ollieollie

United States of America

Um......hi

Over the past year, I defeated a fear of other people, learned the value of clarity and brevity, fought writer's block, and developed pride in my words.

Now I am a writer with a love for onomatopoeias and an affinity for semicolons.

Message from Writer

This community has helped me get over a fear of showing people my writing, and an inability to take ownership and pride in what comes out of my mouth and fingertips.

I can't thank any of you enough for that.

I welcome any feedback or criticism that you have to offer. You're here because you at least found something of mine that sparked interest, so thank you.
I want to improve.

Published Work

Applause

I played all the right notes

I followed every criticism

Surrendering my passion

My pride

My peace

At the suggestion of those who knew better

Because it's smart to play what your audience wants to hear

I put on the face and I wore it proud

And even though I hated it

I hate it

I did it

Damnit, I did it

And gave everyone the show that they asked for

So why, when I stood up and bowed, did nobody clap for me?

Six-Word Story

Up

She always had to look up.

Solastalgia

Drought

    I didn't know water could run out. It was an omnipresence, dripping from the faucets, gushing from my shower head, going stale in a bottle in my backpack. It wasn't even a consideration in my nine-year-old mind until the drought warning was issued.
    It doesn't rain in Southern California. On the off occasion that it rains for a few hours, or at most a day, streets flood, businesses close, roads are redirected, simply because our cities aren't built for it. But when I realized we had gone all winter without having to take a different route to school, I knew something was wrong.
    Seven minute showers were heavily encouraged. You couldn't water your lawn unless it was after six. Water bills went up. Public pools were drained. All small things that were said to make a big difference. Clouds were light and transparent, never carrying rain or any sort of weight. Those that did simply blocked the sun; they never...

Pink

    After eating his breakfast and getting ready for the day (a bit of an uncomfortable experience, now that there was somebody else in the house), he grabbed a book from a shelf and sat down on the couch. He was reading about the ocean when she plopped down next to him, nearly scaring him out of his skin. She leaned over his shoulder to peer at the words.
    “What’s that?”
    He glanced at her before turning the page. “I’m learning about the ocean.”
    “Oohh, sounds fun.” A short silence. “Teach me something.”
    “What?”
    “Teach me something! I’m bored.”
    He looked up from the book. “Really?”She nodded. “Alright then.” He flipped to a map at the beginning of the book. “Everything blue is the ocean, which covers about seventy percent of the earth. There are seven different parts of it, each with its own unique flora and fauna. Each ecosystem is very fragile, and needs specific currents and temperature to...

Orange

    He stared at the sun as it rose. The light was becoming unbearable, the brilliance spreading and searing floating spots into his vision. He welcomed the burning sensation that covered his eyes, and closed them only when the pain threatened to give him a permanent headache. Reaching a hand out in front of him, his fingers were met with a smooth, hard surface. He sighed and opened his eyes, pressing his forehead against the glass wall. Despite the glowing sensation he felt from the sun, the heat was interrupted by the cold barrier separating him from anything but the neutral safety that defined his world. Another quiet sigh, and he lifted his head to finish watching the colors shift across the sky. He wasn’t surprised, nor disappointed. Just tired, but he didn’t exactly know why.
    He lived in a glass house. It was familiar, it was predictable, and it was built high above the rest of the world. Nobody...

Band Name

Duchess

    Duchess is the brainchild of bassist Gabby Jennis and guitarist Laura Scott, a pair of cousins who were fortunate enough to be born in the same year. Raised by parents still mourning the 80s, they were both brought up on Aerosmith, Journey, and Queen. Duchess is loud, theatrical, and does its best to switch up the formula with every new track. After being joined by drummer Jacob Scott (Laura's younger brother) and pianist Joey King (Gabby's soft-spoken boyfriend), they started recording songs and posting them on the internet. Laura often writes to highlight a particular instrument, not to showcase lyric. Because of this unconventional method of production, Duchess has no lead singer. Each member takes turns with the mic, depending on whose voice is best suited for the key and range. One spot in the band is always open, for any talented person with a talented instrument to join and be thrown into the rotation. Laura has written songs to...

A Mural of Pain and Heart

She sits at her desk, typing a flurry of run-on sentences and poorly punctuated lines. She has no time or patience for grammar, because all she can think about is how she would so much rather be holding his hand than occupying her fingers with the clicking of a keyboard. How she has no idea what they mean to each other now that the worst of it is over. How she is trying so hard to choke down inconvenient, ill-fated emotions that she knows will not do anyone any good. How she is still struggling to figure out what he wants. Her head is a mess.
She writes to empty her mind, to put the millions of ideas swarming in her subconscious down onto paper and form them into something tangible. However, lately her thoughts have no form at all. They are shapeless, abstract, infuriating. She envies his ability to calculate every word he writes, his unique mind that can...

The Vistas Beyond

San Pedro, CA

The horizon bumps in time with the dips in the road; the ocean is a brilliant blue. Despite the sun cutting the clear air and reflecting off of the waves, the air streaming through the cracked window is remarkably cold. Another car zooms by, obstructing the view in a quick blur, then again giving way to the waves that seem to go on forever.

Piano

I'm sorry I gave up on you.

We were very close when I was younger. We pushed each other. I worked hard to get to know you, and slowly, like a scroll unfurling, you and all your secrets opened up to me. You were my blessed partner, and everyone told me that I should never let go of you. I never thought I would.

And then I changed.

Doing what I was told was never my forte', but they told me that our relationship wasn't enough anymore. I would need to change, or it would never work. Unless I did, my priorities were off and I should be focusing on what actually mattered. A childlike sense of wonder and appreciation wouldn't get me anywhere; I should be focusing on something tangible, like math and grades and other things with concrete answers.

I lost you.

I told myself that I outgrew you, and that I had something better to do. Occasionally...

Living People

Mari

    She has a lollipop in her mouth as she walks down the crowded street. She's always had a sweet tooth, but never liked eating sweets cause it made her feel girly. Ice queens don't have sweet tooths. Sugar was too expensive anyways.
    The sun had just slipped past the horizon and a fog was starting to flood between the tall, tired houses. The colors were all starting to blend together as twilight rolled in. She smiled -- she would be able to disappear easily. She brushed against a woman next to her and lifted a small mirror from her purse, a skill she was quite proud of. The woman wouldn't miss it.
   She continued walking away from the woman, but tripped as she stepped down from the curb, cursing loudly as she fell. Looking up, she saw the staring eyes of a small child, whose mother glared at her and led the boy away. As...

Tiny Love Story

Headache

   You're packing up your backpack when you see a slim shadow cast itself on the floor in front of you. A loud zip!, and you're standing up, your oversized bag throwing you off-balance for a fraction of a second. You look at him and he's smiling; he saw your brief stumble. You roll your eyes and thread your arm through his.
   He looks at you. "You know, I've had a bit of a headache recently. I think I might be getting sick."
   You look at him, a hint of concern washing over your eyes. 
   He grins. "Lovesick."
   You shove him.

Someone

A tender heart and a broken spirit are a dangerous combination. A torrent of confusion and emotion with no outlet can in no way end well, and it often doesn't. Shutting up and dealing with pain in silence is not strong or healthy; it kills you from the inside.
You dance with him to the rhythm of an awkward conversation. You study his shoes and the way that he walks. You describe his character in the form of a flip phone, you bake a lemon pie to his credit, and you ask a brief question as a result of everything he's done.
You want to be mad at him; blame him for the hurt that you're feeling and be done with it all. Every rational part of you screams and strains for it. But you can't. He's still your best friend; he still means too much to you. And you honestly don't know what would happen if you did.
He's...

A Brief Question

I have been through exactly one, very easy breakup.

I have watched friends get cheated on multiple times, only to get back with that very same person.

I have seen middle school relationships last four years.

I have seen people get married.

I have seen children lose parents.

I have seen parents lose children.

I have seen people get divorced.

And it has come to my attention, in the last several months, that I have no plausible idea of what love is.
Can someone explain it to me? I honestly would like to know.

Thank you,
Olivia

Sky

A boy was walking across the darkened sky. It was smooth beneath his bare feet, and cold. So cold. He brushed his pale fingers against each of the stars, each one twinkling at his touch. He said hello to the moon. The moon smiled back. It was full tonight, and its milky white surface glowed with a luminous quality, showering the world below in a soft, silver light.
The boy kept walking.
What he loved to do the most, on these clear nights, was watch the humans. He’d watch the highways, the colorful boxes with the glaring red eyes. Sometimes the colors would crash into each other, and make a loud, terrible noise. He looked away when that happened. He’d scan the horizon for any celebration, and go there instead. For where there was a celebration, there was usually fireworks, which were almost as beautiful as the stars themselves. And among it all were the dreams, floating up and away as the night...

Given First Line

Docks

    Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. A subtle, somber thought, really. Some of those ships see land again, coming to bring their precious cargo to those to which it belongs. Others, however, have other business to attend to. They remain on the sea; forever searching for that one last thing, that one last dream that will make a wish just that much more complete. And some never find it.

   A girl is standing on a dock. The ocean is glassy; the spray of the sea is cold an leaves a sticky film on her bare arms. She glances out over the water and is temporarily blinded by the brilliant sun reflected on the surface. Still she stands, even when a strong wind whips her skirts around her legs and threatens to knock her into the sea. She stares out to the horizon, searching the endless blue for the relief of a black silhouette of a...

Full (#cwcbucketprompt)

You are a bucket. Every person that enters your life leaves a small part of themselves to make you a bit more full.

The Chain-Link Fence (#cwcfirstcontest)

    In second grade we learned what humans are. Rather, we learned we didn't want to be one. I sat with another young soul underneath a tree; we were watching cars drive past our school through the chain link barrier that separated our worlds.
   "I don't want to grow up," he said.
   I frowned. "Why not?"
   "Grown-ups are in too much of a hurry."
   Shadows from the leaves dance across the beaten asphalt, and I decided I didn't want to grow up either. We were not humans.
   We were children.

#LifeLemonsPrompt

When life gives me lemons, I make a lemon pie. Because we all get lemons eventually, whether we ask for them or not, but who we are as people completely depends on what we decide to to with them.
I make lemon pie because it takes me awhile; through a long process of perseverance and technique I can turn something bitter and sour into something sweet. I like meeting other pie people.
I know people who make a classic lemonade; in a small amount of time and a few ingredients the lemons are gone. I respect them for being so efficient, but lemonade can satisfy for only so long. I worry about lemonade people.
I know people who make sherbert; they get rid of their lemons by freezing them over. You don't hear much of sherbert people after a tragedy, they are cold like their craft and can be a bit unbecoming. However, they can be melted with a bit...

Five Beginnings

Child

WITH A CHARACTER DESCRIPTION
She was a mess. Her eyes, once so full of light, were now red and puffy, and blank. There had never been a human with such little emotion in their eyes.

WITH A GENERALIZATION OR STATEMENT OF FACT
Parents are not supposed to watch their children leave this world.
 
WITH A SPECIFIC MOMENT IN TIME
The room was cold and white, and a husband and wife crowded on either side of their child, the small bed not built to accommodate three people.
 
WITH DIALOGUE
"Could we have done anything else?" A heartbroken woman started into her husband's tired eyes.
He wrapped her in a hug and placed his chin on top of her head as she stared quietly sobbing into his chest. "I hope not."

WITH A PRECURSOR
This story starts with a tragedy, but I promise, if you stick with it, it will make sense by the end.

Personal Narrative Competition 2018

The Butterfly

    When I was a baby, my pastor prophesied that I would be a butterfly. A beautiful metaphor, if you don't think about it too much. Butterflies are essential. They pollinate our world; bringing a small piece of their light everywhere they go, and in return picking up a piece of the world to take with them. However, butterflies are‌ fragile. And most importantly, they never stay in one place for long.
    I changed schools after first grade. I ran around and told everyone for a week, looking for a reaction other than an "oh" or "yeah, Olivia, I heard." Well, won't you miss me? My transfer to an elementary school 40 minutes away was unceremonious and uneventful. My first friend at my new school moved away a year later.
    I tried being friends with the other girls in my grade. They seemed friendly, and I did my best to be the most likable version of myself. They got bored of...

Late

It is an interesting feeling, when you are more awake in the early hours of the morning than you are in the mid-afternoon. I suppose, when one's bloodstream mostly consists of caffeine, you continually have a backup generator of energy so long as you keep drinking coffee.
It is an interesting feeling, when any movement you make is deafening to the ears, simply because the world is so silent that even the clicking of a keyboard could potentially wake up a whole neighborhood.
It is an interesting feeling, when you suddenly become hungry because your body needs fuel to replace the need for rest. But microwaves are so loud, and if I accidentally set the kitchen on fire trying to make scrambled eggs, my mom will be mad that I woke her up.
It is an interesting feeling, when you realize that the majority of your country is sound asleep. Knowing that you are one of few who are either...

FACT

Lost

    The world's oceans cover over 70% of the earth. 80% remains unexplored. The deep ocean is harder to navigate than space, and each year, over two dozen large ships are lost and never heard from again.

   "Think another storm will be hitting soon?" He leaned over the rail of the ship and looked at the ominously dark clouds. The sea was rolling; infinite tons of potential energy lapping and breaking on the hull. The drop to the water was dizzying.
   "Nah," his companion said with her back to the ocean, "those clouds are phonies. Look." She pointed over the water. "See those glowing spots? The sun is going to burn it all away in no time. It'll be eighty by lunch. I hope."
   "And I should listen to you because...?"
   "Because I'm the one with the degree in meteorology. And the optimist."
   "If I remember correctly, weathergirls are almost always wro-"
   She...

FACT

Lost

    The world's oceans cover over 70% of the earth. 80% remains unexplored. The deep ocean is harder to navigate than space, and each year, over two dozen large ships are lost and never heard from again.

   "Think another storm will be hitting soon?" He leaned over the rail of the ship and looked at the ominously dark clouds.
   "Nah," his companion said with her back to the ocean, "those clouds are phonies. Look." She pointed over the water. "See those glowing spots? The sun is going to burn it all away in no time. It'll be eighty by lunch. I hope."
   "And I should listen to you because...?"
   "Because I'm the one with the degree in meteorology. And the optimist."
   "If I remember correctly, weathergirls are almost always wro-"
   She socked him in the arm. He laughed and resisted the urge to rub the spot. She rolled her eyes and turned around,...

Personal Narrative Competition 2018

The Butterfly

    When I was a baby, my pastor prophesized that I would be a butterfly. A beautiful metaphor, if you don't think about it too much. Butterflies are essential. They pollenate our world; bringing a small piece of their light everywhere they go, and in return picking up a piece of the world to take with them. However, butterflies are very fragile. And most importantly, they never stay in one place for long.
   I changed schools after first grade. I ran around and told everyone for a week, looking for a reaction other than an "oh" or "yeah, Olivia, I heard". Well, won't you miss me? My transfer to an elementary school 40 minutes away was unceremonious and uneventful. My first friend at my new school moved away a year later.
   I tried being friends with the other girls in my grade. They seemed friendly, and I did my best to be the most likeable version of myself. They...

Mad Libs

Mari and Geo

Mari Angelino is a nineteen year old Italian immigrant, who lives in late 1920's San Francisco. Known for her standoffish temper and inability to hold a job, she wants nothing more than to protect her younger brother and keep a roof over their heads. She pretends to be the toughest waitress in Hunters point, when in fact, inside, she really feels like an inadequate guardian and is really worried about hers and her brother's future. Mari’s biggest fear is evicted from their apartment, or worse, deported. What Mari needs is a stable, high-paying job; the biggest thing getting in the way is her impatient attitude.

Geo Angelino is an eleven year old kid living under the care of his older sister, who lives in their tiny apartment. Known for being quiet and compliant, he wants nothing more than to take some of the responsibility off of Mari. He pretends to be shy, when in fact, inside, he really feels extremely...

Personal Narrative Competition 2018

The Butterfly

    When I was a baby, my pastor prophesized that I would be a butterfly. A beautiful metaphor, if you don't think about it too much. Butterflies are essential. They pollenate our world; bringing a small piece of their light everywhere they go, and in return picking up a piece of the world to take with them. However, butterflies are very fragile. And most importantly, they never stay in one place for long.
   I changed schools after first grade. I ran around and told everyone for a week, looking for a reaction other than an "oh" or "yeah, Olivia, I heard". Well, won't you miss me? My transfer to an elementary school 40 minutes away was unceremonious and uneventful. My first friend at my new school moved away a year later.
   I tried being friends with the other girls in my grade. They seemed nice, an I did my best to be the most likeable version of myself. Eventually...

Improbable Flavor

Glass

The taste of writer's block is a stuffy, thick mouthful of words. It tastes stale; a pipe in desperate need of cleaning. It is suffocating, like a blanket that used to be warm and comfortable but now you're sweating and it's wrapped around your legs and you try to kick it off but it's bigger than you remember and you're tangled in it. It's the taste of water that's been sitting out for too long; you know it's not abnormal but something about it is off, so you end up dumping the glass anyways. 

So I guess that's what this is. Me dumping the glass

For the Future

Live

To Whomever this may be addressed:

Do Your best to maintain whatever small amount of innocence You have left. 2018 is a strange time. Morals are changing. Laws. Lives. And life is getting simultaneously longer and shorter at the same time. Children grow up faster every day. So I am going to leave You with this list of things that are important, but that are also disappearing in this time of rapid change. Look them up. Tell Your friends about them. And hopefully You'll come to understand why they are so important.
    - The Written Word: We write all the time. My generation sends texts, DMs, and emails. Who knows what You are using now. But most people have forgotten the simplicity and sincerity that comes with sending someone a letter. Writing someone a note. There is something about uneven handwriting and smeared ink that carries a magic; a life that sterile type doesn't have. Try it.
 ...

Intentions and Invocations

The Faces of the Earth

I hope that I make my voice heard
A scream, a shout, a whisper
​Anything
Anything at all
​Anything that takes these millions of ideas swarming in my head and puts them out to be judged by the world

​I hope that I can look out to the many faces of the earth
​And be proud of what I have created

Walking

Shoes

He walks quickly, for dawdling is not a virtue he was raised in. One of his hands is helping him illustrate the wild story he's telling, the other is gripping a worn violin case. He's laughing. If he were uncomfortable, he would be looking down at his shoes. But instead he's smiling, and he's facing the sun. He goes down the stairs two at a time. If he realized he was performing an action that required coordination, he would fall. He's too absorbed in his tale to notice, though, and reaches the bottom step without issue.

​You laugh and tell him to slow down. His legs are longer than yours.

Monostich

Daisy Chain

You wilted quickly, but you were so pretty after birth

Dance

    The group of friends that you came with all beckon the two of you as they rush onto the dance floor, couples forming as a slow song starts playing. You look at your date and he smiles timidly; both of you are awkward and painfully new at this 'formal dance' thing. In a burst of uncharacteristic confidence, you bow slightly and hold out your hand. You laugh slightly as you feel yourself almost trip over your dress - "May I have this dance?"
   He seems almost startled for a moment, then he breaks into a grin. "Why not?"
   You both move onto the dance floor, dodging smug looks from your friends. He rests his hands lightly on your hips, and you reach your arms up to his shoulders. You start moving back an forth to the rhythm of the music. Focused exclusively on not stepping on his toes, you don't realize that he's looking at you. You glance...

25 Words

Smile

She looked off into the distance, wind blowing through her hair and a small smile on her lips. She wouldn't look back now. She couldn't.

The Stay-In

   "Are you gonna walk out?"
   "No. I don't know enough about it. I don't want to support something unless I know everything."
   "I respect that. Makes sense."
   "Are you?"
   "I wanted to stay. I wasn't if I was going to be the only one, but since you're staying I will too."
   "You're the best. Thank you."
   "Yeah, don't mention it. Thank you too."
   "...and then there were two."
   "The classroom looks a lot bigger when it's empty, huh?"
​     *******
   "I wonder what's going on out there."
   "It sounds like a party."
   "...they sound angry."
   "I wonder how many of them know what they're yelling about."
​     *******
   "How long is this supposed to last?"
   "Seventeen minutes."
   "Oh, right. One for each of the victims in Florida?"
   "Yeah."
   "If it was just a memorial I would have totally...

The Unknown

Happy

I don't know how to make everyone happy. I try, don't get me wrong, but fifteen years of trial and error has gotten me nowhere. And I'm beginning to think it's impossible.
​I don't know how to accept the fact the fact that I can't make everyone happy. I know that no matter what I do, somebody is going to get offended or pissed, but that doesn't stop me from trying. It gives me a headache.

​I don't know how to make everyone happy. But I've learned how to make myself, so I think that's a step in the right direction.

Solastalgia

Drought

    I didn't know water could run out. It was always there, coming from the faucets, dripping from my shower head, in a bottle in my backpack. It wasn't until the drought warning was issued that I realized everything has a limit.
    It doesn't rain in Southern California. On the off occasion that it rains for a few hours, or at most a day, streets flood, businesses close, roads are redirected, simply because our cities simply aren't built for it. But when I realized we had gone all winter without having to take a different route to school, I knew something was wrong.
    Seven minute showers were now standard. You couldn't water your lawn unless it was after six. Water bills went up. Public pools were drained. Small things that were said to make a big difference. Clouds were light and transparent, never carrying rain or any sort of weight. Those that did simply blocked the sun, they never stayed for...

Friendship Tweet

Helper

A friend stays when you want them to leave, cheers for you when you want the world to look away, helps when you don’t know you need help, and listens when you don't know what to say.

Intersection

Weeds

We mow our grass and manicure our lawns. Grow our roses and weed our gardens. Nature, however is in none of these things.

Nature is not pretty. It is not clean. It is not constrained.

Nature is the mouse that lives under your floors, who found his way in despite your best efforts.

Nature is the birds whose song wakes you up far too early in the morning, and who laugh as you curse them.

Nature is the rain that pours down and floods the streets, uncaring of the inconvenience it causes.

The small patches of beautified green trapped in our cities is not nature. Nature is overwhelming, powerful, and certainly not something we can control.

Because when we are all dead and buried, there will still be weeds growing on top of our graves.

Signing Off

Hello Friend

    It's been awhile. We texted for a little while about two months ago, right? Something about meeting up at the mall. Saturday at 4, I think it was going to be. It didn't happen. I'm sorry, I just felt like I was the only one putting in the effort. I hope you can forgive me.
    You told me that I saved your life. Maybe that was true, maybe not. We were both pretty broken. I just didn't let you see it in me because you're stronger than I am. At least you had the decency to let me help you. I was too terrified of not meeting everyone's expectations to let you know. I was too scared to be scared. Sorry you had to find out like this. I should have told you sooner.
    Do you remember what you wrote in my yearbook? Your handwriting is so small, and the pen smudged, but I know what it says. You called...

Love in 13 Words

Foosball

After he let me cry, he let me win a game of foosball.

Teacup

I held my hope in a cup of tea
I cradled it in my hands

And I made sure it didn't spill

They told me to empty out my cup
Fill it with something useful

And I almost listened to them

But I disagreed, and held it close
It is useful, I declared

And then one knocked it from my hand

They laughed as I picked up the peices
As I struggled to fix it

And mocked as it broke even more

The shards cut my hands when I glued them
Hurting what once had held them

And I wanted to leave it be

But my hope looked so pathetic there
Splashed with the shards on the floor

And I couldn't abandon it

The cup now sits on my bedroom shelf
Picked up and glued together

And the cup still remains empty

Cause now my hope stays in my pocket
Where no one else can find it

And now I...

The Monster

    There's a monster that lived in my garage. I'd never seen him, but I knew that he was there, lurking somewhere in the darkness. He hid when I turned the light on. He always hid really well, too; I could never find him. But at night, when everyone was asleep and I was laying in bed, my mind wandering, I could feel him creeping up on me. He would wander throughout my house, and I would hide under my blanket, certain that the thin layer of fabric would keep me safe. 
    He moved out when I was eight. I don't really know the exact date. He was just there, and then one day I realized that he wasn't anymore. He still comes back to visit sometimes, though. He stays for a few weeks after I watch a scary movie, and stays overnight if I'm home alone. I usually just try not to think about him. I'm pretty sure...

Third Person Limited

Warm

    The lights are dimmed. The room is cold. An old woman lays on the small bed, surrounded by family members. She is no longer conscious.

    Beep.

    Beep.

    Beep.


    A girl sits on a stool next to the bed, studying the faces of her relatives. Too old to be a child but too young to know anything else, she isn't quite sure where her place is. She just knows that she feels an immense, empty sadness. She is holding her grandmother's hand.

    She's spent most of the past six months in the hospital. The first four were the easiest. Grandma could still talk, have a conversation. Not much had changed. Then she started sleeping more. The conversations became rare. For the last two, Grandma only spoke Spanish. The girl didn't know how to speak Spanish. She always felt guilty for not learning, and now she was kicking herself.

    Grandma was unconscious for the last...

Names for Nature

The Laughing Tree

It sits in my neighbor's yard, two houses down. Its branches fan out in a large dome; a stark contrast to the many palm trees adorning the skyline. It is special.

Nobody takes care of it. My neighbors are never there, so it governs itself and does what it pleases. It seems to enjoy itself as it sits, watching the clouds and reading the stars.

It's pink for most of the year. Google says that it the flowers bloom during the spring and stay for half of summer, but they usually like to stick around for Thanksgiving. It mocks our sense of superiority, thinking that we know what time nature will do anything. It rains down showers of pink flowers in the late autumn breeze.

And I dubbed it the Laughing Tree.

On the Last Day of the World

Quiet

When the world falls apart and the earth crumbles beneath our feet.

I will welcome the quiet.

Why I Write

Strawberries and Iced Coffee

    I write because I believe that this world is full of stories. I write because I believe that this world is full of people and places and sensations and experiences and emotions that are worth writing about. I write because I notice the small details in the nooks and crannies of my life and think that they are important.
    And I want other people to realize just how important I think they are.
    Because nobody wants to sit and hear me talk about me sitting on my front porch in the late afternoon. But if I write, if you read, you can taste the icky sweet coffee on my tongue and the sharpness of a tart red strawberry that follows. You can feel the breath of an ocean breeze start to waver through the heavy autumn air. You can see the pickets in my fence glow a shade of gold as the sun hits them just right and hear the rusty...

Smart

    They've been telling me to start thinking about college since my 6th grade orientation. I was eleven, not even a teenager yet and just a few months out of elementary school. That's when they told me that I need to worry about my future.
​    And they haven't stopped since.
    Every year, I get a slightly longer speech about how I need to keep my grades up, get high test scores, join ten different extracurricular activities and be the president of three different clubs, because by God it looks good on a resume and colleges only accept kids that are involved school government and have over 4.0 GPAs and four years of a sport and community service and AP credit and a part time job and a homecoming queen title.
    They want well rounded students, not emotionally stable students.

    I have been terrified since my 6th grade orientation.

    Because a 4.0 isn't good enough anymore. Any average smart kid can pull off a 4.0. What youneed is a...

Lollipop

    He's looking at her, confused by the bounce in her step. There's a multicolored scarf wrapped around her neck, clashing with the heat of the season. She looks over her shoulder, making sure he's still there. He is, dutifully following, a gray cloud of cynicism emanating from him. She smiles, red lips curving around the lollipop in her mouth.
    He knew that a blind date was a bad idea. When his coworker told him that she set him up with her friend, he knew that he should have just refused then and there. But, there was a curious part of him that chose to accept.
    He cursed that part of him earlier this morning, when he opened his window to find the hottest, sunniest day of the week. He arrived at the coffee shop two minutes early, morale low and expectations lower. She arrived seven minutes late, talking in a flurry of introductions and caffeine. She pretends not to notice the...

Jellybeans

    He sits on the couch of his dirty, one bedroom apartment. The various city noises surrounding his building permeate the walls; it is never quiet. A cheap pair of headphones cover his ears, an unknown song from an unpopular artist blasting. The lights are off. It is dark. The only color in the room comes from three jellybeans, squished between the couch cushions.
​    It's late, the hour of stressed undergrad students and internet junkies. He knows that he has to be at work tomorrow, and that if he's late another day his boss will take him off the schedule. Instead, he chooses to sit on his couch, closing his eyes but refusing to sleep in an act of defiance to the hour. He nods his head to the beat.
    This isn't where he wanted to be. He escaped on a bus, many, many months ago, away from a grey, monotone city where no one cared and no one mattered. Now here he was, sitting in...

Debate

    I'm going to be straight with this one. No fluff, no sugarcoating, no beating around the bush. I'm sorry if I seem callous or insensitive to your opinion.
    I live in a largely Democratic area. In fact, my city is one of the most unabashedly liberal in the United States. My friends, my extended family, my teachers, my coworkers, they all hate our president and everything he stands for. And before you say anything, yes, despite your opinion, he is your president. You live in this country, you are obliged to follow the rules. So until you move to Canada like you most likely threatened to do during the election, Trump is your president. Deal with it. (If you live in America. I realize that a lot of people on this website are not from America. If you are one of those people, carry on.)
    So, to recap, I live in a very liberal area. But my parents...

Your Voice: Globalization

Muddy Grey

    This is a difficult issue. Propaganda and media on both sides of the political spectrum have turned this into a very heated and emotional topic, and in my experience emotions get in the way of looking at things clearly. So I'm going to try to be as objective as possible. I'm sorry if I seem unfeeling or callous to your opinions.

    I'm going to start by saying that global interaction is a good thing. Getting to know other people's cultures and take part in them is truly a life changing experience, and I believe that we all become wiser by learning about them. Living in this world but staying in your own little cultural bubble is like looking at a painting through a microscope. It inhibits our own ability to appreciate the beauty of the human race, and it really doesn't make sense.
    Just look at the Internet. We managed to create a global community where we can all express...

Tomboy

They see my simple clothes.

​They see my short hair.

They see my makeup-less face.

​They see my uncaring personality.

​They don't see the purple unicorn I keep on my bed.

Your World in Three Senses

House

    Cold. It's always cold. The air conditioning was broken for about four years, but now we were going to get our money's worth for fixing it, dammit. It's always on, and it's always just a few degrees above freezing. My room is the coldest in the house, so I spend my days wrapped in goosebumps and a blanket.
    My nights are surrounded by the sounds of partying neighbors and brassy, intrusive train horns. The former is at least usually restricted to weekends, but it is my firm belief that those horns were sent by the devil himself. Exam tomorrow? Two in the morning: Hooooooooooooooonnnnnkkkkk! ​Interview? Hooooooooooooooonnnnnkkkkk! Stomach flu? Hooooooooooooooonnnnnkkkkk! It is uncaring, ruthless, and just plain mean. You learn to ignore it after a couple years or so, but I pity the poor souls who are new to the neighborhood.
    My room is now permeated with the smell of Cheryl the basil plant. She sits cheerfully on my windowsill, soaking up sunlight or producing herb juices...

Slow Seeing

Paint

    Color dribbles into the sky. Slowly at first, a few drops here and there, but then it comes in a torrent as the sun races to meet the horizon. Pinks, yellows, streaks of purple and red are all painted sloppily across the sky, glowing, dripping a bit and running into each other. The clouds, wherever they reside in the sky, get a pink coat, and remain as little highlighted spots in the air.
    The color starts to bleed into the sea, the waves glowing as they crash into the shore. It almost seems unnatural. Small specks of dark blue ripple in motion, reassuring that the ocean is still under there, under the paint that God spilled across the surface. The sun floats precariously on the horizon. It stays there, watching its masterpiece.
    The sand is grainy, the water is cold, and the sea spray leaves a sticky coating on everything it touches. Seagulls, each monotonous yet strangely unique, call for each other,...

Talking to “You”

Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You don't really know what went wrong. You look between the pristine picture on the recipe and the bubbling pan of goop now sitting on your stove. Too hot to touch, it doesn't even look edible, let alone the 'cookies that will have coworkers and family alike singing your praises'. You lean back against the kitchen counter before realizing that it, like everything else, is covered with flour.
    Sighing, you halfheartedly dust off your behind and look at the disaster you created. Multiple bowls still sticky with cookie dough, a half empty bag of chocolate chips, and other various flour-covered ingredients are scattered across the kitchen, no surface left untouched. You contemplate cleaning up for a few seconds, then decide that it looks like a tomorrow problem.
    You start putting the ingredients away, eggs and butter in the fridge, sugar and baking soda in the cabinet above the sink. Your attention lands on the flour, slouching alone on the counter. Groaning, you read the lettering on...

Flash Fiction Competition 2017

The Kickboxer

    Her body was on fire. Every muscle burned a cry for help, for rest. She ignored it.
​    Coach was yelling. She jabbed the bag before her, hoping not to attract attention. Sweat flew from her face, landing in front of her and creating a mural of effort and pain. The sound of fists produced a symphony; the beating of a thousand drums.
​    She felt a dreaded presence behind her. "Beat that thing to hell!"
​    Two jabs and a hook, glove pounding canvas.
    "You're weak!"
    Legs dancing; muscles straining.
    "Come on! Kick!"
    Wham!
    "Kick!"
    Wham!
    "Kick!"
    Collapse.

The Tightrope Man

    He is a strange sight. Arms outstretched, he puts one foot in front of the other, the elastic bungee making a 'v' shape as he moves across. Step, wobble, step, wobble. But he never falls.
​    You stand there, appalled.
    The rope is stretched between two trees. The sun shines from behind him, the light streaming out around his form and creating a watery silhouette. The park is empty.
​    Except for you. You didn't know why you wanted to come, you just did. It was an impulse; a gut feeling at an odd hour when everybody has something else to do. Now you realize that it was to see this, this perfect moment of human strangeness. A smile forms on your face.
​    He doesn't realize that you're there. But that's okay. You don't want to ruin this image with words. You are content with watching his world through a window. His eyes are fixed on the tree in front of him.
​    And then...

Flash Fiction Competition 2017

The Kickboxer

    Her body was on fire. Every muscle burned a cry for help, for rest. She ignored it.
​    Coach was yelling. She jabbed the bag before her, hoping not to attract attention. Sweat flew from her face, landing in front of her and creating a mural of effort and pain. The sound of fists created a symphony; the beating of a thousand drums.
​    She felt a presence behind her. "Beat that thing to hell!"
​    Two jabs and a hook, glove pounding canvas.
    "You're weak!"
    Legs dancing; side to side.
    "Come on! Kick!"
    Wham!
    "Kick!"
    Wham!
    "Kick!"
    Collapse.

Returning

Hardwood Floors

    I wouldn't be lying if I said that my heart sank a bit when I drove up. I brought a hand up to my face, trying to contain the emotion that was starting to leak out. No, I thought, you are going to be professional about this. It's just a house.
    But it wasn't just a house.
​    I pulled the cord over my head, the weight of the key now pressing into my palm instead of hanging from my neck. It slid into the lock smoothly, just as it did countless times more than two years ago. I waited a second for a hello to reach me from somewhere inside, then quickly corrected my mistake. It was just me today. I hung the key back around my neck.
​    The first thing to hit me was the smell of fresh paint. I walked to the center of the room, staring in disbelief at the blank walls. What happened to the pictures?I...

Zoom Out

Licorice

    He sits with his head leaning against the window, orange streetlights flashing against his face every few seconds. It jostles a bit, aggravating the fresh bruise forming on his cheek. In his lap rests a one-way bus ticket and a pack of licorice, all that the cash in his pocket could afford. He brings a gloved hand up to his face, fingers dancing over the welt and making him wince. Deciding to try and sleep away the pain, he pulls a hood over his head and closes his eyes.
    A worn blue backpack slouches at his feet, seemingly disgruntled at the filth. It's covered in marker and band pins, giving the generic nylon somewhat of a personality. Inside the backpack is a change of clothes and a wallet. The wallet holds nothing but a picture of a young boy and a smiling woman, taken in front of the ocean. The woman's eyes are hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, and the boy boasts a long...

Clouds

Southern California clouds are nothing more than a tease. Large, intimidating, grey entities full of empty promises. They stay there up in the sky like elementary school bullies, making threats but never having the courage to go through with them.

However, they block the sun, so I guess that's something.

Artists

We don't write for fame.
    We write to make ourselves known; to leave our mark. We write to stick our flag in the sand and let it dance in the wind.

​We don't write for glory.
    We write to glorify; the words, the language, the world around us and the people in it. We write because we notice things.

​We don't write to force our opinion.
​    We write to start a conversation; to talk about what nobody else wants to talk about. We write because we know that words have power.

​We don't write because others tell us we should.
    We write because we have stories in our bones, poems in our blood, songs that leak out of our fingertips. We write because we have no choice.

​We don't write for conquest.
    We write for the satisfaction of creating something that no one else can. We write because we are addicted to the high of an expertly arranged sentence.

​We write because we...

Porch Swing

    The neighborhood is empty. Or, rather, it's quiet. No, not even that. I'm quiet. That's better. Because my neighborhood is never completely quiet and it's never anywhere near empty. The people in it can be though. Which is why none of the sounds are human. It's all white noise, like the filler lines in a movie that don't really make sense and don't really serve a purpose. But it's there, making itself known despite what anyone else thinks of its importance.
    If my family was wealthier, there might be people walking around, enjoying the evening breeze or an after-work jog. Those are things that I see elsewhere, looking out a backseat car window at lives that I'm not a part of. No, here there is too much to be done to simply sit and enjoy the weather. Mothers have families to feed and tired fathers are leaving their houses for another night shift. Everyone is tired.
​    There are small things, though, that give our...

Two Siblings

    “Misha?”
    “Yeah?”
    “You’re kneeling on your skirt.”
    The two siblings giggled as Misha tugged her dress out from under her boots, causing her to fall over. They stayed like that, crouched in the shadows behind a stack of wine barrels, until eventually she had to clamp her hand over Geo’s mouth. A collection of shouts and a drunken song echoed from the bar behind them, so there was a good chance nobody would hear them, but one could never be too cautious. The younger sibling ripped Misha’s hand away, his cheerful grin replaced by a haughty smirk. He took a quick look over the barrel, then ducked back down.
    “I don’t see this guy that you told me about. Are you sure he’s gonna show up?”
    “He should be here any second now. I swear, every day for the past week it’s been the same rich drunkard, walking in already wasted with this big ol’ pocket watch. Shouldn’t be...

Untitled

She sat in silence, her overworked laptop warming her legs. The only sounds were the methodic clicks of her keyboard.
​Her family, oblivious to her struggle, sat in the front room. The sounds from an overplayed and overdone sitcom leaked under her bedroom door, the laugh track going through her ears and poking at her brain.
​She scanned over what she had written. Shaking her head and making an unattractive, frustrated noise, she pounded the backspace key, each click ringing in her ears with disappointment. No, she thought, that's not right. She was faintly aware of a need to go to the bathroom. She ignored it.
​Looking up from her computer, she had to blink a few times to get rid of the glowing rectangle that now appeared before her eyes. She wrapped her arms around herself, and gave a slight shiver. When did it get so cold in here?She blindly groped for a nearby blanket, and...

Other Worlds

Sick

    I sat at the end of the bed, inches away from a large, blanket covered foot. It moved slightly, almost taunting me to touch it, but I couldn't. The person attached to it was too fragile.
​    My dad's face was covered in sweat, an outward sign of the pain that none of us could see. My nervous, ten year old self didn't know what to do. His kind words and hugs had cured any sickness that I had gone through, but I wasn't naïve enough to think that would work this time.
    So I read.
​    In a bust of manic spontaneity, I had run up to the attic and looked through box after moth eaten box, half-choking on the dusty air in my excitement. I found what I was looking for, and carried it gingerly in my arms as I bounced down the stairs. It was a large, awkward treasure; light but bulky, all unforgiving sharp corners and hard lines. It crinkled a bit to the...

A Memory - 10 of 10

    Gavin dominated the black market at their school. Students were forbidden from selling stuff to other students, but that didn’t stop some from trying. If you wanted a homemade cookie or Mexican candy, all you had to do was ask the right person and have a dollar in change on you to get it. Gavin’s specialty was Sour Punch straws. Charging 25 cents for four, he was making upwards at ten bucks a day. Everyone else got caught at some point or another, but Gavin somehow managed to stay off the grid. So if anyone ever wanted candy in the middle of class, they knew who to ask, but he never gave anything away for free.
    Everyone was festive the last week before winter break. Ally had a different obnoxious sweater for every day, and Vincent chose random moments throughout the day to start belting out a very off-key Christmas carol. On the last day, Grace handed out candy canes.
    The bell...

A Memory - 9 of 10

    Dominik, Ally, and Grace were all walking to Starbucks. It was a warm spring day, and Ally and Dominik were enjoying the nice weather. Grace, a good ten feet in front of them, was less happy.
    “Guyyyys,” she groaned, “hurry up. We’re not going to get a table if you guys walk so slow.”
    “We are going at a perfectly normal pace,” Ally said. “You are just a ridiculously fast walker.”
    “What are you talking about? This is perfectly fine.”
    Dominik laughed. “No, it’s not. Slow down. Enjoy the breeze. Have a conversation with your friends without acting like a freaking drill sergeant.”
    Grace’s friends were all taller than her. So tall, in fact, that she usually had to keep her short little legs going twice as fast to simply keep up. She knew this, but would never willingly admit to being wrong, so instead she just shook her head, said, “you’ll thank me later,” and continued at her normal pace. She...

A Memory - 8 of 10

    Another Thursday. The six teenagers were walking down the shaded sidewalk, with Ally trailing behind. When Claire asked what she was doing, she said that she was texting her mom. Nobody gave it a second thought, and they all continued with their conversation. They reached to corner where they all split up. Then Ally stepped off the curb.
    After-school parents are not pleasant. They are all frustrated from the traffic, and often are only half paying attention to the road in front of them. Which was why every seasoned student knew to be extra cautious when crossing streets within a four block radius of their school, and why Dominik and Grace stopped at the corner. Ally, however, was too absorbed in her phone to notice the green four-door coming straight at her.
    Grace was the first to notice, and screamed a desperate, “Ally, look out!” Ally looked up a second too late. She only had the time to give the car a wide eyed...

A Memory - 7 of 10

    Their English class had a tradition. Whenever Ms. Ortiz was gone and they had a sub, she would leave a topic on the board for an hour long debate. The students would get ten minutes to research the topic and choose a position before the arguing started. Whether it be on GMOs or the tuitions for college basketball players, the debate was expected to last until the bell rang. The two students most excited by this exercise were Grace and Gavin.
    Grace ended up sitting in the back corner with Gavin and Vincent. While all Vincent did was ask to borrow her pens, her and Gavin worked fairly well together. Able to discuss without going into a full-fledged heated argument, they got their work done quickly and thoroughly. That is, until the debates started.
    Maybe it was the extent of the information in their heads, maybe it was just that they both liked to hear the sound of their own voices, but they both dominated...

A Memory - 6 of 10

    Grace was short. She constantly tried to make up for it with sarcasm and an underlying, intimidating demeanor, but everyone knew that to get to her, all you needed to do was mention her height. And it was Claire’s favorite thing to do.
    Claire was short, too, but still stood a good two inches taller than Grace. Which was why she loved to point it out. Grace was generally a composed, laid back person, but it was all shed whenever Claire pointed out the two inch gap between the tops of their heads.
    “Yeah, but I’m still taller than you,” was how a good amount of their conversations ended. The next couple words that followed were most often an “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” as Grace sent her small fist sailing into Claire’s arm. “You still love me."
    Grace often let out a short grunt. “Yeah, yeah. Don’t push it.”

A Memory - 5 of 10

    Thursday was a special day. The group usually split up at the crosswalk next to their school, with Grace continuing to walk down the hill while the other five crossed the street. A block later, Ally and Dominik would branch off to walk to Starbucks, and Vince, Claire, and Simon would be picked up.
    However, Thursday was special. School let out early, so Grace was allowed to walk down to Starbucks with Ally and Dom. Therefore, they all got to walk an extra block together as one unit.
    It was on such a day that they all almost got run over. They were walking across a driveway, all six of them, when a lady in a white truck came peeling out. The only thing that saved them from becoming a bunch of pancakes was Vincent’s long arms blocking their path as she zoomed in front of them, barely missing him. The first to come out of the shock was Dom. “That car almost killed...

A Memory - 4 of 10

    Grace loved random information. She figured that as long as you learned something new about their world, no fact was useless. Everyone was sick of her random quips, until the tall, scrawny boy joined their group.
    Simon was a mystery. None of the girls knew him too well, so it was figured that the boys brought him in. All pretty much everyone knew about him was that he was a soccer fanatic and that he was ridiculously smart. Grace found her new fact person.
    “Hey Simon, did you know that banging your head against the wall burns a hundred calories an hour?”
    He nodded. “Did you know that a duck’s penis is shaped like a corkscrew?”
    Grace, Claire, and Ally all made a face. Vincent materialized into the conversation. “I KNOW THAT ONE!!!”
    The two boys spent the rest of the walk out of school telling everyone they could make eye contact with all about the wonders of duck sex.

A Memory - 3 of 10

    Sixth period English was everyone’s favorite class. Ms. Ortiz always found a way to make her students understand what she was trying to teach them, and she could read the class’s mood like a book. Which was why, when they had been diligently working for a while and needed some time to relax a little, she sat back and let them have their fun.
    A common exercise in their class was a walkthrough of everyone’s essay. It allowed the students to move around a bit and get the itch out of their legs, and it let everyone to get a sense of the other students’ writing styles. After Ms. Ortiz settled everyone back into their seats, she started the discussion.
    “Alright everyone,” she said, “did anyone see anything that they liked in someone else’s essay?” Grace’s hand shot up, her glasses sliding down her nose. “Yes, Grace?”
    “I thought Claire’s intro was good. Her hook, especially. It got me invested...

A Memory - 2 of 10

    Dominik and the short haired girl were standing next to a tree. The early June heat was almost unbearable, and the shade provided by the tree’s skimpy branches didn’t do much to stop the oppressive sunlight. The two were standing in front of a house neighboring to their school, and were standing just inside the border of the property. They watched as the stream of students flowed past them down the sidewalk, all heading to who knows where. The girl groaned.
    “Dom,” she said. “We’ve been standing here for ten minutes. She probably forgot and is already at Starbucks waiting for us to show up.”
    He shook his head. “Ally always walks down with us. Always. It’s a tradition.”
    “If she’s not here in the next twenty seconds, I’m leaving, whether you’re coming or not.”
    The seconds rolled by. The girl was looking more and more annoyed, and the boy more and more disappointed.
“Welp. I’m outta here.” The girl...

A Memory - 1 of 10

    Two figures were walking up the hallway. One was a tall, blonde boy. The other was a girl half his height with long, wavy hair that hung down to her lower back. They were engrossed in what appeared to be a very animated conversation.
    The late autumn wind was rarely crisp in Southern California, but today it carried a slight chill as a group of teenagers waited outside of room 36. Their English teacher was late, and the students were talking amiably as they waited for her to come with her impressively cluttered key ring. Everyone was friendly with each other, but stayed loyal to the group that they were closest with.
    As the pair approached, a group of two boys and three girls noticed and started laughing. The loudest was the shorter boy with pale skin and dark hair.
    “Hey Vince! Looks like you finally got yourself a girlfriend!”
    One of the girls doubled over in a burst of...

Writing Small

Burned

A woman crying, her husband cradling her to his chest. A child, squished between them, hugging his mother's leg. The shell of a house, black and empty.
​And beneath it all, buried under remains of family albums and beloved first toys, was the matchstick that destroyed three lives.