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Written by katlavbig816

A Stroll Through the Sky

Selene and I had been best friends since we were born, literally, as we liked to say. Born on the same day and on the same street, our mothers felt it reasonable to arrange play dates between us. Together we grew up and never apart. Selene lived in a massive, Victorian style house, full of turret like rooms and twisting back staircases. As kids we loved to explore it, running through the hallways pretending to be adventurers in a strange new land.

One night, maybe seven years into our friendship, we were poking around in the attic. Behind a musty, rolled up carpet we discovered a door, previously hidden from us. As we stood before the door, little Selene turned to me and said very solemnly, “Behind this door is a vast, unexplored, world. As the greatest adventurers of all time it is our duty to-” I giggled at that point, and her composure almost broke, but she managed to continue in an even tone. “Sterling, we must explore this new land. We are the only ones qualified to do so. Are you ready?”

I nodded as seriously as I could, but my attempt at a serious frown dissolved into laughter, only made funnier by trying to stop it. In seconds we were both rolling on the floor giggling, and it took us a few moments to regain composure and carry on with our ‘mission.’

The two of us again stood before the door and nodded to each other seriously. At a gesture from Selene, I dramatically pulled the door open, unused hinges protesting gently. A set of spiral stairs sat behind the door, reaching up into impenetrable darkness. Selene, always the leader, marched through the door and began the ascent, and I followed close behind. We climbed for what felt like hours, Selene marching on without complaint, me just trying not to fall too far behind. At the top of the stairs was another door. Selene opened it without hesitation, but we both froze at what lay beyond.

It was blue, eternal blue stretching as far as the eye could see. A blue so dark it was nearly black, the blue of the midnight sky. Floating among the blue were tiny little orbs of light, reminding me of the faeries painted in my story books. More than just a color, but not quite physical. It felt like nothing of this world, it felt like another world entirely.

Transfixed, I stepped past Selene into the blue. Although the bottom of the blue didn’t look like a floor, I walked on it as easily as though it were a carpet. I turned back to Selene in delight. “Come on!” I beckoned, and she stepped out onto the blue carefully, hesitantly. Seeing that it held, we walked out on it together, touching the little orbs and musing at what this place could possibly be. We left after maybe an hour, and agreed not to tell our parents incase they forbade us from ever going there again. Neither of us knew what the place was, but we didn’t think too much on it. We continued to sneak up there as often as we could, to take a stroll through what we’d decided to call the Sky. As time passed our visits there were less frequent, and we eventually abandoned the Sky altogether. Different things began to take priority in our lives, such as schoolwork and boys and cars. Magic wasn’t real to us anymore, and the magic of our Sky was forgotten.

Eleven years later…

Selene and I sat in the attic of her house, leaning against the wall.

“You know, I’ll only be a two hour drive away,” she reminded me. I nodded, glancing down at my hands.

“Yeah. I know.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes more.

“Sterling?” she asked.

I glanced over at her. She wasn’t looking at me, rather at an unassuming door nestled into the corner of the wall opposite us.

“Do you remember the Sky?” Selene asked softly.

It took me a moment to realize which sky she meant. With the realization came a half-forgotten memory of an impossibly blue world. “What even was that place?” I asked.

Selene turned to face me, her face mock serious. “One that we never finished exploring,” she replied, the barest hint of a smile showing through her composure. Selene jumped to her feet, full of that infectious vivacity. She stretched out a hand to me, an invitation.

“Selene, I really don’t feel like…” I began, but stopped when I saw the expression on her face. Her eyes shone like stars, her excitement bubbling over the doubt and reluctance she had been showing recently. I sighed and took her hand, pushing myself off the ground with my other hand. We approached the door with our fingers intertwined and I reached to open it. The spiral staircase stood there just as it had before, curling up and up, although not quite so far up as our memories had painted it. Selene smiled at me and started up the stairs, practically bouncing from step to step. I followed less enthusiastically, but I’d never been immune to her excitement. As we climbed, the thoughts of her impending departure slid further back into my mind, unnoticed.

When we reached the top of the staircase we both paused and looked at each other. Selene still had that entrancing smile on her face.

“Would you like to do the honors?” she asked, gesturing to the door. Something inside me, a wall built up over the years, softened and broke, and I smiled back. I reached for the unremarkable wooden door, pushing it open gently. We stepped inside slowly, and I felt all the hope and excitement that I’d gathered fall away.

A room, wholly unremarkable save for the fact that it was entirely blue. Blue carpet, blue ceiling, blue walls… but not the mystical, magical place of our childhood. I dared a glance at Selene and saw my own feeling of disappointment mirrored on her face. She looked at me and I caught the glimmer of tears welling in her eyes, the hope built within them faded away. I looked away. I couldn’t bear it, couldn’t bear the weight of reality settling around my neck. I could not simply look down, to see the reality of the carpet beneath my feet. This was a place of joy and magic and youth, and I would not let the world take it from me.

I took Selene’s hand, and she looked at me, eyes questioning. I placed a smile on my face, urged a wondering light into my eyes. “It’s just like when we were little,” I said, and I put every scrap of awe I could muster into my tone. I let my imagination run wild, nudging and encouraging Selene to see it the way we had when we were children, to reclaim some of that unadulterated joy. As I pointed out stars and patterns, I saw the light return to Selene’s eyes little by little. She joined me in my make-believe at last, and we played together like children, the outside world of papers and deadlines forgotten.

After playing for hours, we ended up laying on the floor together. The unwaveringly blue surroundings imbued me with a sense of calm that had been hard to find recently. I settled my hands on my stomach, staring contentedly upwards. I glanced over to see Selene lying with her arms stretched up behind her head, a look of unspoiled contentment on her face. She looked over to me and smiled with a brilliance that illuminated the room, and I smiled back before turning back to our magical Sky. We lay there together all night, enjoying the end of our childhood in silent companionship.

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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by katlavbig816
A Stroll Through the Sky

Selene and I had been best friends since we were born, literally, as we liked to say. Born on the same day and on the same street, our mothers felt it reasonable to arrange play dates between us. Together we grew up and never apart. Selene lived in a massive, Victorian style house, full of turret like rooms and twisting back staircases. As kids we loved to explore it, running through the hallways pretending to be adventurers in a strange new land.
One night, maybe seven years into our friendship, we were poking around in the attic. Behind a musty, rolled up carpet we discovered a door, previously hidden from us. As we stood before the door, little Selene turned to me and said very solemnly, “Behind this door is a vast, unexplored, world. As the greatest adventurers of all time it is our duty to-” I giggled at that point, and her composure almost broke, but she managed to continue in an even tone. “Sterling, we must explore this new land. We are the only ones qualified to do so. Are you ready?”
I nodded as seriously as I could, but my attempt at a serious frown dissolved into laughter, only made funnier by trying to stop it. In seconds we were both rolling on the floor giggling, and it took us a few moments to regain composure and carry on with our ‘mission.’
The two of us again stood before the door and nodded to each other seriously. At a gesture from Selene, I dramatically pulled the door open, unused hinges protesting gently. A set of spiral stairs sat behind the door, reaching up into impenetrable darkness. Selene, always the leader, marched through the door and began the ascent, and I followed close behind. We climbed for what felt like hours, Selene marching on without complaint, me just trying not to fall too far behind. At the top of the stairs was another door. Selene opened it without hesitation, but we both froze at what lay beyond.
It was blue, eternal blue stretching as far as the eye could see. A blue so dark it was nearly black, the blue of the midnight sky. Floating among the blue were tiny little orbs of light, reminding me of the faeries painted in my story books. More than just a color, but not quite physical. It felt like nothing of this world, it felt like another world entirely.
Transfixed, I stepped past Selene into the blue. Although the bottom of the blue didn’t look like a floor, I walked on it as easily as though it were a carpet. I turned back to Selene in delight. “Come on!” I beckoned, and she stepped out onto the blue carefully, hesitantly. Seeing that it held, we walked out on it together, touching the little orbs and musing at what this place could possibly be. We left after maybe an hour, and agreed not to tell our parents incase they forbade us from ever going there again. Neither of us knew what the place was, but we didn’t think too much on it. We continued to sneak up there as often as we could, to take a stroll through what we’d decided to call the Sky. As time passed our visits there were less frequent, and we eventually abandoned the Sky altogether. Different things began to take priority in our lives, such as schoolwork and boys and cars. Magic wasn’t real to us anymore, and the magic of our Sky was forgotten.

Eleven years later…

Selene and I sat in the attic of her house, leaning against the wall.
“You know, I’ll only be a two hour drive away,” she reminded me. I nodded, glancing down at my hands.
“Yeah. I know.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes more.
“Sterling?” she asked.
I glanced over at her. She wasn’t looking at me, rather at an unassuming door nestled into the corner of the wall opposite us.
“Do you remember the Sky?” Selene asked softly.
It took me a moment to realize which sky she meant. With the realization came a half-forgotten memory of an impossibly blue world. “What even was that place?” I asked.
Selene turned to face me, her face mock serious. “One that we never finished exploring,” she replied, the barest hint of a smile showing through her composure. Selene jumped to her feet, full of that infectious vivacity. She stretched out a hand to me, an invitation.
“Selene, I really don’t feel like…” I began, but stopped when I saw the expression on her face. Her eyes shone like stars, her excitement bubbling over the doubt and reluctance she had been showing recently. I sighed and took her hand, pushing myself off the ground with my other hand. We approached the door with our fingers intertwined and I reached to open it. The spiral staircase stood there just as it had before, curling up and up, although not quite so far up as our memories had painted it. Selene smiled at me and started up the stairs, practically bouncing from step to step. I followed less enthusiastically, but I’d never been immune to her excitement. As we climbed, the thoughts of her impending departure slid further back into my mind, unnoticed.
When we reached the top of the staircase we both paused and looked at each other. Selene still had that entrancing smile on her face.
“Would you like to do the honors?” she asked, gesturing to the door. Something inside me, a wall built up over the years, softened and broke, and I smiled back. I reached for the unremarkable wooden door, pushing it open gently. We stepped inside slowly, and I felt all the hope and excitement that I’d gathered fall away.
A room, wholly unremarkable save for the fact that it was entirely blue. Blue carpet, blue ceiling, blue walls… but not the mystical, magical place of our childhood. I dared a glance at Selene and saw my own feeling of disappointment mirrored on her face. She looked at me and I caught the glimmer of tears welling in her eyes, the hope built within them faded away. I looked away. I couldn’t bear it, couldn’t bear the weight of reality settling around my neck. I could not simply look down, to see the reality of the carpet beneath my feet. This was a place of joy and magic and youth, and I would not let the world take it from me.
I took Selene’s hand, and she looked at me, eyes questioning. I placed a smile on my face, urged a wondering light into my eyes. “It’s just like when we were little,” I said, and I put every scrap of awe I could muster into my tone. I let my imagination run wild, nudging and encouraging Selene to see it the way we had when we were children, to reclaim some of that unadulterated joy. As I pointed out stars and patterns, I saw the light return to Selene’s eyes little by little. She joined me in my make-believe at last, and we played together like children, the outside world of papers and deadlines forgotten.
After playing for hours, we ended up laying on the floor together. The unwaveringly blue surroundings imbued me with a sense of calm that had been hard to find recently. I settled my hands on my stomach, staring contentedly upwards. I glanced over to see Selene lying with her arms stretched up behind her head, a look of unspoiled contentment on her face. She looked over to me and smiled with a brilliance that illuminated the room, and I smiled back before turning back to our magical Sky. We lay there together all night, enjoying the end of our childhood in silent companionship.

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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by TheWriter123

Progression of Grief

Agonizing shrieks echo through the halls,

Unwavering determination shatters.

No comforting hand in reach,

The will to live is for naught.

Consumed by the darkness

Drowned in an endless sea of regret,

A bead of despair slowly manifests,

Saps the joy of life.

Gradually, light flickers into nothingness.

Afflicted with frustration,

Repressed thoughts form a gateway,

Relenting to rageful accusation.

Mental jabs hurled at others

Purge the mind of emotion.

Lacking moral support,

Living in silence and isolation,

Gloomy atmosphere takes its toll.

Deprived of daily conversations,

Social connections torn as a whole.

Alone - time for reflection.

Conflicting thoughts flood the mind.

Once gleeful memories, now tainted.

Once treasured dreams, now discarded.

Why…

Why must such misfortune be cast upon me?

The agony knows no words,

As silence engulfs the room.

My cheeks tremble every breath

Two salty rivers converge at my mouth,

And my face winces with every thought.

In spite of it all,

A faint smile retains.

Illuminates the dismal mood,

A reminder of the enduring dedication,

Residing within.

Grief is merely a setback,

A challenge to overcome.

Acceptance paves the path forward,

Developing the journey again.

Solely to achieve the goal of life,

Happiness, which remains eternal.

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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by TheWriter123
Progression of Grief
Agonizing shrieks echo through the halls,
Unwavering determination shatters.
No comforting hand in reach,
The will to live is for naught.
Consumed by the darkness
Drowned in an endless sea of regret,
A bead of despair slowly manifests,
Saps the joy of life.
Gradually, light flickers into nothingness.
Afflicted with frustration,
Repressed thoughts form a gateway,
Relenting to rageful accusation.
Mental jabs hurled at others
Purge the mind of emotion.
Lacking moral support,
Living in silence and isolation,
Gloomy atmosphere takes its toll.
Deprived of daily conversations,
Social connections torn as a whole.
Alone - time for reflection.
Conflicting thoughts flood the mind.
Once gleeful memories, now tainted.
Once treasured dreams, now discarded.
Why…
Why must such misfortune be cast upon me?
The agony knows no words,
As silence engulfs the room.
My cheeks tremble every breath
Two salty rivers converge at my mouth,
And my face winces with every thought.
In spite of it all,
A faint smile retains.
Illuminates the dismal mood,
A reminder of the enduring dedication,
Residing within.
Grief is merely a setback,
A challenge to overcome.
Acceptance paves the path forward,
Developing the journey again.
Solely to achieve the goal of life,
Happiness, which remains eternal.
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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by doihaveto

Bleeding Out

Based on a song by Imagine Dragons of the same name.

This was a piece of work done for an English Language exam, written in under an hour.

"I'm bleeding out."

Crimson. Scarlet. Cerise. Red. Seeping out of the transfixion. Footsteps darting away; he hits the ground. Pain. Trying to move is futile, he won't make it. He's an emergency responder; he knows what he's talking about.

"I bare my skin and I count my sins and I close my eyes and I take it in."

A deep, shuddering breath forces its way through his oesophagus. A grimace of pain pushes its way onto his face. They say your life flashes before as you die, yet he sees nothing but onyx sky and alabaster moon directly, taunting him, teasing him. Inviting him out to play.

"I'm bleeding out for you."

No one will find him, trees cloaking any movement made, silencing his pleas. Crushing his hopes of discovery. Pleading with the moon. "Save me," croaking like an ancient organism. Hearing it promise "I will," and not believing.

"When the day has come, that I've lost my way around."

Sweet metallic pungency suffocates his senses; he inhales shakily. Copper coats his tastebuds as russet bubbles out of his torn windpipe, coagulating in his mouth. Ravens cawing, bird chirruping.

"The seasons stop and hide beneath the ground."

A shiver chases up his spine. The movement threatens to bring on a burst of tears. Summer winds whistle through the trees as his unyielding suffering endures.

"When the sky turns grey and everything is screaming."

Body screeching in protest, he rolls over; smears the ground in blood. Dirt invades the wound, his body fights. Against the invasion, against his movements, against his heart still beating, against each breath. He doesn't care. He doesn't want to die.

"I will reach inside, just to find my heart is beating."

Dragging himself along the gravel path. Knife blade still embedded in his back. He knows it's keeping the worst of the blood loss at bay. Doesn't make it hurt any less. Minuscule sediments attacking him, drawing blood. He's a wreck, still he continues; he leaves a trail of copper in his wake. There is light ahead.

"Oh, you tell me to hold on, you tell me to hold on."

Screaming jerks him awake. Sirens in the distance. Voices. Voices everywhere. "Stay awake." "Talk to me sir." He can't, He tried. His throat is scratched raw and drowning in scarlet. He flatlines before they make it to the hospital.

"Innocence is gone and what was right is wrong."

Metal clatters on metal as the child throws the matchbox cars to the ground. He hears the police at the door. His mother is speaking to them. He picks the tin ambulance back up; places its passenger back inside, driving from the forest to the hospital before deciding the man in the back of the ambulance is dead. Murdered, he decides. Sitting back, he remembers his father rides in ambulances a lot. Maybe the passenger is him. The child giggles; daddy could never die. But mommy's crying and doesn't let him out of her arms until morning. And daddy still isn't home...

"I'm bleeding out for you."

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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by doihaveto
Bleeding Out
Based on a song by Imagine Dragons of the same name.
This was a piece of work done for an English Language exam, written in under an hour.

"I'm bleeding out."

Crimson. Scarlet. Cerise. Red. Seeping out of the transfixion. Footsteps darting away; he hits the ground. Pain. Trying to move is futile, he won't make it. He's an emergency responder; he knows what he's talking about.

"I bare my skin and I count my sins and I close my eyes and I take it in."

A deep, shuddering breath forces its way through his oesophagus. A grimace of pain pushes its way onto his face. They say your life flashes before as you die, yet he sees nothing but onyx sky and alabaster moon directly, taunting him, teasing him. Inviting him out to play.

"I'm bleeding out for you."

No one will find him, trees cloaking any movement made, silencing his pleas. Crushing his hopes of discovery. Pleading with the moon. "Save me," croaking like an ancient organism. Hearing it promise "I will," and not believing.

"When the day has come, that I've lost my way around."

Sweet metallic pungency suffocates his senses; he inhales shakily. Copper coats his tastebuds as russet bubbles out of his torn windpipe, coagulating in his mouth. Ravens cawing, bird chirruping.

"The seasons stop and hide beneath the ground."

A shiver chases up his spine. The movement threatens to bring on a burst of tears. Summer winds whistle through the trees as his unyielding suffering endures.

"When the sky turns grey and everything is screaming."

Body screeching in protest, he rolls over; smears the ground in blood. Dirt invades the wound, his body fights. Against the invasion, against his movements, against his heart still beating, against each breath. He doesn't care. He doesn't want to die.

"I will reach inside, just to find my heart is beating."

Dragging himself along the gravel path. Knife blade still embedded in his back. He knows it's keeping the worst of the blood loss at bay. Doesn't make it hurt any less. Minuscule sediments attacking him, drawing blood. He's a wreck, still he continues; he leaves a trail of copper in his wake. There is light ahead.

"Oh, you tell me to hold on, you tell me to hold on."

Screaming jerks him awake. Sirens in the distance. Voices. Voices everywhere. "Stay awake." "Talk to me sir." He can't, He tried. His throat is scratched raw and drowning in scarlet. He flatlines before they make it to the hospital.

"Innocence is gone and what was right is wrong."

Metal clatters on metal as the child throws the matchbox cars to the ground. He hears the police at the door. His mother is speaking to them. He picks the tin ambulance back up; places its passenger back inside, driving from the forest to the hospital before deciding the man in the back of the ambulance is dead. Murdered, he decides. Sitting back, he remembers his father rides in ambulances a lot. Maybe the passenger is him. The child giggles; daddy could never die. But mommy's crying and doesn't let him out of her arms until morning. And daddy still isn't home...

"I'm bleeding out for you."
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Juice
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Written by jennyd3

The Hunt

Morbidly cold air chills my skin as I awaken in the darkness.

I’m surrounded by pure white snow. And as I look up from my left and to my right I see only evergreen.

Where am I? 

I hear animals in the distance. I tremble and an undeniable fear over takes me, while the full moon reflects off the snow and creates an eerie light that weaves in between the trees painting the ground. The wind forcefully picks up, restricting my breathing.  I slightly pick up my head to find footprints trailed in the snow and it’s clear that I am not alone.

With stiff limbs I attempt to shift. My soaked clothing and frozen body make movement nearly impossible. But slowly I get to my feet and follow the trail.

One uncertain step after another, I stumble until I hear a faint but familiar ring.

The closer I get to the sound I hear a buzz along with it and move quickly towards the familiar annoyance silently screaming for joy. Adrenaline pushes me to a newborn's sprint, nearly falling over myself trying to get to familiarity. It's in a camp fire circle and right there on the other side of the rock is my black berry, red light blinking, and alarm blaring in blood stained hands.

My scream pierces the night, cuts through the air, and rips open the eyes of the red man.

He wakes so fast that I stumble and fall backwards.

“Run,” he says faintly, slowly turning his head to the side. And suddenly whips it back at me and yells "RUN!" His icy stare is lightning striking my body.

Instead of killing me, instantly, it brings me to life and I'm off. Shooting past every tree faster than I can breathe, faster than I can see, I run. My mind doesn't know where it's going but my body does. On autopilot, I make tight turns and slight drops at full speed and take flight.

And then I hear dogs barking behind me that shock me back into the pilots seat. But I don't know how to fly and propel myself right into a rock and tumble down the hill: beating my head, crushing shoulders, slashing knees, and twisting feet until I'm flat on my face at the bottom. And when I finally look up, I'm blinded by headlights. As the memory of that wicked grin flashes. And my world goes black

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Juice
21 reads
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by jennyd3
The Hunt
Morbidly cold air chills my skin as I awaken in the darkness.

I’m surrounded by pure white snow. And as I look up from my left and to my right I see only evergreen.

Where am I? 

I hear animals in the distance. I tremble and an undeniable fear over takes me, while the full moon reflects off the snow and creates an eerie light that weaves in between the trees painting the ground. The wind forcefully picks up, restricting my breathing.  I slightly pick up my head to find footprints trailed in the snow and it’s clear that I am not alone.

With stiff limbs I attempt to shift. My soaked clothing and frozen body make movement nearly impossible. But slowly I get to my feet and follow the trail.
One uncertain step after another, I stumble until I hear a faint but familiar ring.
The closer I get to the sound I hear a buzz along with it and move quickly towards the familiar annoyance silently screaming for joy. Adrenaline pushes me to a newborn's sprint, nearly falling over myself trying to get to familiarity. It's in a camp fire circle and right there on the other side of the rock is my black berry, red light blinking, and alarm blaring in blood stained hands.

My scream pierces the night, cuts through the air, and rips open the eyes of the red man.

He wakes so fast that I stumble and fall backwards.

“Run,” he says faintly, slowly turning his head to the side. And suddenly whips it back at me and yells "RUN!" His icy stare is lightning striking my body.
Instead of killing me, instantly, it brings me to life and I'm off. Shooting past every tree faster than I can breathe, faster than I can see, I run. My mind doesn't know where it's going but my body does. On autopilot, I make tight turns and slight drops at full speed and take flight.

And then I hear dogs barking behind me that shock me back into the pilots seat. But I don't know how to fly and propel myself right into a rock and tumble down the hill: beating my head, crushing shoulders, slashing knees, and twisting feet until I'm flat on my face at the bottom. And when I finally look up, I'm blinded by headlights. As the memory of that wicked grin flashes. And my world goes black

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Juice
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Written by Nicky

Marijane

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” Matthew 10:14-15

I was not a religious woman, but that story always stuck with me. It was my weapon, my last resort. I used to daydream that if I ever went to a town and they pissed me off, I’d give them my best godfather chin scratch and dust off my shoes. Then once I turned around, lightening and hellfire would obliterate the town as I walked off into the sunset. It was comforting to think that if it ever came down to it, I’d have that kind of power.

As I got a little older, I began to think that kind of cursing didn’t just apply to towns but individual people too, like in The Color Purple. Celie cursed the fuck outta Mister. Basically, she dusted off her shoes and walked away like a boss, just like those prophets in the Bible.

Then something happens when you grow up. You think you’re gonna be all-powerful, all-knowing and make all the right decisions. But it seems to me you lose power when you grow up. Your time’s no longer your own. You got a boss to answer to, a mother to please - suddenly it ain’t enough to be cute and pretty - and a man to keep. Eventually, you got kids to take care of but I’m avoiding that next phase in my life. It felt like all my power was being sucked dry.

I had a come to Jesus moment the day before my 30th birthday. I was sitting on the couch with thoughts racing through my head. I remembered my old preacher telling us Jesus started his ministry at thirty years. Here I was, thirty years old, with nothing started.

I was supposed to be something by now right? Instead here I was, someone’s secretary where the most important mission I had was to make sure I picked up her dry cleaning on time. I was supposed be to something. Instead here I was, worrying about making dinner for a man named Mr. No Job and Hanging with the Guys All Night. I was supposed to be something. Instead here I was, working for a “feminist” white lady who’d refused to give me a raise for the past two years. I, Marijane, was supposed to be something. I was supposed to be something.

So I sat there on the couch all night. I didn’t make dinner for Mr. No Job who complained about being hungry as fuck then finally walked out when I didn’t move. I didn’t prepare Ms. No Raise’s presentation for her board meeting tomorrow. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t do anything except think about what my something was.

The sky was starting to turn gray and I still hadn’t moved. My stomach begins to grumble in time with the bird’s wakeup call and still I sit there. I think about Jesus in the desert for some ungodly amount of days and wonder what he did that whole time besides starve. The preacher never said.

Mr. No Job comes home somewhere between drunk and hungover. He sits on the chair opposite of me, blurry eyed and confused. “You ain’t moved yet?”

I just blink at him. Jesus didn’t talk to nobody except the devil. I decided Mr. No Job would do. “Nah, Mr. No Job, I ain’t moved.”

“What’s that you calling me?” He seems less hungover now and more drunk.

“Mr. No Job.”

“Woman, why you calling me that? You lucky I ain’t Mr. Wifebeater.”

I laugh, then wonder if laughing is allowed in the Desert. Mr. No Job was a lot of things but violent wasn’t one of them. “No, you’ve never hit a woman or a man either come to think of it.”

Mr. No Job glares at me. “What you tryna say?”

“Nothing,” I tell him honestly, “Nothing at all.”

He mutters for a while, slipping more towards hangover. “You sat on this couch all night?”

“Yeah.”

He shakes his head at me. “Woman, you crazy.”

I don’t answer him this time. It takes too much energy to talk to the devil.

“Is there any food?”

“Sure.”

“You made something?”

“Nah, I’ve been sitting here all night remember? Go make it yourself.”

He mumbles and shakes his head some more. “What you good for then?” The words are almost under his breath, like he meant them but didn’t mean for me to hear him.

I answer anyway. “I don’t know.”

“Know what?”

“What I’m good for.”

He shakes his head. “You don’t know huh.”

“What are you good for?”

“Huh?”

“How do you make my life better?”

He laughs. “Girl, I give it to you good.”

I think about it. Hard thrusts that leave him sweaty and me waiting for something to happen, only it never does. “No,” I tell him, speaking the truth out loud for the first time, “No you don’t.”

He startles and shakes and stutters. “What you mean, woman?”

“I mean you don’t give it to me good.” Sometimes, you have to spell it out for people.

He stares, like I had said the most outrageous thing he’d ever heard. “What you know?”

“I’m there with you ain’t I? I should know then. It’s my body you coming inside of. But that’s all. Nothing happens for me. Nothing.” I’m feeling frustrated now, like having to explain two plus two over and over and they still not getting it.

He looks mad now, swearing under his breath, and I’m tired. “What else you do for me?” I ask.

“Man, this is stupid. I look good don’t I?”

I look at him now. The nice full lips, brown skin and dark eyes, they were all his. The faded haircut, diamond stud earring, Timberlands, blue jeans and nice t-shirt were all shit I bought him with my no-raise-in-two-years income. I think about all the money I wasted on this man. “Yeah, you look good because I made you look good.”

“Marijane you trippin.”

Suddenly I was Marijane. I wasn’t woman no more. “So what if I am.”

He rubs his eyes. “Aight I’m going to bed. Come find me when you back to normal.” 

Then he gets up and stumbles off to bed.

I stay on the couch, digesting his words and the way he said my name, Marijane. Suddenly, the air feels hazy and the room spins. I stagger up, trying to break through the clouds threatening to choke me. I couldn’t sit here no more. I had to be something. I wanted to be something today besides thirty.

I jump into the shower and stand under the hot water. I feel cleansed. Baptized. I didn’t bother using Dove. My skin felt raw and reborn when I finally get out. Can a woman enter her mother’s womb again?

I walk out naked as a newborn and grab my suitcases out the closet. Mr. No Job lay snoring on the bed and did not hear me as I surveyed my overflowing closet. I pull on a long, green dress and stuff my feet into some flats. I begin to fill my bag with clothes, jewelry and shoes.

I pick up a scarf I hated and the light material feels heavy as a rock. I drop it and take only what I loved. I finish sooner than expected.

I go in the kitchen and take the pans and china that’d been passed down from mother to daughter. Only my photo albums and world map make it into the bag from the living room. When I had finished, everything I loved fits into three bags. I am almost ready.

I take out a piece of paper, an envelope and stamp from the kitchen drawer and wrote a letter to my landlord. I give my thirty days’ notice and a forwarding address for my security deposit. I add that if he sees anyone in the unit past this date, they were trespassing and should be removed immediately. I drop my keys inside, seal it and stick it my back pocket to put in the office dropbox on my way out. Then I kick, grunt and carry my bags outside and drop them outside the door.

I stare back into the home that had not welcomed me, where my words were never heard. I lift my foot and brush off invisible dust with my hand. I imagine fine fairy dust settling over the threshold, cursing the apartment and all its contents forever. I brush the other foot off for good measure, making sure the curse reaches Mr. No Job. Then I haul away my three bags and loaded them into my sedan. The rising sun warms my back as I drive away.

Two Weeks Later

The red box matches my red painted nails and high heels. It had been too long since I’d had my nails, hair and eyebrows done. I even smile as I walk back into my old workplace, something that I hadn’t happened since my interview.

The other secretaries tutted and crooned as I begin filling the red box with the contents of my old desk - my day planner, my kitty calendar, all my notebooks, my colorful pens, my comfortable flats and my “Secretary: the one thing standing between one’s workplace and sheer, utter chaos” mug. I pause, the mug still in my hand, stuck on the word ‘thing’. When had secretary become a ‘thing’? I sit the mug on my now empty desk facing outward to the whole office. I wouldn’t need it anymore.

I give my work friends hugs and promises to keep in touch. Just as I pick up my red box, the door to my old boss’s office opens and long, slim legs walk out followed by hunched shoulders and head buried in some folder. She barely looks up at me. “Is that you Marijane?”

“Yeah it is,” I tell her, readjusting the box on my hip.

Her lips become almost invisible and she gives a little huffy harrumph, as only white people know how to do. “I’m surprised you had the nerve to show up here after disappearing unannounced.”

“I’m sure you got along fine without me,” I say smoothly, glancing back at my desk to make sure I didn’t forget nothing.

She lowers her folder and really looks at me. “I went against my better judgement and hired you with no bachelor's degree or any real experience. I think I deserved some kind of notice.”

Everybody goes silent. I want to laugh and cry and run. But I don’t. I stand there looking at her, wondering if this is how Moses felt standing in front of the red sea, stick in hand, waiting for it to part.

“Do you hear me, Marijane?”

I pop my box up into a better position. “Sure, I hear you. I been hearing you for the past two years now. ‘Go get this Marijane’, ‘Pick up my dry cleaning Marijane’, ‘Break in these shoes for me Marijane’, ‘Get my coffee Marijane’. That was all well and fine until I realized I wasn’t getting paid the same amount as all the secretaries, even the ones who started after me.”

“You don’t have a degree,” my old boss says, crossing her arms.

I look around the room at the other secretaries. “Who here got a bachelor’s degree?”

One woman in the corner raises her hand. Everyone else looks around, mildly curious.

“I actually have an associate’s degree, yet I found out awhile back that I started at the same pay level as someone without a degree at all. And you, a feminist always harping on about the gender wage gap, refused to give me a raise two reviews in a row. So yeah, I’m leaving.”

Their eyes swiveled from me to my old boss like we were on daytime television. Boss lady closed her folder. “Perhaps if you had worked harder -”

This time, I laugh. I throw my head back. I cackle. I am a witch who’s caught a snake with her bare hands. I am Jesus, renaming Pharisees as hypocrites. I am done. “Bye, Ms. Never Gives Raises to Black Women.”

I walk away with my red box, red nails and red heels. I stop at the end of the hall, lift up my right foot and dust it off. I lift up my other foot and do the same. And then I don’t look back.

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Written by Nicky
Marijane
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” Matthew 10:14-15

I was not a religious woman, but that story always stuck with me. It was my weapon, my last resort. I used to daydream that if I ever went to a town and they pissed me off, I’d give them my best godfather chin scratch and dust off my shoes. Then once I turned around, lightening and hellfire would obliterate the town as I walked off into the sunset. It was comforting to think that if it ever came down to it, I’d have that kind of power.

As I got a little older, I began to think that kind of cursing didn’t just apply to towns but individual people too, like in The Color Purple. Celie cursed the fuck outta Mister. Basically, she dusted off her shoes and walked away like a boss, just like those prophets in the Bible.

Then something happens when you grow up. You think you’re gonna be all-powerful, all-knowing and make all the right decisions. But it seems to me you lose power when you grow up. Your time’s no longer your own. You got a boss to answer to, a mother to please - suddenly it ain’t enough to be cute and pretty - and a man to keep. Eventually, you got kids to take care of but I’m avoiding that next phase in my life. It felt like all my power was being sucked dry.

I had a come to Jesus moment the day before my 30th birthday. I was sitting on the couch with thoughts racing through my head. I remembered my old preacher telling us Jesus started his ministry at thirty years. Here I was, thirty years old, with nothing started.
I was supposed to be something by now right? Instead here I was, someone’s secretary where the most important mission I had was to make sure I picked up her dry cleaning on time. I was supposed be to something. Instead here I was, worrying about making dinner for a man named Mr. No Job and Hanging with the Guys All Night. I was supposed to be something. Instead here I was, working for a “feminist” white lady who’d refused to give me a raise for the past two years. I, Marijane, was supposed to be something. I was supposed to be something.

So I sat there on the couch all night. I didn’t make dinner for Mr. No Job who complained about being hungry as fuck then finally walked out when I didn’t move. I didn’t prepare Ms. No Raise’s presentation for her board meeting tomorrow. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t do anything except think about what my something was.
The sky was starting to turn gray and I still hadn’t moved. My stomach begins to grumble in time with the bird’s wakeup call and still I sit there. I think about Jesus in the desert for some ungodly amount of days and wonder what he did that whole time besides starve. The preacher never said.

Mr. No Job comes home somewhere between drunk and hungover. He sits on the chair opposite of me, blurry eyed and confused. “You ain’t moved yet?”

I just blink at him. Jesus didn’t talk to nobody except the devil. I decided Mr. No Job would do. “Nah, Mr. No Job, I ain’t moved.”

“What’s that you calling me?” He seems less hungover now and more drunk.

“Mr. No Job.”

“Woman, why you calling me that? You lucky I ain’t Mr. Wifebeater.”

I laugh, then wonder if laughing is allowed in the Desert. Mr. No Job was a lot of things but violent wasn’t one of them. “No, you’ve never hit a woman or a man either come to think of it.”

Mr. No Job glares at me. “What you tryna say?”

“Nothing,” I tell him honestly, “Nothing at all.”

He mutters for a while, slipping more towards hangover. “You sat on this couch all night?”

“Yeah.”

He shakes his head at me. “Woman, you crazy.”

I don’t answer him this time. It takes too much energy to talk to the devil.

“Is there any food?”

“Sure.”

“You made something?”

“Nah, I’ve been sitting here all night remember? Go make it yourself.”

He mumbles and shakes his head some more. “What you good for then?” The words are almost under his breath, like he meant them but didn’t mean for me to hear him.

I answer anyway. “I don’t know.”

“Know what?”

“What I’m good for.”

He shakes his head. “You don’t know huh.”

“What are you good for?”

“Huh?”

“How do you make my life better?”

He laughs. “Girl, I give it to you good.”

I think about it. Hard thrusts that leave him sweaty and me waiting for something to happen, only it never does. “No,” I tell him, speaking the truth out loud for the first time, “No you don’t.”

He startles and shakes and stutters. “What you mean, woman?”

“I mean you don’t give it to me good.” Sometimes, you have to spell it out for people.

He stares, like I had said the most outrageous thing he’d ever heard. “What you know?”

“I’m there with you ain’t I? I should know then. It’s my body you coming inside of. But that’s all. Nothing happens for me. Nothing.” I’m feeling frustrated now, like having to explain two plus two over and over and they still not getting it.

He looks mad now, swearing under his breath, and I’m tired. “What else you do for me?” I ask.

“Man, this is stupid. I look good don’t I?”

I look at him now. The nice full lips, brown skin and dark eyes, they were all his. The faded haircut, diamond stud earring, Timberlands, blue jeans and nice t-shirt were all shit I bought him with my no-raise-in-two-years income. I think about all the money I wasted on this man. “Yeah, you look good because I made you look good.”

“Marijane you trippin.”

Suddenly I was Marijane. I wasn’t woman no more. “So what if I am.”

He rubs his eyes. “Aight I’m going to bed. Come find me when you back to normal.” 

Then he gets up and stumbles off to bed.

I stay on the couch, digesting his words and the way he said my name, Marijane. Suddenly, the air feels hazy and the room spins. I stagger up, trying to break through the clouds threatening to choke me. I couldn’t sit here no more. I had to be something. I wanted to be something today besides thirty.

I jump into the shower and stand under the hot water. I feel cleansed. Baptized. I didn’t bother using Dove. My skin felt raw and reborn when I finally get out. Can a woman enter her mother’s womb again?

I walk out naked as a newborn and grab my suitcases out the closet. Mr. No Job lay snoring on the bed and did not hear me as I surveyed my overflowing closet. I pull on a long, green dress and stuff my feet into some flats. I begin to fill my bag with clothes, jewelry and shoes.

I pick up a scarf I hated and the light material feels heavy as a rock. I drop it and take only what I loved. I finish sooner than expected.

I go in the kitchen and take the pans and china that’d been passed down from mother to daughter. Only my photo albums and world map make it into the bag from the living room. When I had finished, everything I loved fits into three bags. I am almost ready.

I take out a piece of paper, an envelope and stamp from the kitchen drawer and wrote a letter to my landlord. I give my thirty days’ notice and a forwarding address for my security deposit. I add that if he sees anyone in the unit past this date, they were trespassing and should be removed immediately. I drop my keys inside, seal it and stick it my back pocket to put in the office dropbox on my way out. Then I kick, grunt and carry my bags outside and drop them outside the door.

I stare back into the home that had not welcomed me, where my words were never heard. I lift my foot and brush off invisible dust with my hand. I imagine fine fairy dust settling over the threshold, cursing the apartment and all its contents forever. I brush the other foot off for good measure, making sure the curse reaches Mr. No Job. Then I haul away my three bags and loaded them into my sedan. The rising sun warms my back as I drive away.

Two Weeks Later

The red box matches my red painted nails and high heels. It had been too long since I’d had my nails, hair and eyebrows done. I even smile as I walk back into my old workplace, something that I hadn’t happened since my interview.

The other secretaries tutted and crooned as I begin filling the red box with the contents of my old desk - my day planner, my kitty calendar, all my notebooks, my colorful pens, my comfortable flats and my “Secretary: the one thing standing between one’s workplace and sheer, utter chaos” mug. I pause, the mug still in my hand, stuck on the word ‘thing’. When had secretary become a ‘thing’? I sit the mug on my now empty desk facing outward to the whole office. I wouldn’t need it anymore.

I give my work friends hugs and promises to keep in touch. Just as I pick up my red box, the door to my old boss’s office opens and long, slim legs walk out followed by hunched shoulders and head buried in some folder. She barely looks up at me. “Is that you Marijane?”

“Yeah it is,” I tell her, readjusting the box on my hip.

Her lips become almost invisible and she gives a little huffy harrumph, as only white people know how to do. “I’m surprised you had the nerve to show up here after disappearing unannounced.”

“I’m sure you got along fine without me,” I say smoothly, glancing back at my desk to make sure I didn’t forget nothing.

She lowers her folder and really looks at me. “I went against my better judgement and hired you with no bachelor's degree or any real experience. I think I deserved some kind of notice.”

Everybody goes silent. I want to laugh and cry and run. But I don’t. I stand there looking at her, wondering if this is how Moses felt standing in front of the red sea, stick in hand, waiting for it to part.

“Do you hear me, Marijane?”

I pop my box up into a better position. “Sure, I hear you. I been hearing you for the past two years now. ‘Go get this Marijane’, ‘Pick up my dry cleaning Marijane’, ‘Break in these shoes for me Marijane’, ‘Get my coffee Marijane’. That was all well and fine until I realized I wasn’t getting paid the same amount as all the secretaries, even the ones who started after me.”

“You don’t have a degree,” my old boss says, crossing her arms.

I look around the room at the other secretaries. “Who here got a bachelor’s degree?”

One woman in the corner raises her hand. Everyone else looks around, mildly curious.

“I actually have an associate’s degree, yet I found out awhile back that I started at the same pay level as someone without a degree at all. And you, a feminist always harping on about the gender wage gap, refused to give me a raise two reviews in a row. So yeah, I’m leaving.”

Their eyes swiveled from me to my old boss like we were on daytime television. Boss lady closed her folder. “Perhaps if you had worked harder -”

This time, I laugh. I throw my head back. I cackle. I am a witch who’s caught a snake with her bare hands. I am Jesus, renaming Pharisees as hypocrites. I am done. “Bye, Ms. Never Gives Raises to Black Women.”

I walk away with my red box, red nails and red heels. I stop at the end of the hall, lift up my right foot and dust it off. I lift up my other foot and do the same. And then I don’t look back.


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Written by JimLamb

You Have the Right to Remain Violent

Driving home that night, I notice red-yellow-blue lights flash in my rear-view mirror. The dusk-sky completes the scene: Vanilla-cream, sprightly hue, sparkle-lit.

Static-tinged sound wheezes from the ancient, out-of-breath speakers:

"I been in the right place,

But it must have been the wrong time.

I'd have said the right thing,

But I must have used the wrong line"

Twitchingly I watch the somber-trot of the crisply ironed gray trousers shift slightly above the spit-shined black boots as Mr. LEO goose-steps to my auto-opened window.

“Sorry, officer. Is there a problem?” I ask. “Was I speeding?”

No response.

“Do I have a tail-light out?”

He doesn’t smile, flinch, or tic.

“Step out of the car, please,” he grit-whispers. Clint-ly. Flint-ly.

I do as he says.

That’s my first mistake. As my head is pushed smartly into the roof of my car, and a blunt object (perhaps a gun) smacks me sharply, I hazily think back to a morning that started so well — then went to hell.

“You have the right to remain silent,” he says.

And I am, violently silent, as I collapse, recalling the tall, cool, green-eyed-lady in the long black dress. She had asked for my help. Perhaps I should have said, “Yes.”

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Written by JimLamb
You Have the Right to Remain Violent
Driving home that night, I notice red-yellow-blue lights flash in my rear-view mirror. The dusk-sky completes the scene: Vanilla-cream, sprightly hue, sparkle-lit.

Static-tinged sound wheezes from the ancient, out-of-breath speakers:

"I been in the right place,
But it must have been the wrong time.
I'd have said the right thing,
But I must have used the wrong line"

Twitchingly I watch the somber-trot of the crisply ironed gray trousers shift slightly above the spit-shined black boots as Mr. LEO goose-steps to my auto-opened window.

“Sorry, officer. Is there a problem?” I ask. “Was I speeding?”

No response.

“Do I have a tail-light out?”

He doesn’t smile, flinch, or tic.

“Step out of the car, please,” he grit-whispers. Clint-ly. Flint-ly.

I do as he says.

That’s my first mistake. As my head is pushed smartly into the roof of my car, and a blunt object (perhaps a gun) smacks me sharply, I hazily think back to a morning that started so well — then went to hell.

“You have the right to remain silent,” he says.

And I am, violently silent, as I collapse, recalling the tall, cool, green-eyed-lady in the long black dress. She had asked for my help. Perhaps I should have said, “Yes.”
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Written by wondersinwords

All You Poets

I saw you at a bar once

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon with your sunglasses and a brown hat crumpled in a pile next to you

You were hunched over your blue book, scribbling away in a stained notebook with a borrowed pen from the bartender

You didn't look up when I said hi

You didn't notice me when I walked by for the first time, or the second, or the twelfth, or the thirteenth

You were too busy rambling away in your books, with your blood stained words about me, to see me standing right in front of you

You never saw how much I silently pleaded you to ask me to stay 

You just turned away and walked out, the second I said go. As if you were waiting for the instructions 

You didn't look back at the framed pictures of how much I loved you hanging on my wall, or the roses I left on your doorstep, soon withered beyond recognition

You didn't look back at all the cups of coffee we've shared even though I hate the bittersweet aftertaste

You didn't see the phone calls, or the lunches or the day I drove the four hours to your house to say goodbye

You didn't see how much I put aside, so I didn't have to put you aside

No, you were blinded by what we didn't have. Fueled by a muse you created out of the ashes of a fire you started.

All you poets, you're all the same, delusional

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Written by wondersinwords
All You Poets
I saw you at a bar once
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon with your sunglasses and a brown hat crumpled in a pile next to you
You were hunched over your blue book, scribbling away in a stained notebook with a borrowed pen from the bartender
You didn't look up when I said hi
You didn't notice me when I walked by for the first time, or the second, or the twelfth, or the thirteenth
You were too busy rambling away in your books, with your blood stained words about me, to see me standing right in front of you
You never saw how much I silently pleaded you to ask me to stay 
You just turned away and walked out, the second I said go. As if you were waiting for the instructions 
You didn't look back at the framed pictures of how much I loved you hanging on my wall, or the roses I left on your doorstep, soon withered beyond recognition
You didn't look back at all the cups of coffee we've shared even though I hate the bittersweet aftertaste
You didn't see the phone calls, or the lunches or the day I drove the four hours to your house to say goodbye
You didn't see how much I put aside, so I didn't have to put you aside
No, you were blinded by what we didn't have. Fueled by a muse you created out of the ashes of a fire you started.
All you poets, you're all the same, delusional

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Written by CherieMitchell

The Prize

I won an Art Scholarship when I was 15. The Headmaster called out my name at the school assembly and I looked up in confusion, sure there had been a mistake or that I had misheard him. My classmates swiveled their heads and stared at me and I felt the blood rush to my cheeks, coloring my face a deep and unattractive red and causing me to slow burn with a sudden and hot humiliation. I glanced over to where my Art Teacher stood with the other teachers at the side of the hall, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. Mrs. Pollock’s wrinkled face creased into a wide grin as she caught my eye and she nodded her head, once then twice. Prickles of sweat burst out in sticky patches along my spine and my palms itched.

The Headmaster was searching the crowd of students, probing this uniformed gathering of disinterested youth with his slightly myopic gaze, looking for me. A slight frown fuddled his brow. He had no idea who I was. I was an acceptable student but I had never stood out for any reason before, neither good nor bad. My name had never drifted across his desk or fallen from the lips of any teacher during their lunchroom break in the stuffy Teacher’s Cubby. Someone seated in the row behind me tittered and the boy sitting on the hard wooden bench beside me prodded me with his elbow. “You have to go up on stage,” he hissed.

I stood up awkwardly, pulling my dress down at the back and feeling the cotton material stick against the skin of my thighs. For an awful moment my mind made a quantum leap forward, imagining that my period had arrived unannounced while I’d been seated here. I pictured the entire school watching the dark red stain seep across my skirt as I made my way up to the stage. My feet moved clumsily, halting and unwilling to carry me into the full attention of my peers. The aisle leading to the podium at the front of the hall was a million miles long as I trudged past rows upon rows of bored and restless students. The Headmaster looked relieved to see me as I at last made my way towards him. He shuffled his feet impatiently and pushed his spectacles up his nose as I slowly climbed the Himalayan mountain range of steps to stand beside him on the stage.

Embarrassed beyond redemption, I allowed the Headmaster to take my hand in his large dry paw and pump it enthusiastically. He thrust a white envelope into my hand and I heard his words of congratulations dance in the air around my head. I was flustered and confused. My artwork was not good enough to earn a scholarship. I enjoyed art classes and I had some creative ability, but my paintings paled beside the artistic harmonies of my fellow students. Following the Headmaster’s instructions, I stepped back and stood with the line of other youths, winners every one, who now stood to one side of the stage. The stiff card of the envelope felt foreign and wrong in my hand. I did not deserve to win an Art Scholarship. I did not deserve to stand here on the stage in front of the school and smiling accept this tribute.

Finally, we were released from our enforced display of triumph to return to our seats. The walk back to my row, sandwiched as I was between the student in front of me and the student behind as we filed from the stage, was thankfully fast as I floated with relief back into obscurity. I pushed past the other students to my empty spot on the bench, banging against knees and tripping over identically shoe-clad feet. I fell giddily back into the safety of my seat.

“What did you win?” My friend Jackie, seated by my side, pressed into me and looked at the envelope with interest.

I stared down at the envelope. I was an impostor. “Open it,” the boy seated on the other side of me prompted. I could not look at him. I was a phony, a pretender to this unasked-for accolade. Instead I stared at the graze on his knee, wondering at the poetic blend of grass stain and brown dirt and starkly reddened skin that colored his flesh like an alien sunset.

I exhaled, feeling the knot of tension in my chest. I knew that I would open the envelope and find someone else’s name inside. The Art Teacher would realize that yes, she had made a mistake, I would laugh with my friends ever after about the day I was nearly awarded an Art Scholarship in error, and the whole episode would correct itself. Taking another deep breath, I carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the certificate and check contained within the crisp paper pouch. The tiny paper cut which the edge of the envelope flap inflicted on my finger felt just and fitting, its sudden sting an echo of my pseudo acclaim.

I stared at the document in my hand. My full name was written in pretty calligraphy on the beige-toned certificate. The check too was written in my name, the princely sum of $86.00 printed in curling figures beside it. This was 1980, I was 15 years old, and I had suddenly and bizarrely received a windfall. Even in black and white this made little sense to me.

I eventually bought myself a secondhand black Remington Rand typewriter with the money. The Art Teacher and the Headmaster could play out their own little fantasy, but I could not ever admit that I was an art scholar. It would only confirm my status as a rip-off artist if I was to purchase art supplies for myself with the money, and I was not willing to do that.

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Written by CherieMitchell
The Prize
I won an Art Scholarship when I was 15. The Headmaster called out my name at the school assembly and I looked up in confusion, sure there had been a mistake or that I had misheard him. My classmates swiveled their heads and stared at me and I felt the blood rush to my cheeks, coloring my face a deep and unattractive red and causing me to slow burn with a sudden and hot humiliation. I glanced over to where my Art Teacher stood with the other teachers at the side of the hall, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. Mrs. Pollock’s wrinkled face creased into a wide grin as she caught my eye and she nodded her head, once then twice. Prickles of sweat burst out in sticky patches along my spine and my palms itched.

The Headmaster was searching the crowd of students, probing this uniformed gathering of disinterested youth with his slightly myopic gaze, looking for me. A slight frown fuddled his brow. He had no idea who I was. I was an acceptable student but I had never stood out for any reason before, neither good nor bad. My name had never drifted across his desk or fallen from the lips of any teacher during their lunchroom break in the stuffy Teacher’s Cubby. Someone seated in the row behind me tittered and the boy sitting on the hard wooden bench beside me prodded me with his elbow. “You have to go up on stage,” he hissed.

I stood up awkwardly, pulling my dress down at the back and feeling the cotton material stick against the skin of my thighs. For an awful moment my mind made a quantum leap forward, imagining that my period had arrived unannounced while I’d been seated here. I pictured the entire school watching the dark red stain seep across my skirt as I made my way up to the stage. My feet moved clumsily, halting and unwilling to carry me into the full attention of my peers. The aisle leading to the podium at the front of the hall was a million miles long as I trudged past rows upon rows of bored and restless students. The Headmaster looked relieved to see me as I at last made my way towards him. He shuffled his feet impatiently and pushed his spectacles up his nose as I slowly climbed the Himalayan mountain range of steps to stand beside him on the stage.

Embarrassed beyond redemption, I allowed the Headmaster to take my hand in his large dry paw and pump it enthusiastically. He thrust a white envelope into my hand and I heard his words of congratulations dance in the air around my head. I was flustered and confused. My artwork was not good enough to earn a scholarship. I enjoyed art classes and I had some creative ability, but my paintings paled beside the artistic harmonies of my fellow students. Following the Headmaster’s instructions, I stepped back and stood with the line of other youths, winners every one, who now stood to one side of the stage. The stiff card of the envelope felt foreign and wrong in my hand. I did not deserve to win an Art Scholarship. I did not deserve to stand here on the stage in front of the school and smiling accept this tribute.

Finally, we were released from our enforced display of triumph to return to our seats. The walk back to my row, sandwiched as I was between the student in front of me and the student behind as we filed from the stage, was thankfully fast as I floated with relief back into obscurity. I pushed past the other students to my empty spot on the bench, banging against knees and tripping over identically shoe-clad feet. I fell giddily back into the safety of my seat.

“What did you win?” My friend Jackie, seated by my side, pressed into me and looked at the envelope with interest.

I stared down at the envelope. I was an impostor. “Open it,” the boy seated on the other side of me prompted. I could not look at him. I was a phony, a pretender to this unasked-for accolade. Instead I stared at the graze on his knee, wondering at the poetic blend of grass stain and brown dirt and starkly reddened skin that colored his flesh like an alien sunset.

I exhaled, feeling the knot of tension in my chest. I knew that I would open the envelope and find someone else’s name inside. The Art Teacher would realize that yes, she had made a mistake, I would laugh with my friends ever after about the day I was nearly awarded an Art Scholarship in error, and the whole episode would correct itself. Taking another deep breath, I carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the certificate and check contained within the crisp paper pouch. The tiny paper cut which the edge of the envelope flap inflicted on my finger felt just and fitting, its sudden sting an echo of my pseudo acclaim.

I stared at the document in my hand. My full name was written in pretty calligraphy on the beige-toned certificate. The check too was written in my name, the princely sum of $86.00 printed in curling figures beside it. This was 1980, I was 15 years old, and I had suddenly and bizarrely received a windfall. Even in black and white this made little sense to me.

I eventually bought myself a secondhand black Remington Rand typewriter with the money. The Art Teacher and the Headmaster could play out their own little fantasy, but I could not ever admit that I was an art scholar. It would only confirm my status as a rip-off artist if I was to purchase art supplies for myself with the money, and I was not willing to do that.

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Written by ChrisRathburn

No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy

     Nietzsche said that. No, some samurai or something. Doesn’t matter. The point is you found the note. They don’t notice things like balloons or signs or keys jangling on a string, so I figured I could make it obvious. It’s six days from whenever this started. My phone died and I don’t keep track. Anyway:

-123 canned vegetables and beans, unsorted

-15 gallons bottled water

-First Aid Kit

-1 bag flour

-1 box penne noodles

*Other dry stuff. About 10 pounds of carbs.

-Clothes; adult XL male, girls size 8

-Tools and spare house/shed stuff

-One revolver

-5 bullets

-Whatever’s on me

     The key is for 19991 Northdale Ct. East. The green split level between the brown ranch style and the other green split level. There’s a big orange X on the door. Everything in there is boxed up. Should keep. Safe from the elements.

     You’re going to find what’s left of me. Kitchen. One of them bit me. I know what happens. I figured I may as well give a leg up to whoever comes next.

     I hope you have a good life. Whatever they are, they aren’t better than us. Alice. Gretchen. If you found this, I love you. Survive. Sorry about the mess. If I missed and I’m up walking around, sorry about that too.

Todd Pothast

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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by ChrisRathburn
No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy
     Nietzsche said that. No, some samurai or something. Doesn’t matter. The point is you found the note. They don’t notice things like balloons or signs or keys jangling on a string, so I figured I could make it obvious. It’s six days from whenever this started. My phone died and I don’t keep track. Anyway:

-123 canned vegetables and beans, unsorted
-15 gallons bottled water
-First Aid Kit
-1 bag flour
-1 box penne noodles
*Other dry stuff. About 10 pounds of carbs.
-Clothes; adult XL male, girls size 8
-Tools and spare house/shed stuff
-One revolver
-5 bullets
-Whatever’s on me

     The key is for 19991 Northdale Ct. East. The green split level between the brown ranch style and the other green split level. There’s a big orange X on the door. Everything in there is boxed up. Should keep. Safe from the elements.
     You’re going to find what’s left of me. Kitchen. One of them bit me. I know what happens. I figured I may as well give a leg up to whoever comes next.
     I hope you have a good life. Whatever they are, they aren’t better than us. Alice. Gretchen. If you found this, I love you. Survive. Sorry about the mess. If I missed and I’m up walking around, sorry about that too.

Todd Pothast

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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by julie_anne96

Forever Loving You

Those summers where i share laughter's with you,

Now is just a fading memories.

Those day when i wake up in your arms,

Now is just a cold empty sheets.

Those days when i wish that we will belong forever,

Now im alone.

Pain of losing,

Pain of being alone,

Pain of being without you.

No matter how hard i cry everyday and plead for you to come back,

all i get is a sorrowful wind that send shivers to my bones.

When you gone,

i lost everything,

it's like nothing is matters to me anymore.

i was nothing before i meet you,

im alone and lonely,

you give me light and warmth,

but now its all taken back away from me.

The source of the lights in my life is gone,

you're gone.

Whenever i try to be with you,

in a verge of ending it all.

i remember when you hug me in the bathroom,

soothing me when im crying,

when im angry.

Your words are still fresh in my minds.

It's like you were there,

like you never left.

But when i wake up,

its still white and empty.

You said to me that you'll come back every time that you gone,

but the last words you said to me that day is,

"Don't wait for me, i love you"

But my dear, i will always wait for you.

No matter how long you're gone,

no matter how long i'll live,

in the end we will be together again.

-Grief 8/5/2017 5.17PM

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Juice
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by julie_anne96
Forever Loving You
Those summers where i share laughter's with you,
Now is just a fading memories.
Those day when i wake up in your arms,
Now is just a cold empty sheets.
Those days when i wish that we will belong forever,
Now im alone.

Pain of losing,
Pain of being alone,
Pain of being without you.
No matter how hard i cry everyday and plead for you to come back,
all i get is a sorrowful wind that send shivers to my bones.

When you gone,
i lost everything,
it's like nothing is matters to me anymore.

i was nothing before i meet you,
im alone and lonely,
you give me light and warmth,
but now its all taken back away from me.

The source of the lights in my life is gone,
you're gone.

Whenever i try to be with you,
in a verge of ending it all.
i remember when you hug me in the bathroom,
soothing me when im crying,
when im angry.
Your words are still fresh in my minds.
It's like you were there,
like you never left.

But when i wake up,
its still white and empty.
You said to me that you'll come back every time that you gone,
but the last words you said to me that day is,
"Don't wait for me, i love you"

But my dear, i will always wait for you.
No matter how long you're gone,
no matter how long i'll live,
in the end we will be together again.

-Grief 8/5/2017 5.17PM
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Juice
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