really think about chewing gum at all.

The woman wore a bright orange trench coat the color of the bottom of a goldfish cracker bag, only made out of ratty yarn and cloth patches covering moth-bitten holes at the armpits. Her hair was black and sharp, as though she was some kind of cartoon character made from blocks of color. I couldn’t see her eyes- they were covered by sunglasses covering her face from the end of her bangs to the middle of her cheeks. She had a crooked nose and thin red lips, like how I’d always secretly imagined Cruella de Vil. I was made of water vapor to her- she saw me as a blurry mist in the distance, hurriedly passing through me to escape the incoming rain. 

As she trod by, I heard brief exclamations slipping out of her lips:

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… 

She was looking straight down, her neck at a perfect right angle to her hidden spine under the crumpled orange cloth blanketing her body like the hide of a sheep. Through the coat’s large sleeves, two of her carefully manicured fingers appeared, pointing at the blackened spots on the ground of the station. 

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty… 

My eyes followed her fingers until she reached the exit, gracefully clicking up the stairs and out of view.

Monet's Undead and Annoyed Wife by Kimberly Sanford

Monet’s Undead and Annoyed Wife

Camille rolled her eyes. In her frail arms she carried five paintings of various sizes, one of which stabbed her arm as she walked. Shuffling her feet along the dirt path, she kicked up dust and looked down as it covered her shoes. Camille’s eyes caught the corner of a painting but she darted away her vision quickly, she was not interested in looking at any part of them anymore. She made her way to a bright green bridge which arched over a pond littered with lily pads. As she reached the peak of the bridge, she laid down the paintings across the railing. One by one she walked passed them, pushing them over the edge and into the water, bothering the sleeping lily pads with ripples of anger. Camille’s hands shook slightly as she flipped one painting and then the next with distaste. Her eyes rolled again, she could still see the paintings at the bottom of the water. She would have to wait for the dirt to settle before they would be hidden from view.

Rolling Hillside Valley Days by Kimberly Sanford

Rolling Hillside Valley Days

Her silver hoop earring was caught in grass and as she rolled on her side it was pulled from her ear. Groaning with her eyes closed, she reached behind her and patted the ground in search of the earring. After about four or five pats she left her hand behind her and decided it wasn’t worth it. Slowly she opened her eyes and stared blankly at one blade of grass, watching it stand idly, waiting for it to be blown in the wind. “Hi,” she whispered to the green spear. The wind finally came by and made the grass dance, a little wave in response to her greeting. With this, she smiled. A dimple emerged only on her right cheek and quickly receded once her satin lips went back to their emotionless position. Groaning once more she moved her weight onto her hand and further until she was sitting upright, her back curved and chest deflated. The wind picked up again and she followed the tops of rolling hills with her eyes like a roller coaster, up and down and up again until they went off too far into the horizon for her to see. Her head made its way back to the center point of her view for a moment before looking down at the grass by her side. “I’ll see you later,” she said, petting one blade with her finger, not knowing whether or not it was the one she greeted in the first place.

Acetone by Kimberly Sanford


Carefully he placed the soaked brush against his dry nail, still fragrant from blue acetone. As he sat by his bedroom window arched over his desk, so focused on a dollop of violet polish, a dual toned sound rang out in the distance. Maybe it came from the harbor; he’s heard it all his life yet he never knew the source. His left hand shook more than his right, which was holding the brush steadily. He exhaled and placed it down just below his cuticle, dragging it down to the tip of his nail and repeating the step two more times. With the third swipe, a drop of eggplant lacquer came flooding over the side of his finger. “Damn it,” he’d whispered, defeated yet again. After picking up the bottle of polish remover, he dipped a Q-Tip into the blue liquid and ran it precisely over the smear, making the mistake unknown to onlookers. He dropped the Q-Tip down on his desk and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes and waiting for the sound to come again.

Immortal Night by Anastassia Kolchanov

I read an article on a website about making pen pal packages and decided promptly that I want a pen pal too.

This isn't the first time I've had the desire to communicate with someone across the world, but I'm certain it won't be the last.

I announce my ambitions to my mother, who I was certain would support me.

Instead, she shakes her head.

"You don't have time for a pen pal. You have other things to do."

I frown and this time I shake my head.

Up the stairs into my room continuing my monotonous life.


My window overlooks a canal that isn't particularly clean. The water is a little murky and pieces of trash bob their floating bodies across the current. I see my neighbors across the way with their cerulean curtains. If the canal had clean water running through it, I imagine it would be the color of those curtains. I open my window and stick my head out to feel the rain slither across my cheek. A thunderstorm was crawling in my direction, but I do not close the window and sit obediently inside.


I watch as the clouds silently taint the pristine grey sky. They unfurl like dark sails. As I lean on my hand, the swollen tears fall from my eyes and from the sky.

The storm continued to pour the freshwater upon the roofs of the houses across the canal. Concentric circles were swallowing the murky waters whole, and I felt myself being absorbed by the vibrations.

Idla comes in and immediately charges at me.

My head is no longer feeling the pulsations of the rain. The tears are dripping from the tips of my hair and melt into the soft gaps of my skin.

"Isa you're absolutely soaked! What were you thinking? "

She talks to me like I'm 10 even though we're both in high school.

"I wanted to be in the rain."

Idla sighs and grabs a towel hanging on the back of the armchair. I feel my feathery hair being ruffled.

Idla squats in front of me and her eyes are pleading for truth.

They ask me if I'm okay. I shrug. They ask me again. I decide not to answer.

Idla leans on the wall on my right. Waterfalls are streaming down the window.


Night has come to snatch me away. I awake curled in my own hands. Idla is smiling and smoking out of the window.

The cool air of night is breathing on my neck. I cock my head to the side.

"You're gonna die that way, you know that right?"

Idla scoffs and continues smiling to herself.

I've always found her smoking so strange. It’s the complete opposite of the image that she presents to the world.

Here's a photograph of Idla:

She was recently accepted to Yale and will start in the fall.

She has beautiful thick locks of hair and has a passion for volunteer work.

She likes the colors of fall.

She likes to rock climb.

She likes to help at the farmer's market on Saturdays.

She likes to smoke.

It's one of the two things that I can't stand about her.


You never seem to realize how much paper weighs, until you stack it. Placed in a bag and rolled over onto one side, I am overturned like a turtle desperately wanting to move again. My school bag is pulling me into the hazardous clutches of gravity. Absolutely helpless.


Idla walks past me, still in her robe. How mature of her.

I look up at this idol of mine. She's lucky. Idla doesn't have class at 8 in the morning.

She smirks and leaves me to my own devices.


Few minutes later, out the door with some old Keds on my feet, I walk motionless and silently. I'm making my way through the depths of space. My street is quiet in the morning, save the skateboarder who just rode by me with only an umbrella in his hand.


I think he goes to my school.

At the train station, I feel every rivet moving beneath me. They are doing construction, and my train moves by breathing heavily and breaking into beads of perspiration.

The bright lights in the tunnel remind me of surgery.

Clouds drift by faster than the words leaving my head. I talk to myself as I take a left down the street and run.

My passage of escape is blocked by a stocky man walking slowly smoking a cigarette much like Idla does.

I don't like him or the way he inhales the toxic fumes or the way he drags his feet across the sidewalk or the way he slouches deep within his own spine.

I move past him in an awkward manner, and my feet resume punching holes in the sidewalk.

Three blocks.

Two Blocks.


The same beads of perspiration I saw on the train now created a delicate necklace across my own chest.

I see two women silently looking at me as I sprint the last several feet.

Their eyes trail my breathlessness, evaporating in the dull morning.


Fluorescent light penetrates my skull and I don't feel anything. I am numb and cold from the hours sitting in cramped school rooms with tired teachers teaching tired students. My body feels like orbiting the earth and flinging itself out into space.

I walk down the hall to reach my locker. In a drugged stance, I am dazed by the dial on my lock. I feel a tap.

Nothing of it.

I feel another tap.

My head circles my neck to accompany the motion that stimulated my delayed reaction.

I am still in outer space.

It was Idla, as usual.

She was smiling, as usual. Her arm was around her girlfriend, Iris. As usual.

"Hey, there."

I nod my head.

"Hey are you here? On Earth?"

I shake my head.

Iris stares into my forehead. Maybe she notices the small pimple that erupted earlier this morning. Maybe she sees my lame attempt at braiding my hair. Maybe she sees what I am thinking.

In any case, I feel embarrassed.


The courtyard of my school is precariously tiny, but it's where I like to eat my lunch. There's a small crevice between the building and our singular tree that I squeeze into.

Through the fence, I see two nuns sitting on the bench waiting for the bus. One of them has a green bag, much like the grass that would grow in the courtyard in the spring.

One of them is wearing grey sneakers, and the other nun is wearing black slip on shoes. The nun with the black shoes complains about the holes in her shoes. She laughs as she tells the nun with the grey shoes that her family had bought them for her only a year ago.

The nun with the grey shoes is surprised and shakes her head in disbelief.

The nun with black shoes looks up at me and smiles.

She radiates pure kindness.

Her eyes seem as clear as a glass of water fresh from the tap.

I quickly turn away, my cheeks burning up like a leaf caught in a fire.

It's the kindness of such genuine people that intrigues me and makes me wonder how she ended up accepting God's grace. Did she turn to religion when she hit rock bottom? Was she a reformed alcoholic? Did she foresee a prophesy?

All of these questions orbit the nun with the black shoes and the nun with the grey shoes. But I'll never know the answers to any of them because they've stood up to board the bus that finally came.


I'm walking by the canal, looking at the murky water. It bobs up and down slowly, frowning at me.

It is night again. The horrors of school and my everyday interactions are behind me. I'm holding in my hand a book of poetry. The pages are dampened by the mist settling upon the ripples and the waves.

The dark fog is clinging to my skin, cleansing out the sadness from my pores. I hear the faint rustle of my hair.

My body moves like the currents, shifting its size and perception with the seconds of time.

A window opens behind me, and I descend back to the earthly realm.

Idla has opened the window in her room to smoke her nightly cigarette. Darkness cloaks her face, and the small orange ember at the tip of the deadly nicotine emits a knowledgable light. The bellows of smoke reach toward the sky, losing its shape and disintegrating into abstract formations.

I like to look at smoke, but not when it comes from Idla. She's poisoning herself.

I turn my back in her, and stare at the canal once more. I'm itching to feel the coolness of the water. My skin aches to be cloaked in the dead of the night and to dissolve in the particles of murky uncertainty.

There are some stone stairs that lead themselves to a small floating platform on the water. The houseboats sometimes dock around here to refuel.

Feeling mischievous, I go down the stairs with a fast paced urgency. I am now standing below the pavement my feet had touched moments ago. The wooden dock seems to be rotting away, disintegrating into the night.

I open my book, and my fingers fall upon William Blake's "The Tyger":


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye l,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


In what distant deeps or skies.


Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?


I look up again to catch a glimpse of the fiery orange eye floating in front of the third floor of our house. Idla's hair cascades across her hunched back as she leans into the night. She looks like she's about fly.


I come in through the back doorway. It goes into the small foyer just in front of the kitchen.

It has a small fireplace that we like to sit by on cool nights such as this one.

Except the fire is roaring in the fireplace, and there is no one around it.

Flames leaping out, almost licking the mantlepiece.

Stars in my eyes, dazed and puzzled, I walk around the kitchen.

My feet lead me up to the stairs, slowly sinking into the sagging wood like sand.

I call out for Idla’s name but my voice seems to float into the void that I call my home.

I reach the second floor, where my mother is usually working.

Poking my head through the studio and the bedroom

lead to the creation of an air of angst.

Planets of doubt filling my head, I start my second ascent.

My hands are turning fiery, burning holes in my sweater.

My eyes are turning orange, burning holes in the banister of the circular stairs. 

I reach the third floor, and my feet are dying for an answer. 

The door to Idla’s room is almost closed, almost shut out like the white noise running around in frantic circles inside of my bulging head. 

I push the door open with hesitation, holding my breath as though I were performing surgery. 

Idla is nowhere to be seen. I see a thin trail of grey smoke tearing its way through the orange room. 

My fingers are burning holes through the cigarette that had been put out only moments ago. 

I look out the window, and then jerk my head down. 

An ember, a single eye stares at me in the mist of the soggy night. 

It has come to take me away. 

A Hidden Yellow World by Kimberly Sanford


A Hidden Yellow World

An olive painted house sat silently adjacent to a dirt footpath. Canopied by trees and littered with foliage, the path opens up to a wheat field outlined and criss crossed by marshy streams. In the horizon there are houses like the olive one, large, dominating, overbearing of the land around them. As though it was an afterthought, a little yellow shed is perched next to the woods that blocked off the dirt road. Although the layout was peculiar, there was something intriguing about this scene. With a closer look at the shed, chipping paint is visible around its base. The wind screamed and then died down to a whimper, taking more pieces of the flaxen flecks with it. An equally damaged seaweed colored roof restlessly weighed down the structure, the ribbons of wind that broke through it howled inside before they left. Behind the battered wooden door resides a world consumed by vines and photographs; moments in time captured and never seen again by those who created it. Vases that once housed potted plants had shattered to the floor many years ago; they left behind chalky pieces that would not be reunited with one another. Two wooden chairs were juxtaposed in front of a desk that matched the roof. An album lays open on the desk, two girl recur throughout the storyline of images. Never smiling, never laughing, but never sad; always contemplating or staring with emptiness. They seemed content together, always laying on one another or sitting closely. They were never kissing in the pictures. Journals full of art overflowed a dresser aside the desk. They never wrote. Not a single word resided in the shed. The shed held their mystery with it, whoever they were. It will forever be perched in a scene behind an olive house that sits silently next to a dirt footpath into another world. And they will remain mysteries.

(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)

Gurgling Flamingos by Stina Trollbäck

When my older brother, Ibo, told me five minutes ago that there is mildew in the basement, I said that mildew looks like the sound of an electric screwdriver. He shook his head at me and walked out of my bedroom.

My younger brother, Orion, is a pink song. When he blinks his eyes I see coral pink music notes. He is a magenta treble clef when he slams the door to the bathroom by accident.

When my dad buys groceries, he sounds like my mom’s hands look when she folds empty cardboard boxes. When he puts his shoes on, he sounds like the firm fabric of a red pleated skirt.

I stand up. I walk to my older brother’s room.

“Can you empty the dishwasher today, Ibo?”

Ibo doesn’t answer. I walk to Orion’s room.

“Orion, can you empty the dishwasher?”

Orion says he has to shower.

I go to the kitchen.


When my mom told my dad about the mildew in the basement, she looked like the straps of denim overalls. She told him she was worried Orion would tell friends at school and that their moms would think our house is dirty. She likes to hide these things. My dad calls it “bending bushels of barley.”


Ibo comes to the kitchen a few minutes after I finish emptying the dishwasher.

“Ibo, your footsteps sound like overcooked eggplant.”

“Are you wearing pink mascara, Annika?” he replies.



I walk past him, back into my room.


I hear my dad come home with grocery bags that rustle like the color of poppies, and I hear him unloading the groceries the way my mom folds milk cartons. I hear him tell my brother that the mildew cleaner is coming tomorrow morning.

Ibo walks back upstairs.


My mom comes home from her office at the museum a few minutes later. I hear her nod of acknowledgement to my dad. I hear the popping milk bubbles in the bowl of cornflakes with blueberry jam in front of her when she sits down.

I know that she is sitting with cobalt blue posture at the dinner table and that my father is sitting on the kitchen counter grading white papers.

Orion’s door opens. He runs out and down the stairs to the kitchen.

His voice is the loudest in my family, like fuchsia. “Mom, I painted part of Annika’s wall today!”

I feel my mom start smiling. “What color did she let you paint?”

“She said I had to do pink--” he raises his voice, directed at me, “which was annoying. But it looks really good. You guys should go look at it.”

I laugh, look at my wall, and come downstairs, too. “If you don’t like pink, you didn’t have to paint at all.” He doesn’t know I think of him as music.

My mom touches my back as I walk over to the refrigerator.

My dad adds that he’s only gotten to paint big red shapes.

“Vermillion shapes,” I correct.

My mom says that maybe I can paint the basement when the mildew is gone.

I tell her that she and dad should do it.

They shrug.


My mom and dad build an imaginary line of pillows between them when they sleep; it is as fixed as the amount of air between the basement ceiling and the basement floor.


Ibo doesn’t want to paint a part of my wall. He sees the paint on my wall as tangible discomfort, but I doubt he knows he sees it that way.

He stands in my doorway. The incandescent light in the hallway rims his frizzy, dark hair with a halo of yellow.

Ibo asks me to come with him to the deli down the street.

Mom fell asleep looking like a blue bell while putting Orion to bed.

We walk past my dad, who is shaving over the kitchen sink with a red razor. My dad tells us he has ten dollars in his back pocket.

Ibo looks at me with raised eyebrows.

I take the ten dollars from my dad’s back pocket. The bill is crumpled like a dry, crushed poppy.

“You should wake Mom up, she’s in Orion’s bed,” I say to him.

“She must be tired then. Maybe it’s best I leave her there.” He gives me a faint smile.

We walk outside.

“What are you getting at the deli, Ibo?” I ask.

“Ice cream.” His skin is as uncomfortable as sandpaper. He’s walking at a pace much more violet than his usual indigo.

The lampposts on the street are reflecting yellow light onto the ground, complementing Ibo’s pace.

I think Ibo feels like he is a secondary color. He used to be primary and blue, but he doesn’t know he has turned purple.

He is walking a half step in front of me.

“Don’t try to fix them, Annika.” His voice is dry.

He doesn’t think that when our mom rolls her shoulders back she looks like our dad when he is chopping chives.

He buys his ice cream.

He doesn’t think that Mom dropping her keys looks like Dad taking out his contact lenses.

I buy lemon sparkling water in a glass bottle. “They’re the mildew,” I say.


“Mom and Dad are the mildew.”

“The mildew will be gone tomorrow,” he says.

I walk faster.

He doesn’t.

I am being absorbed by the yellow light from the lampposts.

Ibo walks in the deep purple shadows from the trees, and I don’t feel my eyes trying to distinguish the shades of purple.


When I wake up the next morning, the mildew cleaners are are already leaving. I hear them talking to my mom.

“Keep an eye out for traces of mildew within the next few weeks. Mildew spores can remain in the air and resettle on surfaces. You’ll want to schedule a follow up procedure -- one cleanse is not likely to eliminate. Watch out for musty smells everywhere in the house, not just in the basement.”

My mom nods and thanks him as she closes the door. When she locks the door, her ring finger has one less ring than usual.

She reaches out to brush my cheek with her fingers as I pass her.

I walk to the basement. There are splotches on the ceiling and wall where the mildew was. It looks as if my mother and father, cobalt blue and poppy red, have been scraped off the wall with a butter knife. The splotches sound like a electric screwdriver.


My mom doesn’t ask my dad to help her take down bowls from the top shelf anymore; she gets a stepstool.


I hear the coral and violet sounds of my brothers in the kitchen, and I feel figmented mildew spores drifting through the doorway as I pull the basement door closed behind me.

I lean against the kitchen doorframe.

Orion bangs the silver teapot on our stove with his elbow while reaching for a mug. Boiling water spatters across the counter. A few sizzling drops land on his fingers.

Ibo’s shoulders vibrate like a tuning fork as he laughs at Orion.

When Orion stops waving his hand around like a kite in a tornado, he fills a bowl with water and submerges his hand.

“That was graceful,” Ibo says.

“It’s Mom’s fault,” Orion quips. “She was hogging the bed all night, so I slept weirdly. My spine hurts.”


“I swear, Ibo! Also, look. My bacon pieces look like a fortress.”

“I don’t see it.”

“You have no imagination.”

“What do you mean I have no imagination? You’re my imaginary friend, Orion!”


“I control you.” Ibo smirks.

“I’m real! Ibo stop it!”

“No, you’re not. I made you up.”

I walk into the kitchen.

“Annika, tell him I’m real!”

Ibo stands up and walks upstairs.

Orion frowns and swishes his fingers around in the water bowl. He is making the water eddy, creating miniature whirlpools as magenta drips from his fingers.

I sit and watch him in buttercup yellow silence.

My dad walks down the stairs smoothly like a ripe raspberry being rinsed. His red presence reflects on the white walls in the kitchen.

“Good morning,” he says. He looks tired. His teeth are stained light blue from arguing with my mom.

My mom comes downstairs. She does not look tired. She looks at me, then at Orion.

“Annika, have you eaten? Orion, are you still hungry? I can make scrambled eggs.” Her teeth are stained red.

“I burned my hand, Mom!” Orion squawks.

“I’m fine,” I say.

My mom gives Orion an ice pack and fixes his hair.

We sit evenly spaced around our round, grey dining table.

When Ibo walks back into the kitchen, he disrupts the even spacing, squeezing his chair between mine and Orion’s.

Our silence swirls in circles on the table; our colors mix and create jarring white flecks and blurs. The rainbow-white-grey starts to float and wriggle around the room.

I can taste the dissonance.

Everyone is still, but the tension is squeezing my fingertips.

Ibo makes eye contact with me. He looks at my parents.


He breaks the discordant stillness: “One of you needs to move out.”


The pink of Orion’s cheeks reflects in the water that is swelling in his eyes. I hear his breath trembling.

“You’re nineteen. You move out.” My dad’s tone sounds like a bitten red apple.

My mom’s voice follows, “You can’t say that to us –”

“I never –”

“Maybe if you –”

“I’m just saying that we can’t live like this.” Ibo’s squawk is resonating.

Orion is crying. He’s making us pink and anguished.

I feel my neck elongating to match my mothers. My shoulder blades are tensing.

My dad’s teeth are clenching like a bird closing its beak.

Orion’s gurgling breath is turning us into flamingos.

I can feel tears gurgling behind our eyes.

We are a flamboyance of flamingos standing around a gurgling pond. We’re turning white, shivering. Our legs are snapping. We are each flapping one wing.

“You don’t have a right, Ibo. You don’t know what–”

“Allen –”

“Stop it.” I cut my mom off. She is still looking at my dad.

Tears dribble down Orion’s pink cheeks.

“Come,” I say, and I stand up. The rest don’t stand until I’m by the stairs, ready to walk up.

Orion pushes his chair away from the table and follows me, then my mom does. Ibo and my dad stand at the same time.

We walk to my room.

My lungs are deflating.


I sit down on my bed.

My fingertips are ice.

They stay standing.

I point at my wall.

My mom notices first. “Why did you do that?” she asks, open-eyed.

There are spattered white and grey paint build-ups coating much of my yellow, pink, red, blue, and purple painted wall. The big colorful shapes have been tarnished by the stale clusters.

Ibo smiles. “It’s supposed to be mildew,” he answers for me.

My parents are flamingos, melting in the doorway.

I’m crying. “I feel contaminated,” I say.

They nod.

A Trilogy by Kimberly Sanford

Keaton Henson Wallpaper.jpg


A Trilogy


The car sat peacefully on the side of the hill. Just slightly off the road, it was oriented a peculiar way. Dragon’s breath poured from the inside out, dancing in the windless sky until it disappeared. The tawny fields remained silent as they watched the scene from a distance. Telephone lines snickered and zapped between the ribbons of smoke that enveloped them. A lanky man stumbled out of the box with red streamers running across his face, neck, and down his arms. He didn’t yell. He didn’t cry. He inspected the glass mosaic before crouching down at the seam of the road and the dry grass. Before reaching into his coat pocket, he smudged the red ink from his skin onto his pants. His phone emerged. Soon after he made a call, another box came trotting down the road, past the same tawny fields he was running away from. He got in and shrunk into the horizon.


A pulsing in my neck woke me up, along with a stream of blood dripping into my eyes. I felt my lungs getting weighed down from smoke with every breath I took. I had to get out. I began to reach for my seatbelt when my hands turned to static. My eyes rolled back into my head and the smoke overtook my good judgement. I was losing myself again. My hands kept buzzing but I was able to release myself from my restraint. I came crashing down onto the roof of my car, groaning as I tried to take my weight off of my neck. The passenger window was completely shattered; I kicked the rest of the glass out before shimmying my way through onto the grass. I ran my fingertips against the shattered windshield before backing away, taking in every detail. Watching the smoke that once filled my lungs disintegrate into the still sky. I ambled over to the road and sat down to call a taxi, I wrapped my bleeding hand with a rag that was shoved into my coat pocket. I sat, my mind was quiet until a black car came to a halt in front of me.

The Other

A call came in, some guy needed to be picked up on the side of the road about ninety miles outside of town. I hopped in the car and sped past the town square, past the farms, past the open plains. I was staring at the road until a black cloud caught my attention from the corner of my windshield. It wasn’t just one or two streaks, a whole trail of black dust kicking up in the distance grew closer as I got further from the world I left behind. Weaving between hills and creeks, I followed the road until I saw an overturned car, overcome with smoke and ash. A slender man in a suit was sitting on the side of the road, his hand was hovering over his beard. I pull over and the wheels shriek mildly against the torn up road. He got up without removing his gaze from the ground, and got in the car without putting his seatbelt on. We drove off. He wrapped his arms around himself.

(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)

A Restless Dreamer with Shattered Bones by Kimberly Sanford

A Restless Dreamer with Shattered Bones

His hands shook by his side as he laid in bed that wintry day.


The broken record of heavy rain on the window turned to ice once it made contact with his icy shell.


A blanket of cloud cover sealed him in from his neighborhood outside that was ringing with sirens of urgency.


He remained alone in bed where his brain contorted in its cage until there was nothing left except a spiderweb of electrical currents and static.


His heart accelerated from his back to his ribs, running into the walls on both sides until it broke through and tipped over the cliff of his chest and relaxed again.


The mess around him paid no mind to his presence as he had stayed in bed for days and moved very little.


He allowed for his subconscious to chip away at his reality every night until his eyes ripped open with fear as his heart began hitting the barriers again.


This cycle continued until the worry had aged him in a matter of weeks.


He had gotten to the point where the beating of his heart against the cement blockade of his ribs eventually shattered every fragile item around it after breaking through.


When this happened he remained in bed, with the mess around him still oblivious to his shattered bones.


This was when I intervened.


As I cleaned the chaos around him, I wept for the restless dreamer.


When the debris was gone I left him.

He remains there today with no mess surrounding him, the disarray that lingered could not be cleaned.

(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)

Goodbye by Kimberly Sanford


    I watched his pickup truck kick up dirt as I stood on the side of the road. The ringing of him yelling “get out!” continued in my ears until his tires disappeared into the horizon. I rubbed my eyes, tears collecting at the brim of my waterline were tainted with dirt and dust. I looked beside me. My little sister was crouched down, staring at a snail that was moving its way towards his truck. She reached down and stuck out one finger before caressing its shell. I sighed and looked down both sides of the road, one way I had already travelled, the other I had yet to. I turned back to my sister as she pulled on my dress, signalling for me to come inspect the snail with her. I looked not at the creature that captivated her attention, rather, I was staring at the way her big eyes rarely blinked and how strands of her unkempt hair laid across her face.

    I took her delicate hand, stuck out one finger, and placed in on the ground in front of the snail’s path. The snail crawled onto it, and as my sister gasped in awe I picked her up and began my way down the road, knowing that I would not see his tires in the horizon any time soon.


(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)

Dust to Dust by Kimberly Sanford


Dust to Dust

I was looking out the window one quiet night when I saw a girl in the window next to me, staring outside just as I was. She had short, light brown hair and a cold pale face. I on the window ledge, her sitting on the floor, she stared past me as I continued to inspect her. Frail fingers and elegant nails brought a skinny cigarette to her lips. My face contorted watching her, she couldn't be more than 17 years old. Nevertheless, she took a drag and let out an exhausted stream of smoke with her face still expressionless. She leaned farther out the window and I caught a glimpse of her robe. Fuzzy and pink, it contrasted with her silvery complexion. When she released the cigarette from her lips I was met with a gleam from porcelain teeth.


"Aren't you a little young for that?"

I asked, more forcefully than I intended to.


She kept her uncaring gaze and ashed into the wind.


She continued this waltz, bringing the tube to her lips, inhaling, and cautiously placing it back in her twig fingers to exhale. My face changed again, slightly startled that she wouldn't answer me when I was only a foot away from her.


She suddenly turned to me and exhaled again. Her face disappeared behind a cloak of smoke before she reappeared, lightly smirking at me.


"Maybe" she answered.


A blush rose to the tip of my cheeks. She retreated from the window's ledge, but before I could tell her to come back she was already there, holding out a cigarette to me.


I took it and waited for further instruction.

She just looked again and said


"I'll see you tomorrow"

(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)

His Story by Kimberly Sanford

  I tossed my empty soda can into one of the garbage cans that waited silently on the side of the road. As I sped past another house it occurred to me that I probably should’ve put the can into a recycling bin instead. Considering that it was only one or two houses down, I dropped my foot off of my skateboard and onto the pavement, applying more pressure until I came to a stop. I turned around to walk back. I started noticing the little things around me that were blurred ribbons in my peripheral vision just moments ago. A small black bird sat perched on a crape myrtle tree in the middle of someone’s lawn, two ceramic deer statues looked to the tree from the lawn next door. To my right there were more quiet homes, empty shells that housed sleeping families and sheltered them from the cool autumn night. To my left was a world beyond what anyone in those families would understand; the woods. I could sense monsters in the distance, watching me like predators from behind their wooden shields. A cold whisper crawled up my neck and dragged its way down to my wrist. I came back to the garbage can, the soda can was slumped atop a sealed trash bag that sat inside. I picked it up and chucked it into the blue bin beside it, the crash of metal cans vibrated around my head before disintegrating behind music that rang out through my headphones. 

    I turned around again, tossing my board back onto the pavement. Placing one foot on it, I rolled it forward. I looked around as I tried to take in more from the eerie scene I found myself in. Silence poured into my ears as the song on my phone ended and a new one was about to begin. A smile inched onto my face and my eyes closed lightly with bliss when I heard the next song come on. I couldn’t wipe that smile off my face if I wanted to. It was as if the monsters stopped lurking, the black veil that fell over my night was lifted and I was safe among the still air. I pushed off; sending myself whizzing down the street again, missing the details around me until the sound of wind rushing past me almost overtook the streamers of music flowing between my headphones.


(this is one of the stories from a book I am currently writing, hopefully the full collection of stories and poems will be published by the end of the school year.)