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Great Lake Review - Fall 2013

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Title:
Great Lake Review - Fall 2013
Series Title:
Great Lake Review
Publisher:
SUNY Oswego
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Language:
English

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serial ( sobekcm )

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Abstract:
Editor-in-Chief Beth Schneider, Managing Editor Kathryne Davis, Treasurer Graham Molella, Online Editors Brittany Sperino-Horsford Chris Valentine, Faculty Advisor Brad Korbesmeyer, Drama Editors Nicholas Altaro Elizabeth Collins Lauren Macblane Nicole Matarese Jennifer Norris, Fiction Editors Rita Aliperti Ethan Gormley Emily Klingbeil Sandra Marin Olivia Martinez Graham Molella Olivia Pexton, Fiction Editors Continued Brian Richmond Chris Valentine Hannah Warriner Megan Weiss Shantol Williams, Nonfiction Editors Elizabeth Collins Torrin Kearns Lauren Macblane Jennifer Norris Brian Richmond Logan Scalise Cassandra Schumacher Hannah Warriner, Poetry Editors Paige Castle Megan Debolt Hannah Dennison Lena Gluck Yadira Junco Emily Klingbeil Kristen Kopper Leah Tackling ( , )
Scope and Content:
ART Connection by Stephanie Arney............................front cover Nature’s Umbrella by Ann Pallifrone....................................6 Water Lilies by Kim Kittleson...............................................6 Lake Ontario by Lesley Semel............................................18 Untitled by Joel Dodge........................................................32 Sunshine in a Field of Gray by Kim Kittleson.....................55 Argument by Stephanie Arney...........................................65 Satchmo by David Owens...................................................74 Subconscient L’esprit Sexe by Joel Dodge.........................85 Townie Life Can Be Beautiful by Kristen Burke..................97 Mehndi Hands by Kim Kittleson........................................111 Umbrella People by Kim Kittleson....................................119 Sperm and Egg by Joel Dodge.........................................127 Galloping Nightmares by Anne Greco..............................132 Groovy Blueberry by Ann Pallifrone.................................139 Stop Your Squawkin’ and Get Back in the Kitchen by Joel Dodge..........................144 Tympanum by Stephanie Arney.......................................160 Shine on Me by Kristen Burke..........................................160 Pearl Harbor by Kim Kittleson..........................................167 Hybrid by David Swift........................................................177 Sad Owl by Allie Rhode....................................................178 Elephant by Stephanie Arney...........................................194 Through the Secret Window by Kim Kittleson.................196 Oswego in the Winter by Allie Rhode...............................199 National Spying Agency by Anne Greco...........................205 Uncle Sheldon by David Owens.......................................213 Early Bird Special by Lumen Arcanum.................back cover 4 DRAMA Long Live the Lonely by Jordan Dedrick.....................................40 Trapped in My Head by Joey Kraus.............................................66 Janelle by Chelsea Hamlet...........................................................75 The Strike Out by Jordan Rockower............................................98 Bond by Jordan Dedrick.............................................................124 The Impressionable by Jordan Dedrick.....................................137 Billy by Michelle Stiles................................................................147 Greatest Pep Talk by Joey Kraus...............................................163 Debt Collector by Aaron Golish..................................................206 FICTION Hell by Christianna Miller...................................................19 Black and White by Alexander Marchesi...........................26 We Don’t Talk About It by Jessica Washak........................36 Elevate by Collin Henderson..............................................68 Left in Lavender by Phoebe Lamont..................................92 Chunks by Harry Christopher Moore..............................104 Home is Where the Hearth Is by Luke Parsnow..............105 Fall by Tarin Bonvino........................................................115 Stuck by Shelby Coyle......................................................120 Anatomised by Harry Christopher Moore........................126 Vivat Rex by Dylan Woods...............................................130 Canvas by Shelby Coyle..................................................140 Open Mic Night by Todd Robert Stark.............................143 God by Ann Pallifrone......................................................159 Medium by Holly Greenfield.............................................168 Evolution by Shelby Coyle................................................180 Salt by Amy Lipsky...........................................................182 I Sleep with Dr. Jekyll and Wake with Mr. Hyde by Holly Greenfield....................195 It Could Happen by Carrie Rooker...................................203 A Conversation Between Business Partners by Collin Henderson..................211 5 NONFICTION My Father Collects Miniatures by Marian Holmes................7 Tootles’ Arrow by Andrew Baumgras.................................56 Bump in the Night by Shelby Coyle....................................71 Old Enough to Kiss by Cassidy Carroll..............................86 The Thing About Pumpkin Guts by K.M. Alleena..............112 Shadow by Jessica Salamone.........................................169 POETRY It Rained in the Vatican Saturday by Claire Cerra..............16 Playing God by Shelby Coyle.............................................25 Evasion Dance by Naomi Chalfin.......................................33 Well, You Asked Me to Read Your Future by K.M. Alleena ... ......................................61 Lost Explorer by Colleen Maney.........................................84 Golden Years by Tori Muscato............................................90 Oklahoma City by Ryann Crofoot.....................................121 Hollow Rote by Holly Greenfield......................................128 The Insect King by Shelby Coyle......................................131 Fat Kids and Chocolate Bars by Morgan Altland.............133 A Letter Addressed to Rock Bottom by Alexander Marchesi .....................................142 Cross Examined by Dani Walters.....................................145 I Feel You, Empty Snapple Bottle by K.M. Alleena...........161 The Zen of It by K.M. Alleena...........................................176 Teatime in Chinatown by Julie Schofield.........................179 Lagoon Love by Shanna Fuld..........................................181 Stiffened by Joel Dodge...................................................195 Blue Moon at the Nowhere Café by Collin Henderson....197 Things I’ve Broken While Drunk by K.M. Alleena.............200
General Note:
Great Lake Review is SUNY Oswego's student-edited literary and art magazine. Great Lake Review is published, in general, every semester, and contains primarily student art work, poetry, fiction, and other literary works.

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GREAT LAKE REVIEW FALL 2013

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1 THE GREAT LAKE REVIEW OSWEGOS LITERARY MAGAZINE FALL 2013 We congratulate those who have been accepted into this semesters edition of the Great Lake Review and encourage those who submitted, but who were not accepted, to continue to submit your work. We are told in all of our Creative Writing classes that persistence is how you go places in life, but especially in the writing world. Sometimes, disappointment gets the better of us and we feel as though our work is not good enough simply because it has not been accepted into a journal. This should never dissuade anyone from submitting their work to our journal or to any other literary journal. If you were accepted, congratulations. If you were not accepted, do not give up on your writing or your artwork. Stay persistent. Revise until you have the best piece you could ever have. Submit. Submit over and over again. Do not feel as though your work is something to look down upon, but instead, be proud and know that you have done your best. The persistence I speak of is directed to the editors of this journal, as well. They continue to be so persistent about putting out the best journal we can. They have put in so much time and effort reading through and editing all of the pieces that were submitted. Without them, this journal would not be possible. Thank you, editors. You are so appreciated. No matter what you do with your writing and artwork, we hope you will continue to be persistent and know that you have work to be proud of. We wish you the best of luck in whatever you hope to achieve. Please tell your friends and continue to submit to the Great Lake Review. Without your submissions, this journal would not exist. Like us on Facebook: /pages/Great-Lake-Review @greatlakereview on Twitter @greatlakereview on Instagram greatlakereview.wordpress.com greatlakereview.tumblr.com The Great Lake Review is part of your SA fee.

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2 THE GREAT LAKE REVIEW OSWEGOS LITERARY MAGAZINE FALL 2013 Editor-in-Chief Beth Schneider Managing Editor Kathryne Davis Treasurer Graham Molella Online Editors Brittany Sperino-Horsford Chris Valentine Faculty Advisor Brad Korbesmeyer Drama Editors Nicholas Altaro Elizabeth Collins Lauren Macblane Nicole Matarese Jennifer Norris Fiction Editors Rita Aliperti Ethan Gormley Emily Klingbeil Sandra Marin Olivia Martinez Graham Molella Olivia Pexton Fiction Editors Continued Brian Richmond Chris Valentine Hannah Warriner Megan Weiss Shantol Williams Elizabeth Collins Torrin Kearns Lauren Macblane Jennifer Norris Brian Richmond Logan Scalise Cassandra Schumacher Hannah Warriner Poetry Editors Paige Castle Megan Debolt Hannah Dennison Lena Gluck Yadira Junco Emily Klingbeil Kristen Kopper Leah Tackling

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3 THE GREAT LAKE REVIEW OSWEGOS LITERARY MAGAZINE FALL 2013 TABLE OF CONTENTS ART Connection by Stephanie Arney ............................front cover Natures Umbrella by Ann Pallifrone ....................................6 Water Lilies by Kim Kittleson ...............................................6 Lake Ontario by Lesley Semel ............................................18 Untitled by Joel Dodge ........................................................32 Sunshine in a Field of Gray by Kim Kittleson .....................55 Argument by Stephanie Arney ...........................................65 Satchmo by David Owens ...................................................74 Subconscient Lesprit Sexe by Joel Dodge .........................85 Townie Life Can Be Beautiful by Kristen Burke ..................97 Mehndi Hands by Kim Kittleson ........................................111 Umbrella People by Kim Kittleson ....................................119 Sperm and Egg by Joel Dodge .........................................127 Galloping Nightmares by Anne Greco ..............................132 Groovy Blueberry by Ann Pallifrone .................................139 Stop Your Squawkin and Get Back in the Kitchen by Joel Dodge ..........................144 Tympanum by Stephanie Arney .......................................160 Shine on Me by Kristen Burke ..........................................160 Pearl Harbor by Kim Kittleson ..........................................167 Hybrid by David Swift ........................................................177 Sad Owl by Allie Rhode ....................................................178 Elephant by Stephanie Arney ...........................................194 Through the Secret Window by Kim Kittleson .................196 Oswego in the Winter by Allie Rhode ...............................199 National Spying Agency by Anne Greco ...........................205 Uncle Sheldon by David Owens .......................................213 Early Bird Special by Lumen Arcanum .................back cover

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4 DRAMA Long Live the Lonely by Jordan Dedrick .....................................40 Trapped in My Head by Joey Kraus .............................................66 Janelle by Chelsea Hamlet ...........................................................75 The Strike Out by Jordan Rockower ............................................98 Bond by Jordan Dedrick .............................................................124 The Impressionable by Jordan Dedrick .....................................137 Billy by Michelle Stiles ................................................................147 Greatest Pep Talk by Joey Kraus ...............................................163 Debt Collector by Aaron Golish ..................................................206 FICTION Hell by Christianna Miller ...................................................19 Black and White by Alexander Marchesi ...........................26 We Dont Talk About It by Jessica Washak ........................36 Elevate by Collin Henderson ..............................................68 Left in Lavender by Phoebe Lamont ..................................92 Chunks by Harry Christopher Moore ..............................104 Home is Where the Hearth Is by Luke Parsnow ..............105 Fall by Tarin Bonvino ........................................................115 Stuck by Shelby Coyle ......................................................120 Anatomised by Harry Christopher Moore ........................126 Vivat Rex by Dylan Woods ...............................................130 Canvas by Shelby Coyle ..................................................140 Open Mic Night by Todd Robert Stark .............................143 God by Ann Pallifrone ......................................................159 Medium by .............................................168 Evolution by Shelby Coyle ................................................180 Salt by Amy Lipsky ...........................................................182 I Sleep with Dr. Jekyll and Wake with Mr. Hyde by ....................195 It Could Happen by Carrie Rooker ...................................203 A Conversation Between Business Partners by Collin Henderson ..................211

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5 NONFICTION My Father Collects Miniatures by Marian Holmes ................7 Tootles Arrow by Andrew Baumgras .................................56 Bump in the Night by Shelby Coyle ....................................71 Old Enough to Kiss by Cassidy Carroll ..............................86 The Thing About Pumpkin Guts by K.M. Alleena ..............112 Shadow by Jessica Salamone .........................................169 POETRY It Rained in the Vatican Saturday by Claire Cerra ..............16 Playing God by Shelby Coyle .............................................25 Evasion Dance by .......................................33 Well, You Asked Me to Read Your Future by K.M. Alleena ... ......................................61 Lost Explorer by Colleen Maney .........................................84 Golden Years by Tori Muscato ............................................ 90 Oklahoma City by Ryann Crofoot .....................................121 Hollow Rote by ......................................128 The Insect King by Shelby Coyle ......................................131 Fat Kids and Chocolate Bars by Morgan Altland .............133 A Letter Addressed to Rock Bottom by Alexander Marchesi .....................................142 Cross Examined by Dani Walters .....................................145 I Feel You, Empty Snapple Bottle by K.M. Alleena. ..........161 The Zen of It by K.M. Alleena ...........................................176 Teatime in Chinatown by .........................179 Lagoon Love by Shanna Fuld ..........................................181 Stiffened by Joel Dodge ...................................................195 Blue Moon at the Nowhere Caf by Collin Henderson ....197 Things Ive Broken While Drunk by K.M. Alleena .............200

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6 Natures Umbrella Ann Pallifrone Water Lilies Kim Kittleson

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7 My Father Collects Miniatures Marian Holmes French toast is ready; come on downstairs. His voice is gruff, protruding from lips hidden beneath an almost-entirely-grey beard. He has a penchant for standing in the doorway of my It drives me nuts. Thirty seconds pass and I dont stir. Come on. Everyones sitting at the table. defeat, and follow him downstairs. Leaning against the wooden chair my mother is occupying, I greet my family with a groggy demeanor. Im handed a plate. Go sit down and get some food. Dad. I hate French toast. Oh! he exclaims while mimicking a slap to his forehead; thats right! Well theres cereal? For a man who collects watches and clocks, hes never on time. I guess it should not surprise me: there are thirty-seven clocks strewn along the ground level of our home, yet for a reliable timepiece, we all turn to our Cable box. I grew up to cuckoos and chimes, beeps, buzzes, and minute delay. They wake up guests who stay over. I hardly even hear them anymore; for me theyre the norm. He is the norm. Our very own horologist. For hours he sits at our kitchen table. Honey oak. worth of schooling. Scratch-marks gouged into the wood comprehend and the faint presence of glitter from a late night project that seeped past the poster boards edge. This is where he works. First comes the tackle box. He loves compartments. Tiny drawers and pockets to hide away his treasures. He rivaling the teenager rebelling against his too-hard working mother. But his treasures, each and every one, get put away with the sincerest of care. He rolls his coins in paper sleeves.

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8 He even sorts his screws by size. At home they call me the human-octopus, because I spread out, all over the house, leaving traces of my existence on any surface that once lay bare. I blame him. Item by item he engulfs the tabletop. His hands, always dry, and cracking, deftly empty the shelves in his box once meant its bigger. But this one houses his time-keeping tools. His ebay addiction has brought most of them into our home. He sits up straight. Hes Germanic in so many ways, yet his Irish comes through when it needs to. He sits. And he empties. And then, he begins. Today hes working on my brother Tims watch. It needs a new battery, but the back wont dislodge. Its needs to be opened, but Tim would just break it. Patience is not a forte for my brothers and I. My father seems to be made of nothing but. He brings the jewelers loupe up to meet his eye and investigates the underbelly. Swiss movement. Very nice. His hand reaches for a miniscule, bronze hammer. the eyes of a bent-old man who breathed nothing but the air from inside a grandfather clock. Hes always exuded anything, and for the most part, he can. I have yet to meet someone else who shines their own shoes. A red, plastic gym bag holds his polish cans. Silvered tins of black and brown and oxblood, and hunter green even, sit among old t-shirts turned to rags. He always sends one is unmistakable as we descend the stairs, the bag bouncing against our leg. The sound means bring out your shoes. Your belts. Your backpacks, briefcases, and wallets. For the next two hours, hell sit and hell shine to bad doo-wopp CDs. Singing along with vocal cords that are always out of tune. and quickly, before the pipes have fully warmed. Only in walking from bedroom to bathroom are his feet ever bare. Socks otherwise, at least, always. They reside underneath

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9 Teva sandal straps when we go to the beach, and he only frees his toes at the very edge of the pool. Even on the weekends, he gets dressed Pants. Belt. Shirt. Watch. Hair combed, and wet, and almost always overgrown. He places his wallet in his back-right pocket, and hooks the carabiner of keys to a belt loop on his left side. They weigh down his pants and the clinking of metal makes him sound like a janitor. He winds each clock that he passes on his way to the kitchen. The cuckoo mechanism works by pulling long chains, weighted on the bottom by bronzed acorns. Others require that he stand on a chair, open the face, and turn a key-looking handle inside. When he reaches the kitchen, remains shadowed. Near the switch hang his aprons, all once-white. He places one over his head, and ties the strings loosely. Tea water and coffee go up. Twelve scoops, twelve cups. Theres almost always some left over. I never know whos going to drink it. Whos going to have a second cup. And Id rather know I have enough. He doesnt partake in the substance himself; he gave up caffeine in his late thirties. No chocolate. No coffee. Instead he drinks Postum, a grounded up malt-wheat beverage loved by Mormons. I tried it once; I will never do so again. The teakettle sings and he turns the stove down to it warm for the people beginning to stir upstairs. His hand reaches for the cast iron skillet hung on the wall among Le Creuset and burnt-bottomed stainless steel. My father once told me that he could eat the same thing for the rest of his life, never tiring of the taste. I could eat on a budget. Id eat eggs. And beans. And pasta. My mother always says that his cooking comes from his Irish side. Irish are supposedly like the British you dont visit for their cuisine. At some point in his life he must have read about the glistening, amber liquid, poured from a tiny steel oil-can, like that of the Tin Mans in The Wizard of Oz He goes through phases of real eggs v. egg whites dyed yellow v. egg whites untouched, but his morning omelet always includes cheese, and oftentimes, ham. Low-sodium. Like me, he isnt fond of

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10 salt. Two pieces of whole wheat bread, toasted darkbrown, almost burnt, accompany his eggs. Theyll be dipped in the hot, wheat-beverage, remnants of poultry and cheese and ketchup, still clinging to the grains. He eats before the rest of us surface, so that when we appear he can serve. I love to serve. His words. He makes sandwiches to be put in lunch bags, and somehow remembers which one of us prefer Swiss to American, and that I will refuse to bite into anything containing mustard that isnt honeyed. Each sandwich is once, how aluminum shouldnt directly touch your food. In high school, I entered my ecological phase, demanding brown-paper bags be switched for reusable, and sandwiches to be transported in Tupperware. His routine changed the next morning. If he used roasted red peppers I dont want it to drip in your bag. pictures and statuses, from days and months before. I I know when he does this, that he is missing me. He is surprisingly technological. Quick-witted too. Once I put up a status: Am I the only one who feels like you should listen to only music from the band on your shirt when you wear it? My father replied: What if you wear a plain white T? He texts often. Always in cryptic bits of poetry or prose. Sometimes messages theme. Love Saint Kevin Daddio Love Timetable Dad Love Just Proud Ol Dad I smile when I open them; I never text back.

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11 He loves words and knows many. On the rare mornings hed drive me to school, he would quiz me. and places, pieces of his own knowledge, which held the potential for metaphor someday. He has a tinkerers wisdom and a writers soul. Sitting patiently with my youngest brother, Harry, who has Down syndrome, he explained in simple ways, supple and brackish. Now when they shine together, Harry exclaims, with each piece of leather he holds, how supple it is. I was put to bed by his voice. I wasnt read fairytales; I was lulled by his words. Binders of poems and stories and prose, all of which went entirely over my head. I could quote Theyd recite The Three Little Pigs while I sat, methodically stating the opening lines to my fathers latest piece: This is for danger. This is for glory. Hed give me tiny assignments. I remember practicing, for weeks, the art of Haiku. Five. Seven. Five. I wrote one about Winnie the Pooh; I thought it was genius, and my father didnt promote nor deny this statement. He simply let me believe in myself Once I had mastered the rhyme scheme I was asked to help out on a project he was working on. A poetic view of Coney Island. I wrote my piece on beer: Twelve horse Genesee Drink, drink, drink icy cold ale It tastes very good For this I was praised. Words were the constant for my father. accurate, topographical representations. He went to exhibits too, setting up his booth, convincing the schools of New York City to choose his companys cartography. These conventions always required pamphlets and packets. Us kids always put them together. Walking endlessly around the pool table, its edge littered with stacks of different colored papers. Take one from each pile. Try to keep them in order. Then bring them to me and Ill staple them. In writing it sounds like labor; to us it was fun. My father is a man of many jobs. He taught for a while. High school English. But hes too much a philosopher to survive the American education system, and thats how he

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12 ended up in sales. He sold textbooks to Catholic schools, and worked night shifts selling insurance. For a while he sold adaptive technology for the disabled. But always, he wrote. First and foremost, he is a poet. Once when I was younger I got off the bus and headed upstairs to change out of my uniform. As I reached the base of the staircase I noticed my path to be blocked by a man. I looked up, and promptly turned away from the step. Angry. My mother stood by the stove stirring that nights dinner. How could you! I screamed as I approached. Her face moved from shock to confusion. How could you cheat on Dad? My father rushed from the staircase at the commotion. What are you talking about? my mother asked. Hes right there. clean-shaven face. It just doesnt suit him. In the hospital. Not to worry. Theyre holding me for tests on the ol ticker. Will be home later tonight. Love Stress-o Test-o Dad De I slide the attached keyboard down and type a response. Another message comes in as I attempt to reply; its from my mother. Dads in the hospital. He went in for a stress test and the doctors werent happy with the results. Theyre doing some tests and theyll let him come home as soon as theyre I answer both and turn back to my work. I have two midterms tomorrow. Time passes and a call comes in. Theyre keeping him over night. Stents: small mesh tubes which will be placed in the coronary arteries to aid with blockages. Fairly common; the procedures low-risk Im told, and scheduled for the morning. I chat for a bit, and then turn back to my work. I have two midterms tomorrow. Spring break starts on Saturday; Ill be able to see him then.

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13 For years my mother attempted to hide my father in game room, the two-car garage too cluttered to ever house a vehicle. Piled on shelves, and atop themselves even, were his knick-knacks, her annoyances. The worst were the beer bottles. He had over one thousand. Ale. Lager. Stout. Shandy. Double Bocks and pilsners. Combinations of hops and malt and bitters. The products of fermented yeast. He is a beer connoisseur; it broke his heart to see my brother Joe and I crack cans of Keystone for beer pong. At least drink Natty Ice. Ice beers are stronger. He keeps a kegerator in our kitchen. Beer chilled, and always on tap. I miss the days when his bottle collection was proudly displayed atop our kitchen cabinets. My brother Tims name appears on my phone this time. Marian. Have you heard about Dad? Yes. Ive been talking to him. He went in for some stress test, but then they decided to keep him. Theyre putting in stints, I think is what he said. It looks like they cant do the stents. Hes being scheduled for quadruple bypass surgery; most likely on Friday, my brother says. I dont know what you know about the surgery, but, I would want to be here if I were you. Before he goes in. Im still speaking with my brother as I email my professors. Its late, and uncommon that theyll send me a response the same night. My gut tells me to get in my car and start driving. I call my father instead. He reassures me as always, but I know him. He, the most honest person I know, would do anything not to worry me. Even lie. I let him believe that I trust his everything will be ok,

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14 and hang up. The tears fall instantly. I cant kick the mental mantra: I may never hear his voice again speeding for six hours in an unknowing state of panic, and fear. I cry intermittently, illegally checking my phone for news. No one calls. No one texts. Its been over twenty hours since I spoke with him. Over ten since he was given anesthesia. The movies say that your fathers supposed to say things like, go getem kiddo, and pat you awkwardly on the back. Hes supposed to embarrass you in front of the kid that you like, and be the guy that sits watching the game on Sunday. My father collects miniatures. Tiny ketchup bottles and a miniscule nativity set which contains what we refer to as a jelly-bean Jesus. My father cries. School performance to him. Send In The Clowns, his favorite show tune, after those by Jacque Brel. And on the of The Waves personally inscribed by his fountain pen. Ive received poems and just because gifts, and every year, for Valentines, he drives into Brooklyn to bring my mother and I sponge-candy, from the tiny old woman, whos been hand making it for years. I didnt receive an awkward hug when he told me for minutes. And when we pulled away, he looked at me through salt-water. Shine. I enter the Cardiac ICU, ignoring the walls plastered with signs about hand sanitation. I just need to see him. My brother leads me to his room in the circular ward. Everyone seems dwarfed by hospital beds. Maybe its the curtains creating unnaturally framed scenes of sickness. Perhaps the sterility plays a role, morphing perspective with its all-white backdrop. Or maybe, its just that sick people

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15 seem smaller, because staff hover above them, constantly, and IV poles seem to stretch upwards toward the ceiling, engaging gravity to aid in the drip, and they are broken. angry scar, fresh, and clotting, runs what seems like the entire length of his being. He lifts an arm riddled with tubing as I enter; I approach the bed gingerly. I think they may have given me Shecky Greenes blood in that operating room! he announces. Ive been cracking jokes all day! After the surgery my father retired and commissioned new business cards. They simply read: Kevin Holmes. Poet. All black, simple font choice, embossed on a heavyweight, white cardstock. On the back was his personal mantra: Peace found, is peace given. And just underneath was his e-mail, usedsaints@ A used saint who will give of himself until the cracks on his hands bleed. A man who performs miracles; Ive witnessed them. What world did you conquer today fair you? Look at the best side and smile. Love Upward Thinking Dad. I re-read his words and click reply.

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16 It Rained in the Vatican Saturday Claire Cerra There was nothing in the Vatican More inspiring than the rain. Ferocious torrents beating against the marble Like it has for hundreds of years But it was a whole new sight for me. No sundial time to tell While the queues quickly emptied As the overcast skies shifted above. Standing under the shelter of St. Peters I thought the storm would ruin something. The majesty, our clothes, the spell-bound faith that enraptured me From the moment I saw the cross. No. I once heard that God is in the rain. And I felt every drop.

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17 When I stepped out to embrace the downpour It was the most cleansing rain on Earth. I thought of you when I tilted my face up And my heart leapt as it kissed my skin Like the familiarity of an old friend. I am changed but I am the same I could credit time Or the rain. And all I have to say Is I hope you see this someday Because there is nothing in all of Rome Like rain in the Vatican.

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18 Lake Ontario Lesley Semel

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19 Hell Christianna Miller You drag your apathetic self to Womens Apparel only of Sag Harbor fashions, gathered around piles of discounted clothing like buffalo surrounding a watering hole. Still, you are unaffected and unresponsive to the pandemonium. Do you have this in a larger size? a woman yells from a clearance rack as she holds up a maroon button up. Not that I know of maam, you respond with a forced smile. It is the smile of someone who has recently lost their soul but too beat to care. You engage in an unintentional staring contest until she breaks the gaze. You congratulate yourself; triumph is momentarily yours. Some folks are lucky enough to receive a pedestal in the corporate hierarchy, but you are at the bottom of the food chain as you monitor Womens Apparel from a rickety stool. The dressing room lobby, as dingy as to be expected, has been separated from the three dressing rooms by a cardboard barricade. Its as if the plastic wall panel that stood there before was vandalized, The downside of working at Wal*Mart are those mysterious smiling blots disguised as the companys logo that seem to be scattered everywhere; something about the face jabs with discomfort, as if it is the face of God while He takes pleasure in your customer servicing misery. A toothless child crawls between the racks, hiding amongst clothes as his mother absentmindedly sorts through folded stacks of t-shirts, unfolding each once to inspect the garment and then continuing to throw it back onto the table without folding it, leaving the pile an untidy mountain of chaos. No respect, you think, No respect. Then you see her. She comes forth, pushing her poor bottle never stood a chance beneath the weight of Bud Light 30-racks, frozen pizzas, and general corn syrup treats. it amusing to have the rubber cap of a plunger rest on his head. The other is using a bulk pack of maxi pads as a cushion.

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20 Hey, you. That is the worst. The instance where customers disregard your name plastered on the tag attached to your shirt. It is a name tag of the My name is ___________. How can I help you? variety. On the back youve scribbled Go fuck yourself with Sharpie. She stops at the counter and rings the bell placed directly in front of you. You are invisible after all, and if her presence wasnt enough to annoy you, now you are audibly aware. I want to try these on, she declares with a thick accent. You try to pin point it. She holds up an arm load of knit sweaters. Who buys a sweater in Oklahoma? Or better yet, which briefcase-carrying Neanderthal determined it to be a its inventory? As you thumb through her selection, you contemplate writing a letter to Wal*Mart headquarters explaining why it is not only a waste of money for them to inconvenience because you are the one who has to hang the damn things up and your arms get tired after a while. 9, 10, 11, 12. Only eight are allowed in the dressing room, you say You dont know who Wal*Mart is trying to impress, having card numbers and all, but you still hand it to the woman. She room with her twelve ugly knit sweaters. Watch the kids for me. She shuts the door. Not only are you an undistinguished Wal*Mart associate, but now the title of babysitter has fallen upon you. Leaning against the cardboard petition, you study her children. They stare back. Gross. The son is clearly bored as he jumps out of the cart. You stay positioned at your station. You dont care enough to lay out orders. At the same time, you dont want him to be George of the Jungle around Womens Apparel. His mother will most likely yell at you either way. He lays face down on pushes her cart thru the aisle, obliviously approaching the boy but luckily she notices him before he is steamrolled

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21 with her shopping cart. However, she doesnt stop but tries to push her cart around him. Unsuccessful, she eventually The mother emerges from the dressing room, her sweaters sloppily hung back on hangers. Unbuttoned, of course, no one ever buttons sweaters after trying them on. May I count your garments? you ask with obligatory politeness. She looks at you with offense, as if you just approached her on the street demanding a kidney with a machete in your hand. What? You dont trust me? Its just Womens Apparel protocol, maam. You know it sounds stupid immediately after the words leave your mouth. Like Wal*Mart would have protocol, even she had enough brain cells to not take that seriously. It just disrespect towards the Wal*Mart establishment. You simply dont like the bitch and any chance to inconvenience her gives you a tingle of warmth. She throws the clothes onto the counter and scoots past it, tending to her cart and her son, You count. 8, 9, 10 Wait, 10? Wasnt it 12? It appears you have encountered an Article 5 Section B customer: the Womens Apparel shoplifter. Before the excitement is allowed to kick in, you inspect the dressing room for any left behind garments. She may have carelessly left two sweaters in there. Customers always do that and it pisses you off. You take a quick glance inside. Nothing. The mirror is, however, covered with the sanitary stickers that were attached to brand new bathing suits. The stickers are ancient remains of the summer crowd a few months before. It appears today has become your day to be a badass. Catching her in the act and turning her in would not only boost your status among other associates but would also raise your $7.25 income a whole dollar more. In corporate retail, an Article 5 Section B customer is a jackpot. Maam, you begin. What? counted 12. No, I didnt! Her accent is thicker when she was defensive. Her eyebrows furrowed enough for you to notice the stray hairs between them. Yes, you did. No, I didnt! The banter continues half a minute longer. You look

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22 to see where shed hide the garments. Her purse? No, too small. Hot pink, too, and with a huge sequined cowboy buckle on the front. It was so tacky that not even the Home Shopping Network would sell it despite the fact that they sell almost every untactful thing imaginable. You continue to scan her body. Her pockets? No, they were so tight that sweaters. Then you see a price tag sticking out from her collar. She has managed to roll the sleeves up far enough to barely hide under her t-shirt. Maam, I see one of the price tags. I am going to have to call my supervisor. You are shaken into full alert as you watch her shoot off, running at the speed equivalent to an Olympic runner. She bumps into carts pushed by old ladies and jumps over of running around the display was. One would think itd be easier than hurdling over mounds of junk. She disappears from sight while her children are left in Womens Apparel. You wont have to be the sole provider of them now, would you? You have student loan debt for a psychology degree that has not been of much help in the last thirty minutes as youve tried to grasp the inner workings of their mother. You also didnt trust your own mother when she suggested you not purchase that piece of shit car on Craigslist and now you are on the hook for a new transmission. Also, you need new bath towels. You simply cannot afford to have two children inconvenience you. You sneak a glance at them, not wanting to be caught. Sweet beautiful children, they are all alone in the world now. Another woman runs into Womens Apparel. She has the silkiest black hair, the kind seen on shampoo Oh, what now? you think. You have reached your limit for societys shenanigans. Oh, my beautiful babies! Mommy! the children chant simultaneously. Your face falls. She sighs in relief and picks up her daughter before pushing the cart towards the wall. Mommy goes to the bathroom for a minute and she comes out and her babies are gone. She runs her hand though her daughters hair. My beautiful babies. Huh? Its the only word you can muster. Confusion, disgust, you dont know what to feel right now.

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23 I went to the bathroom and left my babies outside, just right outside, right next to the door, yes I did. I come out and my little angels are gone. Not only had you encountered a merchandise thief, you had encountered a kidnapper as well. Unbelievable. People these days. The store intercom chimes overhead. Could we have a Womens Apparel associate come to the front desk, I repeat, Womens Apparel associate to front desk. And to the rest of you shopping with us today, thank you for shopping at Wal*Mart. and your supervisor standing together. Her face is decorated with an expression that expects sympathy. Ted, the local sheriff, comes out of the bathroom located in Customer Service and he adjusts his pants while still buckling his belt buckle. His head is shaped like a square and has three long strands of hair that he proudly combs over his head. Everyone in town loves Ted. Many refer to him as a Hometown Hero ever since he scored the winning touchdown in 1972. You shoulda seen me! Ted gushes, Me and Annabel was a walkin in the lot, just not expecting, no, not expectin what we was about to see. We was a walkin and we see a lady running outta the store, I mean, she goes a dashin and me, well, my seventh sense told me that somethin was up and I knew I must stop her, so that is just what I did. Carla, your supervisor begins, Is this the associate that assisted you today? Carla shifts her weight on her hip as if she is a wrongly accused victim taking a stand. She nods. Did you see this woman in Womens Apparel? he asks. Yes, I did. Is it true you harassed her? What? No! But you did, Carla says. No, I didnt. Yes, yes, you did. I saw her. She took in twelve sweaters when you are only allowed to take in eight and I told her that, yes I did, but she didnt listen. She then went into the dressing room, leaving her children behind with me to watch them, only they werent her children, they were some other ladys children. She was a kidnapper. I saw the tag sticking out from her

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24 sweater and when I asked her about it she took off running, sir. You motioned your hands for emphasis. What an outrageous lie, he says. You scan Carla in hopes you will see the sweaters beneath her shirt but no luck. If she was in fact shoplifting, why did you not stop her? All you can muster is another Huh ? If that was the case, we could have lost revenue. That is not the sign of a good Wal*Mart associate. Well, its like I was going to chase the woman. It is your responsibility to uphold the integrity of the company. Allowing shoplifting is not upholding integrity. But lying is worse than allowing a shoplifter. Lying? Check the security footage. Enough! You have no reason to feel remorse. After all, you did what you could and there is nothing your supervisor can say about it. Wait, he can. Carla stands victoriously while your supervisor activates a gift card for her inconvenience. You see no reason to linger. You throw your name tag in the garbage bin. You contemplate snatching a packet of gum on your way out but you dont. Fuck You understand the word is not in the supplied list of vocabulary for outstanding customer service. It wouldnt be found in any orientation packet halfheartedly given to you before you began another soul-destroying job. But the word seems perfect right now. You repeat it casually in your mind though your mind as you walk through the sliding glass doors to the parking lot, where you see your Craigslist catastrophe of a car. Fuck.

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25 Playing God Shelby Coyle Who are we Small fragile things To dance around And pull on strings Catching fate Pausing time To say goodbyes And who are we These empty things To dance around And pull on strings Picking times And choosing dates Twisting nature Changing fates Who are we Faint-hearted things To dance around And pull on strings Playing god With mindful eye To hide the question Conceal the why And who are we Small fragile things To dance around And pull on strings Chasing fate Without the time For our goodbyes

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26 Black and White Alexander Marchesi Good morning! Good evening! Whatever your time zone says I couldnt give a shit! It was between falling apart and breaking a heart tonight but I can never choose. So talking to an invisible audience never seemed like such a delight! And yeah, I got some time to waste minutes that were going down the drain anyway. I took too much of this thing called life and overdosed It was an absolute thrill but I still want to try and hold your attention for as long as I can. So many aliases I can choose from! Professor Kinky, Doctor Trauma, the conductor of catastrophe but actually I really dont care! Call me whatever the fuck you want. Its routine for me to act so humble when Im laughing like a madman inside! Singing the same old songs feeling brand new, Im the guy that wishes you luck by breaking your leg. Feeding my declining ego is the reason Im here so stop whatever youre doing and come watch me spit out run on sentences going nowhere fast! HAHA. I operate cluelessly foolishly that Im smarter than all of you! A jester brought up from doom and gloom striving off the lust for undeniable glory. I walk with balls front and center just trying to struggle, but not stable admitted into an insane asylum. I do and say what youre not supposed to know. Spreading the truth as if it were mere rumors so you wont believe a word I say! Im a maniac gone insomniac turned lunatic from being uncontrollably hyperactive twenty-four seven. The lack me on the brink and I undoubtedly love it! Im judged to no end cause Im loyal to every bad decision Ive made. Its how I get my sick kicks from the simplicities of breathing your name! Witnessed my own downfall and couldnt help but make a joke out of it. Been grinding my teeth this whole time and you havent even the slightest clue why! Ive been ruining Internet blogs and open forums to get through these drooling days without slicing a hole in my hemorrhaging sense of humor. Believe the unbelievable! Thats the punch line I come from. Im a wannabe has-been in love. A copycat whose minutes blend into hours. They shift into days into months and shortly after Im wasting years in of time to sleep but I dont. Im unpredictably predictable and predictably unpredictable. I dont play well with others I dont

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27 know why. Maybe its because Im my own worst enemy sabotaging my own life for the fun of it! Filtered out rationality a while ago to make this world feel a little bit more like home. Hibernated in a brainwashed head with no sense of an appetite for as long as I could; then made a never-ending list of why I hate this planet! Take what I say with an ounce of sanity. More sarcastic than serious, Ive been called a conceited clown well what do you think?! I had a plan for growing up full proof for falling apart. My immaturity is in a trophy case and Im addicted to showing it off! My favorite number is thirteen just because you say its bad luck. HA. I take pride in introducing myself as a stranger to everyone I meet then expect them to remember me by heart. If they dont get mad HA. Hit em good and hit em hard, thats my motto. The philosophy is dont give a shit with a musical ring to it. Its ethically probable for me to stay until the bitter end but I only come back for a pair of thighs doused in delicious eyes. Ill have my back turned to the world when it crashes and burns. Ill be gazing at the stars mumbling la la la wondering where you are. Ill kiss you for however long my forever lasts us You kiss me so sweet for a boy so sour. Take me for granted and let me in I DARE YOU Tell me dead on that youve never seen worse so I can smile with joy. Im completely delirious and serious when I mutter I love you under my breath. Im convinced youre using me, abusing me until he gets back and I just I just LOVE IT I said Im a man of my word and thats my problem but knowing me, Ill forget it by tomorrow! Paradise awaits us Z. Hook, line, and sinker thats all I have to say! Im just trying to make life more bearable for others by being the inconceivable joker devoted to handing out tiny giggles to the unfortunate but when I found someone that did the same for me I just straight UP lost it! When the inseams of this book collapses from the pressure I say Im under remember me on paper and not as I am. Itll be so much more fun that way! I get dizzy from the wave currents in my head but it doesnt matter; Ill never stop talking to you!! Laughter all around! HAHA. Hello hello hello Mister Despair is in the building. Ive been avoiding this regression but times my enemy once again. Came with a pocket full of happiness but I forgot to save some of it for myself. Im a trendsetter for the latest mistakes, a shell of a ghost who was more exciting than me. The crown of sorrow has been passed down to its rightful

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28 heir. I guess Im royalty now. Ill give you a tour. This is where dreams fall and nightmares rise. The aftermath of a natural disaster, thats what the inside of my head looks like. I developed an everlasting immunity to hopes and dreams. Saved the ashes of every last one and made beautiful calligraphy out of them. me by calling me bad-spirited. I dont mind. A martyr without a trigger who never had faith, Im a damn shame ashamed of myself. Stay low; dont want my head up in the clouds daydreaming again. Oh, thatd be tragic. My house is bombarded with courtesy calls I can never pick up. I just see transcript to my existence and surprise surprise God never makes an appearance. I swear to him Im going to burn in hell before he ever shows me the light. Dark times echo through my eardrums against my will. God stacked this life against me. He enjoys seeing me slip up. Im messed up stuck in fetal position crippled from the burdens of being his greatest creation. Wheres the apocalypse when you need it? Sent God some postcards a while back, telling him how awful Im doing but he takes it as fan mail. Like I believed, Im on my own. Im motivated to gush sin from my neck. Im in withdrawal. Im going through every season like its winter. Im cold, frostbitten buried beneath deadened bed sheets with the blinds down numb to common sense. I take every thing out of proportion, torturing myself until Im polite enough to put in the effort to smile. Throwing tantrums like its my job, the sunbeams tickle and tingle my skin. Im used up but not used to this. When storm clouds are your only forecast, you forget what warmth feels like. I carry a squeaky-clean slate if you think about it. My expiration date took a backseat for the cutters and needle addicts out there ahead of me in this game of jumped on the bandwagon of self-loathing. My heads spinning, Im spiraling out of control. No amount of pills can make me feel ok awake. Gravity cant seem to hold me together anymore. Im guilty from sunrise to sunset. Its like Im not allowed to amount to anything worthy of someones time. Alibis and excuses make up my

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29 Kept my feelings underground but this monotony I face on a daily basis is getting deeper and deeper. So deep its making me think the one thing humankind can agree on is death. Its a scandal missing all the juicy details. Crossed would never love. But she came in with skin so smooth and delicate my hands rolled right off it. Stripped and poised of all doubt I have in this world, when she let go of my hand I went into paralysis. You drove me to complete insanity Z and you know it. Take it as an honor, only you could open my eyes like this. I cant imagine doing this without you. After you told me I became the desperate boy you wanted, you said Id never be the boy desperate enough to want. Its ok; I paraphrased but push that aside for a you faint in my arms. I go out of mind traveling to places I shouldnt be when youre gone Z. Youre my four-leaf clover and Im running on luck. Theres nothing left to see or lose but you. Dearly beloved, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, Im sorry it took me so long. I was rushing the front door but Im cocky I know it so I only put in half the time to get in. I used to have big dreams aimed at fame and glory. Now my dreams seem so unrealistic. Yeah, thats right, in case you havent heard I was meant for this. Born to be the greatest. Forget those two fools and look no further. Im the successor to Shakespeare, the next Socrates in the making. A little about me, Ive been reigning supreme for two up in the middle. Im stuck in my prime with no way out. Been like this for a while now. Metaphorically its lyrically impossible for you to be me. I can downsize everything that makes you feel special. Im unstoppable, untouchable, and invincible in everyones eyes and if Im not, theyre blind. My minds as crooked as my smile. Its not my fault theres no cure for what I got. Yeah, Im tired of being quiet. Im sick of this bullshit. Im sick of hearing about the perfect boys with their perfect lives. Im fed up being called the drama queen of a bunch of prima donnas. Tied myself down with writers blocks turned bricks, Ive got world-class potential. A professional word bender, number one on your list of people you cant beat. Always looking to get ahead of the curve, I cant get jealous

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30 cause Im the best there is. Im on a whole new level only I can beat in a game you shouldnt play. Im not here to satisfy you. No fuck that, Im here for me and for starters, youre in my way. They say all rights reserved to God. Well hell no my gift to him when the day comes will be a pile of shit at the gates of heaven. My punishment is to spite him so everyone looks at me like Ive gone off the deep end. Too bad theyll be establishing statues engraved in my name soon enough. A smooth talker whos just as sharp as he is sly. Selling tips to con artists is how I make a living. Lying is a skill you adapt, train, an expertise you own. I came to conquer the survivors who dont even know they survived. Committed to the best I can be and if that aint good enough, Ill drop down to my worst and see how that plays out. Suck on your tongue and spit out your teeth, youre done talking. Im cooking up recipes for calamity with a dash of tragedy until you call me your majesty. These words do me no justice. Theyll name generations after me. Replace me? I replaced you Youll rest in pieces peacefully when Im done and gone. Ill wave goodbye before you even say hello. Im fresh out of the abyss. My status leaving: all-star. I gotta make an example out of someone and unfortunately, youre the lucky winner. I died with a grudge in my hands. Popped out of my grave like nothing happened carrying a ruthless vengeance. It would be disrespectful of me not to take action. Im the performance of a lifetime Ive had the honor of playing everyday. Im a genius on the ropes of the supernatural. This is the limelight and its been shining on me like its my very own spotlight. I make youths heads roll when I enter a room. Im a dead man walking feeling more alive that you ever have. Prisoner by my own sanity, I cant ever seem to break down that fourth wall. Im versatile and well behaved. Move side to side and dont step out of line or Ill cross it. The only person stopping me is me and Im supposed to take him out any day now. Ive been complimented on my wit but it doesnt change the fact I write before it fuses into my skin, into every cell. Watch it make my bones, coordinate my brain, and materialize my rhythm, my thoughts, my voice. These words keep my pulse in check so please dont forget it. Id hate to repeat myself. I warrant the grandest of entrances but Ill close for myself thank you Ill bow out with grace the day youre begging on your knees for forgiveness. I want to get you as

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31 angry as me. They sold you out, lowest price on the market. Im helping you out. I came to represent those who had their hearts kidnapped and beaten in a burlap sack. Yeah, fuck you to the boys whove got their lives all planned out from the get go. Fuck you to the girls who cover up the hearts they break with the best make up money can buy. Thats right darling, Im coming for you And when they toss through these pages theyll get frustrated. Theyll get angry at me. Im saying theres no way out but this one. Im building my empire off forsaken wishes and died out dreams. Giving out encores isnt my style; you gotta earn it in the future. Glad I got that out of my system for a second or two. These arent threats, theyre promises. makes three, the trio is complete. Over and done with bitch. Z at my side. Now good-bye. See what Im dealing with now? Thats what my character is based off of. My alter egos, the voices inhabiting the inside of my head. Theyre the narrators of this of my mind all at once. How is that even possible? Oh, dont forget lovesick too. On that note, I checked in under blacking out last night. I let the trio run rampant while I was gone and the result is what you read up above. Back on track, I slept with my notebook on my nightstand and it felt like my sleepwalking habits turned into sleepwriting. Youre probably wondering why. I didnt break the news to my pseudonyms yet so this is as good a time as any. I talked to Z last night and months of guts built up all at once. And they all spilledout like I was gunning for a no tomorrow.

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32 Untitled Joel Dodge

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33 Evasion Dance Assorted bagels sit in a paper towel-lined wicker bowl. You tell me this, but my nose informs youve eaten without me though, and scrape your plates off in a panic before I block the kitchen entrance. When the aggressive morning sun retracts, leaving my curtain bleached in its wake I hear your door sigh open, warring with humidity. Im enclosed in my room, stomach purring with contentment at the same frequency your creaks

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34 make on the laminate -toed socks, you reach the sterile pink bathroom door, audibly exhaling when its locked. I found my violin shoulder rest inside the reupholstered piano bench yesterday. I was alright when I played but Ive gotten better. Now I can pass the bow over the taut strings of your fragile ego, turning the pegs more each time I misalign the towels or forget where I put Daisys dog collar In class we discuss the way modern families I isolate a loop in the stitching

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35 of my prickly wool scarf, thinking of how mine refashions itself in just months. Each time I return home they have to remember who I am.

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36 We Dont Talk About It Jessica Washak Looking back now on my childhood, my familys We Dont Talk About It policy probably wasnt very healthy. It applied to nearly everything back in the day. Daddys stressful job supervising the production of medical equipment? We dont talk about it. Moms lack of a job and housewifely duties? We dont talk about it. Aunt Jens death? We dont talk about it. The only part of that list that is contestable is the latter. When I was in the seventh grade, my parents sat down my two older brothers and me to tactfully try and explain to us that our aunt, my fathers sister-in-law, was no longer with us. Presently, I know for a fact that the poor woman purposely overdosed on antidepressants, but the heads of the Walker household didnt exactly put it that way. I can still see my mothers solemn facefor she was the one to explain rather than my father, who was a man of few wordsas she grappled for the right explanation. Too much of anything can kill you, really, she began. In Jens case, she accidentally took too many of a pill she was prescribed by a doctor. One dose was good for her. A whole bottle was not. Wedged in the middle of brothers Marcus and Connor, I observed them exchange surprised glances. Uncertainly, my eyes wandered over the wall of family portraits. Before clean glass. I shifted uncomfortably, wishing that it didnt feel like her image was gauging my reaction to her death. When is the funeral? Connor asked quietly. Well be going to the funeral next week. Sunday afternoon. But until then, I want you guys to welcome your Uncle Jack here. Hell be staying with us for a bit this summer. Til he gets his head on straight. The three of us nodded, looking properly sympathetic. Although I was sorry to think that I would never see my kindly Aunt Jenny again, a childish part of me was thrilled by the prospect of a sixth person coming to live in our great big home. We lived at the corner of nowhere and nothing, surrounded by only trees, creeks, and a rather large population of deer. It would be nice to have someone besides my impatient siblings to talk to, I decided.

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37 If only I would have known how things would turn out. Its like they always say, be careful what you wish for. Uncle Jack stayed with us well past the end of summer, even going as far as to offer to renovate the attic into a suite so long as he could stay. Just a little bit longer, he would swear, putting a burly hand over his heart. To which my father would clap his brother on the back and say, As long as you want, Jacky. In the beginning, I was glad for Uncle Jack in the life, I ate my breakfast with company. Together the two of us would tell stories, reminisce, and comment on the things that we witnessed throughout our previous days. Often, we would end up on the topic of Jen. She was just so beautiful, Jack would whisper sadly. Ive got nothing to remember her by now. Nothing more than some old photos and material junk. I would grimace and nod, encouraging him to go on without actually speaking. I wish we had had a son. If we were smart, we would have tried in our twenties rather than putting it off for later. Let me tell you, Sharon, when it comes to family, never put anything off. Nothing is more important. Nothing. Not jobs, bills, or stuff. He seemed to be eternally frustrated by the fact that way to turn it back to kids. From my seat in the den, I could hear him talking with Mom about some old train sets of the boys or the current weather. I wish I had a child of my own to buy toys for, or maybe, If I had a kid, today would sure as hell be a day to bundle him in a warm jacket. More disturbing than his chats with us were his frequent phone calls immediately after his wifes death. and Uncle Jack. I couldnt imagine why. The demanding ring of the telephone would torture us at all hours, night and day. Jacks a scientist, Marcus would reply to any of my questions. Hes just doing what scientists do. Hes got a whole lab set up in the attic. This revelation stunned me. Where had I been when my father gifted a rather large set of equipment to Uncle Jack? What did he work on up there in the attic? Was he curing cancer? Finding groundbreaking information on the common cold? What? What was he doing?

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38 So great was my fascination that one day when my uncle left the house out of the blue, I took it upon myself to creep up into the spare bedroom that had once belonged to him. Inside of the rather large closet sat the sturdy steps that rose into Jacks lair. With little thought of the repercussions, and much on how incredibly book-like my adventure was going to be, I climbed up the stairs and into Jacks suite, which he never kept locked. My parents had always stressed the importance of honoring Uncles privacy, so I had never before laid eyes on his rooms. I was very brother said, been turned into a makeshift lab. Here there was a table full of carefully covered petri dishes, and there was a half-ajar dresser drawer of glass beakers. On one table, several shiny dissecting knives had been carefully lain out on a cutting board.The only sign that someone slept within the great space was the messily made twin bed shoved into the farthest corner, as if an afterthought. I strode forward curiously, stepping around full and toward the far side of the attic, however, something strange caught my attention on the crowded night table that dwarfed the bed. Several sunlamps had been placed in a circle around a mass that looked roughly like the pictures of pinkish-white, broken every so often by a splotch of deep burgundy. It was oval in shape, as far as I could tell, for one end of it had been nestled within a worn yellow blanket that I dimly recognized from my own childhood. Looking closely, I could see that the mass wasnt completely opaque. Instead, there was a vague suggestion of a creature inside! I had never really seen many babies before, as I was the youngest of our family, but once my mom and I had gone for a visit to the neighbor womans house to see her newborn daughter. The thing inside the ball of jelly looked remarkably like that adrenaline to my body, for I wasnt scared. Not yet. I outstretched a hand, eyes focusing on the object in front of me. As I slowly went to prod the surface, I wondered if the contents would ripple like liquid beneath the touch of I wouldnt, if I were you. in my veins. I whirled around, startled. There he stood in the doorway, his dark brown hair disheveled and an oddly

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39 peaceful look on his weathered face. I couldnt speak. Jack pointed to the mass I had been studying and uttered one worda name. James. There was pride in his eyes as he said it, typical of a father to his child. I bolted, using my small stature to slink past him in the doorway. That night, I didnt speak to anyone. My mother challenged me relentlessly, knowing how unusual it was for me to fall silent for a long period of time. I just shook my head at her attempts. We dont talk about it. Not then. Not now. Not ever.

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40 Long Live the Lonely: The Life of a Pathetic On-looker Jordan Dedrick (Jack sits on a bench by himself at Stage Left. A man and a woman stand on the opposite side Stage Right. They are infatuated with one another and pay no mind to JACK. JACK stares at the two of them.) JACK (To the audience) I sit back and watch them interact with one another, chatting. They seem so carefree and happy, for a lack of a better word. They touch, a lovers caress, a reassuring embrace that displays their affections. He smiles, she blushes; the relationship moving on to a new level. Her normally porcelain skin blooms into a beautiful shade of pale pink. I sit across the path, on a bench, eating my egg salad sandwich, and trying not to stare at them. My curiosity gets the better of me and I cannot look away. Im not sure why these two intrigue me so, they dont seem particularly special. But my eyes, they glance up, as if moving on their own whim to see a spectacular show that my mind cant comprehend. I try to scold my brain, it doesnt work. And then, I am there, with her. Across the my my Rebecca she says(REBBECA now joins JACK who stands. Spotlight on the two of them. The man at Stage Right is in the dark.) REBECCA

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41 Im so happy with you Jack. I dont know what my life would be like without you. Can you imagine it? JACK No, I cant say that I could. What we have, its perfect. If not, its pretty damn close. REBECCA It is perfect. Youre perfect. JACK I wouldnt go that far. REBECCA I would (They lean in and kiss. REBECCA pulls away suddenly and rejoins the other man at Stage Right. JACK is left standing alone as the lights come up still in the embrace. He opens his eyes to see she is gone and sits back down on the bench.) JACK (To the audience) It couldnt be like that. Relationships tend to have some sort of whats the word? Animosity? I dont think thats right (Pause) from afar. But, perhaps, she has a dark side. An, inner goddess, if you will. Yes, there must be a part of her that hates to cooperate and compromise. But, that could be quite exciting. You always have a challenger, someone to keep you on Julie is (JULIE moves again to JACK as

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42 he stands. The spotlight engulfs them once more.) JULIE shit? JACK Watch your mouth, were in public. JULIE I dont care where we are. I cant hide who I am, JACK. I wont do it. JACK Thats not what Im asking you to do. But when you meet my folks, you have to be a JULIE (Offended) REFINED? Did you seriously just say that I am JACK Thats not what I meant. JULIE What did you mean, then? JACK Not everyone is used to you. I love that you speak your mind and that you dont give a fuck about what people think. But sometimes, you tend to rub people the wrong way. I just want my parents to think that youre as perfect as I do. Im sorry, I didnt think through what I said.

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43 JULIE Im sorry too. I didnt mean to overreact. Im so happy with you Jack. I dont know what my life would be like without you. Can you imagine it? JACK No, I cant say that I could. What we have, its perfect. If not, its pretty damn close. JULIE It is perfect. Youre perfect. JACK I wouldnt go that far. JULIE I would (They lean in and kiss. JULIE pulls away suddenly and rejoins the other man at Stage Right. JACK is left standing alone as the lights come up still in the embrace. He opens his eyes to see she is gone and sits back down on the bench.) JACK (To the audience) I feel like that may be a bit too hectic. I basis just to get my opinion across. Shes too sweet to be like that. (The man and woman smile at each other and begin to laugh.) Her laugh is sweet too. Ive never heard her laugh before. Does he not let her laugh? I cant imagine that could be true. It would be cruel for

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44 him to do such a thing. But hes a jerk, a real asshole. Brad, how I loathe him for not letting her laugh more. But she sees his tyrannical ways, and moves on. Anna can see who he truly is. BRAD What is your problem, babe? ANNA My problem is you. I cant let you control me anymore. I wont let you control me anymore. BRAD Is that what you think I do? I control you? Well heres some news for you, sweetheart. I dont need to control you. I have Madison for that. And trust me; she lets me do whatever it is that I feel like doing. ANNA How could you? Ive given you the last three years of my life. BRAD Tough shit. Get lost, honey. (BRAD exits Stage Right and ANNA sits down on the bench next to JACK and begins to cry softly. He looks over curiously.) JACK Do you like egg salad? ANNA (Confused) Excuse me?

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45 JACK (Slower) Do you like egg salad? ANNA I guess so. Why do you ask? JACK If you want, you could have half of my sandwich. ANNA Do you just sit in parks offering food to weeping girls? JACK Every now and then, when my calendar is open, I (ANNA laughs and sits up straight to look at JACK.) You have a very nice laugh. ANNA Thanks. So are you going to give me part of your sandwich? JACK (Chuckling) Sure. Here you go. (Pause) Do you, um, come here often? ANNA Only when Im getting dumped by dick-head boyfriends. JACK Im sorry to hear about that. Its his loss; you seem like a fantastic person.

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46 ANNA You just met me. How could you know what kind of person I am? You dont even know my name. JACK Im a good judge of character. And Im sorry that we had to meet under these circumstances, but Im Jack. ANNA Im not sorry. I already like you more than I cant even say his name. Im Anna. JACK Well, its really nice to meet you Anna. ANNA You as well, Jack. (ANNA bites into her part of the sandwich. A spotlight shines on JACK as he turns to look at the audience.) JACK (To the audience) The two of us look back on the day that we met, we remember the unfortunate event that brought us together. This spot is ours, and no one elses. We spend a year together, two years six twelve. And still, this is our bench. But a year later, after this day, we come back here. We sit and eat encounter. (The lights come back up. JACK puts his arm around ANNA as she continues eating.) ANNA You know, I think this sandwich just keeps getting better each time you make it.

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47 JACK More and more love goes into the recipe each time. ANNA (Giggling) Youre so cheesy. JACK Its the truth and I put some sea salt into the mayo. ANNA So thats what I tasted. JACK (After a pause) What are you thinking? ANNA I was thinking that Im so happy with you, Jack. I dont know what my life would be like without you. Can you imagine it? JACK No, I cant say that I could. What we have, its perfect. If not, its pretty damn close. ANNA It is perfect. Youre perfect. JACK I wouldnt go that far. ANNA I would (They lean in and kiss. ANNA pulls away suddenly and rejoins the other man at Stage Right. JACK is left sitting alone still in the embrace. He

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48 opens his eyes to see she is gone.) JACK She is like no other woman I have met before. She is perfect. I cant think of anything else to call her other than that. One simple word, so utterly overused, is the only string of letter that I can conjure up to describe her. No, there is so much more. She makes me feel young and free and needed and loved. She is witty and beautiful and talented and smart and vibrant. But all those words, adjectives, they all add up to perfect. My Violet, she is nothing less than perfection, and if anyone disagrees it is purely because they have not been around her at all. She is not mine yet. But when she sees how wonderful we could be, together she will want no one else but me. She is my friend, lover and mistress all wrapped into one excellently proportioned package. And she will see that tonight. (VIOLET walks sweetly over to JACK and sits next to him.) VIOLET Jack, you are my best friend. You always seem to be there for me, no matter what. Im grateful to have someone as special as you in my life. JACK It is I who is the lucky one and you the special. VIOLET What do you think our lives would be like if we had never met?

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49 JACK I dont want to think about that. I care too much for you to think about a life without you. VIOLET It would be a bit bleak. JACK It would be more than bleak. It would be a VIOLET Um yeah, I guess it would. But, we do have other things, people, to live for. Your life would still be worth living if we werent friends. JACK I dont think so. Violet, you are the most amazing person that I have ever met in my life. I want I want to take our relationship to the next level. I would like you to be my girlfriend. Will you? VIOLET (Taken aback) Jack, where is this coming from? JACK What do you mean? Youve had to know about my feelings for you. Violet, Im in love with you. (VIOLET stands up and begins to slowly pace in front of JACK.) VIOLET Jack, Im sorry if I have done anything to lead you on, but I dont reciprocate your feelings. I cant think of what I did-

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50 JACK Stop talking. VIOLET Jack, I dont understand all of this. I thoughtJACK STOP TALKING. (JACK stands from the bench and looks at VIOLET with anger. VIOLET is still, she How could you not have known the way I felt about you? Do you think that I just catered to you each day in hopes of becoming your best friend? Are you kidding me? VIOLET Well, I dont really understand why you thought that I felt the same, but I dont. JACK Youre nothing but a stupid fucking tramp. GET OUT, NOW. VIOLET FINE. Youre a psycho; I hope you rot in hell. (JACK sits back down on the bench as VIOLET goes back to the man at Stage Right. JACK looks back to the audience.) JACK Shes a monster. Shes awful and I hate her. Nothing good could come from my love of her. So I sit, and I wait. I watch her from afar and plot different ways to make her see how good we could be together.

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51 I love her but she does not feel the same about me. So I have to make her. She must see how much she does truly love me. Brenda will see, in the end, that she can love me. (BRENDA kisses the man at Stage Right and begins to walk across to Stage Left. She stops in front of the bench and JACK stands up. He saunters slowly over to her, but she does not see him. He suddenly grabs her and forces her into a kiss.) BRENDA (Struggling) WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET OFF ME! JACK Be quiet BRENDA HELP! (JACK puts his hand over BRENDAs mouth and attempts to kiss her neck as she struggles. She begins to cry softly.) JACK Hush everything is okay. BRENDA (Pleading) Please dont hurt me JACK Im not going to hurt you. Why would you say that? I just want you to love me, Brenda.

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52 BRENDA How do you know my name? I dont know you. JACK Cant you see that were meant for each other? I love you so much. Were going to spend the rest of our lives together. BRENDA who will notice I am gone. Just let me go and we can forget this even happened. I wont tell anyone. JACK BRENDA Yes, and I love him very much. Were getting married in a month. JACK Youre cheating on me? Why would you do something so stupid? BRENDA I dont know who you are. Please, just let me go; I wont go to the police, I promise. JACK NO You must be punished for what you have done. BRENDA Please dont JACK (Shaking her) STOP, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF WHAT YOUVE DONE? You were supposed to love me but you

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53 (JACK takes BRENDAs head in his hands and looks her right in the eyes. She begins to sob more heavily.) Shhh its okay, I still love you. Unfortunately, you must be punished. (JACK quickly turns his hands and snaps BRENDAs neck. She JACK bends down and kisses her forehead.) Im sorry I had to do that, but I couldnt let you get away with such a heinous act. The good thing is, now we can be together, without your protesting. I love you, Brenda. (The lights go dark suddenly. Within a minute,they turn back on. BRENDA has rejoined the man at Stage Right and JACK is sitting on the bench located Stage Left.) She would never cheat on me Id make sure of it. She would know that my love is the only one that she needs to sustain her life. I am the air she breathes, the blood that pumps through her veins and if there is any doubt about that well, I would change that very quickly. She would never go out with some other guy because I was unable to satisfy her needs. We would be the perfect couple that everyone looks up to as the standard for perfection. We. Are. Perfect (The sound of a cell phone ringing is heard. JACK pulls it out of his jacket and puts it to his ear.) Hello, honey yes sure Ill grab dinner on my way home okay I love(He closes the cell phone and puts it back in his jacket. The

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54 man and woman from Stage Right walk across the stage, hand in hand, and exit Stage Left. JACK stares at them longingly as they pass him.) JACK (Mechanically) Our lives are perfect. I love my girl and my life and I wouldnt trade it for anything. We are happy I am happy. (Blackout) THE END

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55 Sunshine in a Field of Gray Kim Kittleson

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56 Tootles Arrow Andrew Baumgras It was the worst thing I ever did. But I wasnt solely to blame for what happened, depending on how you look at it out. He lived in his grandparents house with his mother two houses down from mine.The house was different from the other houses in our development of Cape style homes that all seemed to be mirror images of one another. It stood a measly one story high as its bland yellow wooden siding only made it look all the more feeble and pathetic. They were born-again Christians and every other weekend cars belonging to their religious comrades littered their driveway and the street curb in front of their home. Michael was home schooled, so the people from his church were the only friends he had. He didnt have social experiences similar to those of the other kids on the block, but that wasnt all that threw us off about him. He had a bit of a strange fashion sense for a 13-year-old boy and a lisp that forced turning every s into a th sound. Every generation has their own vocabulary associated with it. Unfortunately for my generation, gay was commonly used to ostracize someone who acted strange or a bit out of the norm. So naturally, the other kids on my block would refer to Michael as gay in conversation. Picking on people was something I was never fond of as result of being picked on myself for being hyperactive. But when youre young and Eric and I hung out with Michael a few times, but not enough to get to know him all that well. Eric lived in the house between Michaels and mine and was two years older than me. He was my best friend out of all the kids on the block kickball, and etcetera with each other. The few times we hung out with Michael we either played video games or swam in Michaels pool. Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and even Sega Genesis, Michael had them all. Never before had I seen that large of a collection of top-of-the-line gaming systems and games to go with them. Michael was also the only kid on the block with a swimming pool. Playing his video games and swimming in his pool were the only things we did with him because in our minds those were the only times wed have any desire to be around him. It wouldve been

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57 nice to get to know Michael more, but I was the youngest of the dozen kids on the block and I was a follower of the majority. I went where they went, did what they did, and said what they said. I even stood around while they spoke with a strange man. This man lived directly across the street from Michael. It was the mans parents house, as he was divorced from his wife and couldnt afford one himself. I mainly only saw the man in his driveway with his two young daughters, but he talked to us once. We had been drawn over by one of the kids on the block and his older sister who volunteered at the block, most of them two or three years older than me, were standing around holding their heads high in the clouds with the pride and self proclaimed coolness that comes with talking to and hanging out with an adult. However, I felt not as comfortable as my peers. I examined the man with curiosity. His crassly shaped crown was bare on top with his head to his pale-bulldoggish face. He was neither a tall nor muscular man, but bulky. My analysis led me to question my peers in their admiration for the man. However, the one thing that caused me to push questions aside and leave them for later was his combination of cigarettes and the occasional rum & Vanilla Coke that was highly intimidating, but yet dangerously appealing. This dangerous appeal was enough for me to somewhat approve of him, but also led me away from questioning the man in his admiration for my peers. I stood amongst the group, staring at the ground and glancing at one of my friends every now and then. I was putting up a pathetic showing and my existence in the group was worthless. Except for a few awkward laughs at jokes I didnt understand, not a single word had come from my mouth the whole half an hour I had been standing there. It was exceptionally uncharacteristic of me. At one point the man asked us about Michael as he took a long drag from his cigarette, the ashes staying in place until he got to the butt of it. Michael wasnt with us as he hardly every was. I had been awaiting an opportunity to jump into the conversation and make my presence known. I could feel my stomach rolling said, Fuck it, and started clawing itself out from the inside of my chest. This was my opening and I jumped at it, blurting out, Hes gay! The words shot from my mouth like a golden

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58 Little did I know, I had shot myself a Wendybird. Oh, the man looked at me as if surprised I had a voice. And how do you feel about having a gay person on your street? Uh, I dont know. I guess I dont really care. His question had knocked me back into silence as I came to realize the literal implication of what I had said. I was perplexed by my own ignorance. How could I simply assess something like that? I had never gotten to know Michael that well, nor had I made a legitimate attempt to. The shot I had taken had been based off of what others had told me and not my own evaluation nor actual knowledge. But however dumbfounded I was by the words I had said, I was equally surprised by the fact that I had actually said anything at all. I felt a sense of pride and settled back in my comfortable of what I had said.I had just vocalized the thoughts of the group.There wasnt anything wrong with that, was there? From that point the conversation continued into an area of grey that, like most of the conversation, found me meaning in the mature context of the conversation. I spoke a myself for what ever it was that I had done, I couldnt tell my parents when they called me in for dinner. They did ask me what we had talked about, but I answered with, Nothing really. About a week later, I started noticing Michael walk across the street every now and then to talk with the man. Michael sat there while the man threw back a few rum and cokes.The mans mass made Michael, who was tall for thirteen, look puny. He was a naturally skinny kid but looked frail, breakable by comparison. Once and a while, theyd go inside the mans house to play games, Eric told me. I didnt understand why theyd play games at the mans house though. Considering the plethora of video games that Michael had, it wouldve made more sense for them to play better game systems or a bigger TV. My town was pretty quiet for the most part. It was a clich suburban town, where there are more sirens of ambulance rushing to the homes of the rotting elderly in one week than the number of arrests made in a whole year. But

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59 one day, I heard police sirens close by and looked out side to see black and white police cruisers lined down the street, there focus point was right across the street and two houses down from mine. They were making one of their few serious arrests of the year right in front of my eyes. The red and blue lights permanently dyed the whites of my eyes and switched my mind into a conditional state of delirium apparently games being played wasnt all that happened in the mans house. Eric told me that man pulled down Michaels pants and thats why he was arrested. All I could see when I closed my eyes was the man greeting an unsuspecting Michael at belt loops of Michaels jeans and jerking down from his waist. The shear horror and confusion that Michael must have felt to force him to run and tell his mother. I know better now and picture something far different from what I was told. I took bit of aging and maturing to realize what actually happened. the monkeys chasing the weasel around my head and if I try to stray from what I thought to be true as a child, it will pop. At the time of the court hearing my mom felt compelled to pick my brain about what had happened. As I climbed into the passengers seat of our mini van to go to the grocery store, she engaged me in dialogue. Did the man ever say anything, that seemed inappropriate, to you? Well, I felt my face turning green and my heart once again tarring at the inside of my chest, he asked if I had ever gotten hard. What does that mean? Its something that happens when youre older, she uttered. She was taken aback by the fact that I actually had a response to her question that wasnt no. Like Grandpa? She looked puzzled. Yes, she said. Her face was to focus on something else. Her face held a look of angst, but she carried herself as if she desired to know nothing more than what I had already told her. Repulsed at the fact that she even had to have a conversation of this sort with her nine-year-old, she started the car and started driving. The thing was, nothing had even happened to me. A man had asked me questions. Sure it was creepy, but worse things couldve happened. My mother asked me if I wanted to go to the court hearing and make a statement against him, but I said that I didnt feel comfortable. My decision only poured super glue into the wound.

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60 Seven years later, most of the neighbors on the block had moved away and none of the remaining neighbors from the day of the incident had seen Michael or the man since. Michaels house had been repainted to a burnt red that made it look as if it were covered in dried blood and things appeared to be much different than they were back then. But the time had come for the seemingly healed wound to start festering. While walking home from school, I was doing my usual scan of the houses on the block when I saw him. I saw the man stoking the wood stove in the garage of his parents house. My lungs shriveled up and dropped like leaves; I couldnt breathe. I felt a tingling in my brain and all four major limbs went numb as my face burned with pure, merciless hatred. The astonishment I felt and the depressing blow to my heart drove me close to passing out. I hadnt seen Michael since that day, yet the man had the nerve to return to the scene of the crime. For a moment I lost all respect for the justice system for letting him loose, but I soon came to realize the catalyst in the whole situation and my anger towards all external sources dissipated. I had fooled myself. For years I had been on a reckless vendetta against the misuse of the word gay in the vocabulary of my peers. I thought it to be a mission fueled by the political correctness instilled by my family, but really there was more to it. I had played a record in my head to cloud the truth from shining through and tainting my thoughts. I had expressed my hatred for the irksome euphemisms for the longest time, but for whatever reason I was never able to put It took seeing the mans face after all those years to help me comprehend the real motivation for my hatred. It was a realization that brought all the euphoria of sneezing and the pain of getting punched in the nose at the same time. Without a doubt a rare concoction, unlike anything I had ever been forced to swallow. It took seeing his pink, chubby, stale face again, but now I understood. Knowing when to act, when to keep your mouth shut, and when to speak up are the qualities that we should the cherish most, but ignorance is bliss.

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61 Well, You Asked Me to Read Your Future K.M. Alleena We will kiss. Your mouth will taste of Camel Turkish Royals and mine of Dark Magic coffee which is real gross if we think about it, so we wont. Well just kiss and pretend not to notice those details. What began passing pennies roll by roll from one till to the next will end like this or really begin depending on which side you look at it. I will remember the way your eyes squint when you laugh genuinely, crease at their corners slightly; as you look skyward out windows that stretch across storefronts on slow, Sunday mornings. And you you will

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62 start that same text that you were not sure you could send (but you will) and then I will meet you for coffee at your favorite caf and your music will play as we geek out over The Legend of Zelda and the construction of our lattes. There will be so many snarky comments between us a constant competition to see whose sarcasm proves best. We will sip our coffee behind crooked smiles, adoring the comedy of the other. I will remark at the fact Id seen you drink anything but Red Bull, and you will laugh

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63 that laugh that breaks the Monarchs out of their cocoons sound in my stomach; and black wings that will backlight my eyes like LEDs. It will have been such a long time since either of us have felt such a spark a mutable red, brief and easily missed. But then it will grow great paper wasted from a seasons worth of worthless work. Smoke will rise so visible that those around us will grin when they notice. Just like how I noticed when you didnt pull How our eyes aligned for a split second,

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64 and our shoulders relaxed, safe in that presence. Just after, you asked me (almost offhand; brought up again after our conversation on witchery and Tarot had ended much earlier) if I would read your future. It was then that I fell for you, syllable by syllable.

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65 Argument Stephanie Arney

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66 Trapped in My Head Joey Kraus ACT I The setting is a small room in an apartment, there is a short, slender man named Vinnie walking around the room muttering to himself, he is the only one in the room. VINNIE I cant do it, do you hear me? I cant do it, I wont do it. Vinnie hears a voice from someone not in the room. VOICE Dont doubt yourself Vinnie; we both know from your past experiences you have the potential to do anything, no matter what the consequences may be. VINNIE Thats bullshit, I dont have it in me, Ive thought about it again and again and again and its not me, I just dont have the guts to do it. VOICE Vinnie, think about all the stuff you and I have come up with, weve come up with brilliant ideas. Im the brains and your brawns of the operation. VINNIE (yells) Brilliant? You mean diabolical. Everything youve told me to do has done nothing but hurt myself and others. Sometimes I never understand why I ever listened to you. For Gods sake youre not even real. VOICE

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67 You nave bastard, all those heists and doesnt have to be the end, we can get out right now and never come back because right now you have a decision to make Vinnie, time is running out. VINNIE What the hell is that supposed to mean? VOICE Listen to the sounds outside, you fool. Loud sirens are heard right outside Vinnies apartment. VINNIE Oh Ive made my decision and time is out only for you. Vinnie walks over to his dresser, takes out a gun, and puts it to his head. VOICE Goddamn it Vinnie, dont do it. VINNIE (starts to tear up a little). Vinnies not here anymore. Vinnie hears footsteps get closer to his room and his room and see his dead body. THE END

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68 Elevate Collin Henderson breeze thats coming from nowhere is electrifyingly terrifying. Her white summer dress is stained with a large red splotch near the stomach. Looking around, she can see others with similar predicaments. A man in a business suit with half his face missing, jaw hung slack. A woman missing her left arm, a bit of sinew hanging from the stump. A boy in a hospital gown, face ash white with black circles beneath his eyes. Theres no pain. I cant feel anything when I run my hand over my stomach. Nothing. light at the end. She begins walking slowly towards it, drawn like a moth. Her bare feet dont make a sound. The people A large man dressed in drab clothes looks at her. Have I seen him somewhere before? She can see the end of the hallway. Theres no divergent paths, no other way to go. Behind her, only darkness. No one can traverse it. A young man in his twenties, face bruised and broken, walked into it and disappeared for a few seconds. He walked back out a few seconds later. All there is is the hallway. The man in shabby clothes is closer to her. He keeps staring at me. Im scared to continue. I want to get out of here. But there is no turning back. The breeze continues her, the man starts walking. His boots make heavy clump ing noises. She hasnt seen whats wrong with him yet. But that feeling of being watched gives her goosebumps. She knows at the end of the hallway, illuminated by a lamp hanging from the darkness where the ceiling should be. The boots keep clump ing. Its a metal door. A line runs down the middle. It slides open likeAn elevator. Inside is nothing. Complete blackness. Darkness that isnt drawn back by the lamp. An old woman in a bright pink dress stops in front of the giant chasm of the unknown and

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69 hesitates for a second. Then, she takes a few steps in and disappears. The doors slide shut and a Ding! rings through the air. She suddenly feels heat in her stomach. It doesnt hurt, but she brings her hand to the spot just the same. Something warm is leaking out of her. The clump of the boots continue in perfect time with her silent steps. Drawing her hand back reveals a bright red and coppery glove. Almost at the elevator now. Please stop. Please stop following me. She moves a little quicker. The clump ing continues. It follows her until shes standing ten feet away from the doors, directly underneath the light. The sound continues. Behind her To her Right In front.The man is in front of her now. She can see something on the back of his ratty in trails. Ding. The doors slide open and the darkness opens up again. He turns around, close enough to smell the whiskey on his breath. His wide chest is intimidating. More holes. His dark eyes stare at hers for a second. Then his stubble ridden jaw moves. Youre so beautiful. His voice is low but booming. Her stomach keeps getting warmer and warmer. No pain. He draws in a breath and lets it out, sending a sour smell into her nostrils. But I think I killed you. He turns back around and disappears into the black elevator. It closes with another Ding! and everything is silent for a beat. The warmth in her torso begins to fade as something red leaks from between But she cant be certain. The blood will warm me up. She steps into the large puddle and looks around. Everyones gone now. The door slides open, beckoning her. Behind her is nothing. In front of her is uncertainty. The absence of everyone else pushes her forward. This time, each step makes her bare feet warmer. She steps in to the cold darkness and Its so warm in here.

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70 her eyes for a moment and lowers it when they adjust. The Her maroon feet dont leave stains as she backs into the corner. To the right of the doors is a small terminal with two buttons. One says up and the other has a black skull icon. A hand falls on her shoulder and she jumps a little. Please remain calm. Ive already been told what to do about you. Youre safe now. The source is a middle aged man in a grey suit. His crinkles as he gives her a warm, reassuring grin. He reaches into his breast pocket and produces a gold pocket watch. After a glance, its quickly put back in its place. That man who came on before you is gone now. You dont need to worry about him anymore. Shall we go? Without waiting for an answer, he walks over to the terminal and pushes a button. She closes her eyes and waits.

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71 Bump in the Night Shelby Coyle My mother has a horrible habit of hurting herself. Not on purpose, of course, shes just accident prone. And so eventually it came about that she tripped and broke her foot. Badly. I dont remember exactly what she did to it, as this same foot in some horrible manner, but I do believe that the term hairline fracture popped up a few times. She ended up stuck in an obnoxiously bright green leg cast of her choosing, and on pain meds, for a very long time. I dont remember exactly how old I was during her crutch-time, maybe twelve or thirteen, but I do remember quite clearly the night that I thought I was going to die. I had been sleeping, probably having some nicely strange dream that I would never recall upon waking, when all of a sudden I wasnt. Shelby, my mother cried across the house, Shelby, wake up! I grumbled, snuggled deeper under the covers for a moment or two, and waited until her next shout to reach blindly out for my glasses. I stumbled out of bed at some through the house. I had expected my mother to be in her room needing me to get her something, maybe water. With Dad away on work for the weekend, I was the only one there to help her. Instead I was greeted by the sight of my mother, leaning on her crutches, in the kitchen. She was looking out the back door with the outside light on, peering at the back deck and beyond. When she heard me coming, she looked back at me. I heard something, she said. Screaming, I swear. It was coming from the back weeds. Our yard is surrounded on two sides by The Weeds. back into the woods. Both sets of weeds are thick and are as tall, or taller, than I am. Ok, I yawned, and? I want you to go check it out. Well, that woke me up. An imaginative child with a belief in the things that go bump in the night, being sent out

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72 into the dark, alone, to go investigate phantom screams. Exactly how I wanted to spend my early morning hours. No. No, no. No, no, no. No. But Lynx is out, my mother argued. What if it was her? I faltered. Lynx, not as old then as she is now but much less inclined toward friendliness, was a cat that enjoyed spending her evenings outdoors terrorizing the small rodents and birds that made their homes around ours. She would also be near impossible to spot in the darkness, especially in the weeds, with her long brown-and-black fur. Lynx did not particularly like me back then, but I felt responsible for her, as I had picked her out at Lollypop Farm when both of my parents had been leaning towards another cat that went by the name of Peanut. And so, armed with my battery-run Coleman lantern, I found myself edging slowly across the yard and toward the back weeds. My mother had hobbled on her crutches out onto the back deck to watch my progress and to more attacked by any beasts, whether of the fantasy or the human sort. I crept my way along the dew-laden grass and around our old shed with its cancer of bees, until I was walking right up against the weeds. I held my red lantern high and took quick, careful steps along the edge, peering in for any sign of every step my dread increased. I was nearly to the tree that marked the two-thirds way to our neighbors yard, the tree where I told myself I would turn around and bolt back to the house as soon as I reached it, when I thought I saw something. Movement. I froze, lantern light swaying back and forth across the thick tangle of plants, a deer trapped in headlights. But there was nothing else. I remained tense and couldnt seem to remember how voice and enough strength to make it carry. This is how people die in horror movies! My mothers laughter broke the spell and I turned tail and ran. Across the yard, up the stairs, into the porch light, past my mother, and inside. I refused to turn around, feeling watched, pursued. The monster at my back only a few steps away, always just out of reach, gaining ground I heaved the sliding door shut, not caring that my mother on her crutches still needed to limp back inside. She

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73 it off with her wit and crutches both. I stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring beyond my mother as she opened the door and entered the house, making sure nothing was creeping behind. I told her I hadnt found Lynx and we both went back to bed. Now, six or seven years later, I still remember the terror of that night, of feeling chased. Hunted. The impressions of an imaginative child who believes in the things that go bump in the night are not so easily forgotten. My father, who had not been there that night, had somehow gone all these years without hearing the story. mother and blinked and laughed. Do you even remember the pain meds you were on? he asked. You sent her out there on a side effect!

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74 Satchmo David Owens

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75 Janelle Chelsea Hamlet INT. RADIO STATION STUDIO NIGHT RAP, R&B, or Soul song is playing in the background. JANELLE (African American, 21 years old, short brown hair)is heard off camera JANELLE What up everybody, this is your girl Janelle and youre listening to W88S FM, youre station for back in the day joints and todays R&B. (Janelle is sitting in a chair with huge headphones on and a microphone stationed at her mouth.) JANELLE Tonights show is going to be about confessions. Confessions about work, school, your love life, family problems, whatever you want to get off your chest, Ill be here to listen and provide Latrelle. Latrelle, youre on the air! LATRELLE (female voice) Hi, Janelle. JANELLE Hey Latrelle, thanks for calling in tonight. LATRELLE No problem. I listen to you every night so Im

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76 happy I got through to you tonight. JANELLE Awww, thanks for the love Latrelle. Whats your confession? LATRELLE (sighs) Janelle, Im not sure if I should continue my relationship with my current boyfriend. (Janelle jolts her head back in shock and scrunches up her face in confusion.) JANELLE Why, whats wrong? Did he cheat on you or something? LATRELLE No, nothing like that. Hes great! (Janelle rolls her eyes.) JANELLE So whats the problem? LATRELLE sighs) I slept with one of his family members

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77 JANELLE Slept, like, fell asleep on the couch together slept, or Oh My God we had sex slept? Is it a female or male family member, by the way? LATRELLE Female, and slept like sex. JANELLE Oh wow. Okay, whod you sleep with? LATRELLE (sighs and pauses) JANELLE Latrelle, you still there? LATRELLE Yeah, Im still here... Um... it was with his sister. (Janelles eyes open wide and she puts her head down while she shakes her head. She looks up and smirks.) JANELLE Wow. Damn. His sister? LATRELLE Yes. (Janelle scratches her head in disbelief.) JANELLE Wow. Is your boyfriend listening to the show now?

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78 LATRELLE No, hes at work right now. (Janelle nods her head.) JANELLE Okay. Wow. So why his sister? LATRELLE (sigh) Hes always at work and doesnt pay attention to me anymore. I feel like Im invisible to him. And on top of that when we do have sex its not as good as it used to be. (Janelle moves her head from side to side with an expression on her face that indicates shes trying to understand her perspective.) JANELLE (hesitantly) Okay, so off the bat, it sounds like youre basing your relationship on quality time and sex? Am I correct? LATRELLE Ehh, not really so much on the sex, but its a factor. (Janelle moves her head from side to side again to try to understand what shes saying. She leans her head more to one side that indicates that she sees her point although she may not necessarily agree.)

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79 JANELLE Okay. Well, what made you decide to have sex with his sister? LATRELLE I mean, Ive always been bi-curious, but I never acted on it. (Janelle rolls her eyes again.) JANELLE Okay, that makes sense, but you couldve been curious with a different female so why his sister? Did she hit on you before? Did you always like her? Come on girl, spill! LATRELLE (laughs) She and I got really close when my boyfriend and I started dating. We became like best friends. She would be there for me when her brother was getting on my nerves and was even there to hang out if I ever needed someone to talk to. (Janelle jerks her head back in confusion.) JANELLE But isnt that what friends are for? I mean, if Im having problems with my boyfriend I would rather vent to my friends than one of his family members. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. LATRELLE (sighs) Janelle, I feel like youre judging me. (Janelles facial expression is blank with an are you serious face She shakes her head and smiles despite her apparent annoyance.)

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80 JANELLE Im sorry Latrelle. I dont mean to be judgmental.Im just trying to understand. Lets start again from you and his sister hanging out. What happened that made you decide to take that leap of faith and sleep with his sister? LATRELLE (sigh) No, Im sorry. This is just a touchy topic for me so Im a little hypersensitive right now. I know youre just trying to help. (Janelle makes a DUH face, rolls her eyes, and smiles.) JANELLE Its okay Latrelle. I know this is very being brave enough to talk. LATRELLE Thanks. To answer your question though, one day we were hanging out and I was really missing her brother. I started crying and she started to comfort me like she always does but her touch was a little different this time. It was a little more sensual. She held me close and told me that everything will be okay. Then, I looked in her eyes, she looked in to mine, and the next thing I know, I wake up in the bed next to her with no clothes on feeling guilty. (Janelle looks shocked.) JANELLE Damn, and you never thought about her in that way before, or seen signs that she was possibly interested in you in that way?

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81 LATRELLE No, not at all. It was one of those things that just happened. (Janelle makes a really? face.) JANELLE I dont mean to sound shady, but did it just happen again? LATRELLE No, it was only one time. (Janelle makes a yeah right face.) JANELLE Okay, so Im about to turn the tables on you. If the shoe was on the other foot would you want him to tell you that he slept with one of your family members? LATRELLE No (Janelles face expresses disbelief.) JANELLE No? Really? LATRELLE Yeah, no. JANELLE Why not? LATRELLE Because I wouldnt want to know. That would break my heart, which is why I dont want to tell him.

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82 (Janelle shakes her head indicating that she understands her point of view.) JANELLE Mhm. I see. Well, if you keep it from him and he probably going to want to leave. If you tell him, he might just walk out and leave, and if you keep it to yourself there is a possibility that the dark eventually comes to the light. LATRELLE Thats true. JANELLE And besides, you said youre not really happy with the relationship because hes not around as much and his sex game isnt on point anymore, so if he leaves, wouldnt that work in your favor? LATRELLE No, because I dont want to leave him. Yeah, Im not happy but every relationship goes through ups and downs, right? (Janelle makes a face that indicates shes weighing out the question in her head.) JANELLE Yeah, relationships have their ups and downs, but to what extent? LATRELLE (matter-of fact-ly) Depends on the person. (Janelle scrunches up her lips to one side to

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83 indicate that shes thinking.) JANELLE Now you dont have to answer this next question, but are you afraid to be lonely? LATRELLE Um... Ive never really thought about it. (Janelle nods her head.) JANELLE Hmmm. Before we go to a quick break, I want to shed some light on a common misconception. People think, especially women think, that being in a relationship is the cure for loneliness. Thats not always true. And sometimes whether we want to realize it or not, its better to be alone and happy, than miserable and cuffed up. By you keeping this secret from him, Latrelle, youre trapping him and yourself in a relationship that doesnt seem to be working. Instead of clinging to the relationship, let it go so something else better can come your way. And better doesnt mean a man, within yourself. But Im going on a tangent here. The next song Im about to play is Toni Braxton Let it Go. Latrelle, baby, Im going to have to let you go, but think about what I said: are you afraid of being alone and if so why? because you might just need to let this relationship go. Okay?

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84 Lost Explorer Colleen Maney Like a speck of dust suspended in the atmosphere with no Reason, no name. I swim through the blackness, unending night so deep it stains my bones through my impenetrable armor and immovable science. I gaze at the light of dying stars, chaotic birth of glimmering life: The moon watches with a knowing eye as I step tepidly forward onto its ashen body, gentle as a feather sunk by Hope. Planet Earth looks back at me, and we both know, we both hear the whispers of the celestial: We are One.

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85 Subconscient Lesprit Sexe Joel Dodge

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86 Old Enough to Kiss Cassidy Carroll The green grass is spongy under our feet in his the river. He is slightly ahead of me, and I wish I could turn and feel my small nails press into my palms. Coming? he turns, his face to the side. Yep, I try to say it calmly. At the edge of the lawn where the grass ends and the dead pine needles, fallen from above, lie ubiquitously on the ground, we enter the woods. Small insects swarm our heads and I swat them with my hands. The bank begins to slope sink into the mud and my feet slide to the front of my shoes with the angle of the bank. Mud gathers between my toes. Does your mom know were going down here? I ask. I dont need to tell her where I am. Im almost ten! he says. Are you nervous? I try to swallow the lump in my throat. No. You? he still doesnt look at me. Nope, I lie. Of course Im nervous. Im too young. Were too young. I can see the river now. Theres a slight bend in the middle. Rotting logs lie in the shallow murky water. Cedar Waxing birds make their high, thin whistle sounds out of sight. Rocks are spread out throughout the water. Many are right in the bend of the narrow river. My feet are gross, I say as we approach the water. I kneel down, cautious that my yellow sundress might the current. The mud slides off and becomes one with the stream. Come on, Chris says. He takes off his sneakers and sticks his socks inside. He leaps from the bank onto a rock sticking out of the water. onto another rock. I land and wobble to one side. When I shriek he grabs my hand to stabilize me. The sound of my yell echoes against the water, clinging overhead in the branches of the trees before disappearing. For a second I forget about what were there to do and I feel less tense. We hop across the rocks until we reach the big one.

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87 He climbs up and reaches down for my hand. His eyes are as blue as the shallows of an ocean. His sun kissed skin creates a great contrast with his bleach blond hair. His dry hand is small, small like mine. I take his hand, and with the other I grip a part of the stone where there is a natural handle, and climb up the moss covered rock. My knees are now covered with green residue from where Ive kneeled. I try to wipe it off but it wont go away without water. Here, Chris says and reaches into his shorts pocket. What? I say, confused. stones in my palm. What are these for? I laugh. I took them from the driveway. Were going to skip them, he says with a smile. Its a river, we cant skip them here. It needs to be calm. Doesnt it? I dont tell him that I cant skip rocks on calm water, either. Okay, then lets just throw them. He stabilizes himself and stands beside me. I grab his ankle, just in case. He leans back, positioning his arm like the stone through the air. I lose sight of it right away but I hear it ping off another rock and then plop into the water. Chris takes another stone and does it several more times. You try, he hands me one. No, no. Im not good at it, I say, and hand the stone back to him. He sits down next to me. Hes breathing heavier than before, from the motion of throwing. You want a Cow Tail? He pulls two long sticks of candy out from his pocket. Theyre his favorite. His mother gives us money every Friday evening when they arrive in town. We ride our scooters down to Ernies Market to stock up on candy. I see my town differently when Im with him, from an outside perspective. The owner of the market pretends like she doesnt know exactly who my parents are and where I live. She looks at me like Im another summer girl, only in town on the weekends. Whatever candy we end up getting is always gone before Chris leaves on Sunday afternoon, back to his real house in Vermont. On the rock, I take a Cow Tail from him and pull the wrapper down to the middle of the caramel stick and bite into it. He does the same. We sit silently for a few moments, listening to the river whooshing past us while our toes dangle in the cool water below. I recognize the sound of a Mourning

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88 I take the last bite of my candy when Chris says, Ready? I can tell hes not nervous in the least by the way I dont know if we should, I say, careful not to look at him. We have to. Remember? Im selling the summer house, he reminds me. Im not even nine yet. I wait a moment before whispering, Were not old enough to kiss. But Im not coming back after this summer... I shake my head no. He turns away, upset by my rejection. He continues to eat his Cow Tail, chewing with his mouth open. After dinner, when it begins to get dark, we climb through the old wire fence behind his house, and pass the threshold of the neighboring cemetery. His mother never asks why we like to walk here, she merely tells us to be back before it gets too dark. I dont tell Chris that Im frightened of cemeteries except when with him. The graves are aged and abandoned. These were once loved people, now forgotten stones. Chris walks next to me as we step around the many plots. I remember that someone once taught me not to step on the part of the ground in front of the gravestone because it is not polite. I have a great aunt buried in here, I say. At least I think she was my great aunt. Cool. Where is she buried? he asks. I dont know, I couldnt go to the burial, I say, halfheartedly looking around for her gravestone. But I got to see her in the casket at her wake. He takes my hand. We never used to hold hands. Last weekend was the were on their boat, docked at the marina. We were eating Popsicle after Popsicle when he asked me if Id walk the cemetery with him so he could hold hand my hand. He told me that he wanted to hold hands before he leaves. hand to touch a smooth marble gravestone. Maybe, I shrug. Chriss mother leaves us in his bedroom with a pillow stuffed between us. His mother was uncomfortable with the we are young and only friends. They agreed it would be best if a pillow were put between us. They are both unaware that he wants to kiss me so desperately. Night kiddos, his mother says, closing the door with one hand, a glass of white wine in the other.

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89 across the room and turns toward me in the dark. I suddenly feel even younger in my orange and yellow striped Hanna Anderson pajamas. His stepfather puffs on a cigar outside, and the rich smell of the smoke seeps through the old window screen. That smell is making my stomach hurt, I say quietly, facing him on my side. I bite the tips of my thumbnails nervously. Do you want me to shut the window? he asks. sounds of his parents voices from the porch below. Please... is all he says. I shake my head no. My heart starts to pound fast and I can feel it below my sternum in my stomach. He awkwardly places his hand on my shoulder under the covers; it shakes a little, slightly rustling the sheets. But Im not coming back, he nearly whines. I dont say anything. I wish I hadnt stayed the night. I wish I told him that I was sick. I wish that our mothers knew he wanted to kiss me so we werent allowed to sleep together. Were supposed to be best friends, I whisper, because if my voice is any louder it will crack. In the stillness of the air, I hear myself swallow too loudly. Best friends dont kiss each other. Yes they do, he snaps back. I shake my head no again, slowly this time. I ball the cotton sheets into my sweaty hand. He leans into me and kisses me hard on the lips. My eyes, wide open, stare into his. I can see the deep blue around his pupils even in the darkness. His lips are dry, like his hands. Our front teeth hit together for the split second our lips touch. He quickly rolls away and faces the other direc tion, leaving me smiling in the dark.

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90 Golden Years Tori Muscato Dance, Sing Frolic. Golden Years. Faces painted, Gowns form the body Ice sculptures Behold Beauty Maidens a plenty Bow. Take my hand. Making up steps as we go O N E, TWO, T H R E E, ONE, T W O, THREE. Twirl. Shout. Skip. Golden Years. Happiness surrounds, Life has begun Dance till dawn--

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91 Go back and forth Charging each other Sitting upon a steed Guide the lance; Struck down Gaze up into my eyes; Hit where the heart beats.

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92 Left in Lavender Phoebe Lamont The scent of lavender permeates the house from June until the leaves began to turn color, and even then Lila keeps sachets in drawers. When she pulls out the quilts from storage for the winter, they smell so strongly that she hangs them over the porch railing to air out. It seems like everything tastes of lavender: the water from the faucet, the chicken being roasted for dinner, even the ice cream in the freezer. When Meg arrives in the beginning of October, she brings a little burlap sack to bring lavender back to Pittsburg. The lavender bushes had been planted by Will. Lila never expects them to live through the winter, but somehow they always did. They are dying tonight. Lila and Will always sit out on the porch on days like this, where the sun isnt too harsh and the wind isnt too cold. Lila wears a sundress with a cardigan, and Will wears khakis with a sweater. They wait until the sun is just above the treetops and they bring out a pitcher of lavender lemonade or hot apple cider, and sit and drink until the streetlights turn and they dont bother to differentiate between the two. Lilas sister, Meg, joins them for two weeks of every October. She takes her yearly vacation and rides the train down from Pittsburg. She always tries to get the earliest train she can, to arrive at noon. Here, she can watch the leaves change and the grass yellow, without the daily smog of the city. Then, Lila and Will share the loveseat, while Meg has the rocker to herself. Meg stands up, and begins toward the big glass door. Meggie, are you going inside? Just to get some water. Could you grab me my vitamin, please? Lila puts on a beseeching smile. Sure. Meg would deny this, but she is in love with Lilas kitchen. She would argue, and say how much she loves her cozy little kitchen with no frills, but the luxury of Lilas kitchen is unmatched. Airy, with huge windows and all the state-ofthe-art appliances, it is a dream kitchen. Lilas prenatal pills are on the counter, next to a vase with a sprig of lavender in returns to the porch. Here, Lil. Thanks! Lila pops the pill into her mouth and takes a swig of lemonade. She makes a face and says, Will, you dont know how lucky you are not to have to take these. Will takes her hand and says, I know, Lil. You are a martyr.

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93 Will, with his smooth rosy cheeks and crystal gray eyes, is the sort of man who can get away with little jabs that Meg could never make and remains in Lilas good graces. He smiles quickly, with a sort of entitlement in the way he put his arm around Lila that makes Meg uneasy. He knows his place in the world, and that he will always have Lilas heart. Meg settles back into the rocker. Lila cuddles up against Will, noticing that the night has turned colder and the breezes stiffer. Will, hows your dad? Hes okay. Hes been calling every day to check up on Lil. What? Why? Hes so excited about being a grandpa. He just wants everything to go well. Of course. Lila yawns, and says, Well, Im just gonna get the dishes, and then Im going to bed. Need plenty of rest for the baby, you know she adds with a grin Lil, we can get the dishes. Meg stands up and puts the glasses on the tray along with the pitcher. Sure? Lila smiles, glad as always to get out of work. Yes, go ahead to bed, Meg says, waving her hand toward the door. Okay, see you in the morning. Lila kisses Meg on the cheek and hugs her, murmuring Im so glad youre here, and kisses Will on the lips, hands on his shoulders. She is nearly his height; she barely needs to crane her neck skirt bouncing around her knees. kitchen counter: Meg, At doctor. Lil & Will Lila talked about her frequent appointments with her doctor, a kindly older man named Doctor Goldstein. She had them once or twice a month. Meg can smell the pancakes that they must have made for breakfast. The skillet is soaking in the sink, and the glasses are in the drying rack. Its a chilly day, the kind that calls for a cardigan and jeans and a mug of chai tea. She quickly dries off the glasses, and puts them in the cupboard above the refrigerator. She scrubs the skillet down and lets it dry. At twelve-thirty, the house phone rings. Meg, assuming its the happy couple calling to apologize for being late, answers, Are you getting home soon? Meg? Its Will. Lil has to stay overnight. Can you take the bus here, and bring her some clothes? Meg sat down, trying to block out the thought of Lila lying in a hospital bed with her eyes closed and skin pale.

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94 Yes, why does she need to stay? We can talk when you get here. Will was a steady childhood brought, but his voice was caught in his throat, his normal clear enunciation slurred. Okay, where do I get the bus from? Youll just go over to Thompson Street, at the end. See you soon. The next morning, Lila goes straight to bed, while Meg cleans the kitchen. There is a silence in the house, a sort of pressing quiet that seems louder than noise would be. The prenatal vitamins go into the trash bin, as does the powdered washes the windows. She takes the trash to the curb. Will comes downstairs; he has dark circles under his eyes. He is dressed in a button-down in pale orange that makes Meg feel like weeping: it is wrinkled and has a coffee stain on the collar. Will? Do you want some coffee? No, thank you. Will opens the refrigerator and takes out the bottle of orange juice. He pours a glass and offers the bottle to Meg. She shakes her head, and he puts it back. Will, do you want me to clean out the- The what? The words come out sharply, the last t echoing in the empty room. The nursery. He holds his mug in both hands, staring into it. His brow is furrowed, creating wrinkles around his eyes, giving Meg a glimpse of Will in twenty years. Go ahead. He stays at the table as she takes a big black trash bag and goes up the stairs. The nursery is painted blue and orange, with gauzy white curtains. The rug has circles of varying shades of orange, fading to white. It is still pristine from the store, as is the tiny mattress and quilt. Shell donate as much as she can, and throw away what cant be donated. The room smells like paint and just a tiny bit from sawdust. Will had put up shelves that held tiny stuffed animals: a monkey, a sheep, a cat. The tags are in the wicker trash can in the corner of the room, along with the plastic packaging of the bedding. The stuffed animals are all untouched, their fur perfectly soft, their eyes bright and glassy. As Meg drops them handful by handful into the bag, she touches one with a worn, woolly feeling. It is Bub, Lilas favorite stuffed animal as a child. Meg remembers Lila clutching the little tiger everywhere they went. One hand would hold their mothers, the other clung to Bub. He dragged on the ground, picking up leaves and dirt. Afterwards, their mother would wash him with Dove soap and hang him above the bathtub to dry. Lila

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95 couldnt sleep without Bub. If bedtime came and Bub wasnt dry, Lila would cheerily crawl into bed with Meg and take all the blankets as they slept. Meg would end up with only a and go to the bathroom to see if Bub was at long last dry. She would grab the stepstool and get him, and hold him tightly for the next day. Then, she would lose her care and let him drag in the mud again, and spend another night without Bub. Meg holds the tiger close to her, and puts down the black trash bag. She goes downstairs and outside, into the lavender bushes. She sits amidst the fragrance, closing her purple on the dirt. The minutes become hours as the sun moves across the sky to just above the tree line. The glass door slides open, and Lila steps onto the porch. She sits on the rocking chair, holding her stomach. breeze blows her dark silky hair. She turns to see Meg sitting between the lavender bushes, clutching a stuffed tiger. Meg? What are you doing? Meg only shakes her head. Lila steps lightly down the steps, and sits beside her sister on the cold, soft ground. Lavender falls upon her head and settles on her shoulders. She sees the stuffed tiger in Megs hands and takes it. She holds it against her chest, right below her chin. She lowers her head and closes her eyes. Together, they sit among the lavender bushes, watching the petals fall and the sun slip below the horizon. When the crescent moon sits in the velvet blue sky, Will leans against the porch railing. He is smoking a the sky and across the moon. Wills face is illuminated, his eyes seeming to be bright blue. His cheeks are nearly death, but the grass yellowing and fading to the dirt. Lilas wonder return to her sisters eyes. Lila stands up, unsteadily but certainly. Her tiger hangs loosely in her hand now, and she walks away from Meg, toward the porch. Her silhouette is exaggerated in the lights of the night, her neck and waist nearly invisible, her dress chalky and full and short. She steps lightly up the stairs to the porch. Will turns his head, and taps out his cigarette. He lets it fall to the ground, where the last Meg still sits in the lavender, just where the light from the house doesnt hit. The scent is overpowering,

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96 suffocating. As she watches them on the porch, something on the ground catches her eye. Bub lays abandoned on the dying grass. The dew will moisten him overnight, and perhaps he will be forgotten. He will lie in the grass when Lila and Will go to bed, and bugs will nest in him. Lila and Will stand on the porch, right against the railing. Their hands are intertwined, his thumb stroking the back of her hand. The scent from the cigarette has drifted over to Meg, and now lingers in the lavender. Lila can smell it too, sharp and strong and musty and entirely wrong for Will, who usually smells of nutmeg and cedar. Will seems small in the unforgiving October moonlight, small and delicate and so young. They are murmuring to one another. Her voice carries easily, while Wills is soft and warm and quiet. Meg can just hear Lila says, Will? Go to bed. There is such tenderness in her words, her simple words. Wills reply is inaudible, and Lila leads him inside, sliding the glass door closed behind them. Meg picks up the stuffed tiger, and follows. She makes it as far as the porch, clinging to the woolly stuffed animal. She looks over the railing, resting her hands in Bubs well-loved, soft fur. She contemplates leaving him there to collect the morning dew, to be forgotten in the lavender bushes. And yet, the thought of Bub gone to frosts of winter and the muds of springtime breaks Megs heart. He will not stay here. Meg goes inside. Will and Lila have left the lights on for her, and she turns them off as she makes her way to bed. The house is now dark except for one lamp in the guest room. Meg puts on her nightgown, thinking of the day. How could one day, one single day, be so long? She crawls under the quilt, holding Bub close. She clutches him close to her face, breathing in the smell of the ground and dying grass, the nursery paint and air freshener, and of lavender. She cannot sleep. The air is warm and fragrant, and the house is silent. The scent of lavender can make ones painful. Meg gets out of bed, still holding Bub by the tail. The hall is lined with paintings of gardens and mountains, but they are unimportant in the darkness of an autumn night. The master bedrooms door is cracked open, and inside is as dark as the hallway, save for a shaft of moonlight that illuminates Lilas face. She is asleep, the covers pulled up to her chin. Lila faces the door, while Will is turned towards the window. Meg puts Bub next to Lilas head, and goes back to bed.

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97 Townie Life Can Be Beautiful Kristen Burke

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98 The Strike Out Jordan Rockower INT. WRIGLEY FIELD STANDS SAME The Wrigley Field faithful watches for the sole purpose of entertainment. Candice and her parents look on, confused that this is happening. INT. WRIGLEY FIELD SAME The security guard chases Johnny all the way to home plate. LINDSAY LOHAN Buy me some peanuts and-Johnny grabs the mic from LINDSAY LOHAN in mid-song. JOHNNY Gimme that. The crowd is stunned. JOHNNY (CONTD) (to Lindsay Lohan) Okay no offense but you havent been the same since Freaky Friday. (Looking at Candice in the crowd) Candice, I love you! The security guard grabs Johnny and takes him down to the ground. The crowd cheers as Johnny struggles with the guard.

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99 INT. WRIGLEY FIELD STANDS SAME Candice stares at what is happening on the CANDICES DAD What the hell is going on? CANDICE (Almost choked up) I dont know. Why are they arresting him? CANDICES MOM Did he steal a base? INT. WRIGLEY FIELD SAME Johnny gets up. He grabs the mic one more time. JOHNNY Can someone get me some fucking Doritos?! Johnny tries to make another run for it but the security guard tasers him. The crowd goes crazy. INT. WRIGLEY FIELD STANDS SAME Candice shrieks as she watches Johnny get well up.

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100 INT. POLICE STATION VISITOR ROOM NIGHT Johnny sits in the visitors room behind a glass window. His parents, Debbie and Aaron are on the other side. AARON How could you get arrested for impersonating a ballplayer? DEBBIE Johnny we cant even tell you how ashamed we are of you. AARON They took away my season tickets, Johnny. Those meant everything to me. JOHNNY Dad, you never even used them. AARON Now I cant even scalp them. JOHNNY Im sorry for the inconvenience. DEBBIE Five thousand dollar bail and a lawyer? Thats going to cost us a fortune. JOHNNY Ill pay you and Dad back eventually. Im sorry. AARON Like what were you thinking running onto the

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101 DEBBIE Aaron, come on. Lets go. Debbie helps Aaron out of his chair. They look extremely disappointed. AARON Im ruined. JOHNNY Youre ruined? I was arrested and got my scrotum tasered. I lost my job. I lost everything. Debbie and Aaron give Johnny one more upset look before they cross out. Johnny puts his head down. A POLICE OFFICER approaches Johnny. POLICE OFFICER You have another visitor, Mr. Greenspan. Johnny looks up. Its Candice. She looks confused and upset. CANDICE Johnny. JOHNNY Candice, Im so sorry. Is this your conjugal visit? Candice sits down opposite Johnny.

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102 CANDICE Can you please explain to me why you POLICE OFFICER Mr. Greenspan, you have two minutes. Theres another visitor waiting to see you. Nut-Zach peeks in. Candice turns around. Nut-Zach plays it off like hes visiting someone else. He sits opposite Nut-Zach out of the room. CANDICE (to Johnny) I remember that kid from the bar. The peanut boy. How do you knowCandice realizes it. Her body language reveals it. JOHNNY Candice, I can explain. CANDICE Youre not a baseball player are you, Johnny... JOHNNY I am a baseball player. Im Johnny Baseball. CANDICE Youre Johnny... another peanut boy.

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103 Candice wells up. Its evident in her voice. CANDICE (CONTD) Why did you lie to me? JOHNNY Lou Gehrig once said, Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Thats exactly how I felt when I met you. Ive never had this much going for me since-CANDICE Since what? JOHNNY Nothing. Its not important. CANDICE (Watery-eyed) Since what Johnny? JOHNNY Since I got that call to the big leagues.

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104 Chunks Harry Christopher Moore Lets go on the tilt-A-whirl, Marcus. Yeah, sure. Why am I here? Oh, yeah. Pretty girl. This spins, doesnt it? Yep, it does. This is not good. Just breathe. More oxygen will help. I feel light-headed. My head feels so messed up. *** Oh my God, that was fun! You look so freaked right now. Lets do the roller coaster next! I love roller coasters! I fucking hate roller coasters! Ouch. Head support hurts. Closing my eyes will help. So much worse. I feel sick. Cant let her know. *** That was incredible! So many loops, right? Are you sweating? Its so hot. the wall. Please, not the Vortex. Cant focus. So dizzy. Oh, shit. Im going to puke! Not in here! All over everyone! Hold it in. Keep it down. Its going to stop soon. Slowing down. Please let me off. *** It spun so fast. Im so dizzy. Are you okay? You look a little green. I need ... No! Its all over. Its all over her! Shes never going to speak to me again. That blouse looks expensive. No no no. Its dripping down into her shirt! God, just kill me now. Lucy...I... Dont worry about it. Just sit down for a minute. Keeper.

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105 Home is Where the Hearth Is Luke Parsnow It was useless. They had tried so hard to adapt during the last few months, but had had little success. It was extremely The Christmas tree didnt seem as decorated or as bright as the previous year. lifeless. little girls mind this time. The stockings didnt seem as full. battle against the vicious winter chill. It was that time of year again, Christmastime, a time of joy and good will toward men. And it was on the eve of that most holiest of holidays. All over Cleveland, a light snow was falling on the decorated houses, coloring peoples happiness and love for one the cashiers, anxious to get home to their families. Everyone passed each other on the streets, greeting each other with smiles and a chorus of Merry Christmas was heard every so often. Sometimes and a happy new year would follow. But in the Morgan house, there was no laughter. There were no smiles. There was very little joy. Larry Morgan sat on the brown leather sofa in his blue and white striped pajamas, drinking a tasteless orange and spice tea, but it seemed chilled whenever he brought the steaming liquid in contact with his cracked lips. His head and unshaven face were much grayer than they had been just months earlier. He continually took off his thick glasses and wiped the lenses on his pajama shirt, and then replaced them on his nose. Larrys wife, Andrea, sat curled up on the couch next to her husband. She was doing what she enjoyed most, sewing. She had decided to avoid the pile of tempting Christmas cookies on the coffee table in front of her, which were splattered with green and red sprinkles and frosting. But she sat there sewing a womans shirt, the same shirt she had been making for months. The heavy bags under her middle-aged blue eyes impaired her ability to think clearly at the moment, as she laid the incomplete shirt down on her lap and sighed. No matter how hard she tried, it just seemed missing. Larry and Andreas nine-year-old daughter, Hayley, sat Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer She had asked her parents

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106 many times to allow her to open one present before the morning, but to no avail. After numerous attempts, she gave up and cookie frosting. But she was very upset about her toys tonight. On Rudolphs belly, there was a button, that when pushed, would make his red nose glow. But tonight, the light would not work. She pushed and pushed and still Rudolphs nose remained dark. She light. After a while, Hayley stopped crying and just went on playing without the glowing nose. There was one missing member of the family. Brent Morgan, Larry and Andreas son, had dark wavy hair and crystal blue eyes that Larry and Andrea had always been proud of. He was much older than his sister Hayley, ten years to be exact. He had graduated high school and joined the army, and was already on active duty in a scorching camp on the other side of the world. parachutes onto the Cleveland ground, the Morgans imagined their son sweating in the extreme heat, in the heart of one of the worlds most dangerous places. Christmas just wasnt Christmas without the entire family present. Mommy, I miss Brent, Hayley whispered from her frosting-caked lips. Andrea gave a long painful sigh and nodded. I know sweetheart. We all do. But he just cant be here tonight, Andrea said. Im going to wish that Brent was here, Hayley told her parents. Im wishing too, Andrea said. Hayley closed her eyes and Andrea watched her daughter closely, and wished with all her might. A couple of minutes of silence went by, before Larry slipped the last drop of his tea and said, Well, we better get to bed. Its getting late. We dont want Santa Claus coming here, Jacksons across the street. Larry couldnt believe it. Any other year, if he had said that, the sentence. This year, she sat completely still. Just then, Larry heard a faint noise coming from the street outside the window. It sounded like voices. Larry listened carefully and then distinguished them to be singing voices. The carolers are walking down our street, Andrea said,

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107 smiling a little. I thought I heard them, Larry said, shifting himself on the couch a little. I was scared they werent coming this year, Hayley said excitingly. And then, as if they had stopped right in front of the Morgan house, the carolers began a new song, a song that wrenched the heart of every Morgan in that household. Ill be home for Christmasyou can count on me Andrea put her hand on Larrys and closed her eyes. Please have snowand mistletoeand presents around the tree Throughout the whole song, to the very last verse, the house was still. Ill be home for Christmasif onlyif only in my dreams The singing ceased and the carolers traveled on. Just then, there was a knock on the door. The noise interrupted the family from their trance. Now what indecent Scrooge knocks on someones door at nine thirty on Christmas Eve? Andrea scolded. Relax, Andrea, Larry said, climbing to his feet and walking out past the den to the door. Its probably Joe needing to borrow your eggnog recipe again. That man cant cook up anything to save his life can he? Andrea said, standing up and following her husband to the door, quickly followed by Hayley, right at her heels. Larry switched on the porch light by the coat rack, slowly turned the handle, and opened the door. Standing there was a young man with wavy dark hair and crystal blue eyes. Before the door opened half way, he couldnt help but crack a smile. Brent! Larry shrieked happily and grabbed his sons arms and pulled him inside and closed the door, before grabbing him in a bear hug. Hi, Dad, Brent said, his smile never disappearing. Brent! Andrea cried as she walked in the room, ran to him, and threw her arms around him. Brent hugged his mother passionately. Im home, Mom! Brent said happily. Brent! Hayley squeaked in delight when she saw her older brother standing there. Theres the princess! Brent said as Hayley ran into his arms and he picked her up and twirled her around in the air, while Larry and Andrea laughed. My wish came true, Brent! Hayley said as Brent put her

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108 What wish? he asked, kneeling so his eyes were level with hers. I wished youd come home tonight! I wished that and it came true! Hayley yelled happily and hugged Brent again. We all wished it, Andrea said, a silver tear appearing in her eye. So what happened? I thought you told us you wouldnt be home until February, Larry said as he took Brents coat. I cant say exactly, Brent said, looking around as if someone was watching him. Those are my orders. When I called last week I said I wouldnt be home and then something happened. A bunch of us were temporarily relieved and sent home but I decided to surprise you. Well you certainly surprised us, Larry said, chuckling. Were so glad youre home! Andrea said reaching to embrace her son yet again. Larry made some more orange spice tea for everyone, and was surprised at how hot this cup was. Andrea picked up the shirt she had been knitting to put it away in her closet when she suddenly stopped half way out of the living room to fully look at it. She double glanced at it and laid it against the front of her body to see how big it was. She looked at every stripe and every Brent walked in holding a tray with a tea pot and cups on it and set it down on the coffee table in front of the couch. Brent, Andrea called from the doorway of the living room. Yes, mom? Brent said, walking over to her. Does this sweater look done? Brent took one quick glance. happily. Andrea smiled, but continued looking at the sweater, which Hey Hayley, I see youre playing with the Rudolph characters, Brent said, sitting down on the sofa and pouring himself a cup of tea. her brother. I remember always playing with them at Christmas when I was little, Brent said, laughing. Hayley looked wide-eyed at him.You played with these too? she asked, astonished. Oh yes. I especially loved the Rudolph one because his nose lit up when you pushed the button, Brent replied. Yeah. Its broke now though, Hayley said, frowning. It is? Yes. His nose wont light up. Let me see him.

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109 Hayley handed her brother the Rudolph toy and he twirled it around in his hands, inspecting it. He wont glow, Hayley repeated. I cant see anything wrong with him, Brent said. Then he found the button on Rudolphs belly and pushed. Instantly, the reindeers nose illuminated a bright red. Brent pushed the button a few more times, turning the light on and off, to make sure it worked consistently. It mustve gotten stuck, Brent said and handed the toy back to his sister, who went on playing with him. Finally, the whole Morgan family sat together in the living room. The Christmas tree seemed more decorated this year than any other previous year. before. The presents under the tree were being gazed at intently by the little girl, who now began to perform some shaking tests on them. They sat there for hours. Brent told them the many stories of the life in his encampment and in turn, Larry and Andrea told Brent about what had gone on at home since hed been gone. They said how their neighbor, Mr. Hartford, had passed away in the fall, how a lot of Larrys co-workers had been laid off since summer, and Hayley told Brent about how she had won the schools spelling bee. Never had Larry, Andrea, and little Hayley imagined that Brent would be sitting and talking to them on this very night. All three of them watched and listened as Brent talked. Thats where all of their attention lay. Never mind that the electric bill wasnt paid. Never mind that there were very little presents under the tree. Never mind that there werent any lights hung all around the house. Never mind that there was a war raging on the other side of the globe. Never mind that they lived in an uncertain world with an uncertain future. Those things didnt matter right now. They had managed to forget all those things for just a short while. This was now, this one moment, a moment that the Morgans were completely lost in. Hours passed in what seemed like minutes that night, and soon, everyone looked to see Hayley sleeping peacefully with her Its time we turn in, Larry said, for the second time that night. Agreed. Im wiped out, Andrea said, yawning and

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110 stretching. She got up and went to carry Hayley to he room. Brent brought the tea tray and empty cookie plate back into the kitchen. Soon all the lights were turned out, and the house was completely dark. Larry was the last one to brush his teeth and made his way to his bedroom. He walked by Hayleys room, to see her snuggled up with her Rudolph toys. He walked by Brents room. He had to look hard to see if he was in bed. Brent lay extremely still and did not utter a sound, dead sleep. He walked into his own room and saw Andrea all curled up snoring already. He silently crawled into bed next to her and laid there a moment, crossing his arms under his head and looking at the ceiling. He couldnt help but feel how lucky he was. In faraway land, there were thousands of boots marching He was about to close his eyes when he heard a noise. It was a faint noise coming from the street outside the window. It sounded like voices. Larry listened carefully and then distinguished them to be singing voices. Were carolers still walking around at this hour? He thought he was dreaming but couldnt be sure. The voices were coming closer and closer and then suddenly, they stopped. He mustve been imagining it. Then, they started singing again, as if they were right outside the house, like it had sounded right before Brent had knocked on the door. Oh theres no place like home for the holidays Larry cracked a smile and listened to the song all the way words, all the way to the end. For the holidaysyou cant beat home sweet home Larry smiled again, closed his eyes, and snuggled into the blankets. Though asleep, the smile on his face continued, even when the morning light broke the darkness.

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111 Mehndi Hands Kim Kittleson

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112 The Thing About Pumpkin Guts K.M. Alleena Picking the seeds out of the glop never used to be my favorite thing about pumpkin carving. I was always the type of kid who would yell if mud was involved in any activity, or if a slimy bug crawled closer than comfortable. The gross stuff was left for my Dad to handle. When I was a little kid, he used to pretend to be some sort of master pumpkin carver. Every single Halloween, wed go out to the pumpkin patch in Pine Island, and so began the ritual. Dad would search for the largest pumpkin there was, and Mom would argue against it, citing ten previous years of absolute mess in her kitchen. That he never cleaned, mind you. I would wander just a little further behind, picking the apples; ones small enough so I could carry a whole bunch with me, while Mom and Dad curtly debated the future of this years Halloween display. Regardless because Dad really believed himself to be the aforementioned pumpkin-carving extraordinaire we would go home with four impossibly huge pumpkins. For all those years, we would be able to pick our jacko-lantern designs out of the books Dad seemed to collect offseason with gourd-murderous fascination. He would fold the corners of the grainy, low quality paper just as the instructions said in bold black ink and tape it haphazardly to his fresh-from-the-patch canvas. The problem was that he worked as a driver for construction companies since the dawn of time. He had strong, calloused hands that had grown too tired and clumsy Even as awkward as the task was for him, Dad made the botching of our pumpkins art. And I would watch, every year, without fail, as he did so. First, there would be a lopsided circle cut around the stem this was the lid of the jack-o-lantern. Dad would set it on the table, and cut off the seeds and strings from the underside of the lid, scraping away the excess gunk until just about an inch of pumpkin was left under the stem. It looked like a full moon, bitten on the edges by some hungry shadow exactly the way it was supposed to, even after this process. He would cut a notch in the lid, and explain that when he was a kid, this is how it was done, to make sure the real candles could breathe. I reminded him every year that our candles had batteries. He would smile, and carve little triangular notches anyway. Next, he would scrape all of the goop out of the

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113 pumpkin breaking the little orange plastic scoop in the process, and bending a few kitchen spoons thereafter. In a purple, bat-patterned Halloween candy bowl, he would save the guts of the pumpkin, careful to lose the least amount of everywhere in his wake, to the point where Mom would periodically sigh in impatience, before taking his glasses to clean the crevasses in the metal with a toothpick. After the beast of a pumpkin was cleaned to his liking, he would gradually work on some strange version of the design I had picked. My favorite always had witch hats or kitties, while everyone else loved their traditional jack-o-lantern faces, stylized and fancied up a little bit. Dad would do his best, often improvising. There were places on pumpkins where only a thin strip of material was holding the design in place. Sometimes, carving away the excess to let more light through, Dad would break the bats wing in those tiny places, and the whole creature would fall from in front of the pumpkin-moon. I remember taping things back together certain years. As Dad said, it all looked so much better lit up, that nobody would know the difference. I was about eleven years old when I was allowed to negative space, really so my design was silly. A lightning bolt, and the letters HP carved out, too high up in the front, and varying vastly in font and size. It was supposed to stand for Harry Potter, but everyone else chuckled because my design very wasnt cool or scary. Dad didnt laugh though. Instead, he took the tiniest of the dollar-store pumpkin carvers, and showed me how to carve away the excess, just like what he did. Sure enough, it did look much better lit up. After the art-making process was done, Dad would take hours to remove the seeds from the pumpkin glop. A playlist of kids Halloween music and Pink Floyd would play in the background, and he would sort seeds tirelessly. The watery ones where only as good as the glop, he would comment each time I asked why some seeds got thrown away. He would keep a few that seemed perfect for later gardening, and then he would throw the rest into a bamboo salad bowl. Throughout this whole ordeal, Mom would have the oven preheating, so the kitchen was warm. She would make us all some hot cocoa, and then take the seeds, spread them over a couple of cookie sheets, add some salt, and throw them in the oven. I loved the sounds of the seeds popping when they cooked a little too much just as much as I hated the texture and temperature of pumpkin glop. Today, I look around my own apartment and balk at the lack of Halloween atmosphere. I have no creepy fabric, no ceramics, no faux spider webs nothing of the sort that would always have been put up at home. Im just starting

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114 out. All these years in college, I didnt have the opportunity to go all out decorate, throw parties or even to carve jack-olanterns. I stare down at the tiny pumpkin in my hands just with plastic vampire teeth. His eyes are a bit off-center, too two tiny red sewing pins. This was the last one I carved today, so I place him on my bookshelf, and go back to my kitchen table, where a candy-bowl of pumpkin glop waits and a little tired, but I begin the process of pulling the best seeds out of the strings anyway. As I work, my mind wanders to the past three Halloweens spent away from home. I felt as though I couldnt really celebrate the holiday. Sure, there were offers to go to I never accepted for me, Halloween wasnt ever really about dressing up and going out. That was only a small part of it. The holiday was always about these little family activities such as pumpkin carving. It had to be together though, to really matter. For me, it would never be Halloween out at the bars or fraternity houses, adult trick-or-treating for shots with autumnal names. It almost doesnt feel like Halloween now, in my own space. My family is not here with me but three-hundredsome miles south, carving their own pumpkins and decorating their own house. I wonder if theyre feeling the same kind of melancholy mixed with odd twinges of nostalgia. I wonder if Dad remembers helping me carve my Harry Potter pumpkin all those years ago or if Mom is barking orders to my sibling to sweep up all the stray seeds. thoughts. Elbow-deep in the guts of a pumpkin, I burst into laughter. Really, the seeds are worth the trouble. Only, theres no way I would ever tell Dad that maybe I do enjoy the process of separating seeds from strings more than the actual carving of the pumpkin. I dont think hed believe me, anyway but on the off chance that he did, I can imagine his reaction. A snort, and some sort of jovial comment along the lines of Well, all those years I picked seeds out of that crap, you couldve been helping! I couldve. Of course. But why interrupt the master at work?

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115 Fall Tarin Bonvino She could feel winter closing in on her. It was close, but the leaves and trees of the cemetery betrayed no hint of the coming snow and ice. It was warm, shadows of the headstones long and thin. The leaves were brightly colored and scattered across the ground like freckles on a child. Lily was grateful that this old graveyard was forgotten no hired landscaper meant the leaves would stay where they fell, instead of being raked into piles. She hated the sight of those piles, hated watching them rot and melt into mounds of brown dead mush. She lowered herself to the ground and lay among the leaves. A headstone was a few feet to her right, but the words on it were big enough for her to read. Here lies Edna, who led a beautiful life. Ednas full name was etched below, alongside a very old date. here a few centuries. Maybe Lily could rest for a few minutes. Ignoring her pounding heart, she rolled onto her side and thought of Edna, who led a beautiful life, and slowly closed her eyes. leaves, smoky and sweet. She could feel the cold of the ground through her sweater and jeans. But she saw nothing. Nothing, but a cool indifferent black. She lay perfectly still. And then it all came rushing back. It was as if a dam broke she could almost hear her mind crack but instead of water, she drowned in memories. She remembered the entire night. The doorway, the multi-colored lights, the laughing party-goers. She remembered the cup in her hand, remembered walking away from it She remembered the back room where the coats were, the couch. With the scratchy brown fabric, the memory dragged forward from the very back of her mind. And the couch reminded her of the hands, the forceful, strange hands. She could feel them on her arms again. The hands that pushed her down onto the couch, grabbing at her, ripping, tearing there was blood on her face, or maybe tears, tears that had absorbed the red from the festive party lights overhead. She was open now, the hands were laughing at

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116 her and she couldnt close herself. Then she couldnt see anything couldnt breathe, couldnt scream. All she could do was feel the terror, the jolts of pain. Feel the trembling shame shake her spine. Deep inside. Her eyes shot open. Ednas headstone was blurry and distorted, and for a minute she thought, Thats it, I really have gone crazy She wiped the tears and sat up. There was no rest for her here, not even in this place of eternal resting. Maybe you had to be dead to qualify. She squinted at Edna, who had lived a beautiful life and now slept peacefully. She wouldve traded a beautiful face for a beautiful life any day. People had always told her she was beautiful. And she had always taken them at their word parents, friends, teachers, boys but now she wondered whether they meant that she was attractive or that she was fragile. Her blond hair always thought of herself as tall and lanky thin, but healthy. Now she felt more like the girls on the covers of magazines, with bones that looked like theyd break if you looked too hard. Her eyes were big and blue, with that wide, childlike look that made people smile at her princess eyes, her mother had said. So she had given her daughter a princess name: Lily. As a child Lily had loved the story. But she had come to realize that princesses were made out of colored glass. Pretty, beautiful even, but so easily shattered. Lily hated it when people cynically remarked that fairytales werent real. In her experience, they were just mistranslated in the modern world. Key elements were true, but with a twist. In todays world, the grand balls were house parties. Once upon a time, she had been the beautiful princess. She had gone to a ball, and she had met the handsome prince, the basketball captain and valedictorian. And then, like every good princess, she had been captured. Instead of being locked in a tower, she was trapped on a brown couch. She was guarded by an evil dragon, but the prince never arrived to slay him. prince were one and the same. In the end, there was no happily ever after. Just a stillness. A quiet moment in the dark. Where the only sound was heavy breathing and the only feeling was hot, sticky skin on hers and a scratchy brown couch. Then came the

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117 makeup, and sleepless nights. She was beautiful, but the princess was never rescued. Lily leaned back against Ednas headstone. She tried to rub the burning from her eyes, but between constant tears and inconstant sleep, it was no use. Very few of the things she did these days seemed useful. The phone calls to her parents, talking to her best friend it was all pointless. No one was sure they could believe her. That had been weeks ago. Now the rumors had ripened and fermented, and the talk took a much more vicious turn. Lily walked the hallways in a daze, her eyes on listening. I opened the door, man. On accident, right? And she waves me out of the room Jermiah Gaines, a fellow basketball player remarked. He shrugged at his buddies. She wanted him, she got him. Next thing you know, she got him in cuffs. What the hell is that about? Girls, man! I feel sorry for the poor dear, of course, the sophomore English teacher whispered to the school nurse. But I mean hes such a smart boy. And she well, shes been known to cause trouble for attention. Skipping school, breaking the dress code. They had to remove her from the volleyball team because of behavioral issues remember? She couldnt get along with the other girls. She should just forget about it, Carly, a girl who sat in front of Lily in math, had muttered one day. She was too busy putting her books away to notice Lily standing right behind her. Move on, forget it ever happened. Besides, look at how she dresses. She was asking for it. Shes such a bitch. Slut. Liar. The words came from every direction, she couldnt outrun them. So, she tried to shield herself. She walked as fast as she could from one class to another, earbuds blasting. She sat in the back of her classes, reading quietly team and ate lunch in the bathroom. The town was too small for a mall, but after school she avoided the local pizza place and the coffee shop where everyone sat and gossiped for hours. Instead she had taken to hiking through the small park on the edge of town. Thats how she had stumbled upon the cemetery and Edna, who led a beautiful life. What is a beautiful life anyway? Lily wondered. Shed

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118 had enough of beauty. No matter what side of the debate they were on, whether they believed it had happened or not, everyone blamed her looks. She was either a beautiful girl who got bored and made up a lie for attention, or she was a beautiful girl who had seduced him, and now he was paying the price. Either way, she was the problem. No one talked about what he looked like, but she remembered. She remembered his dark hair and the navy blue seventeen on his football jersey. She remembered that easy smile, the crooked grin that twisted all of his features squeezed tightly and led her down the hall. She remembered them. Staring at her so intently it burned, made her skin crawl. He hadnt looked at her like she was beautiful. It wasnt longing in his eyes when he blocked her exit it was hunger A chill crept up her spine, and she shivered. She rubbed her arms as she watched the sun set through the trees and what was left of their leaves. Winter was on its way, fall would be over soon. She knew she should go home, knew there would probably be more questions to answer, more reporters to not answer, and more nights to not sleep through. But something kept her there, amongst the patchwork leaves and the old headstones. She rested her head against all that was left of Ednas beautiful life and stared at the sky. In the end it didnt matter nothing mattered. Time went on. Fall was giving way to winter, and winter would give way to spring. Time would pass for her, too. Days would become weeks, weeks would bleed into years. A lifetime would go by. One day, all that would be left of her would be a headstone that read something like: Here lies Lily, who was beautiful and led an ugly life.

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119 Umbrella People Kim Kittleson

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120 Stuck Shelby Coyle A hallway. A door. A shadow. Hello? Nothing. Move on. Dont look back. Rusted handle. Twist, turn, screech. Stuck. Release. Turn. A shadow. Hello? Nothing. Push off. Continue on. Shadow. Sharp corner. Shadow. Retreat. Shadow. Hello? Laughter. Soft, indistinct. Door. Handle. Twist, turn, screech. Open. Pause. Enter. Light. Creak. Close. Stuck.

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121 Oklahoma City Ryann Crofoot Nature littered herself with the remains of human life. Roofs thrown miles from the walls that held them Stuffed animals stabbed by tree roots Piles of bricks cover the sidewalk, Fences wrapped around mangled trees, Natures barbed wire fence. Trailers set on the foundations of what were once beautiful homes, Now skeletal remains reach toward a sky that offers no help. People who had given up their time and two hundred dollars Just to make it down to the arid heat of Oklahoma. A thirty-eight hour bus ride Full of heavy lifting, untangling, comforting, Going from home to home picking up broken pieces of broken lives. Of all the people with us, he ran up to me. Danny; age eight, coin collector and chicken catcher Protector of maidens, swinging a stick sword at the alligators in

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122 the two-foot pond. He followed me everywhere, a never-ending stream of chatter Did I collect anything? Had I seriously never had an orange this big? Did I know his dog had survived falling off a roof, a gunshot wound, and now a tornado? Had I ever seen a tornado? In such a desolate landscape, this eight-year-old boy radiated joy. Despite losing almost everything, he was bouncing around ready to give anything. Did I collect anything? Cause he had a coin collection he would share if I wanted to. Had I seriously never had an orange this big? Cause hed give me some red Oklahoma dirt that makes oranges grow that size. Cause hed catch me one from the pond to take back to New York. Had I ever seen a tornado? Cause he thought itd be cool to see one, so if they ever had another one, I could come see it with him. He followed me everywhere, always asking to help, and offering whatever he had. He hung out with me during lunch,

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123 And fed the cheese from my sandwich to his miracle dog. He walked around with me even when I asked him not to I didnt want him to get hurt, But he didnt want to leave me by myself. For twelve hours he talked to me, Told stories of how he used to live by the ocean, How he wants to go back someday. Talked about his pets, his two dogs and three chickens and a cat, How hes the only one whos any good at catching chickens. Assuring me that hell protect me from the alligators in the pond, They can be dangerous, but with him around, I had nothing to fear. He cried when I had to leave the next day. He walked up to me, desperately trying to keep a brave face, Carrying his giant bag of coins with two hands. I hugged him as I turned down the entire collection And cried as he handed me a state quarter, Claiming he wanted me to have an Oklahoma quarter to remember him by. Even though its an Alaska quarter, I do not own a thing worth more.

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124 Bond Jordan Dedrick THE SON sits alone in a room on a rickety chair. He lights a cigarette and takes a drag. There is a single, dim spotlight on him. ENTER MOTHER from STAGE RIGHT. Every time MOTHER speaks, a spotlight shines on her. MOTHER Its been fourteen years since my husbands death. My son still suffers from missing him so terribly. He would always strive for my husbands attention. I guess thats the way most boys act towards their fathers. SON Hey, Dad. I was wondering if you would want from work and Id like toOh, okay. Well, maybe some other time then. MOTHER My husband worked hard for what we had, he provided us with a sense of security. We never went without. We never suffered or felt the hunger of poverty. We didnt have much, but we had enough. SON Hey, Dad. I was wondering if youd be able to lend me some cash. My jobI got laid off. Factory life aint as glamorous as itI know, Dad. I tried butI didnt mean to disappoint you. Ill try harder, I promise.

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125 MOTHER My husband loved his son with all his heart. He was a role model and never let any of us down. Sure, my husband may have had an angry side, but it was scarcely shown. To all, he was seen as a kind soul. SON Dad, I said I didnt know about it. I swear. Please dont tell Mom, itll break her heart. Dad, no. DAD, STOP. I wont let you do this to me. The SON pulls out a pistol from his belt and shoots. He begins to lament over his father and continues in the background as MOTHER speaks. Oh my God, what have I done? MOTHER A relationship between a father and son is a curious one, with many contrasting and juxtaposed characteristics and ideals. The only people who could comprehend this type of bond is a son and his father. Everyone else looks in as an ostracized observer. SON looks over to STAGE LEFT and is instantly infuriated. SON WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, BOY? (LIGHTS OUT.)

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126 Anatomised Harry Christopher Moore It was an unusually mild night for January in 1846 and the sky was so clear that the moon was like a spotlight on the earth. Roderick Crow waited to the late hours before he harnessed his horse up to his buggy and headed out into the night. The sound of horse hooves clunked down on the cobble stone street and a bottle of whiskey that rested between Rodericks legs, sloshed to the rhythm of the horses trot. Roderick took a big swig of that bottle and thought about Dr. Armstrongs earlier offer; the task at hand, and the substantial payment he would receive when the job was done. Easy money he thought. When he arrived at Maple Grove Cemetery he stopped to make sure he wasnt seen before entering. The use of a lantern. The ground was freshly broken but six feet fast asleep inside. Roderick picked up the girl gently, as if not to disturb her, and placed her sitting up like she was a regular passenger in the back of his buggy. He stared at the uninhabited body for a brief moment, took another taste of his whiskey and went back to work reburying the unearthed The ride to Hoosick was eerily unlonely this time with Rodericks newly acquired passenger. He tried his best not feel the accompaniment of the purloined girl. The doctor Ruths dead body inside and laid it on the cold operating patted him on the back for his help to medical science. The light of the early morning guided Rodericks horse home and even though he was extremely tired and drunk, it was hard to fall asleep.

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127 Sperm and Egg Joel Dodge

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128 Hollow Rote This man-child has grown tired Slammed, slapped and struck by darkened days that steal his sleep at night; he has grown tired. He possesses dreams, hes been inspired ideas burn within in the form of desires but on days like today, the place he aspires matters not in this world where his best friends been shot. Above the din of teaching I hear his gasp. A fellow classmate shared the product of hatethats how he found out his brothers fate. His lungs struggle to contain the pain; he chokes on the thought this death a joke its not.

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129 I compose a hollow note, The time. The date. The classic school rote permission to leave, grieve, recover a pass from class that holds no such power. The child, not yet a man, a hardened heart his battle plan in my arms I should take his dreams; his aspirations dangerously at stake. I should catch him in my embrace in an unbalanced, raw kind of grace But alone he stands, his tall frame sags, grief arrest, stretch and twists his form. He cant breathe but I let him walk out my door an un-healing note, that hollow school rote.

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130 Vivat Rex Dylan Woods The monarch strode through the town square, the crowd parting around him in awe. His cloak, red and made halo. A contingent of soldiers followed him closely, weapons ready. Some of the townspeople crossed themselves and refused to meet his eyes. Others just stared with their seen their king. He ascended the stairs to the platform slowly, his back straight and his arms clasped behind him. His eyes unmoving, a statue untainted by emotion. When he reached the top, he turned toward his subjects. He took a step forward and scanned the crowd, looking into the faces of every man, woman, and child, his stone eyes meeting theirs. The sun passed behind a cloud, and for that brief moment his crown lost its radiance.The soldiers stood behind him and raised their weapons in salute. A man cried, Long live the king! The crowd cheered and applauded. The king removed his possessions and handed them to the man beside him. He stepped forward once more, the guillotine towering over him. The executioner guided the kings head through the hole and locked it, then stepped back and released the blade. The crowd roared even louder.

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131 The Insect King Shelby Coyle The monarch dances lazily Aloft on brightened wing The reverent breath of those bereft At length begin to sing Oh, what beauty heightens thee Youve always been so fair Monarch dancing lazily Your kingdom is the air The monarch pauses daintily To rest his weary wing While all around his subjects sound And praise begin to sing Oh, how regal here you rest So noble and so proud Monarch pausing daintily Wrapped in your blazing shroud Flashing off his royal wing Then from the air, a shadows there No chorus is left to sing The monarch passes silently Away on ravaged wing Alone and left, of wings bereft So ends the Insect King

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132 Galloping Nightmares Anne Greco

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133 Fat Kids and Chocolate Bars Morgan Altland As I stare, into the blank and unforgiving Glare of my refrigerator, I am reminiscent of a time where You were a part of my palette I was in love with you, I loved you Like single women love cookie dough, Like fat kids love eating chocolate bars, Cause there was a time where I could say You helped me feel full You are beautiful, gorgeous, delicious, In a non-cannibalistic sense of the word, Like a Willy Wonka water fall Your eyes shimmer as if ring pops were Combined with sapphires Your lips, are as red and juicy looking as Freshly opened Twizzlers Freckles dance along your nose as if they Were Hershey kisses from the angels

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134 And your nose well baby thats just a nose I wanted our lips to push together like Oreos, and hope you know Ill always try to Go back and get seconds and I wanted our Fingers to interlock like slices, but lets try To go for the whole pie, or maybe some Cake, but, no cake I knew, was as sweet as your smile Teeth as white as orbits and theyre making Me cool, while your body is making hot Like preheating the oven at 350 degrees for The best results, No one had the better than Yours, your skin is golden brown like Pineapple Upside down cake, and you know That made me smile I wanted you so badly, that I developed a Craving, so Id chase after you Like a dog after a bone, Like Germans after strudel, Like fat kids after chocolate bars, Cause enough was never enough You had me twitching like I was some sort

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135 Of addict cause the sugar rush you were Giving me, was never ending like downing Outstanding but the pain was killing me but I wanted this feeling to be like the pain in the fact that it seems like itll last forever Be like bubble gum and have no expiration Date, even on the days when things were Bad Id think sour patch kids come in layers, And under that layer of sour theres Something sweet, just give me a sign that The sweetness is there, and Id be happy Like giving cookie monster a bag of Chips Ahoy my smile would never go away I wanted our love to shine above our heads Like an M&M rainbow, while we sit on the Ground eating bags of Skittles, Or just have it be up in the sky like a Klondike star, hoping you knew I would do Anything to grab it But the growling of my stomach snaps me back into reality, as I realize the emptiness of my kitchen

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136 Without you Im feeling incomplete Im a Reeses without peanut butter Im a sundae without ice cream I am the fat kid, and baby you were my chocolate bars and there was a time where I Could say you helped me feel full but now Youre gone And all I am is hungry.

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137 The Impressionable Jordan Dedrick (CURTAIN RISES. A television set positioned at SL facing the wall is YOUNG BOY. On the side of the YOUNG BOY

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138 YOUNG BOY Yeah. when the YOUNG BOY closes the

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139 Groovy Blueberry Ann Pallifrone

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140 Canvas Shelby Coyle Mary sat alone on the bed, bottle hanging loosely from her hand. The liquid was far enough gone so as not to spill out despite the angle it was being held at. The overhead light was off, but the bedside lamp cast Mary and the room into a dim orange glow. Shadows cowered in the corners. The pale walls of the room were mostly clear. There were no posters, no pictures, no papers. There were only the paintings; two of them. At the head of the bed hung a deer, lazily basking in the sun and content to enjoy the lush did nothing for Marys mood. The second painting hung on the wall opposite Mary, and she had been staring blankly at it for the better part of drought-struck valley. In the foreground stood two brightly colored carousel horses that did not at all look out of place among the despairing landscape. Mary brought the bottle to her lips. Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Mary brought the bottle down before she could even taste the liquid left within. She blinked blearily around the room. Come, now, Mary, the voice was soft and a small creaking sound accompanied it. Were right here, Mary, a second voice called, eerily Weve always been right here. Mary blinked her eyes across the room once more before landing them back on the painting. Somehow, there whereas before only one had been. poor, Mary. The second horse limped closerhad it always only had three legs?and stared out at Mary with its gray painted eyes. What did you think would happen, Maaary? Mary brought the bottle up again and swallowed down a burning mouthful. Dont worry, Mary. Were here for you, Mary. Well always be here, Maaary. Mary shook her head. She twisted around to see the

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141 deer. The deer, so peaceful. She could hear the water standing tall now, staring unblinkingly out at her, antlers too large to stay within the frame. Oh, how she loved that deer. Mary! The sudden, sharp call did not startle her. The deer, the deer. Mary! Mary! Come to us, Mary! We love you, Mary! We wont leave you, Mary! Never leave you Maaary! Mary did not turn, nor did she blink. She stared back adding another stain to the carpet as what small amount of liquid was left trickled out. Mary! The horses reared back, screaming to their lightless sky. Mary was sure she heard a faint echo, the brushstroke

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142 A Letter Addressed to Rock Bottom Alexander Marchesi Dear my love, this is it Im tearing my conscience into bits Fingers crossed, you wont forget A die-hard romantic is nothing but tragic What I do I do best Sabotage myself and tell the story to no one In a notebook feeling homesick Paint me in your favorite lipstick A kick-start to the head but no better off dead From the day I met you, its always been my medicine To be alone with you in bed Im an arrogant boy who thinks he knows Everything he needs to know in the whole world Twisting thoughts into lessons you can never learn Lead the parade for the double-crossed We are the underdogs bent on living inside your head Dealing with the sorrow that will own you when tomorrow comes Cause word on the street is that I cheated death Forever hold my peace one day at a time Im your best-kept secret Below the waist.

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143 Open Mic Night Todd Robert Stark A claustrophobic din surrounded Tesla as she made her way to smile from the bartender for no extra charge. Not that she noticed; her eyes were on the stage. Front and center the lead singer worked the crowd; his voice crackled and boomed with raw electricity. He was shirtless to show off the power lines that ran from his chest to his throat, where the microphone that now served as his voice-box throbbed with every note. an average sized guy who seemed tiny in the musicians muscular arms. Four thick strings stretched from the knobs protruding from his neck down to his groin. On the other side of the stage a blonde girl reclined on a barstool, the guitarist holding her leg upright, strumming wildly. Tesla thought he was being too rough with her, but when he pulled his slide down the length of her six-string-leg, the guitar-girls face contorted in ecstasy. Only when the song ended did Tesla turn away from the stage. own kind than she had in years. There were all the popular models, and then there were the less common instruments a pair of harps plucked each other, a keyboard let people take turns pressing his buttons, a descending from his abdomen stalked the room making rude requests. Almost all of them electric except for some of the brasses. guitar-girl from the band. Tesla made sure he saw her before turning away from him and taking off her jacket. Her black open-backed dress exposed the soft wood inlaid into softer skin, strings that ran down her spine and over the hole in her lower back. Thats a fucking acoustic, someone whispered. He was by her side in an instant. They said nothing, but he took her hand and led her to the stage. He sat in a chair as she straddled him, her back to the silent crowd. He rested his head on her shoulder, closed his eyes and struck a chord. Tesla felt her whole body quiver. Then he began to play. A slow, steady rhythm emerged, an intoxicating melody. She what she had dreamed of, what she had paid for, what she was meant was music. It was too much. A string broke. Tesla covered her mouth, red-faced, and made to get up. Relax, said the musician, it happens to everyone.

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144 Stop Your Squawkin and Get Back in the Kitchen Joel Dodge

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145 Cross Examined Dani Walters I stare at the Bible in front of me nervously, braid the ribbons that dangle from its spine. The Pastor speaks in fairytales of a Prince he knows hands of silk holes from steel pierced to save us from our sins. I examine the wooden cross that hangs over Pastors head. Contemplate every point, every line. in search of words that I could actually comprehend. I view you in the pews remembering last night I saw you at the bar shooting your system with shots. Your friend at the strip club

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146 Your mother at the casino begging the machine to answer her prayers. Now sitting and asking God for the same things. My best friend dragged me here. She tells me she hates gay people and God does too. Last night during truth or dare she kissed a girl. Now she screams her hallelujahs, crosses her heart and prays God never saw it happened. I tell her, we are no better than those who bought their Heaven from street merchants on a corner.

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147 Billy Michelle Stiles MALE SAXOPHONE PLAYER Well, thank you Maam! He tilts his hat at her. Millie blushes and then walks on. MILLIE Oh I just love that song! EXT. CENTRAL PARK DAY Millie and Vergatroy walk by FEMALE CARICATURE ARTIST drawing a picture of a YOUNG COUPLE. YOUNG COUPLE shares a quick kiss. VERGATROY (Whispers) That is similar to what I will do on Mars. Millie suppresses a laugh. Vergatroy looks up at the bright blue sky with puffy clouds and sighs. VERGATROY Millie? MILLIE Yes hon?

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148 VERGATROY Where is your mate? Millie looks away for a second MILLIE My mate? My husband...passed away. Millie holds back tears. She adjusts her purse on her arm. VERGATROY What did you call him? MILLIE His name was...Earl? No wait, was it Evan? Erik? I dont recall. Vergatroy tilts his head in confusion. MILLIE Anyway, he was a very handsome man. We actually met here in Central Park. VERGATROY Fascinating. MILLIE Thank you! FLASHBACK EXT. CENTRAL PARK ICE SKATING RINK WINTER DAY

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149 SUPER IN SCREEN: FIFTY YEARS AGO YOUNG MILLIE, attractive 20s, bundled up in a warm coat and red scarf skates cautiously on the ice. COUPLES hold hands. A FATHER teaches his SON the stand up on skates. Holiday music plays in the background. Young Millie appears to have steady footing then all of the sudden, YOUNG MAN, attractive, 20s, skates into her by accident. They both fall down on the ice. YOUNG MAN Oh my goodness. Im so sorry, Miss. YOUNG MILLIE You should be more careful! Young Millie gets up and dusts herself off. Young Man is still on the ice. YOUNG MILLIE Cmon, let me help you up. Young Millie grabs his hands and helps him up. They lock eyes intimately.

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150 As she starts to blush, Young Millie turns away. Young Man lifts his eyebrows in interest. YOUNG MAN Im terribly sorry. Let me make it up to you. YOUNG MILLIE How? YOUNG MAN Let me buy you some hot cocoa. YOUNG MILLIE Sure. Im Millie by the way. YOUNG MAN Millie. Such a beautiful name for such a beautiful lady. Millie blushes. YOUNG MILLIE Thank you. They smile at each other. Young Man loses his balance and Young Millie catches him.

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151 YOUNG MILLIE You know, youre a terrible ice skater! Young man nods in agreement while he puts his hands up in pretend surrender. YOUNG MAN Maybe you can teach me to skate? YOUNG MILLIE Maybe I will. Millie checks him out. a black snow cap, and jeans. She smiles at him again clearly liking what she sees. Young Man and Millie skate off to the concession stand arm in arm. END FLASHBACK. EXT. CENTRAL PARK DAY Millie continues to walk with Vergatroy. They walk past a pretzel stand. Millie notices that Vergatroy is looking at the pretzels. MILLIE Do you want to split a pretzel?

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152 VERGATROY Is that what you call that? A pretzel? MILLIE Yes, dearie. They are really tasty. Ill get one. Millie goes to the pretzel stand. The PRETZEL her purse. Millie takes out some money from her wallet. PRETZEL MAN Hello. What can I get cha? Millie ponders over her choices. MILLIE UmmI will get one big soft pretzel please. To share. Pretzel Man gives Millie a quizzical look. He shrugs his shoulders. He grabs a paper and uses it to grab a pretzel out of the cart. PRETZEL MAN Alright, maam. Thatll be three dollars and

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153 Millie makes the transaction and takes the pretzel. PRETZEL MAN (Under his breath) Crazy old broad. Oblivious to what Pretzel Man says, Millie takes Vergatroys hand and continues on. MILLIE Lets go, sugarplum! EXT. CENTRAL PARK DAY Millie sits next to Vergatroy on a park bench that outlooks the lake. Swans and paddle-boats coast along the sidewalk. Millie hands Vergatroy a piece of her pretzel. MILLIE Here, try this. Vergatroy takes one bite and spits it out. VERGATROY Yuck! That was nasty!

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154 MILLIE You didnt like it, honey? VERGATROY No! On my planet, we wouldnt even feed this to our pets. MILLIE (Frustrated) Well, Im sorry that you dont like it but you do not have to be fresh. VERGATROY My apologies. It was just unsatisfactory. MILLIE Thats okay. You cant like everything you eat! MILLIE What a beautiful day! VERGATROY I do not mean to be fresh but, I really must be getting my pollen. May we leave now? Millie is taken aback but gets up to leave. MILLIE Okay. Just so you know, Im a little allergic to pollen. Millie adjusts her purse. MILLIE lovely.

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155 Millie reaches her hand out to Vergatroy. MILLIE Lets go, little one. They walk away from the bench and head to Strawberry Fields. EXT. CENTRAL PARK SIDEWALK DAY Millie and Vergatroy walk together. An adorable family walks by. A LITTLE GIRL, 5, wearing adorable pigtails, with her PARENTS, 30s, typical Ken and Barbie looks. Her MOTHER pushes a blue stroller. Clearly for a BABY BOY. LITTLE GIRL skips alongside the stroller and sings a nursery rhyme. LITTLE GIRL (Sings) Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, Dormez vous? Dormez vous? Sonnez les matines, Sonnez les matines, Din, din, don! Din, din, don! Her father looks at her with an endearing smile. FATHER Sweetie, you are so nice for singing to your little brother. Mother holds Fathers hand and as they all walk past. Vergatroy looks up and sees

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156 VERGATROY Millie why are you leaking? Millie collects herself. MILLIE That was just so darn sweet! It feels like just yesterday that was me pushing Billy in the stroller. Vergatroy does not know what to say. He just holds Millies hand. Millie looks at him with a sweet expression as they continue to walk. EXT. CENTRAL PARK SIDEWALK CONTINUOUS As they near Strawberry Fields, the sidewalk gets more crowded. A TEENAGER rolls past Millie and Vergatroy on in-line roller blades. A BUSINESS MAN talks on his cell phone while he holds a briefcase. An OLD MAN walks his huge Irish wolfhound. Vergatroy appears a little overwhelmed. Millie continues to walk and is oblivious to Vergatroys mini freak-out. All of the sudden, a giant dapple gray HORSE and carriage trolls along and carries a couple of TOURISTS who snap photographs.

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157 Vergatroy sees the gigantic VERGATROY Uh? Millie? Just as Vergatroy is about to say something else, the CARRIAGE DRIVER, 50s, who is wearing his uniform complete with top hat and gray mustache cracks his whip. CRACK! CARRIAGE DRIVER Yah! The horse neighs really loud and speeds up right past Vergatroy. VERGATROY (screams in total fear) AHHH! Vergatroy hides behind Millie. MILLIE Whats wrong, hon? VERGATROY Wha? What was thatCREATURE?! MILLIE Oh that? That was just a horse!

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158 Seeing how distraught Vergatroy is, Millie gives him a hug. MILLIE Oh honey? Did that horse scare you? VERGATROY Indeed! That was terrifying. MILLIE Its okay sweetie, those horses are welltrained. VERGATROY But it was so big! Like a monster or something! Millie giggles at the comment. MILLIE Well some people might see you as a monster! Vergatroy seems to ponder the idea. VERGATROY Yes, I suppose you are correct. They share a laugh. EXT. STRAWBERRY FIELDS DAY

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159 God Ann Pallifrone The rhythmic beeping of her monitor made my head pound. I needed to escape. After I passed through the automatic doors, I walked down the familiar stretch of sidewalk to sit on the bench to take in the crisp autumn breeze. I put my head between my knees and closed my eyes, trying not to feel anything. When I opened them, I saw a snail. I got down to the ground for closer inspection, and the snail seemed unmoved by a giant coming closer. I reached out to poke its tiny eyestalk, something Id found contact, its eye shrunk into its body to keep safe. After a few moments, the eye extended back and the snail resumed its slow pace across the pavement. I grabbed the snail by its worn and imperfect shell, pulling gently to unglue its body from the pavement. I placed it in my hand and studied it for a while, looking for any sign of the weakness I felt. The snail never showed fear of me, even though I could have easily killed it. The snail didnt seem to care about death; it had better things to do. Jealous of its resilience I asked, Why arent you afraid? but I received no answer.

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160 Tympanum Stephanie Arney Shine on Me Kristen Burke

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161 I Feel You, Empty Snapple Bottle K.M. Alleena The trains from Penn Station for commuters to Port Jervis are generally unkempt, a matter of too many bodies wanting similar disarray. The seats are composed of grime and hard plastic unwelcoming at best but I take my place anyway. Id be used to the way public spaces are abused a good half-hearted cleaning though I suppose such a cycle is never-ending. This was the last stretch of my reckless journey I was twelve-hours-andfourty-minutes too tired to speak out against

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162 mindless chatter in the background. So I sat beneath a luggage rack, one bearing a single glass Snapple bottle. And when the train it rolled off and crashed in an explosion of lemon-tea stained glass not even a foot away from my hand.

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163 Greatest Pep Talk Joey Kraus Characters: Ian, early 20s, seems very nervous, actor. Cole, mid 20s, Ians best friend, excited for his friend. The play starts off in a dressing room, Ian is sitting in a chair, seems to be having trouble breathing, his best friend Cole is standing in front of him, trying to calm him down. IAN I cant do it. COLE Yes you can. IAN No I cant Im COLE Stop saying that. IAN Listen to me Cole. COLE Ian, Im listening. IAN I dont have faith. COLE I have faith.

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164 IAN Im going to suck. Cole slaps Ian across his face, really hard. COLE Feel better now? IAN No, dude that hurt. COLE Good, it was supposed to hurt you. Now tell me why youre freaking out. IAN Im afraid the audience wont like me. COLE Thats ridiculous, dude youve been rehearsing for months, youll be great out there. IAN You dont know that, okay? You dont. COLE Yes, I do because Ive seen you work hard as this character and Ive see how intense you get when youre angry, thats pretty much the emotion you portray in this play. IAN I just dont have faith in myself. Cole thought about something for a few moments then realized something.

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165 COLE I fucked your wife. IAN What? COLE I fucked your wife. IAN When? COLE About two weeks ago. IAN Bullshit. COLE Has she looked guilty? IAN Lately? COLE The past two weeks? Ian thinks about it, then starts to look angry. IAN Kinda. COLE Well, there you go.

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166 IAN You COLE Are you mad? IAN Yeah. COLE Good because your show is about to start. Save that anger for your character. IAN Uh, okay thanks? COLE Youre welcome buddy. Break a leg. IAN Were still going to talk about this after my play. COLE Im looking forward to it. Ian stares at him angrily and exits. Cole smiles and feels very proud of himself. THE END

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167 Pearl Harbor Kim Kittleson

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168 Medium For the hundredth time in as many days her car crests the hill, slowing as she nears me. Id given up hope shed ever stop, content she noticed me each morning with a wave. Once she had stopped in the middle of the road. Her engine hummed quietly. My hope swelled painfully. Id wanted to go to her, tell her my name is James. James Price. Please stay. But shed driven away. Id been foolish to let hope rise where acceptance had never followed. Now as she steps from the car, I feel her call to me. Not knowing why I need her, just that I do, I close my eyes, and draw her to me. She comes bearing a pink carnation. those quiet thoughts we share. She steps toward the faded stones. Eleanor. Caroline. Porter. James Her cheeks glisten. You out-lived them all. I kneel beside her, watch her lay the carnation pang eases. Whos this woman with so much love? Her eyes close and the world brightens with an unbearable light. I smile. This is why I needed her. They are all waiting for mein this light shes openedthis light I feared Id been spared.

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169 Shadow Jessica Salamone I spent my childhood with shadows. Hiding from the sun to protect my fair skin, being followed through the streets of Cherry Road as I ran around trying to keep up with my older cousins; surrendering the spotlight to my younger sisters whenever they made even a slight fuss about some thing. Shes afraid of her own shadow, my mom would tell everyone. I was never a huge fan of scary stories, the dark, or the attic. Regardless, these were all things I was constantly exposed to with my older cousins. My weeks could go one of two ways. I was either spending all my time babysitting my two younger sisters and playing Polly Pockets under the shady trees of my backyard, or sheepishly following my older cousins through the streets of Downtown Rochester trying to earn my way into the cool crowd. old sister and I down and told us, in their most enthusiastic voices, that we were going to have a new sibling. The news that normally brings people to tears of joy brought my sister and I to shrieks of terror. Aubrey was an attention hog who feared anything that stood in the way of her voice being heard. I was sick and tired of hanging out with babies, as I often called Aubrey. We both had our own ways of reacting to the news. Aubrey was in a phase where she thought holding her breath was the key to getting what she wanted, and usually she was right on that thought. She sat Indian style on the scoffed up closed as tightly as she could; the bottom of her chin quivering from the pressure. Her face scrunched as her the family, Aubrey had the dramatics down so I didnt really feel the need to lash out to that extreme. Instead I just sat in the shadows of her tantrum, facing the realization that in nine short months I would be living underneath the shade of two children instead of one. With a new baby on the way, my parents thought it would be best to move into a house with more space. As we the giant tree that stood out front. The branches hung low green grass below. It made me feel safe. The house seemed to go on for miles as I stepped through the dark, glazed wooden door and examined my new surroundings. The stairs stood parallel to the entryway where we each entered one by one, taking in the presence

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170 of our new home. I weaved in and out of the empty, overly clean rooms, trying to imagine where I would set up my Easy Bake Oven, where we would sit down to dinner every night, and where my dogs would curl up to sleep. When Lexie was born the perimeter of the house seemed to shrink. The empty canvas I looked at months off every entrance way and a plethora of baby accessories. Not to mention the faint smell of spit up and dirty diapers. With no space in the house to call my own, I grew impatient and decided to take action. I approached the situation like I was pitching a new product idea to a board of executives. Mom, I sternly said, standing in front of the TV as she weaved her head back and forth trying to see through me. I explained to her my desire to spend more time with people my age. Its really my time to experience what life is. She looked at me with a blank stare and then started laughing. Jay, youre ten, she said, attempting to brush me off and get back to her soap opera. As I continued with my speech, growing more and more emotional with every stupid line I had written out in my Lisa Frank notebook, my mom became more impatient. Jay, I have an hour before Lexie wakes up and all I want is to relax, can we please talk about this later!? Fully aware of what my moms breaking point was, I gave it a rest and let the idea simply linger in my head as I waited for the perfect moment to spring it on her once again. My parents threw a party at the new house to welcome my new baby sister into the family. The typical guest list trickled in; Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Mark and his kids, Tia and Slade. They were both a few years older than me, so I made sure to wear something that didnt show my age too much. The BIG SISTER shirt my mom laid out for me wasnt going to cut it for this visit. The plan to act older in with my cousins I had to act the part. I changed out of my favorite pair of jean overalls and a D.A.R.E. t-shirt I got from school: clearly the hippest choice. As Tia walked into the house, I ran right past my uncle and grabbed her arm, pulling her up the stairs with me. Nice to see you too, Jessie! my uncle yelled up the stairs after us. I locked the door behind us, a feature I loved about the new house, shutting out all the ooohs and aaahs that babies provoke in grown-ups. As soon as the door closed, Slade was on the other end, drumming away at the wood to get let in.

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171 I always envied the relationship my cousins had. Neither of the two craved the spotlight, so they were alright with sharing. Because they were so close in age, they did everything together. I was ten, Tia was twelve, and Slade thirteen. They spent the whole time at my house telling me about their escapades around their neighborhood, giggling and speaking in hushed tones to prevent the adults from hearing. I just sat silently listening to their stories, trying to live vicariously through their adventures. to get away. Setting my mind on a rampage, my plan was in place. I would spend weekends with my cousins, letting I needed be. My mom wasnt opposed to the idea, probably because she had had enough of my weekly rants about how much I hated watching Barney repeats and unenthusiasti cally reciting the clean up song with Aubrey as we picked up her messes. I looked at the weekend visits to my uncles as luxurious vacations, regardless of the fact that it was less than a ten-minute drive. I would spend all of the school week counting down the seconds until Saturday morning came when my uncles Pontiac Grand Am would pull into the driveway to take me away from the nonstop baby crying that The horn on the car beeped excessively as Slade sat in the passenger seat reaching over my uncle and laying on the steering wheel to rush me out the door, which only made the baby cry more. I didnt care as I ran out and leaped into the back seat next to Tia. The second I got into the car I started doing my research, asking each of them what they had done all week, what the new best songs were and examining their clothes to make sure the hot styles hadnt changed. I pretended to be on par with them, agreeing with all their answers like I had any idea what they were before they said them. So did you hear that new song!? I would ask questions just broad enough to evoke an answer I could connect to and ride with. There was a noticeable difference between my cousins neighborhood and mine. Surrounding my house was freshly paved, busy streets lined with tacky chain radius. There were cars lining the parking lots of each plaza and barely any sign of pedestrians. Driving through town to get to my Uncles house was a digression of consumerism. Once we reached the neighborhood my cousins lived in it was all small businesses, city schools, people on their front porches and one 7-11 on the corner before their street. The the Ma and Pa diner and independent beauty salon that

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172 shared the plaza space. I spent most of my time with Tia, listening to her new favorite songs on the computer, creating weird food concoctions and making up dance videos with her friends. It was typical that we would stay up until the late hours of the morning, sometimes just neglecting sleep all together. Like pay attention to our weekly ritual television marathon. From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, it was all Degrassi, all the time. Oh. My. God. I cannot believe she just said that! Tia would gasp as one of the main characters did or said something ridiculous. I pretended to be paying attention, straightening my back and drastically widening my eyes to clear the look of exhaustion off my face. She saw right through it every time. Youre staying awake, Jessie! She would harshly quietly so no one knew we were eating at 3am. Her way of keeping me awake and alert was to add a couple spoonfuls of sugar to my Coca Cola, tricking me into a sugar high that had me back on my feet in no time, sliding around the Spice Girls. When Slade hung out with us, we tried to tailor our activities to be more gender neutral. We would spend hours in the dimly lit back room stacking Legos, creating miniature cities of skyscrapers. Without fail, as I marveled in my elaborate creation, Slade would swoop in and attack the tallest Lego sculpture with one of his foam swords. The Sladeeee-aaahhhh, I groaned. I always showed my age when I would get upset, failing to hold back tears while Heeeh-Heeeh! Slade had a unique laugh that he reserved to use for mocking me. He was never out to maliciously upset me, more to cause a stir and spice things up. Taunting me was his own way of showing he cared, plus the more I reacted to his teasing, the more time he seemed to spend with Tia and I. To me it was a win-win, even though my Lego creations had to suffer the consequences. In the summer we spent all our time outside, not really doing much of anything. Tia and Slade had their set group of friends and they were slowly warming up to the idea of having their own personal Michelle Tanner following them around. The neighborhood was our playground and there wasnt a square inch we hadnt visited. I would hop on the pegs of Slades bike and ride wherever they would take me,

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173 sometimes ending up in the darkness of the woods under a sky full of trees. Typically, this is when I would start begging to go back to the safety of the streets. I was never an adven turous kid, but when I was with them I had to at least try to be. *** Tia had plans to be out all day rehearsing for her dance recital the following week. With a couple hours to spare before my moms usual 2:30 pick up time, my heart was set on joining Slade in whatever escapades he and his friend Larry had planned. My problem was that I didnt know how to approach the situation in a subtle way that didnt make me seem too eager and kiddish. I had hung out with Slade and his friends before but up until this particular day Tia was around to up my cool. I watched from the kitchen table as the boys slipped on their almost identical DC Skater shoes and headed towards the door. HEY! Can I come!?, I blurted out. The boys paused a second before turning around; I can only assume they took the extra second to roll their eyes and prepare for one of my long rambling proposals. After ten minutes of moaning and shadow for the afternoon. He spit into his hand and waved it in front of my face, I followed his lead, hiding my urge to slap it away. A spit shake to seal the deal, promising I wouldnt be in the way. Our slimy palms shook and after a second I pulled mine away, wiping the remaining wetness on my ratty jean overalls. You better not break it like last time, kid, Slade said as he glared into my eyes. Itll be like Im not even there! But youll want me there because I promise it will be like Im not! Cause I wont be annoying. Promise! Him and Larry shared a look of regret. With his approval I ran to the front porch and stared at my shoe options, taking them all into deep consideration. I could go one of two ways. Choose the sensible, but super nerdy, shining new sneakers my mom has just bought me for back to school season or go for Tias unsteady, worn out wedges that I constantly begged her to borrow. Naturally, I chose the latter, and unsteadily ran back out to the living room where Slade and Larry were slumped into the couch, impatiently waiting. Trying to mask the extra bounce in my step, I followed them out the door and walked towards the hot summer sun. The chains attached to Slades jeans clinked around as we all walked past the perfectly usable sidewalk and into the middle of the street. I was used to ignoring the sidewalk

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174 when I was with them, living on the edge as they called it. Of course I would never be seen walking in the middle of the street with my mom around in fear of being yelled at or forbidden to return to Uncle Marks. After a couple minutes of walking a half step behind the boys, and occasionally from their mouths, we reached uncharted territory: the abandoned railroad tracks that lined the end of the neighborhood. We had walked through the tracks more times than I could count on our way to the park, but never for more than a quick pass through. Moss and greenery tore through the rusted tracks that were once run by Rochester city trains. We usually just ran across to save time, so when Slade and Larry started walking down the tracks rather than through, I was hesitant. The uneven gravel lining the railroad tracks was the worst possible platform for the one-size-too-big wedge shoes I so stupidly decided to wear; the balancing game alone was exhausting. I could feel my fair skin turning lined the walls of the tracks, showcasing words and symbols foreign to my youthful, naive eyes. The further we walked, the more intense my internal panic attack got. I could feel my heart rate drastically rise with every step I took towards the cracked bridge up ahead. Realistically, we didnt walk more year old, this was States away from home. Breaking my spit shake promise, I let out a wail and begged Slade to take me back. Bad move, Salamone. Very bad move. Already annoyed with me tagging along and stepping on the heels of their shoes, Slade and Larry had had enough of babysitting. They led me to the back of one of those gray, rusty oversized garbage cans I was used to seeing as the setting of a murder on Law and Order. Wait. Here, Slade said slowly, spacing out the words like I didnt understand English. Those two simple words lingered in my mind as I watched the boys jog away from me. I was left sitting in the boxy shadow of peoples garbage. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my last couple hours at Uncle Marks. a breadcrumb trail leading me back to my Uncles. My eyes darted from left to right, up and down as I tried to remember which tree I walked past and which street would best lead me to the safety of my uncles couch. Once I came to the realization that escape was not in the cards for me, fear set in and it came with a heavy dose of tears, showing my age once again. I sat forcefully against the garbage can, trying to become one with it so no one could see me. I let my

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175 thoughts get the best of me as I imagined the endless possibilities of things that COULD have happened to me as I waited for Slade and Larry to return. I thought back to every scary movie I had ever shielded my eyes from, wishing I had watched to learn some survival skills. The scenarios my imagination made up were elaborate to say the least. A dirty homeless man with one tooth, hit by the passing train, or my favorite, abducted by aliens, could take me. That idea was made me see in theatres with them weeks earlier. What felt like hours ended up being only minutes and of the fetal position. I looked up to see the two boys racing towards me. With shit eating grins on their faces and two brown paper bags full of sour patch kids, the boys pushed each other around, laughing about something funny that had happened on the way there. The worst part, worse than my point on was that if I had just sucked it up and walked a little further I would have avoided all the fears of death and ended up at the candy shop a block away. I wiped the tears from my cheeks and stood up straight, leaving the safe haven underneath the garbage can I had created for myself. I didnt mention the dangerous adventure to my mom as she drove me home from my uncles that day. The safe bubble of home that I dreaded just days earlier seemed so much more appealing now. Not even the rumble of Aubreys clunky feet kicking my seat bothered me. As we pulled into ground underneath the tree out front. I exited the car and headed towards the tree. Sprawling out on the slightly chilled ground and letting the swaying shadow of the branches protect my overtired body, I was safe.

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176 The Zen of It K.M. Alleena Some healers tell me via little quotes that I am not alone never alone if I befriend myself. But poets are unaware of their own deepest secrets the ones tiny words hint at And when we see them, we cry; then we write to comfort ourselves and so there is balance.

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177 Hybrid David Swift

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178 Sad Owl Allie Rhode

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179 Teatime in Chinatown We bring our birds In cages to sit Above our heads For teatime in the sun They chirp, whistle, mutter Birds in cages above our heads To sit for the sun in teatime Everywhere we go Our birds in cages Sit inside our heads Moving through the city clamorous No longer in the teatime sun

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180 Evolution Shelby Coyle Pallet Town Charmander, I choose you! The little girl cried. Rrraaaaaahh! The man leapt out in front of her, snarling at a half-dead cherry tree. The little girl giggled Its over there, and pointed at a patch of grass to his right. The man quickly corrected himself and roared at the appropriate target. Use Scratch! The man rushed ahead and clawed at the air. Quick, get out of the way! He dropped, rolled off to the side, and sprang back up. Hes using Tail Whip! Scratch him when he gets in close! The man obliged. Vermilion City Look at my little trainer. Guess youre not so little any more, huh? The girl smiled and slammed the trunk closed. She was all packed up and ready to go, keys jangling as they dangled from Guess not, she said as she turned around. Right, well, you be sure to come back and visit your old Charmander once in a while, you hear? I dont have a Charmander anymore, the girl said. Youre at least a Charmeleon by now. She stepped forward into his open arms. Lavender Town Well, I guess this is it, the woman said, looking down at the ground. The end of our run. You got me through the Elite Four. You made me a Champion. She blinked the water out of her eyes and read the stone again. Name, dates, and the carved inscription underneath. Loving husband and father. See you around, Charizard, she whispered.

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181 Lagoon Love Shanna Fuld She told him she was a mermaid In the black lagoon, The sailor could barely see her scales in his boat under the phosphorous moon The mermaids tail would never shed, And the sailor could stay no longer, Turning around and bidding her goodbye She darted after, but his motor was stronger Long days passed and she sat idle Waiting to spy his face. But no one new could replace. Please come back she thought And dance with me In the still of the Jordan heat Even the thought set her free One day the sailoroh he did return Returned to the shore of the lagoon Her death had come too soon

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182 Salt Amy Lipsky Drowning is a horrible word. When humans think of the word drowning they think of how easily it is for them to suffocate by water; how their lungs ache, stretch, and scream for air while their vision comes and goes like the tide. Yes, drowning is a horrible word, but not what comes after. explanations for every aspect of the universe. Mortals. Always missing what is right in front of them. Drowning? Yeah, it sucks. Ive gone through it, we all have. We all know. But this life is much better than mortality. This life is worth the risk of drowning. For once you die by the seas hand, the ocean claims you for eternity. youre dying. You can feel whatever it is that keeps you animated and alive being squeezed out of your lungs. And then, just out that we devoured your human soul, as it is our only food source, you may think its morbid. You may hate us. You may loathe yourself. You will try to drown yourself by the land, except you cant. Youre pathetic if you think that you can give your soulless self over to Death herself, whom only wants your soul to begin with. Death will no longer bother you, for you have nothing to offer her. You are one of us. You are a Mer. felt when you woke up; suddenly able to breathe underwater with a tail brings down an entire ship so she can feed our rumbling tummies. You and are able to hunt the land by night, drawing frustrated sailors or lonely unnatural. But I promise this you will succumb to your new nature. You will feed with us. You will embrace the way of the Mer. You are, after all, one of us now. There is no turning back for you. # She was beautiful,with deep red hair and (when she was human) brilliant days of her transformation, the She-Mers couldnt get enough of Albas red hair. Our own little mermaid, they squealed, swimming circles around Albas head. They soon grew bored of the joke. They soon grew bored of Alba whose voice came out in barely a bubble, and red hair captured the attention of every He-Mer in the tribe. Humans might call the emotion jealousy, but a Mercreature would never admit to it. Jealous or not, Alba was their sister by their own accord.

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183 They were the ones that drowned her, after all. On a pontoon boat with her family, Alba had jumped into the ocean after her baby brother Benji and fell overboard. Benji survived seemingly completely unscathed. Alba, however, was never found. Now it was nearly a month later and Alba was anxiously awaiting the full moon. Her back muscles were sore from the weight of her new periwinkle tail. When she asked if she could see her family on the full moon, the other girls laughed so hard that they cried. No, no Sasha said, trying to catch her breath. Even if you went to see them, they wouldnt recognize you. The human minds are feeble see a resemblance to their lost daughter, but they will never believe its you. Its simply impossible Are there others like us? Other supernatural beings? Alba had asked as Leila braided sea stars into her hair. Of course, silly. You didnt think we were the only ones, did you? What else is there? Alba asked, leaning forward to hang onto Leilas every word. Hmm Leila frowned, her bow-shaped lips turning down into a pout. Vampires, of course. Werewolves theyre practically family considering the fact that theyre half animal as well. There are fairies and elves, witches and warlocks. Can they turn me back into being human? Alba asked, causing Leila to giggle. Of course not. Alba, youre dead. We ate your soul. Thats the circle of life. It hardly seemed like the circle of life to Alba, whom had always thought that Mercreatures were a thing of lore and fairy-tales. It was still hard to grasp the fact that she was a thing of mythology. It was hard to accept the fact that she was expected to, not only drown an innocent human, but to suck their soul out as food. It was sickening despite her ever-rumbling tummy. We were all as innocent as you once, Sasha said, sunning her onto her He-Mers face as he stared at her adoringly. I didnt want to feed on anyone either. But that changes with the full moon. The full moon does things to us. It lets the wild side out. We confuse our hunger for sex and when daylight breaks, well She trailed off laughing, reaching down to caress her He-Mers cheek with her webbed hand, sending a shiver down Albas spine. Yes, she may be called innocent, but she could never do what the rest of her new family expected of her ; to seduce and to kill. No, Alba was not like the rest of them. At least, thats what she tried to convince herself as she watched the full moon rising above the ocean. Do you feel it? Shane asked, scooting up onto the boulder next to her. I do, Alba admitted. It was a stirring low in her abdomen, tugging her towards the land. Come with us, Alba, Shane encouraged, taking her hand, slowly lowering himself back into the ocean. Come play with us. And so she did.

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184 Their hands interlocked, Shane led Alba to a hidden cove where she was How does it work? She whispered, to which Shane put one light and as she stretched her upper body up towards the moon she shook her scales loose, shedding her tail to reveal two long human legs. She stood, laughing and dancing naked in the full moon. Come my sisters, my brothers, she giggled, twirling around. Tonight we are free. Tonight we feast. # It was easy getting used to having legs again. Alba grinned in the light of the moon, caressing her soft legs and squealing with delight as her toes curled around the sand. Leila handed her a worn sundress from a trunk hidden behind a boulder. Well we cant exactly walk around naked. Leila said with a laugh at Albas confused look causing her to blush. Of course they couldnt walk around naked. Alba had gotten so used to being topless underwater that she had nearly forgotten about the basic human norms. Lets go dancing, Leila said, grabbing Albas hand and dragging her through the woods. The Mercreatures, now human, giggled and stumbled their way through the woods that surrounded their secret cove. They sectioned off in groups, Alba sticking close by Leilas side as they came out from the woods and into the outskirts of a small city. Wont they suspect? Alba asked in a hushed tone as they sniffed the air for a crowd of mortal blood. Humans are stupid. Shane replied, tickling Albas side. Come. I can hear music. They danced barefoot through the streets, howling at the moon like baby werewolves. Magic is everywhere, Leila giggled to Alba as they came across a bar, its music leaking out onto the streets. They burst into the bar, much to the dismay of the several vampires that Leila pointed out to Alba. Let us feast, Shane growled, and off they went, each to their weak minded that werent already being hunted by a supernatural. Werewolf, Leila whispered, nodding towards a girl with a silver aura around her. The werewolfs eyes locked with Albas and she gave the She-Mer a toothy grin. This is unreal, Alba replied, letting Leila drag her to the bar. The humans were completely oblivious to the creatures in the room. Alba watched in fascination as Leila slid up next to a human man, drawing him in with her eyes. Its easy, Shane said. Do we just Kill them?

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185 We cant kill them when we have legs. Instead we feed off of the sex, which is basically just a midnight snack for us. Not nearly as satisfying as their soul. But if they should follow us to the ocean in the morning, well, thats when we drown them. Shane laughed at Albas It was about an hour before he walked in. He came in with the voyage. Alba didnt even have to turn around. She knew he was it. She could hear his soul singing to her from the doorway. Mercreature lore had it that the Mer would sing to the sailors from the sea, making the seamen go mad, causing them to jump into the ocean straight into the waiting arms of who would be their killer. But they were wrong, Alba realized as she slowly turned away from the bar. Instead it was the humans who sung to the Mer. The human soul hypnotized the creatures into a trance. A hungry, begging trance. How could no one else hear it, she wondered as she watched him laughing with his friends. How could no one else crave him like she did? He looked up then, locking eyes with her and she blushed, dropping her gaze. Hes quite the catch, a raspy voice said from next to her. Alba looked up to see the girl werewolf that Leila had pointed out earlier. Hes the apple of every human eye in here. Even some of the lads adore him. Hes the most skilled sailor this town has ever had. Fearless, strong and easy on the eyes. Any captain would be glad to have him on his ship. The werewolf gave Alba her toothy grin. Feast, little She-Mer. I can hear your tummy rumbling from down the street. The werewolf swayed her hips to the beat of the live band and Alba as the man with the singing soul made his way over to the She-Mer. Hello a voice said a second later. The singing was louder now, vibrating the hair on the back of her neck, seeping into her every pore. She didnt need to look up to know it was him. Hello she replied back. I saw you he began to explain. From across the room. I saw you and thought Ive never seen anything more lovely in my entire life. Alba bit her lip to keep from smiling. Im Peter # And so it began. They got drunk off of the cheap beer, laughing loudly and dancing wildly around the bar. As Peter twirled her around and around Alba caught Leilas approving eye and smug grin, but she ignored it in her drunken state. Despite the singing radiating out from his soul, being with Peter made Alba feel normal. Ive never met anyone like you Peter whispered, brushing his lips against her neck. Youre intoxicating. Come, come home with me. Come with me. After they made love in the small bed of Peters

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186 Now, after feeding off of his orgasms and moans of pleasure, Alba was drunk off of something much stronger, much more satisfying. Tell me about your life, Peter requested softly. I saved my baby brother once, Alba offered. He fell overboard and I jumped in after him. It was all she could offer to him. Memories from her human life were still too painful to remember. Peter was silent for a bit, stroking Albas hair gently. Shockingly enough they were pirates. Peter laughed, shaking his head. was brewing and a wave came over the edge of the boat. My mother and kept me from jumping over the edge of the ship. He retired from the pirate life after the incident to raise me with his wife and their two other sons. Peter stared off into the distance, twisting her long red hair around How are you not afraid of the ocean after that? Alba asked. brushing his thumb along her cheekbone. If I tell you something, do you promise not to dub me crazy? Of course, Alba promised, cuddling her body closer to Peters human warmth. Something in the water took my parents. There was a long silence as Alba tried to calm her churning stomach. What do you mean? she hardly whispered. I saw it, Alba. Call me young, tell me I made it up in my head but I know I saw something take my parents. They were huge, with massive hook nails into me and tried to drag me under. What was it? Peter what was it? Alba stared at him with wide eyes, a cold chill dripping down her spine. Mermaids. Fear settled deep into the pit of Albas stomach. She was afraid that if she spoke she would scream. Instead she sang him lullabies that the ocean. He fell asleep with a smile on his lips, his lilac eyelids closed against the world. Too soon Alba could feel the tugging, the magnetic pull that was drawing her back to the ocean. It was time for her to return to her rightful place. She kissed Peters eyelids, his cheeks, his lips, and left a before sneaking out into the street. It was the time of day where all the mortals were sleeping. Even the insomniacs, whom were under the impression that they never slept, were dreaming at this hour. It was the hour of the call. The full moon was sinking below the horizon, her sister, the sun, chasing right after it.

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187 Alba watched the vampires slinking back into the dark of the forest, the werewolves going home to their packs. As she walked towards the forest Alba decided not to tell her sisters and brothers about Peters tale. She knew they would make her kill him, and that was just something Alba couldnt fathom. At the edge of the forest, sitting on a rock, Leila was waiting for her dear sister Alba, her hair a mess and the imprint of a hand around her neck. What happened? Alba asked, reaching up to touch the bruises. I like it rough, Leila replied, her eyes glowing in the near dusk. Come on. It wont be long now. over the horizon. The Mercreatures were quiet as they watched the sunrise, resting their aching bodies and rubbing their swollen tummies. Howd our little mermaid do, Sasha asked as her He-Mer brushed the tangles out of her hair. Im assuming by the blush in your cheeks you fed quite well last night. His name was Peter, Alba sighed, her unnatural eyes lighting up with lust. His soul was singing to me. Sasha and her He-Mer laughed. Well Peter sure is in trouble, Sashas mate said. It was the barnacle. He wasnt just her mate he was her servant. Marcuss soul sang to me once upon a time ago, Sasha added. Of course, that was when he had a soul. Alba couldnt quell the chill that rippled down her spine and so she sank beneath the Peter, Peter, Peter # Do you hate her for what she did to you? Alba asked Marcus one only been a week and a half since the full moon, and already Alba was craving Peter. The lust growing inside of her was worse than the hunger. Leila claimed it was the rising heat it made all the hormones crazy. But Alba shook her head, claiming it was something other than science. I dont know, Marcus replied. I dont remember much about being human except the nights I spent with her. Sasha was a that ever sang to her. The elders say that when a human soul sings to you like my soul sang to Sasha, like Peters sings to you, theres really no other choice than to turn them. Its not just you thats hypnotized, Alba. Hes probably starving himself over you right now. Albas sorrow. She swam as close as she dared to the shorelines, to the ships in the harbors in hopes of catching a glimpse of Peter. What if hes not there next full moon? Alba whispered while she sunned her back in the sun with the rest of her sisters. He will be, Sasha assured her. He doesnt have a choice. And she was right. Finally, after weeks of waiting, it was time for the full moon. The Mer waited anxiously in the cove, hovering just below

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188 the surface, waiting for the full moon to rise. As soon as it cleared the horizon, Alba rode the waves onto shore, kicking the scales from her tail loose with her newly formed legs. She could hear her brothers and sisters following her lead behind her as she pushed open the hidden trunk full of clothes. Ready? Leila asked as Alba adjusted the dress around her shoulders. She grinned, unable to hide her excitement. Hardly breathing at all, Alba and Leila moved swiftly through the woods, leaving their siblings far behind them. This is it, Alba said with a shiver, her hand on the Peter. Leila smiled encouragingly as Alba swung the door open, stepping into the threshold. Immediately, the singing began. It was stronger than goosebumps, sending shivers down her spine. Hes here, she whispered, just before spotting him at the bar. She walked up next to him, slipping onto the bar stool beside him. He was hunched over his beer, eyes half closed. He looked tired; unshaven hair was growing above his upper lip and around his chin.Alba could see dark circles forming under his eyes. Peter she said, reaching out to touch him. He turned, oceanblue eyes dull, but once they registered Albas face they lit up like the stars in the sky. Is it really you? He asked, reaching out to touch her hair. It is, I promise, she replied, brushing the darkened bruises under his eyes with her thumb. I missed you, They didnt waste time at the bar this time. They were both far too hungry to care for the weak alcohol. Instead they went back to Peters rented room, getting to know each other again after their long waist, kissing her with a hunger that could equal the one Alba felt rocking through her body the nights before the full moon rose again. Where were you this whole time? I searched for you. I looked everywhere. I thought you left me for good. His hands trembled as he pulled her warm body closer to his own. I cant explain it. I can only come on the full moon Her eyelashes brushed against his cheek and he shivered at the touch. Why? I cant explain it. She said with a smile. Youre so mysterious, Alba, Peter said with a smile. Can you sing to me again? Of course my love. Both human and Mer closed their eyes, drifting away in the current of Albas Mer songs. Her voice bubbled like a hidden creek, taking Peter to a place he never knew existed. Where did you learn that? Ive never heard anything like it. He

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189 whispered, his head resting upon her bosom. Something my sisters used to sing. I didnt know you had sisters. I have many sisters, Peter. Tell me about them. Can I tell you about my brother instead? Benji was so full of life. So full of youth. Theres something beautiful in that, Peter. Theres something so beautiful about your eyes lighting up with life. Was? Peter asked, confused. Did something happen to him? Alba smiled sadly, shaking her head. Something happened to me. # Morning was on the horizon. Alba could feel it in her marrow she needed to get back soon. Sleep she whispered to Peter, kissing his earlobe. Sleep and be rested. Ill be back the night of the next full moon. shut his eyes and sleep through the next month. Sshhh Her voice was like the waves on the shore. Ssshhhhh in come the waves. Sssshhhh out go the waves. And so he slept. The withdrawals from his soul were worse this time. Alba spent hardly any time underwater, choosing instead to lay upon the rocks of the cove, sunning her jeweled tail in the strong sunlight, writing songs about love in the sand. Just because we cannot die doesnt mean we cannot suf fer, Sasha said one day. How long did you last? Alba asked her. Three moons. I lasted three full moons before turning him into what he is now. I act like it was nothing, that the cravings werent ripping through my body like they are for you. But trust me, dear Alba. They did. Marcus almost died because of me. He stopped eating and sleeping He threatened to kill himself if I left him alone like that again. So I took him to the ocean with me. Believe me when I say that feeding off of his soul was both spectacular and disgusting at the same time. Alba was quiet for a bit, watching the gulls pass overhead. I dont have a choice, do I? If he chooses death because of me I dont have a choice. No. No you dont have a choice. Come with me. I want you to meet somebody. Sasha slipped her webbed hand into Albas and guided her back down into the ocean. They swam down to where the nurse sharks were dozing, gliding past them and coming to a small underwater cave. Alba followed Sasha inside, her eyes adjusting the dim lighting and what she saw made her cry out in fear.

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190 Curled up in the center of the cave were the remains of a Mercreature. Her skin was hanging loose from her bones, her white hair dead and lifeless, and her tail Her tail was the worst part. Her tail had been sucked dry of any color it could have possibly had. Instead it was stark white, nearly glowing the dark lighting. Scales littered the area around where she was sitting. She must have been here for a very, very long time. Suddenly, the She-Mer looked up, locking eyes with Alba. Even her eyes were dull and lifeless. Mercreatures cant die, Sasha repeated. But they can suffer. What happened? the She-Mer. If you dont turn him, this is what youll be, Sasha explained, speaking for the immobilized creature. She gave him a choice to be a Mer. He got scared and chose to end his own life instead. Couldnt bear the thought of being with something other than a human. The lifeless She-Mer stared straight into Albas eyes, her mouth moving. Im sorry? I cant hear you, Alba said. The She-Mer crooked one Kill him. # The ghost of a She-Mer was called Serena. She had been on remember. The rumors say that she showed her lover who she really was, and it broke his end of the curse. It scared the desire right out of him. dreading the full moon. She knew that their love would only result in one thing death. Early one morning, with the tale of Serenas heartache weighing heavy on her mind, Alba sought out a pod of dolphins to clear her mind. time since meeting Serena. Suddenly, the dolphins switched directions and began moving in the opposite direction of which they were headed darted underneath its shadow to conceal herself and she noticed that the closer she got to the boat, the louder a barely audible humming became. Could it be, she wondered, her curiosity clouding her judgment. She quietly surfaced behind the small boat to peek at its captain. The telltale humming proved itself true, even underwater. Sitting in the middle Peter with one of his favorite crew members. Unable to hide her excitement, Alba gasped, just loud enough for Peter to hear and turn his head in her direction. Alba disappeared below the waters surface, hiding herself underneath the bottom of the boat once again. She could see furrowed.

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191 What is it? Peters friend asked from above the surface. I thought I saw Peter began. No. No, it couldnt have been. I havent seen one since I thought I had made them up. Drink some water, Peter, his friend suggested, laughing. Either dehydration or love is making you crazy. Theres no way he recognized me, Alba assured herself, but her gut still insisted on twisting from nerves. She didnt tell a soulless creature about her near encounter. She knew the rules if they see you, they become one. Instead, Alba waited for the moon, hiding in the moon grew fuller and fuller with each passing night. The whales kept singing and the world kept spinning. The full moon rose And everything seemed to stop. Alba went through the motions; she shed her tail and picked out a simple dress that was two sizes too big. She followed her sisters and brothers through the forest, breaking free into Peters village. She found herself outside of the tavern with a heavy heart. But when she opened the door and heard the singing of Peter waiting for her, the stories no longer mattered. He looked better than the last time she saw him; he had shaved and looked as though he was eating again. He looked Happy. For a moment Alba paused, wondering if he needed her anymore. If somehow, by hearing Serenas tale, the cursed desire had been broken. But, as though she were the one singing to him, Peter turned and saw Alba in the threshold, and smiled. She put off going home with him for as long as possible, but soon it became too much. She wanted to feel his arms around her, wanted to feel his heart beating in his chest. She wanted to feel the You look better, Alba commented as Peter cradled her in his arms. Ive been busying myself with a mission of sorts. A religious mission? No, Peter said gravely.. A hunting mission. I saw one of those creatures in the water the other day. One of the ones I told you about. The kind that took my mother. Alba could feel her heart sinking into her stomach. What did you see? She whispered, remembering how Peter A mermaid. An abomination. Peter! Alba gasped, unable to hide her hurt. voice to her. But Theres nothing to protest! They killed my parents they tried to kill me! They were probably coming back for me the other day! His voice cracked with fear. Unable to say anything more about the matter Alba pulled Peters cheek around and kissed him, drawing him away from his nightmares.

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192 I often wonder if I make you up he admitted to her a while later as he caressed those smooth legs of her. Always coming and disappearing. So mysterious. Im very real, where he touched her. Im in love with you, Alba Peter said, tracing over a freckle on her thigh. Ive never been so captivated before. I would follow you to the end of the world if it meant being with you. I will love you forever. Perhaps our dear Alba should have taken his warning. Perhaps stars passed overhead and the sun grew closer and closer to breeching the horizon, Peters breath slowed down, his eyes closing into what Alba truly believed was a peaceful slumber. So when she kissed his forehead, there was no way she could have known that he was only pretending to sleep. # He followed behind her, watching her move gracefully across the land, hiding behind the rock faces. He watched as she pushed aside a curtain of branches to reveal the cove. He waited until the branches snapped back into place and he hid behind them, watching her. The sun was about to rise she could feel it. She could feel the rays struggling to break the horizon; she could feel her legs drying out, shedding their human form. Alba scrambled to the top of a boulder, shedding her human clothing and without a second glance back she dove towards the ocean, her body curving in a perfect arch as the suns shining arch breeched the horizon. Silly girl, Peter though as he stepped out from the trees to greet his lover. to the very core. Peter watched in horror as Alba surfaced, not as the human girl he had thought he had loved, but as a hideous creature with been. Alba? He gasped in disbelief. Peter! She cried, pulling a bed of seaweed to cover anything, everything up. Peter dont look at me she begged, her purple eyes wide with fear. He shook his head, taking a step backwards. It was you, he accused. It was you, in the water that day. You No! Peter, no! Its me, its just Alba. You killed my parents! No! I didnt! Peter You tried to kill me! You demon! No! Alba screamed, but Peter wanted to hear no more of this. Shaking his head with a disgusted look twisted upon that handsome face, Peter walked away from Alba, leaving her for a place that, for now, she couldnt reach. She cried for hours. Despite her sisters beckoning, despite her brothers pleas, Alba remained tethered to the cove by her own arms,

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193 hoping that her lover would come back for her. And he did. He came with her broken heart, he had been spreading rumors about the creature he had thought he had fallen in love with. He told the regulars at the pub about his story; about his parents death, about how he had gotten the scars on his arm. About his demonic lover and how she had tried to seduce him into the sea. Word travelled fast in that small town and soon enough the pub was bursting with angry men and fearful women, listening to Peters story, all asking for Albas head on a platter. Theyre seductive, he told the townsfolk. They will lie to you. They will starve you dry. They will kill your children. They are monsters. Some of the women who were standing close enough to him whispered that they saw a tear in his eye. Peter? Heartbroken? Betrayed? Who would do such a thing to our benevolent hero? He came ready to capture Alba, to skin her scales and sell them as glittering jewels. He came ready to display her for all of the world to see. He came ready to destroy the human girl he had thought he had fall en in love with. Ha. Mortals. Always missing whats right in front of them. He came ready to defeat the human he knew. He came expecting a vulnerable girl. He came forgetting that the very reason he was so fright ened of our dear Alba, the very reason he wanted her dead was because she wasnt human. Not in the slightest. When she saw the sharp weapons, and the army of men that Peter brought along with him, and the hungry look in their eyes, her instincts kicked in. You see my pitiful Her sisters and her brothers heard the call. The water was alive with Mercreatures stirring the cove, hypnotizing the men with their dragging them into the depths of the ocean, feasting on their human souls. Some claim that Alba had tried to reason with Peter, professing her love for him over and over. They say that Peter was hissing obscenities at her, lunging at her with his spear. When Peter pierced her side with his sharpened weapon, Alba, whom everyone had underestimated, even her proudest brothers, wrapped her webbed hand around Peters ankle, dragging him slowly into the cursed water. You promised me forever, she reminded him, her laughter resembling that of a peaceful bubbling creek. As Peter wasted his last human breath on a single-note scream, she pulled her beloved keeping him as hers forever. Yes, drowning is a horrible word.

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194 Elephant Stephanie Arney

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195 I Sleep with Dr. Jekyll and Wake with Mr. Hyde Thats not entirely true; sometimes Ill get a show from them both in the middle of the afternoon. Stiffened Joel Dodge Stiffened Straightened Dried By heat Mechanically Formed to Fit my naked feet Twisted, crafted Stained and Shaped Mechanically Formed to Make my seat Elegant recline Comfort and Elegance Sunday Divine

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196 Through the Secret Window Kim Kittleson

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197 Blue Moon at the Nowhere Caf Collin Henderson A man in a red suede suit sips caffeine while Seger serenades from the radio The voices change, preaching the exploitation of the poor and helping the strong He grins and thinks thoughts of perfume The woman in the corner drags the cancer willingly into her lungs, savoring her death-bringing breath Free from constraints of the everyday that anchors those who are creative and lucid Dreaming of late night fun to be had when the kids are in bed A teenager click click clicks away, not really seeing all that is happening around him Content to be somewhere else, Anywhere but here since the here is painful to think about. Youth always brings mundane pain Rain starts to pitter and patter on the roof as the cook takes a gander at the waitress Impure for sure, as it always goes when the blue of the moon falls and paints the sky But alas, lust is sometimes unjust, nothing more than a sparkling fantasy amidst trees of thought

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198 A young woman of about twenty six and a quarter stumbles out the door, daring to dare the weather Not knowing that she wont be seeing the sun rise ever again Since youth brings stupidity, too Too bad that this will be forgotten one hundred years down the road Long after everyone here is dust in the earth Left to the worms by their loved ones The man in red suede leaves his tip, tipping the glass and hat, wishing Johnny good fortune Stepping out into the rain reminds him, He has a date with a .38 The Blue Moon turns red Tires pop, gunshots crack, lust explodes And somewhere, a baby weeps to its mother

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199 Oswego in the Winter Allie Rhode

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200 Things Ive Broken While Drunk K.M. Alleena I wanted one night to lose myself all my pieces in thoughts mixed by a bartender and served on the rocks. On my best days the days before you left me speechless by the harbor in Portsmouth I am no tavern patron. I am not one to drink away my heartache, my problems. No one told me of my antics, except I found evidence scattered around me that prove too little grace and too much Irish coffee are no sure solution.

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201 The dishpan cracks tell the story of my misstepping. By the look of it, a muddled mind could not tell black plastic from black carpet. The crystal goblet split as it spoke to the way I could always pick up my pieces; how I never really shattered. It took a week for me I misplaced a pair of black, still hanging from the lamp shade the purple blouse I wore the day you walked and, of course, a bra better meant for the laundry. If I recall, the same song played until I broke

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202 the red jukebox button clean off a whole bar got sick of Ben Gibbards voice fast enough. I asked for just one more drink wine or rum one more drunken poem scrawled on shredding napkins one more moment to forget, before being forced to move forward These broken, misplaced things still tell the story of me, crossing railroad tracks, clutching fragments of myself to my chest. Fractured, or whole lost, or found well survive this encounter just as we always do.

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203 It Could Happen Carrie Rooker The Future of the Weimar The far left and right parties gathered in the hall. In the middle was the Center party. Many voices were raised in the room in argument. If Germany takes the offer of the Young Plan we will suffer, it will be like Versailles all over again. Germany will correct itself. Where is your faith and German pride ? The room was divided in debate. If we take the Young Plan it will boost the economy. The Americans are willing to lower reparation coast, but extend the payment period. You are a fool! This will never work. No Cooperation themselves in disagreement. No surprise there. You hear the government shut down, said my friend in a concerned voice. Everyone I knew was either pissed or fearful of the situation. Sure did, the fuckers. This means Im not getting paid. I have a family to feed. My face turns hard and angry. money on beer, but the government makes me want to drink. What do you think will happen if the Democrats and Republicans cant come to an agreement? An American Reich Its been two years since democracy failed. The government shut down of 2013 lead to the takeover of another party, the American Nazi Party (ANP). Since the founding of our nation, the government has been corrupted by individuals with concern only for themselves. I am here to restore our beloved nation and give

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204 faith to the people of America! bellow a middle aged man into the microphone with a famous Hitler pose. There was a cheer from the crowd following a Seig Heil. Following the speech was a parade. The Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force all dressed in their best clothing. They all march in step with each other to the beat of the parade music. Each branch of the military was holding the of new nation. Lets hope the country wont follow in the footsteps of Germany.

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205 Narional Spying Agency Anne Greco

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206 Debt Collector Aaron Golish EXT. DESERT HIGHWAY DAY The high-noon sun beats down on the asphalt. Heat waves that radiate off the road distort the view. A tortoise begins to cross the road as two cars speed past. A beat up, sky blue 1980 Ford Fiesta and a black Deuce Coupe Hot-Rod with tinted windows. CUT TO: INT. FORD FIESTA DAY bitten a tad too short wears a dingy suit. He looks frantically over his shoulder at the vehicle that pursues him. Fuzzy dice dangle from the mirror, and a deck of cards scatter bottles and beer cans. As he hits a pothole a bottles clatter. MAN (through clenched teeth) Shit! He veers off the road in an attempt to lose his follower. CUT TO: EXT. DESERT HIGHWAY DAY The Hot-Rod follows the Ford Fiesta off the road and begins to gain ground on its prey. CUT TO:

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207 INT. FORD FIESTA DAY The Man looks over his shoulder at the pursuer and doesnt notice a cactus ahead. He turns his head and successfully swerves out of the way, but slides out of control and skids on the loose dirt. The Man looks up just in time to see the Hot-Rod slam into the side of the vehicle, which smashes both of the passenger side MAN (in panic) Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck!... The Man reaches into the back seat and grabs a large, and very full, paper bag. He throws open the car door and scurries out, but trips on his own feet. EXT. DESERT DAY A door creaks open and the man freezes in fear. The door slams and the man slowly turns his head. MAN Big Baus sent you didnt he? I dont have the money right now, but I can pay him back. I swear! Pleading for his life, the Man tosses the bag towards the cars. He still sits in the dirt. Some rolls of bills fall out MAN Heres ten grand. I can have the rest to him in two weeks tops! Just please dont -A SHADOWY FIGURE walks around the front of the two cars, his boots click with each step. stops mid sentence.

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208 MAN (contd) Who the hell... What in the hell are you? wears a black leather jacket with fur lining and leather pants and boots. A glistening silver sickle attaches to his waist. This is the GRIM REAPER. GRIM REAPER (dramatically) I am the fourth horseman of the apocalypse! The pale rider! The courier of lost souls, and the harbinger of doom. Simply put, I am Death. Or as you people like to call me, the GRIM REAPER! The man looks a little green in the face. He turns his head and vomits MAN Holy shit! GRIM REAPER (in a sarcastically comforting tone) time. (in a more serious tone) You seriously thought you could outrun me? Nobody, and I mean nobody, can outrun death. Its time for you to meet your maker. The Reaper pulls out a ruby red Colt .45 Peacemaker from his jacket and presses it drectly against the Mans forehead. GRIM REAPER (contd) Any last words, Raymond Cooper?

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209 MAN Um... My names not Raymond. GRIM REAPER (bewildered) Come again? MAN My names not Raymond Cooper. He frantically digs into his pocket. He grabs his wallet and opens it to reveal a drivers license. MAN (pointing to the name on the license) See! Im TODD MILLBURN! GRIM REAPER Shit! Im so sorry for the mix up. The Reaper offers Todd a hand and helps him up. The Reaper puts the gun back into his jacket. Todd has a sigh of relief and he retrieves the bag of money. GRIM REAPER Again, Im terribly sorry for the mix up. Please dont tell anyone about this. Its the job, yknow? It gets pretty stressful. Cant get it right a hundred percent of the time. The Reaper gets back into his Hot-Rod. He pulls away from the Ford Fiesta and pulls around by Todd. He rolls the window down.

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210 GRIM REAPER (contd) I cant exactly take a day off either. Thanks for understanding. The Reaper begins to roll up his window to about half way. GRIM REAPER See you next Thursday! The reaper rolls up his window all the way and does a burnout. The Hot-Rod vanishes in the cloud of dust. Todd drops the bag of money. He stands, mouth agape. TODD What!? CUT TO: EXT. DESERT HIGHWAY DAY FADE TO BLACK.

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211 A Conversation Between Business Partners Collin Henderson Phillip sat down at the table. The restaurant was business. The large man, Wilco, walked in a moment later and sat down across from him. The waitress walked over a moment after. Can I get you two anything to drink? Diet Coke, please, Phil answered. He looked at Wilco, willing him to answer. Nothing for me, thanks, he replied. and said, I expect the money to be transferred tonight. His voice was icy cold, like that of a businessman. I promise, that wont be an issue. Ive got a guy working on it as we speak. I assume everything went smoothly? Wilco grinned. It wasnt something that Phil liked to see often. As smooth as it could have gone. Bastard had a bat. Almost nailed me when I came in. The waitress returned with the Coke. All set to order? Id just like a piece of pie today. I could really use it, Phil responded. Same here. The waitress walked away. You know, Wilco, youve done a lot of jobs for me. I can always count on you to do it right. How would you feel about working for me full time? Wilcos face dropped slightly. After a beat, he responded, I prefer the freelancing style of work. It keeps me free. I can more or less do what I want, and Im not held back by the rules of an organization. Thats disheartening. I think we could use some muscle like you. You could really do a lotta good for me and mine. Phil thanked the waitress when she put the piece of pie down in front of him. He took his fork and tore out a chunk. The taste was heavenly. Goddamn, this place never disappoints. How are you enjoying yours? Wilco gave a thumbs up. When he swallowed the piece hed eaten, he set the fork down. His hand dropped to his side. Another thing about being a freelancer that I like is that Im not loyal to anyone. Oh, yeah? Yeah. I dont need to kiss anyones ass or lie about

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212 how I feel about them. Not only that, but when they know theres competition, people will pay up to get me. They know Im one of the best there is, and theyre willing to give up a lot of dough in order to get me. I never thought about it that way. Phil was almost done with his pie. There was only a fork full left. Few do. Not many people have what it takes to make it in the kind of work I do. Its why people who can do the job right are so highly valued. And just to prove it, Ive taken on two jobs at once. Phil nodded. Whats this other job? Wilco grinned. Whats so funny? Phil put the last piece in his mouth. Someone in your position of power makes a lot of enemies. And I mean a lot. He took a sip from his drink. Phil saw a glint in his eyes. And these enemies can be very persuasive. Even someone like me can be charmed by them. The rich taste of the pie turned bitter.

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213 Uncle Sheldon David Owens

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AARON GOLISH ALEXANDER MARCHESI ALLIE RHODE AMY LIPSKY ANDREW BAUMGRAS ANN PALLIFRONE ANNE GRECO CARRIE ROOKER CASSIDY CARROLL CHELSEA HAMLET CHRISTIANNA MILLER CLAIRE CERRA COLLEEN MANEY COLLIN HENDERSON DANI WALTERS DAVID OWENS DAVID SWIFT DYLAN WOODS GIANNA PUTRINO HARRY CHRISTOPHER MOORE HOLLY GREENFIELD JESSICA SALAMONE JESSICA WASHAK JOEL DODGE JOEY KRAUS JORDAN DEDRICK JORDAN ROCKOWER JULIE SCHOFIELD K.M. ALLEENA KIM KITTLESON KRISTEN BURKE LESLEY SEMEL LUKE PARSNOW LUMEN ARCANUM MARIAN HOLMES MICHELLE STILES MORGAN ALTLAND NAOMI CHALFIN PHOEBE LAMONT RYANN CROFOOT SHANNA FULD SHELBY COYLE STEPHANIE ARNEY TARIN BONVINO TODD ROBERT STARK TORI MUSCATO WERE NICE PEOPLE