Sunday, December 23, 2007

It Was All Downhill from the Doritos

"It Was All Down Hill From The Doritos"
by Miranda von Salis

“Crunch, Crunch, Crunch.”

The sound of poor innocent tortilla chips being smashed was the only thing to break the silence. Max turned towards Greg and wished that he would put down the half-empty bag of Doritos and pay attention to his surroundings for once in his life. Greg refused. In all his fake-cheesy glory, he sat and munched his chips.

Max was glad that in the dark of the room he couldn’t see the bright orange powder that must have been covering everything. He hated chips, Doritos most of all. The sound they made rustling in the bag and being eaten, the color and shape that people so eagerly crammed into their mouths. The smell alone was almost enough to make him sick.

“Shhh…,” Max warned, exasperated. “They’ll hear you and we’ll get sent back to assembly.”

Greg continued to roll the mass of half chewed food around although, by now, it was too soggy to make more then the occasional squelch. His reasoning was, “How could a few chips ruin our plan for ditching?” The plan was already brilliantly concocted: hiding in a dark empty classroom for the last period of the day. Greg himself had created it and he was in no way worried about being found out. “Plus, it isn’t as if being busted for stuff isn’t already my main hobby.” He thought smiling.

“Hey, I didn’t need to let you in on my master plan," he told Max. "Your talkin’ is what’s going to get us caught anyway.”

Time continued to pass in silence. Eventually Greg ran out of chips and fell asleep; soon Max followed suit. A couple hours later Greg gave Max a quick punch to the ribs.

“Hey slacker, get up! What time is it? You were sleeping on your goddamn watch.” Max rolled over and groggily found the buttons that lit up the face of his watch.

“What’s wrong with you? It’s still like 11:30.” He rolled over to settle back into sleep. Greg sat there for a moment and Max thought that he might finally be quiet, but no, Greg was thinking.

“Hey Max,” he said at last, “before you fall back into happy-dream-land, it was after lunch when we came in here right?” Max rolled back around and in the dark they both looked at each other. Then, at the same time, they both bounded for the door. Through the little window they could see that the halls were empty. Max unlocked the door from the inside thanking God for two-sided locks. They stepped out into the hall.

“How are we going to get out?” asked Greg, panicking. “They don’t have normal locks on the front doors and there is that pull-down gate thingy!”

“Calm down.” said Max. “You always get us into problems and I always get us out. We’ll call home from the phone in the office and my parents will get the guy with the keys to come and get us. See? What would you do without me, huh?”

“Fine, jeez, you don’t have to sound so happy about it though. I mean, we’re trapped in school on a Friday night, literally. This is like the nightmare of my life. Can we grab some food too? I’m starving.”

Max rolled his eyes.

“You eat like two tons of food a day. Go grab some from the cafeteria vending machines. You got money?”

Greg nodded.

“OK then, go get food for both of us, please not Doritos, and meet me in the office. I know you know where both those places are. They’re like your whole day.” Greg made a face at the last comment but hurried off.

“Happy hunting!” called Max after him. Now alone in the hall, Max looked around and started walking through the building toward the office.

It was dark. The only light was glowing creepily from the "EXIT" signs. The halls echoed with each of Max's fast-paced steps. He emerged into the central lobby and surveyed the scene. If lobbies were like the Wild West tumbleweeds would have been rolling all around. Max hated being alone like this. Part of him wanted to run upstairs to the cafeteria and find Greg but he knew it would give Greg reason to make fun of him for the rest of his life, no matter how long it ended up being.

“I’ll just call home and tell them to come and get me.” he said out loud, his voice bouncing off the walls and floor, ringing in his head. He made a beeline to the office door. Just as he was about to grab the knob of the big ancient door that was unique to the school office, he...

Whipped around and saw to his amazement an army of miniature robots!

I use the term army lightly because not only were they not particularly scary looking but they did not seem very organized either. Still, it was quite a shock for Max who had just convinced himself that all his anxiety was in his head. When he saw them he grabbed the knob and flew into the room, slamming the door behind him. He stood there shaking for a moment before deciding that now was the perfect time for him to get out of this nuthouse. He began searching for the phone that he knew had to be somewhere. Soon he found it hidden stealthily on the secretary’s desk and dialed his number. After two rings the line went dead. “Now what do I do?!” thought Max, beginning to panic.

He turned to go find Greg when he noticed a swarm of little metallic arms reaching toward him from the thin crack under the door. There was a loud CRACK as a small chunk of the door was broken into the room. “Holy shit!” thought Max, “They’re trying to get in!” Part of his mind had been hoping that they would be nice robots but now all his hopes shattered. He grabbed the first thing he could find from the desk behind him.

Brandishing his three hole punch he strode over to the door. In one movement he opened it and plunged into the mass of little bodies. As he made a break for the stairs he was sweeping his weapon of choice in front of him, clearing a path. As he mounted the stairs, taking them two at a time, he briefly thought, “I hope Greg is dealing with these things better than I am. Better yet, I hope they haven’t found him at all.” When he got to the second floor cafeteria, he found that was not the case. Greg was sprawled across one table and two chairs and was not moving. Max rushed over to him.

“Greg? Greg!” he shouted, shaking him. “OhmyGod!” he thought, “he’s dead!!! Things couldn’t get any worse. Damn him always being hungry!”

Max didn’t know if he was more sad or angry at Greg for leaving him alone in this situation. He saw, sprinkled around the table, lots of little metal chunks that looked as if they were once a functioning robot platoon. Next to Greg lay a battered plastic tray from the food line. He looked back to his former best friend and said to him, “This is crazy! I'm sorry, but I need to get out of here!”

With that he jogged over to the stairs and witnessed the complex procedure of a hundred or so eight-inch robots getting up a flight of stairs. “Ok,” he thought, frenzied, “not that way.”

He turned and went back over to the table containing Greg. His eyes searched the room for possible forms of exit. They fell upon a window way in the back of the room. Max went over to it and peered out. He noticed, as he never had before, that all the windows in the back row were practically on street level. A doable jump although there was a line of trash bags along the wall.

“Thank God for them building this school on a steep hill.” Max thought as he made up his mind. Quickly, he opened the window and turned around. Walking back to Greg he thought how impractical his plan was. Just then he saw the robots emerging from the stairwell and the race began. They ran towards him and he ran towards Greg. He won. Scooping up Greg he silently wished that Greg had liked eating just a little less. He rearranged him over his shoulders and began to sprint to the open window, the robots in hot pursuit. After about three strides he realized that he could not outrun them. At least, not with the extra weight. In a split-second decision he dropped Greg and kept going at almost twice the speed. Max climbed to the windowsill and looked back only once. Only some of the robots had gotten distracted and were now dragging Greg back towards the stairs.

“I hope he isn’t mad at me,” whispered Max as he jumped out the window. He landed on the piles of trash and slid into a puddle. He didn’t miss a beat and started running at top speed though the empty late-night streets. He was relieved to escape the torture of that building but the thought was bittersweet because deep down he knew that he would have to be back at eight am on Monday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Monster

"The Monster"
by Yossi Halperin

I was awoken by the front door being slammed open downstairs.

The footsteps made chariot sounds as they marched up the stairs. Told me what fate lay ahead.

I quickly threw the covers over my head, hoping to shield myself from the unwanted intruder about to enter my room.

I lay down and pretended to be asleep so that the intruder might pass over my bedside.

I knew deep inside that like countless times before no bed sheet no shield not even a peaceful sleep would protect me from what was about to happen, what’s gotta happen what will happen and has happened every Saturday at 8:00 for as long as I can remember.

The chariots stop at the entrance to my door and my door swings open.

“Get the fuck up”
“Get the fuck outta bed”

I lie perfectly still maybe he’ll go away. Maybe I’ll fall asleep. Maybe he’ll fall asleep. But I know that, that’s wishful thinking and this situation has only one outcome.

The chariots approach my bedside and a bear-like claw reaches down, grasping my shield, my protector, and I come face to face with a six-foot-two hideous monster, a daemon. A giant a monster.

The monster stares me down. His eyes pierce my body and my soul.

He’s a giant, a giant without a shirt, old pants and a long beard. In one hand he holds a Budweiser and in the other he holds a Marlboro.


Smoke blows out of his mouth like a dragon as he talks and he finishes the cigarette and lights another from the embers of the last.
“Stop staring and answer me”
“What, you want one”

He takes a new Marlboro out of the bright red package and lights it. Then he hands it to me.

“Take it”
“Smoke it”

I just stare. I don’t want to smoke. I don’t want to be like him. But I don’t want to upset him either. I don’t know what to do. I just stare.

“Take it”
“I don’t want it”

“You don’t want it?”
“Yes you do”
“Yes you do”
“Yes you do”
“You want to smoke”
“All good little boys smoke”
“All good pre-teen boys smoke”
“Open up for the choo choo”
He laughs as he brings the Marlboro to my mouth.

I push his hand away and the Marlboro falls to the floor.

“No good”
“No good”
“Bad boy gets treated as bad boy” he chuckles as he chews on his Marlboro.

He picks the Marlboro up and grabs me by my neck and holds me up. He then pushes the Marlboro towards my mouth. I try to resist I try to keep my mouth closed but can’t. My mouth opens and the Marlboro enters. He forces it between my teeth and smoke fills my mouth and my body and I find my self coughing and wheezing and I find him laughing. I manage to push him away and he burns himself with the Marlboro.

“Look what you did”
“You little shit”

He throws the virtually extinguished cigarette butt at me and it forms embers as it collides with my covers

I want to scream.
I want to cry.
I want to run.
I want to hide.

But all I can do is stare and that’s what I do I stare and stare and stare. I don’t know why but I do.

“Stop staring you little fuck”
“Answer me”
“What you want one?”
“Why didn’t you answer the phone?”
“I needed a ride from the bar I called you for a ride but you didn’t answer the phone.”
“Why not”
“Why, you little shit”
“Why answer me”

I’m used to this; it’s sort of the norm for me. Normal Saturday morning routine and I know that if I ignore him he’ll hit me and if I answer he’ll hit me. So I answer him.

“I was sleeping plus I’m twelve and I don’t know how to drive.”
“No, no, no good”
“Little fuck!!!” he screams.

He takes a slug of his beer and lights another cigarette and takes a long hard pull and exhales letting smoke and the smell of beer fill the room.

“You’re just a lazy fuck. Too lazy to pick and old man up. Too lazy to get out of bed,” he chuckles.

He then finishes his beer and releases a large belch and throws the can at me.
“Aw that’s better”
“Wise guy”
“You think you’re a wise guy”

He removes his belt from his pants and whips it against his hand that holds the Marlboro causing it to fall to the floor. He looks at the cigarette and looks at me.

“Look what you done now”
“You little shit”
He picks up the Marlboro which is still lit and takes and puts it to his face taking a final drag. Then he looks at me and smirks. He takes the Marlboro and presses it against my chest.

The Marlboro flames burn as they get extinguished by my body. The butt drops to the bed and eventually rolls of to the floor.

He looks at me and laughs.

“You little shit”
“Be a man”
“Be a man”

I stare at him and then start crying. I don’t know why I but I do. I know what gonna happen but can’t help myself I burst out in tears.

“I said be a man”
“Be a man”

He swings the belt around. He swings the belt at me hitting me in the face.
“You lazy fuck”

He screams as the belt collides with my back/


His shouts are followed by another belt whip. I scream out in pain and he bursts out in laughter.

I hold my tears in when it comes to being beaten. I’m no amateur at this I’m a professional. I know how to play the game so I can get the least hurt. After all we have been competing for many years.

“All lazy fucks”
“All boys are lazy fucks”

He hits me in the face.

I don’t try to crawl away. I try to stop screaming but I can’t. I know how to play the game but can’t. I cry hard and scream louder and try to get away.

He grabs me picking me up in the air and hits me over and over again. Blood trickles down my face and onto my chest. I cry harder and louder and louder and I beg and I plead and I try to stop crying but I can’t.

I jump onto him. I don’t know if I’m trying to tackle him or hug or hurt him or what. He throws me over his shoulder and onto the floor. I stare up at him and he stares back down at me.

“I’m sorry daddy”
“I’m sorry for being a lazy boy”
“I’m sorry for not answering the phone”
“I’m sorry for not picking you up at the bar”
“I will next time, I promise”
“I’ll pick you up even if I have to find a car”
“I love you daddy”
“You bet you will, boy.”

He screams picking me up even further in the air. He then throws me on the floor and sit there In very wet boxer shorts shivering on the floor in a small pool of blood. Looking at the man, looking at the monster, looking at my dad.

Monday, September 24, 2007


by Miranda von Salis

I was flying. Soaring above the streets of New York. I felt the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. My eyes roamed, taking in everything, the colors were so much brighter. This was my world. Then, with a sudden blow it faded. My skin felts like red hot coals and I knew it was about to end.

I woke with a start, gasping as I tried to sit up. My body wasn’t responding. My head throbbed as I lay there on my messed up bed in my dark room. The only light came from my lava lamp, silently moving as before. I wondered why I do this to myself and slowly rolled over and tried to remember flying, a sea of city life below me. ‘Never again’, I promised myself time after time, but I was never able to keep that promise. Slowly I felt myself falling away then I drifted out of consciousness in the soft glow of the lamp. That night I dreamt of flying but it wasn’t the same. I spent the weekend hidden in my room.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. The sound pierced my skull like a drill. BEEEEEEEEP! ‘Oh god, it sounds angry now’. I rolled over groggily and banged the top of my alarm clock. Another bright cheerful week of school had come upon us. I slid out of bed and fumbled around in the pile of clothes on the floor. When I emerged from my room I was dressed in what I hoped were clean clothes.
Thundering down the stairs I wished I could be quiet enough to escape the house without notice.

Unfortunately, I can’t do anything quietly.

"Honey, is that you?" came an anxious voice from the next room. I winced.

"I’m not dad don’t worry." I stopped at the bottom of the stairs, giving my mom time to see Marcus Goldman out if the kitchen door. I’m not supposed to know about Marcus, mom’s new cradle robbing adventure, but she can’t keep a six foot four man a secret for long. It’s not like I’m going to tell Dad or anything because if I had a nickel for every time mom didn’t tell Dad on me, I wouldn’t have to leech off my friends.

"Are you hungry, dear?" asked my mom as I came in to the kitchen. I shook my head no.

"I think I’m just going to go to school." I grabbed my bag and my chewed up skateboard rushing out the door.

The air is cool and it’s kind of drizzling but I don’t mind. It’s nice change from the claustrophobia of inside the house. I got to school five minutes early but I know that in the ally behind the gym building all my friends hang out until it is time to make an "appropriately late entrance". I went around back were all the skaters jump off the dumpsters and rails.

"Hey dude! What’s up?" shouted Markey as he landed from jumping over Joe and Fred who were lying on their backs.

"Just chillin’" I replied, speeding over and dodging some freshmen.

"What’s Marcus up to?" he asked slyly.

"Same shit as ever." As I said my mom can’t keep anything a secret. Marcus was of particular interest to Markey because technically they shared a name.

"Your life is so fucked up, dude." he said in response. We were interrupted by the faint sound of the first bell ringing inside and the loud sound of some kid crashing into a stack of garbage cans.

We all scattered in a thousand directions.

Running in to first period English, I switched myself to school mode, completely disconnected from the world, and the rest of the time spent in those identical buildings is a haze. An English essay, Math test, and then lunch. Latin, by definition, the most boring class ever, and so on. The last bell of the day is a joyful sound as I rode out in a wave of relief.

"Hey dude! You wanna come to my house? I got a new stash and it’s going to be fucking awesome!" Markey whispered as he slid up next to me. "Joe and Fred are coming. What do you say?" I knew my parents would flip if I wasn’t home soon, but I couldn’t help but remember what it was like to fly. All thoughts of my promise to myself and the pain I knew would come after flew from my mind. I allowed him to lead me back to the parking lot where we met up with Joe and Fred.

"Hey you got him to come! Great, let’s go!" yelled Fred when we rounded the corner. I grinned,

"Yeah, you can’t get rid of me." This was so much better than going home. Soon we were on our way to Markey’s house.

"…and it gets even better because my parents are at my brothers soccer game so they won’t even know, dude." Markey said happily. When we got there, we tramped right up to his room. The procedure was simple, something done many times before. Soon I was flying. I flew all the way home, through my happy colorful world. When I woke I was on my messy bed bathed in the light of my lava lamp hating myself for going back on my promise, knowing that I will do it again. As I wallowed in self-pity my mother knocked on the door.

"Babe? Are you home?" she asked opening the door just enough for the bright hallway light to flood in to a sliver on the floor.

"Hey mom. Yeah, I’m in here." I replied slowly. At this response she opened the door the rest of the way and flopped on to my bed. It’s at times like these that my mother acts just like she is a girl gossiping with her friends.

"So what were you guys up to?" she asked bouncing just a little. "You look worn out." She watched me silently for a moment and although my mom isn’t the most observant parent I knew she could tell that something was off.

"Honey, what’s wrong? You look kind of sick. Do you feel alright?" she leaned over and put her hand on my head. Acting the role of a human thermometer is one of my mom’s favorite things.

"Mom, stop it I’m fine." I replied trying unsuccessfully to avoid her.

"You’re burning up? Are any of the other guys sick like this?" I smirked.

"I can safely say that they are all sick like this." I answered. She looked at me worriedly.

"What do you mean? What were you doing?" The questions started again and then it dawned on her. What was I doing? What terrifies the normal parent? That’s what I was doing. She became very serious.

"Just tell me Hon, are you ‘sick’ like this often?"

"How often is often?" I asked warily.

"Use your best judgment."

"Yes," I said blankly, "often."

"Alright." She nodded. "Explain it to me, o.k.?"

"Fine, but mom, can you close the door?"

Friday, August 3, 2007

The R Train

"The R Train"
by David Benger

Home was dark, cold, and damp. Hershel tried to remember the blazing heat of his mother’s backyard, but all he felt was the unforgiving frigid concrete he was leaning on. He stepped down from the cinder block.


His foot was soaked instantly. He didn’t even bother to move it. The muddy solution flowing his worn through sneakers was soothing. He continued to look around. Huge white letters marked his living room: “Fag.” His back parlor was decorated with the word, “Hole.” Graffiti artists just couldn’t keep their spray cans off his hideout. He heard the mechanical rumbling before the blinding light turned the corner. He clambered back on to the cinder block and off the tracks just as the rhythmic, unsettling ga-chunk of the subway train powered by.

It was the R train. Hershel loved the R train. People had a tendency to sleep on the R train and they rarely noticed him or his humble attempt at domesticity. Nobody ever really did notice, but R train passengers even less so. As soon as it passed, he hopped back down onto the tracks and jogged to the Dekalb Avenue stop. It was a quick two minute run and way before rush hour so he was in no danger of facing another train. He climbed up onto the platform deftly. Nobody noticed him. He stood and waited for the train just like all the other passengers. He stood and waited just like all of the ignorant passengers who knew nothing about the public transportation system they were using; nothing about the way the trains work or their history. He was standing next to people who were totally ignorant and it angered him beyond reason. His father’s store was in the Fulton Street Mall so it was for only two subway stops that he needed to share the sanctuary of the subway car with hopeless idiots.

The sign on his father’s store was flamboyant in its brilliancy and sheer aesthetic repulsiveness. “Weinberger Jewelry,” it flashed. He stepped in. He inspected the jewelry while he waited. Most likely it was fake. Hershel couldn’t imagine his father owning anything of true value. The customer ordered a custom plated belt buckle for fifty dollars. To a self respecting jeweler, a fifty dollar sale meant nothing, but for Sam, it brought a gaiety to his entire aura! Hershel was staring at a flashing car necklace with disgust when his father finally tapped his shoulder.

“So, Hershey… Where do you want to go for dinner?”

“Applebee’s.” Applebee’s was the only place Hershel ever went to dinner with his father. His father didn’t cook… ever. He had tried once and ended up almost burning down the house.

The traffic was stop and go. They were lucky enough to have a red light at every intersection and Hershel felt it was nothing like the predictable reliability of the subway routes.

“Hey, Hershey, today’s Tuesday. Weren’t you supposed to get your report card today?”

“Yea,” he hated to be called Hershey. It was a mean nickname that was given to him in middle school back when he was very fat. His dad heard a classmate of his call him that once and he misunderstood it to mean something friendly. His dad had been calling him Hershey ever since. Hershel flinched every time he heard that name, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell Sam.

“Well, let’s hear it.” His father was always very attentive when it came to Hershel’s education. He only wished his dad would be as involved when it came to his other interests.

“I did fine, Dad. I’ve got an IQ of 172, remember. Mom won’t stop talking about it.”

“I haven’t spoken to your mother in nearly a year. How the hell should I know what she won’t stop talking about? Did you get straight A’s?” “Not exactly. I got a C in Chemistry.” “What?!” Sam turned backwards to look at Hershel. “Dad, watch the road!” He turned back just in time to avoid a double parked car directly in front of him. “Damn it, dad! Watch the freaking road!” “Don’t you worry about me, Hershel. Where the hell did that C come from?” “I…” Hershel was beginning to choke up. His dad rarely yelled at him and whenever he did, it was always about academics. His dad never cared about anything else. “I wasn’t doing as well at chemistry as I had wanted…” he started sobbing,

“Go on, Hershel,” his father pressed. “I had an opportunity to…” Hershel couldn’t speak, he was sobbing so hard. “To what? Spit it out!” He had never seen his dad so angry. He always remembered his dad being irritatingly nonchalant about everything. “I had an opportunity to get a copy of the chemistry test before she gave it to us.” “You cheated?” his father turned to look at him again, his eyes on fire with rage. “Dad, watch the road,” Sam turned back just in time to swerve again. “You cheated. My son cheated. When have I ever showed you an example of dishonesty?” His father’s anger was turning into sorrow.

“Dad, it’s not your fault.” Hershel was now crying hysterically. “To hell, it’s not. It was your mother having a different man in her house every god damn day.” “No, dad. I just put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. I want to succeed. It’s nobody’s fault.” “Your god damn mother having some other man in her house every day. A new man every day.” “Dad, please stop.” “Yea,” he growled. He continued to mumble to himself until they pulled into the Applebee’s parking lot. Hershel wiped away his final tears as his father pulled the keys out of the starter. They exited the car and walked into the restaurant in silence.

“Two,” his father said curtly and they followed the waitress to the table. She seemed intimidated by the stagnant tension between Hershel and Sam. They sat in silence and pursued the menus. The waitress came shortly after. They ordered quickly and the waitress left hurriedly, not wanting anything to do with their argument.

“I’m gonna go wash my hands,” Hershel mumbled. “Yea,” his father returned. Hershel pushed his chair back and stood up. He took a look at his father and his father avoided his eyes. He walked past the bar where he bumped into a particularly tough looking Hispanic man wearing a blazer, dirty jeans, and work boots. He grabbed at something bulky in his jacket pocket before shooting Hershel a dirty look. Hershel didn’t pay him any mind. His focus was on something else. He pushed the door of the bathroom with a subdued force and entered. The toilet was flushing very loudly like a psychotic demon. He couldn’t even hear himself think, which was refreshing because thinking was the last thing he wanted to do.

Hershel quickly rinsed his hands with soap and turned on the automatic hand dryer that added to the mass volume of sound permeating through the room. As he finished drying his hands, he made up his mind. He was going to apologize to his father for what he did and promise to fix it. His father always appreciated sincere apologies. He pulled open the door and almost tripped as he stepped out of the bathroom.

He looked down and saw someone lying down. There was a pool of blood on the floor. Hershel looked around wildly. People were running in all directions. He saw the man he had bumped into earlier running out the front door. Tables were on the floor and people were climbing over each other to get to the side exits. Hershel didn’t see his father anywhere. He made for the table that they had been sitting at. His father was still sitting there. His upper body was spread out across the table. There was a hole in the side of his head and a long streak of blood spilling out of it onto the floor. Hershel couldn’t understand why he didn’t hear the gunshot. The shooter must have used a silencer.

“Dad!” Hershel yelled. “Dad!” He shook his father sideways and his head turned against the table. His eyes rolled back and just stared up. Hershel squatted to look directly into his father’s eyes. “Dad, listen to me,” He put his hands around his father’s face. “Dad, please listen to me,” tears were streaming down his eyes. “Dad, I’m sorry for everything I ever did. I want you to know that. Dad, listen to me. I’m so sorry. Please, dad. I love you. I love you so much.” Hershel sat down on the floor and cried until he passed out.

* * * * * *

He woke up in his bed at his mother’s house. He thought he remembered an ambulance and a hospital bed, but he couldn’t be sure. He got out of bed and rubbed his head. He felt like it should have hurt, but it didn’t for some reason. When his feet hit the wooden floor of his room, a numbing cold shiver shot up his body. The events of the previous night suddenly replayed in his head. He lay back down quickly, grabbing his head harder.

“Mom,” he whispered embarrassed. “Mom,” he said with more confidence. “Mom!” he bellowed. “What? What?” his mother rushed into his room. “Mom,” Hershel sat up, “What happened last night? Did dad really…” he couldn’t finish his question. His mother sat down at the foot of his bed. She nodded her head slowly and blinked. She looked like she was about to say something, but sighed instead.

“Well, I have to get ready to go to school,” he stated. “Hershel, you don’t have to go to school today if you don’t want to. I can stay home from work today and just talk to you.”

“No, mom. I do not want to talk to you. I want to go to school and I want to fix this for good.” Hershel got dressed quickly, slung the backpack around his back and rushed to the subway stop. It felt good to be back on the subway. He thought of his dad who had taken him on his first subway ride. His eyes began to overflow, but he tilted his head back and held the tears in. Chemistry was his first class that day and that’s what he had to think about. He burst into the classroom without apology fifteen minutes late. Nobody knew about what had happened to him the previous night so he ignored Ms. Velouse’s question about his tardiness.

He was eyeing the serpentine cord with lust. It was rooted in the electric socket as it had been since the school purchased the damned fan half a century ago. It twisted and continued all the way into the pygmy fan that stood perched on the polished black table. He stared at the cord intently all throughout Ms. Velouse’s lecture on Lewis Dot diagrams. He found science boring as a matter of principle and couldn’t stand Ms. Velouse on a personal level. He made a point of not listening to her lectures normally, but this was different. Today, he wasn’t listening to her not because her lecture bored him, but because he found the cord far more interesting. He noticed the ravine dividing the cord into two halves and he followed it all the way down into the socket with his eyes.

“It depends on the electro negativity,” she said, answering someone’s question. Hershel stood up slowly and deliberately and stepped one foot in front of the other towards the fan. The fan was less than five feet away from Ms. Velouse in that cramped classroom. He took another step. She turned to look at him. “Is anything the matter?” she asked genially curious. He took one more step forward. “Hershel!” she added more worried. Suddenly, Hershel saw the scene flash before his very eyes as if it were happening again:

“Hershel!!!” his mother screamed. “God damn you! You four eyed fat assed creep! I could have been happy if your kike of a father hadn’t knocked me up!” He lunged at the fan and tore the chord out of the wall. He brought the chord around Ms. Velouse’s throat like a noose and held it with his right hand. Her knees gave out from fear, but he brought his knee up into the back of her thigh to bring her back up. He held the chord tight around her throat.

“I didn’t cheat, damn it!” He tightened the chord and she let out a nauseating sound as she began to choke on her own saliva. The corners of his mouth twitched into a smile. “God damn you! I didn’t cheat!” The entire class had scuttled to the back of the room and he eyed them all suspiciously. Each one of them could potentially spoil his plan. Ms. Velouse brought her hands up to her throat. She tried to pull the chord away, but Hershel noticed her intentions and pulled against her even harder.

He thought he heard her try to say “Hershel” or maybe that’s just the sound one makes when air and saliva gets caught in one’s throat simultaneously.

“You killed my father. You did this! Do you understand me? If it weren’t for chemistry, there would be no guns! He would have still been alive! You did this! This was your fault!” Hershel screamed. “Do you like this? Are you enjoying this?” he hissed into her ear. Her eyes were beginning to tear from fear and lack of oxygen. “Do you enjoy feeling powerless!” he shouted, her ear lobe now between his teeth. “Speak!” he roared, and she jumped reflexively only to feel the chord tighten around her throat. He felt her giving up and he saw her eyes close. He tightened the chord around her neck. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Wake up!” He pressed his finger against her throat and he felt her pulse slowing down. He let go of the chord and pushed her hard in the back of the neck. Her unconscious from collapsed onto the floor. All of the students were frozen with horror at the back of the room.

“What’d you do?” someone sobbed. “Who said that?” Hershel whispered. “I did,” said Speave Benson, the kid who had picked on Hershel since fourth grade. “What did you say, Speave?” Hershel was beginning to inch towards the crowd of students now huddled at the back of the classroom.

“I said…” Speave stood up. “I said…” Speave tried again. Hershel continued to step towards Speave. Speave charged Hershel, knocking him towards the ground. He was now sitting on top of him and he brought a heavy fist down into Hershel’s face narrowly avoiding his noise and hitting his cheek hard. Hershel brought his hands up into Speave’s chest, pushing him off. Hershel tumbled over into a position on top of Speave and landed his own punch. Speave’s nose cracked under Hershel’s knuckle and blood started sprouting from it. Hershel jumped up and backed away from Speave. He had always been squeamish and this quickly forming pool of blood was something he had caused. He back pedaled into a table full of lab equipment. Speave’s eyes were tearing from pain, but he held his mouth closed tight, holding back screams of anguish that were clear in his eyes. He took another staggering step towards Hershel. Hershel felt around on the table behind him. He grasped a large beaker behind him. Speave took another step towards him, teeth clenched. Hershel clenched his own teeth and his eyes spilled at what he was about to do. He hit the beaker hard against the table. The bottom shattered, leaving a long blade of broken glass in Hershel’s hand. Speave lunged at Hershel. Without thinking, Hershel brought the broken beaker up into Speave’s throat. It cut through a vein and blood shot out of it all over Hershel’s sweatshirt. Speave collapsed onto the floor, twitching.

“God damn it!” he screamed as he dashed towards the sink. Numbing ice cold water began to replace the quickly drying blood on his hands. Not bothering to reach for the paper towels, he dashed out of the room, tap water shooting off his hands like stray shards of debris. He almost trampled Mr. Williams, the short, pathetic, permutation of a math teacher who had stepped out of his own classroom to inspect the noise.

He sprinted down the steps of the school and straight out the door before the security guard could stop him. He ran flat out for almost half an hour until he finally slowed down. He realized how manipulative the freezing cold was as it numbed his limbs. He couldn’t control the speed of his legs anymore and they carried him at an agonizingly slow but steady pace. The wind was blowing at him from all sides but he felt at peace. He had accomplished a task he had never dreamed of being able to accomplish.

His parents had taught him morals; what was right and wrong. He remembered them in the inner recesses of his mind and he was proud to have overcome them. He finally understood that playing by the rules of a world that wasn’t conducive to those rules was stupid. He continued to walk at the same rhythmic pace until he reached the subway station. The subway ride was quick, but still too long. He had already made up his mind. Even as he sat on the unnaturally heated plastic seats, he could hear his mother. “He must be with his no good father again, that Sam, the kike,” she would explain to another boyfriend. Neither of them actually knew or cared where he went.

He disembarked at DeKalb, where he jumped off the platform and onto the tracks. He jogged along the tracks until he reached the familiar spot that he had called his second home for the last several months. He had no possessions or furniture except “Hole” and “Fag.” He stepped onto the cinder block that had served as the threshold to his humble abode for close to six months now. He looked around the damp concrete where he had sat and pondered his life for hours at a time. He stepped off the cinder block and onto the tracks. He made sure that he had one foot on each track and he stared back at the subway stop he had jogged from. He heard the mechanical rumbling even before the blinding light turned the corner. Hershel loved the R train. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, sucking the air in through his nose as the train sped towards him.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Always Get Lost When I Leave The Village

"I Always Get Lost When I Leave The Village"
by Andrew Sarrion

First and foremost vomit is disgusting. It's a combination of the smell of it, and the contents of it. It’s all of the corn and the other not so exotic foods that everyone seems to eat right before they vomit. On a lucky day a nice breeze can blow the smell away but you still will know it's there, and no matter what it will get inside your skin. This night didn't have any nice wind to blow the vomit away. Which I believe is a perfect explanation of my luck. This night had torrential rain, and no wind, plus vomit.

Waiting in line is the worst possible experience in these conditions. The only thing that can be considered "good" is what you're waiting for and that's only if you're waiting for something you actually care about. My philosophy on it is if you don't care, then why are you even there? I hate those people who wait in line and ask "Why are we here?” These usually turn out to be the people in front of me. They ramble on about how they don't want to be there. They should be thrown into the vomit. They reminded me of reviewers. About reviewers: I know it’s a job but must they seem like they hate everything? It sickens me just imagining them in their trendy Ben Sherman sweater vests and unwashed hair as they write their snooty little articles about that new it band they saw at that trendy little dive bar in the lower east side that they always seem to have known about first. It turned out that the whiny people in front of me are in fact reviewers. I guess the joke's on me. I heard them saying "Look at this place, it’s filthy! What kind of band plays at a club with vomit all over the curb and stray dogs running around everywhere?" I didn't notice the dog standing in the alleyway. It had matted grey and white fur almost as if birds had used it as a personal toilet. The dog had the look of a sailor to it; especially since it was missing a leg. It looked as if it had seen harsher times than any of these whiny reviewers. It was almost laughing at them as it wagged its tail, telling them to shut up and learn how to appreciate things for a change. I would've taken it home if I wasn't allergic to animal dander. It crawled under a box to escape the rain. I wish I could've done the same. I felt hypothermia kicking in as the rain beat down on my slightly hooded head. It was nearing eight and the club doors finally opened. Everyone on the line piled in. Some people running the risk of being trampled when they slipped on ankle deep puddles because they happened to be careless and push the people in front of them. It was complete madness. It was an excess of bodies to get in this one little door, all to see one little band.

The conditions inside were just as bad as the one's outside. Well at least from what I saw at the door. The scene in the club was a perfect recreation of the scene outside. The walls had cheap plaster covering the holes in the wall which were probably the result of many bar fights, and there was a disheveled piano in the back with some of its keys missing so that there were empty spaces were C and G should've been. The strings on this piano were visible, and they looked loose and worn as if some drunk mistook them for guitar strings. It's a bit of a waste that we have to go through horrible conditions outside to get in. Only to face the same conditions when we are inside. On top of that we have to adhere to certain conditions to have fun. Which are:

1) Don't get so belligerent that you start to pick fights with men twice your size.
2) Make sure you blend in with the older crowd.
3) Try not to look too underage.

That last one never happens. You're always looking over your shoulder expecting a bouncer to be there, and kick you out. Then the night would be considered a waste, and as you walk home you'd be calling yourself an idiot for ever entertaining the thought of having a good time. It's quite a zero sum game. You get inside, and then you're worried.
Well I got in. The conversation that I had with the bouncer was so caveman-esque it was comical.


"Here" It was fake of course.

"This you?"


"You sure?"

"I think I know who I am"

"Huh...whatever go in"

I just left him there sniffing up vomit.
Right after "crossing the threshold" I went straight for the bar. The bartender was this beautiful Filipino woman whose unappreciative smile and lack of confidence showed that she had just recently gotten her job. You could see her work getting to her as she mixed five dollar drinks at the drooling barflies who only bought drinks so they can have an excuse to stare at her breasts. I could already see the stress lines furrowing her brow. I would've felt sorry for her if I wasn't doing the same thing. She really was something. I think she saw me noticing because she threw this look at me that resembled something a prosecutor would throw. I looked away. She scared the hell out of me.

I took a seat by the edge of the bar so I could "scope the place". I asked the woman for a scotch and soda. To think she had the nerve to ask me.

"How old are you kid?"

"Old enough to get inside," I replied.

"That's not exactly old enough to get you a drink," she said.

I hated her for that. I was a little turned on, as well, but hell if I'd let her know that. I just shut up since I didn't look a day over fifteen. I didn't dare ask her again for a drink. I wasn't very thirsty to begin with. I just wanted to dull the noise of the surroundings with liquor. I looked around hoping to feel better. Didn't work. The club was filled with the scratches, and curses that always accompany a sound check. There were bunches of people by the stage, trying to get a glimpse of the band. I already had my glimpse of them. My friend's,cousin's, girlfriend's, boss, walked the drummer's mom's dog once. No joke. They were cool, but not my type of people.

I started pacing around. Mostly so I wouldn't feel so strange. Wasn't I waiting for this for months? I must have paced the place for an hour. The band started playing a half hour into it, but I still felt like pacing. The minute I would stop the person next to me would make snide comments about my hair, or clothes. It was a sad thing to see. They were all just standing there looking indifferent. They all had the look of reviewers on their faces. Their eyes scrunched up in scrutiny, and their noses wrinkled as if the smell of the vomit outside was coming in.

I left right after the show. No way were they going to ruin a good band for me. The rain had subsided enough for me to not worry about hypothermia. I noticed the vomit being pawed at by the stray dog with the missing leg. At least someone had found a use for it. I left pretending to myself that I had a good time. I decided to bring a friend next time. That was about the same time I decided to make friends.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Three Days

"Three Days"
by Annie Highley-Smith

It’s not as easy to get around anymore; not with all the garbage bags piled up to the sky and the newspapers strewn all over the ground; no one bothers to pick them up anymore. Newspapers fly about my feet, carried by frequent gusts of wind, and in silent hope that the headlines might have changed I bend down and pick one of them up. The headline read: “How long can you live without water?” I threw the paper into an overflowing garbage can and kept walking. I was tired of hearing about how there was no fresh water left on Earth. How the stupid scientists made a filtration system that ended up using all the salt water as well. It was all getting to be so repetitive and overwhelming. I may have failed to mention that yesterday, the government declared a state of emergency because they seemed to have used up the United States’ Strategic Water Reserves.

“Damn rich people and their bathing habits,” I muttered to myself.

It was 95 degrees out. I was walking what felt like an exceedingly long walk to the bodega, just hoping for something to quench my thirst. I knew it was futile but I came to the conclusion that without hope, I had nothing. When I got there, every beverage was sold out; probably bought by some millionaire striving to survive a few more days. Licking my dry lips, I realized that it really wasn’t the brightest of ideas to walk around in 95 degree weather. “I’ll probably die of heat stroke before I die of thirst if I keep this up,” I thought dryly. No sooner had a thought about going over to Steven’s house crossed my mind when I hear: “Yo Sergio! Wait up man!” I turn around and it’s Andrew yelling from all the way down the street. Oh man, not him. Not today. Maybe if I thought hard enough I could transmit my strong desire for him to leave into his brain. But seeing as he was suddenly standing right in front me, I doubted it would happen. “Whaddup Serg?” he asked. I replied in the usual way most teenage boys reply; I grunted. He asked me if I wanted to go to Steven’s house and when I told him that’s where I was headed he suggested we walk together. “That was smart,” I thought to myself.

When we got to Steven’s house, an overwhelming smell engulfed us at the door. Taking a moment to collect myself after being winded by the draft of stale air, I thought about the combination--teenage boy and grandmother-- hoping that neither of them could see the look of disgust on my face. Not many people know the actual reason Steven doesn’t live with his parents. Usually he tells people that God ate them, just as a joke, and typically everyone drops the subject, but Steven’s mom and dad were both killed about 4 years ago in a horrible smelting incident and the police had to ask Steven to identify his parent’s bodies. After seeing the pictures, Steven wouldn’t speak for almost a year, and it took months of therapy for him to even be able to look anyone in the face. Slowly, progress was made, but he still hates to be reminded of any sort of metal at all.

The time it took for us to get situated in Steven’s couch was less than a matter of seconds; for Andrew and I this was routine. With my fingers, I combed my messy light brown hair to the side in attempt to get it out of my eyes, but no matter how much I tried, I knew five minutes later I’d have to repeat the process. It seemed no matter how I cut it, it always got in my face, though you’d think five years with the same hair cut I would be used to it by now. “Hey Steven, what up man?” one of us said. He walked across the room, his back to us, and replied in the same “teenage boy” response: a grunt. He obviously didn’t care which one of us had asked the question, otherwise he would have turned around. Steven was like that: very inquisitive, but also straight-out lazy.

“C’mon man, let’s go do something! I’m so bored!” Andrew said. Steven and I ignored him, knowing that he would ask again in another few minutes anyway. Andrew, not realizing how well we knew him, asked again, and again, and again for what seemed like an hour. After about the 5th repetition, I was on the verge of telling him to shut up when Steven interrupted me by yelling at him saying: “Look man, do you even know how long people live without water? Three days, Andrew! Do you know what day we are on? We are on day two! So don’t tell me you’re bored on the last day of your life.” Andrew looked like he had just been slapped in the face but he neither yelled back nor punched Steven. He walked over to Steven’s XBOX 360—which is what he had been playing when we walked in—picked it up, and threw it against the wall as hard as he could. Andrew simply replied with “Well I guess you won’t need that, seeing as today is the last day of your life.” And turned around and walked out the door. After recovering from the initial shock of the explosion of sparks from the XBOX 360, I turned to look at Steven. His face which was usually stark white was turning a sickly shade of purple. It was then I decided it was my turn to leave as well.

As I left Steven’s apartment building I too had come to the realization that I only had one more day to live. I sat down on the street corner and started thinking about my 16 years of life and whether they were well spent or not. The more I got into the mundane details of my life, the more I wanted to stop thinking about it. “My life is meaningless. I haven’t ever accomplished anything, so why am I still alive? Why am I still struggling, when I don’t even have a purpose?” After coming to that realization I found I just wanted to give up; to end my life all together. I walked to the nearest bridge and stood on the edge looking down at the great emptiness that used to be the Hudson River. Not wanting to see the end before it came, I turned back to walk off the bridge. Then I slipped.

The fall ended strangely soft. I opened my eyes found myself back in my room, in my own bed. I threw off my blankets and turned over to check the date on my phone. Tuesday, March 20th 2007. I reached for the glass of water perched on my bedside table. I downed the glass in seconds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Before Freshman Math

"Before Freshman Math"
by Yossi Halpernin

Mandy opens my door and walks in she comes over to me and wraps her self around me (and) we start to kiss. She removes my shirt and then my pants. She starts to remove her shirt. Then

“Jeremy up”
“Jeremy get up”

My eye opens and peeks through my covers to see my mom peering through the door.

“Up mom”

She shuts the door.

I lie back and realize it’s wet and sticky between my legs. I smile because I know it’s because of Mandy.

The door opens my eyes peer out from the covers once more.

“Up now Jeremy”
“You have school”
“I’m not saying it again”

“I’m up mom”

She closes the door.

I lie back try to sleep try to dream try to think of Mandy.

I cup my fingers around my boxers. I relax and let a little piss out. It’s warm and makes me warm.

The door opens and my mom comes running in.

“Jeremy up and dressed”
“You have school”

She comes over and grabs the covers and begins to pull them off me. I grab the covers, drop to the floor, and wrap them around me.

“I’m up mom”
“Get out”

“Get dressed in 5 minutes”
“Or I’m dressing you”

I remain there on the floor wrapped in blankets.

It’s 7:00 now. It will be 2:00 until I see her. That’s 7 hours. Can I manage I can manage I can live.

I jump up and throw the covers back on my bed. The door opens and I quickly turn around and pull up my boxers.

“I’m up mom”
“I’m getting dressed”
“Get out”

“Turn around Jeremy”

I take a step back and grab a pair of pants from the floor and step into them.

“Turn around”

I begin to turn around as I pull my pants up. She looks at me stares at me.

“Don’t be rude to me young man”
“Let’s try that again”

“Mom can you please leave”
“So I can have some privacy as I get dressed”
“Thank you”

My mom leaves. I sit on my bed and look at the different shirts that litter my floor. I grab the nearest one and put it on.

Mandy walks in. She slowly removes her clothes.

Something bangs on the door it opens and a head sticks in.

“good your dressed now get to school”

I fix my pants and get my bookbag out. I throw my notebook in find my homework and throw that in along with some random papers. I then look under my bed and grab the spray paint. I walk into the bathroom and finish pissing and leave the house.

I jump on my board crank up the music skate off to school. I enter my school find my homeroom and fall asleep.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


by Silvan Carlson-Goodman

I call red.



And gray is mine.

Hey, you guys are playing again? I’m in, what colors are left?


Awww, I always get stuck with yellow.

The box was opened and the board laid out. The five tacticians grabbed for their color of choice and clicked open the plastic cases. The tiny plastic battle-ready men were scattered onto the table and quickly sorted into groups. Territories were rapidly claimed as people’s accents adapted to fit the countries they had chosen. Outbursts of crikey could be heard from down under as requests for tea and crumpets came from across the pond. All the fun came to a screeching halt, however, when the Argentinean ruler broke out in a rousing rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

At this point people were generally weirded out, so they decided to actually start the game.

The dice said that yellow would start, it was on. The voices of the generals boomed over the battlefield like cannons.

What? No, you can’t move those there! You can only move to adjacent spaces!

Says you, I can move these wherever I want.

Hey, as long as you are up could you grab me a soda?

Get your own soda, this blast of cool refreshing flavor is mine.

Hey, I’ll trade you Egypt for Ukraine.


Because Ukraine is Ukrazy.

I don’t know if I should laugh or punch you for that.

I’m not really sure either.

Uh, why are you putting all your units right next to my territories?

Just as a precaution. Why are you putting all your units next to my territories?

Oh just a precaution... your turn.
Random chat wasn’t the only thing flying around. The trash talk was quite intense.

So, thought you could defend Siam eh? Well guess again, it’s mine!

Yeah? Well you’re a poopy pants.

Tiny monochromatic blood was spilled everywhere as confrontation consumed the earth. Green attacked Red, Red attacked Gray, Gray attacked Blue, and everyone attacked Yellow. The other boys had surrounded Yellows lone base of operations in Russia and were quick to discipline him anytime he tried to fight back. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that Yellow was screwed. In fact, he knew this too, and his frustration was clearly demonstrated in how angrily he sent the board flying across the room. Yellow stormed off, leaving the other four players stunned.

Soooooo, new game?

I call red.



And gray is mine.

Hey, you guys are playing again? I’m in, what colors are left?


* * * * *

And that’s how it went. The five boys played their games all day, and the day before that and the day before that. They had been playing their games for as long as they could remember.

I brought the chips.” They took turns bringing the snacks, but, since their tastes differed so much, most of the meal was eaten by the same person that brought it.

Put them on the table, we’re going to get started as soon as everyone gets here. Oh there’s the door, that’s probably them.” Green walked in to the room he knew so well. He sat down next to Blue who was rubbing his hands together maniacally while he stared at the box.

I wonder who will win this time? Oh wait, I already know who, Me!

Green just rolled his eyes as Yellow walked in looking exasperated.

Let’s just play this time, ok? Cut down on the trash talk.

Gray stepped back into the room and started munching on the sour cream and onion potato chips.

Eyuch, can’t you just get something normal for once?” He didn’t actually care for an answer and kept eating the chips.

Have you guys heard what’s going on with Joe and Ashley?” Some mild chuckling started, everyone was in on the joke.
Hey Yellow, didn’t you used to have a thing for Ashley?” They stared intently at Yellow awaiting a response with big grins plastered on their faces. Yellow averted his attention and started setting up the board: “Are we going to play or what?
All the other guys snickered knowingly at each other until Gray got up the courage to antagonize the beast further.

You know, I may be wrong but I seem to remember a secret stash of poetry from a certain someone to a certain someone named Ashley.

If you had a device for measuring objects colliding with wind generating electronics then you would know that this was the exact moment when the shit hit the fan. You could practically feel the rage emanating from Yellow’s body as he leapt across the table grabbing Gray by the neck and shouting into his face.

Shut up! Shut up! You are never to mention that bitches name again, you hear me? That goes for all of you....” Silence. “You hear me!?” The boys quickly responded with sheepish agreements.


You bet.

Oh yeah!

Yellow slid back across the table and into his seat; he picked the board and pieces off the floor where he had just knocked them and returned to setting the game up. While the other guys tried, unsuccessfully, to keep from laughing.

So when is red showing up? It isn’t like him to be late.

Oh, he’s probably just too scared to show up cause he knows who’s going to win.

Oh will you drop it already?” The phone rang “Oh that’s probably him now” Gray jumped up and bounded out of the room doing the classic “the phone is ringing and it is just far enough away to warrant jogging” walk. A minute later Gray walked back into the room looking dumbstruck and half sat, half collapsed into the nearest chair. All the heads in the room turned to him.

And? When is he coming?

“He’s... he’s not...” How was Gray supposed to tell them that Red wasn’t coming, ever again. Red had had a meeting, and when a body meets a solid metal body coming through the crosswalk it rarely ends well for the body in question. “...that’s what happened.” Denial set in.

He’ll be ok though right?” No one needed to say anything; silence was the only answer required to explain the severity of the situation. The lack of noise didn’t go away; they sat, stewing in the quiet as they all mulled it over in their heads. Slowly turning from anger to sadness to shock and back to anger, none of them knew how to feel. Every now and then someone would try and speak, getting out a--


--Or a--


--before trailing back off into silence. Green stood up, slowly picked up his bag, and walked out the door. Minutes later he was followed by Blue and then Yellow, leaving Gray alone in his house. Gray still sat there, taking a break to make himself a sandwich, greet his parents, and then go to sleep early. In the following days the silence slowly broke. A greeting here and a “are you going to eat that” there turned back into their usual joking and raucous behavior. And they still got together every day to play; their ritual didn’t really change except for the red pieces set up next to an empty chair.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


by Janis Out

I can't believe I started one of these. God, my mother had one of these. But I feel like I need some new way to vent. EVERYONE has dire on uCap. And uCaps are so expensive, and my parents say they can't afford one. That bugs me. They only cost, what, $6999.99/month. But anyway. I'm sort of okay with this. It's retro.

Speaking of retro, tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of 21st Century Breakdown and there's this HUGE thing streaming online and Dad said I HAD to watch. He actually found a CD player in the attic and has been playing his old CDs of... whatever that band is called. He's... like... obsessed.

TO be honest, though, I'm actually excited. I've never been logged into a StreamConcert before. Most of them only screen through uCap, and, again...

God, how did people live like this? The typing is KILLING my hand, and I actually make SPELLING MISTAKES, which I then have to DELETE. How tragic.

Maybe I should ask Sev for typing lessons. He's my best friend and vintage is really his thing. He has this thing called a cassette player and it's from... like... before our parents were born.

Speaking of Sev, yesterday, we were out on our run, and he turned to me and asked, "Janis, what do you think would happen if I cut off the power to our complex?" I looked at him like he was crazy!

"Nobody'd even flinch," I snapped. "Until the laptop batteries ran out."

So he said, "Well, what about... like... people who get locked outside their condos? No power, no door-opening."

So I puffed my cheeks at him and ran off. He HATES when I do that. He says if I were in his family, they'd uninstall my net. God, torture!

Anyway, in my History of Film class, we watched this thing called Star Wars and I'm going to get it for Sev. It might be older than my Gran, but the FX are amazing.

Have to go. Mandatory morning hour-run in a few minutes!

Janis Out

Thursday, February 15, 2007


by Gabrielle Noel

Before he even stepped into the quiet apartment, Jonathan could hear her. The living room was still as he entered, but not far off were the scratching, thumping, panting—the sounds of something trying to escape. He removed his sneakers and frowned, knowing that Mitsy was getting restless in her captivity.

Mitsy belonged to Sally-Anne Reynolds, his father's new wife. It had been just a month since the wedding, and all the changes were wearing on him. In addition to Mitsy, there was a fish tank in the living room with a filter that buzzed so loud, he couldn’t sleep. There was the “art” that now graced the walls—paintings of boats or seascapes or whatever other random thing someone had thought worthy of putting on paper. Jonathan missed the way the walls had once been bare except for an enormous clock that had been forced into storage.

Still, these additions were nothing compared to Mitsy. She was a loud, seemingly carnivorous Irish terrier, full of energy. It was as if someone had mixed Red Bull with her Purina. She could never sit still and her favorite greeting involved massive amounts of doggie spit. Jonathan hated her and felt nothing but resentment as she tried to claw her way into the living room.

When he came home, it was easy to ignore the buzzing fish tank, the so-called art on the walls. It was easy to pretend his father had taken a liking to fish and paintings. But the dog was hard to imagine away. His father had always hated dogs; it was impossible to pretend he'd changed his mind. As long as Mitsy, loud and irritating, lived in the apartment, Jonathan would always be reminded that things were no longer simple.

Once upon a time, his father would come home alone, pizza box in hand. Now he arrived with his new wife in tow, a woman who always insisted on cooking elaborate meals that took hours to prepare. Jonathan missed eating on the couch and flipping to ESPN to enjoy a football game with his dad. He missed using paper plates.

Now, the three of them would sit at the kitchen table, eating dishes Jonathan could barely pronounce—Bruschetta, Braciole, Garganelli—and eating off the plates Jonathan had once considered “fine china.” Now, the television had to be off, so they could “fully enjoy each other's company.” Now, Jonathan was miserable.

He took his time walking in the direction of his father's room, where Mitsy was being held prisoner. He knew that the second he let her out, she would bounce around, panting and looking like she'd just won the puppy lottery. She was always so happy to see him, and she'd only known him for a month. He massaged his temples, took a deep breath, and pushed the door open.

Within seconds, she was on him. Her paws were on his stomach, pushing him back as her tongue hung from her mouth. Her tail wagged excitedly. She was so happy to see him.

"God, Mitsy, down," he said. "Down!" He swatted her away and she eventually settled for circling him, tail still swishing. She barked happily and licked his toes. Jonathan wished he could've left her to rot in his father's room, but Sally-Anne had specifically told him to let her run around once he was home, to baby-sit her, to make sure she didn't chew on the couch. He knew his father would be unhappy if he ignored Sally-Anne's request. It was like she'd become his mom in only a month.

Jonathan's mother had died three years before, and she needed no replacement. Her presence could still be felt all over the apartment. Often times, Jonathan swore he heard her faint snores as he tried to fall asleep, the same ones he used to complain about. As far as he was concerned, she wasn't really gone.

Who was Sally-Anne to complicate his existence? Jonathan's mother had let him watch ESPN during dinner. She'd been perfectly fine with pizza seven nights a week. She'd been perfectly happy rooting for the Giants with him. Who was Sally-Anne to turn up her nose at football? Who was Sally-Anne to decide that the way things had always been was no longer right?

Mitsy rubbed her nose against the side of Jonathan's leg, begging for food. Sally-Anne had asked him to put out dog food for her as well. He approached the kitchen. The cabinet that had once held all their plates was now filled with puppy chow, puppy treats, puppy everything. The plates had a new place—the dish drainer, since they were finally being put to use—and so the cabinet had become Mitsy's. Jonathan pulled down some Purina Puppy Chow, poured it into Mitsy's bowl, and watched her happily lap it up.

He'd spent the majority of the last month moping around, so it was strange to be around someone as incurably peppy as Mitsy. Jonathan wondered what would happen if he made an attempt at liking her. He'd heard the buzz about dogs being “man's best friend,” and he'd wanted to know if it were true. Now, he had a dog, but he'd treated her like the plague since day one. He reached down as she took her last bite and pet her head. She wagged her tail, all the more excited, and he smiled, even though he didn't particularly want to, even though it felt like losing.

He took her bowl to the sink and started to wash it. His mother had often whistled as she washed the dishes, he recalled, not that there had been many dishes to wash. He closed his eyes, remembering the way she'd tapped her feet to her own song. If he thought hard enough, it almost became real. If he whistled, maybe it would be like she was whistling with him.

He wondered what his mother would've thought of Mitsy. She'd never wanted to take care of dogs, but she'd always loved them. He remembered how great she’d been, on the rare occasion she'd been able to play with one. She would have liked Mitsy, he decided. Mitsy was just the kind of dog to make her laugh.