Volume 41 ~ 2018
Raindrops dance all around me, but my plastic shield keeps me dry. The streets of Chicago smell like a wet dog and taste like expired yogurt. I pull my boyfriend’s sweatshirt over my mouth and nose, but the smell of the city is pungent. I distract my nose from the city by listening to the muffled sounds of the bustling streets.
Out of nowhere, the wind picks up and violently tosses my hair around. The rain blows on my blue jeans and beads on my freckled face. The air is chilling and the rain makes it freezing. I need to get to my house quickly, so I ditch my umbrella, allowing me to move swiftly. The quickest way for me to get home is to run.
I tuck my umbrella underneath my armpit and run down the sidewalk, letting the rain drench my clothes. My apartment building is nearly a block away and I can already feel my ears and nose numbing. I pick up my pace, but when I do so my feet slip up from underneath me and my head pounds the concrete.
I whimper in pain and try to get up, but my body doesn’t have the strength to make such an effort. My head aches like a thousand needles poking into my scalp and my heart thumps fast, searching for a way out of the situation.
I remember being told to apply pressure to wounds so I push my hand against my head but it is no use. My body wants to fight, but it’s lost too much blood. I lay there, letting my blood pool around me. I hear faint footsteps and a little girl scream as though she had seen a ghost. Red and blue lights flash in the sky above me and I slowly see them fade away.
I open the tall wooden door,
a friendly face grins at me.
A small girl in a tan uniform offers me a package of cookies.
She says they are delicious,
and healthier than most cookies.
I say no thank you and shut the door.
The doorbell echos through the empty house.
I open the tall wooden door:
A different girl in the same uniform.
She smiles and tells me about her popcorn.
She claims that every bite is buttery
and will make my mouth water.
I don’t say no thank you.
I just shut the heavy door,
sit down on my beige couch,
and close my eyes.
Just when I am about to fall asleep,
someone knocks at the door.
I open the tall wooden door:
There stands a girl with a puppy in her arms.
She looks up at me and without saying a word,
hands me the small animal.
I wish she would’ve offered me treats to go with him.
Since the first grade, everyone had called her by the same name: Toothpick Tonya. Her hair is as white as snow and she has porcelain skin. She’s short and her body is dainty. She lives in the trailer park on the edge of town and gets one meal each day: school lunch. Today is Tuesday, her favorite day of the week because the cafeteria serves tacos. She stuffs her crunchy tortilla with cheese and seasoned ground beef.
She finds a spot in the corner of the gym, and sets her tray down on the empty table. Tonya picks up her taco and the red sauce runs down her arm. In three bites she has completely devoured the greasy goodness. From the table in front of her a tall, brown haired boy turns to look at her.
“Holy crap guys! Toothpick Tonya actually does eat,” the boy shouts back to his friends. They look around him to stare at her. When they see her sauce smothered face, they laugh. A kid laughs so hard he falls to the ground and rolls around holding his belly. Toothpick Tonya wipes her face with her napkin and covers her eyes with her hands. She listens to the boys’ laughter and sobs into her hands. The laughter died but it echoes in her head.
She wants to crawl in a hole and never come out. She wants to never see anyone again but she also knew that she has to be strong. Tonya slowly peeks through her fingers and in front of her sits a small boy. She uncovers her face, and the boy smiles at her. He is very tiny, even shorter than her, but he is chubby and has chocolate brown hair. The boy extends his arm and Tonya places her hand into his and shakes it softly. In a high pitched voice, he introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Chubby Chuck.”
My toes dangle over a cliff
that sits above the deep blue.
A sparkling star cascades toward Earth.
The sky looks like smoke
from a candle, a memory of friends--
I blew out the candle that I never relit
when the dark crept in.
One moment we hummed the tunes
of unknown songs and laughed
in the silence. Now they wait for me
in bathing suits. We link arms.
I dig my toes into the summer dirt
and together we jump. The water is frigid
but the candle keeps me warm.
In My Seventh Period Class
A boy with cocoa powder hair
sits in the corner by the rat cage.
He lays his head on his binder
and watches the rats try to escape.
He wears a blue baseball shirt
and listens to every word.
His home is under a rickety bridge.
His face is a soft blanket,
his eyes an ocean of sympathy.
At school, no one notices him.
I know who he is. Though, I have
a roof, a bed, and enough food,
nobody sees me.
I live in my sweatshirt.
A New Morning
The sun breaks out from the horizon, and I open my eyes. You lay beside me with drool hanging out of your mouth.
During the night, you took all the covers, and I let you. In the early morning, I kissed your bearded cheek and whispered, “I love you.” After years of insomnia, I could finally dream.
I no longer have to worry where you are because you are with me. I feel safe in your arms.
The world doesn’t seem as dangerous.
I sit up on the feather bed and run my fingers through your hair. The sunlight hits your sun kissed face and you open your grey eyes.
You stretch your arms to the ceiling and gently grab my face, kissing me. My cheeks turn red and all my worries fade. I greet you differently for the first time, “Good morning, Husband.”
You smile and kiss me again. “Good morning, Wife.”