Adjusting the frayed strap of her backpack more securely onto her left shoulder, Hollis pushed open the door to the little grocery mart by her school, triggering the jangle of bells overhead. “Good afternoon, Miss Brooks,” called the stout man behind the counter as she entered. “Good afternoon, Mr. Dolland,” Hollis responded with a respectful nod. “How’ve you been?” “Well, I’d hate to ramble, but since you asked…” Perfect, thought Hollis as the talkative attendant proceeded to recount, in great detail, the events of his week thus far. Making sure to provide an “uh huh”, an “oh really”, or an attentive nod every few minutes, Hollis made her way around the checkout counter, though still within hearing distance of Mr. Dolland. Walking purposefully, she stopped, as usual, at aisle four, about two thirds of the way down the row where baskets of fruit decorated the shelves. Her eyes immediately dropped to the...
His head didn't really hurt. It mostly just felt heavy, numb. Probably thanks to the painkillers. He sighed, leaning against his hand as his elbow rested on the arm of the couch.
"Tea?" Mei called suddenly from the small kitchen across from him.
"Yes, please," he responded quickly. Jabir had been given plenty of water at the hospital, but his mouth still felt dry and tasted sour.
He took some time touring Mei's apartment with his eyes. From where he sat, he saw the homey little kitchen and it's black-and-white tiled floor. The cabinets all seemed lower than normal, probably an accommodation made specially for her disadvantage in height.
He sat on a white leather couch facing a little television, and looking past it, he saw a cute, square wooden dining table.
From what he could tell, everything in this house was small, tidy, and perfect, just like their owner.
His gaze floated to Mei then. She looked just as...
“Hi...hello!” gasped Mei, sprinting to the front desk before leaning down, hands on knees, to catch her breath.
“Hi, hon, how can I help you?” asked the woman behind the desk, typing away on a laptop without looking up.
“I’m here...I’ve come to…” She took a deep breath, steadying herself and straightening up before continuing. “I’ve come to take someone home.”
“Who are you here for, darlin’?” The desk lady still hadn’t looked up.
“I’ve come for Jabir Reed.” The typing stopped abruptly and the woman’s head flew up.
“You’re here for Reed?” she confirmed, finally taking in the frazzled-looking girl in front of her. Mei nodded vigorously. The woman extended a hand. “I’m Rita Kulski.”
Mei took the offered hand.
“Mei Zhao.” Mei shook Rita’s hand, then peered around the corner, tapping her toe anxiously. “Is he okay?” She turned back to see Rita staring at her, interest and a bit of pity mixing in her gaze.
"Ty, I'm going to pick up the pizza," Renee called to her brother from the doorway. Tyler's head popped around the corner, framed by a set of thick headphones.
"I can't hear you," he responded obnoxiously. "Why not tell dad." She rolled her eyes.
"He's not wearing headphones and he still wouldn't even notice." She slung her purse over her shoulder, seeing her brother's smirk drop as she stepped out the door.
Leaning her shoulders slightly to the left to keep the purse from falling, she slid a hairtie from her wrist, doing her best to bunch the explosion of curls on her head into a compact knot.
Renee rounded the corner, hardly noting any street signs or landmarks. She never really needed any of that yet somehow she always made it to the right spot.
Suddenly, a short woman ran past her, nearly plowing her over on the way.
"Hey!" Renee turned and scowled at the back of the...
Carter Long strolled his way up West 42nd, humming to himself. Pulling a hand from his jeans pocket, he tucked a strand of curly blonde hair behind one ear, intentionally letting the sleeve of his t-shirt roll up, revealing the refined muscle beneath.
He heard giggling across the street and turned his gaze, dropping his hand. A small group of college girls stood huddled together, blushing and waving at him. Offering them nothing but another charming grin and a wink in return, Carter turned the corner, making his way down Broadway.
The bell on the door jangled as he stepped into the empty pizza parlor. Joe's Pizza was a small building crammed into a busy outlet, the only seating being a bar by the window with four stools.
"Welcome to Joe's Pizza. May I take your order?" came the monotone voice of the boy standing behind the counter, eyes never drifting from his phone.
"Could you be any less enthusiastic?"...
The alarm on her bedside table blared obnoxiously. Flailing her hand around wildly, Paisley eventually hit her mark and the noise cut off.
Sighing, she sat up. With a yawn, she stretched then scratched her nose tiredly. Swinging her leg over the side of the bed, Paisley leaned on the wall as she hopped over to the shower. Staying in her dad's big travel apartments had some perks, including getting her own bathroom.
After a hot, energizing shower, Paisley made her way back to the bed. Sitting on it's edge, she slid on her glasses then strapped on her prosthetic leg. Even after a year, she hadn't gotten used to the robotic machine she attached to the stump of her right leg every day.
Waking her phones, she scrolled through the messages she’d already received that day, though it was only 7:15 am now. Her dad had left a stream of texts that grew gradually harsher ordering her to get...
Jabir Reed gently sketched along the back of the empty envelope, darkening the shadows cast on the neck by a soft jaw. Flipping the pencil, he brought down the very edge of it’s eraser, carefully adding contrast to the shines in those smiling dark eyes. He dragged out a few more lines, making the long, straight hair peeking from behind the figure's shoulders look even more black. He had no reference photo pulled up, but he didn’t need one. This was a face every detail of which was engraved into his memory.
Jabir lifted the pencil, tapping his chin thoughtfully as he scrutinized his brief sketch. It was good, but he came to the conclusion that no simple drawing could capture the expanse of the beauty of the subject.
Sighing, he tucked the envelope into his carry-on bag. He then closed his eyes, resting his head against the plane’s window. According to the last report from the smiley...
Yesterday, a legend died,
And all do mourn his passing.
His picture flies, his name is cried,
They send their comfort, send their praise,
Letters fly from post to postman.
Forever rest in peace a hero,
Chadwick Aaron Boseman.
Clawing hands, desperate and hungry
Cling to my legs, dragging me down.
They beg to be noticed, shrieking for my attention.
But I can't let them have it.
That's what I'm told.
If you give them your attention, they'll never give it back.
If you look down, they'll pull you under.
They won't stop until they've sucked the hope out of you, sucked the life out of you.
But what they're saying sounds true.
Their whispers like a soft breeze, caressing my face.
What they tell me seems true:
What they tell me about my friends,
What they tell me about myself.
How can I not believe them?
But I can't think like that.
Like everyone's told me:
You can't let them drag you down.
But letting them take me would be so much easier than continuing to fight.
Sometime during this war in my mind, my gaze haddhad
The creatures that are latched on to my ankles stare...
Writing is like painting a picture. First you need a reference photo, something to continually go to and base your picture off of. When I write, my "reference photo" is usually an experience I've had, a dream I've had, or a story I've been told of sometime else's experiences.
Once you have your reference photo, you need to sketch out the basic shapes and lines of the image you aspire to create.
After you've drawn in your outline, you have to add color and creativity. Sure, recreating an image to exact detail is a great part of learning and a strong skill to have, but you need to add personality. If every painting looked exactly the same, there would be no endearing flaws or fine points that make you stand out.
Sometimes when writing (or painting) a piece of your own creation, you can become so familiar with it - too familiar with it - that you know...
"Hello? Hello! Yes. I would like to report a...an...uh...a-a house...intrusion?" The words fumbled off his tongue, proper terminology failing him as he stood there with his back pressed against the wall. The woman stared back at him from across the kitchen, her icy, pale blue eyes boring into him. There was something unnatural about that stare. Her eyes were pointed towards him, but they appeared unseeing, almost lifeless.
He had found her here in the kitchen after a crash had woken him up. He had stumbled down the stairs, confused, seeing as he lived alone and had no pets.
And there she was. Standing in the middle of the kitchen in her pajamas, unbrushed hair splayed in all directions. He had asked her some questions, but the entire time she had said nothing, not so much as moved at all.
As he got off the call with the police, giving them his name and address, he stood there,...
She cursed. She was about to be late for her shift. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she jammed a finger into the "up" button on the elevator. Thankfully, there was already one waiting, so the doors opened right away. She stepped on, pressing the button for the third floor as the doors closed.
She stood there alone with the annoying elevator music, waiting impatiently for her floor. She had started in the garage level, so had to watch as the glowing number above the door changed to a one, then a two, painstakingly slow.
Suddenly, the elevator lurched and the music turned to static before cutting off completely.
Jolted to sharp awareness, she clung to the rail on the wall, eyes wide. The elevator was no longer moving. She took a deep breath and stood up straight, regaining her composure. The elevator was just jammed. This happened all the time. Nothing to worry about.
She approached the button panel...
I know what my heart is like
After you betrayed it:
My heart is like an abandoned house,
Ever empty and cold;
Filled with the ghosts of our memories;
Fragile and decaying,
Soon to crumble into nothingness.
Inspired by Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Ebb", and branched from its line, "I know what my heart is like"
I was a beautiful day as she walked through the daisies in the meadow. The sun was shining, the sky was filled with soaring birds and butterflies, a strong oak tree provided shade for other forest animals.
She dropped her bag under the tree then twirled into the sunlight with a smile. A large butterfly with beautifully delicate purple wings flew over, circling her head. With a giggle, she extended a hand and the butterfly flew over. It landed on her outstretched fingers then stopped fluttering abruptly.
Cocking her head at its stillness, she looked closer. The body of the butterfly was grey, but that could've just been it's natural coloring. She couldn't tell what was wrong until the grey began to spread. Staring on in shock, she watched as the greyness crept up the butterfly's beautiful wings, soaking up their color. Then suddenly, it crumbled to ash, blown away by the wind
She yanked her hand...
She tried not to breathe. The footsteps slowed as they approached, the ticking of his pocket watch deafening in the ringing silence.
Suddenly, the footsteps stopped right behind her.
Her heart pounded in her chest, so loud she was sure that he must've heard it. She forced her breathing to slow and closed her eyes.
"You're the last one left," came his ragged voice abruptly. She could hear the wicked grin in his tone and had to slam a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming.
It couldn't be true. The others should've been long gone by now. He was bluffing. He had to be. It was a lie.
The footsteps started back up again slowly. He paced the length of the small room. Back and forth, back and forth.
Why wasn't he looking for her? She'd had only moments to hide, and hadn't chosen the best spot. He must know where she was. So why was she still...
Thomas Campbell is a 25-year-old Marines veteran, who lives in Virginia in 1967. Known for being kind and handsome, he wants nothing more than to get back to a normal life with his wife and son. He pretends to be fine, when in fact, inside, he faces strong PTSD and survivors guilt. Thomas’s biggest fear is losing someone else he cares about. What Thomas needs is to realize that he's no longer fighting the war; the biggest thing getting in the way is the memories of pain and death that come to him randomly and strongly.
Katherine Campbell is a 23-year-old housewife, who lives in Virginia in 1967. Known for being gentle and caring, she wants nothing more than to live happily with her son and husband. She pretends to be ignorant, when in fact, inside, she knows that her husband is struggling terribly. Katherine’s biggest fear is losing Thomas or James. What Katherine needs is to keep her family...
To dance is to paint a picture
With only your body and expressions.
It is singing a song without using your voice,
Writing a story without using words.
As I stretch in my dance studio,
I take in the beautiful view around me.
Not the slick wooden barres
Or the mirror laden walls,
The spring implanted floors
Or the high ceilings.
I look to my left and then to my right,
Admiring my fellow dancers.
I'm surrounded by strong talented women,
Graceful young men.
Black, white, Asian, Hispanic,
People of all shapes and sizes.
Dance is for everyone.
When we perform, we're all the same.
We wear the same costumes, the same hairstyles.
We work as a team.
No one is better or worse than their partners.
They say a group is defined by it's weakest link,
but we have no weak links.
We work together as more than a team.
We're a family, tied down by no discrimination or stereotypes.
The elegant hanging branches of the wisened willow float gracefully in the wind. They leap and pirouette, their leaves flowing behind like the weightless silk train of a dancer's delicate gown.
She spins and jumps effortlessly, free of care in the colorful sunkissed meadow. Her hair is blown in a whirlwind around her head by a sudden gust, but she only dances harder.
When the breeze dies down, she finally stops to rest as a dainty songbird flies over. She welcomes it openly and it comes to a stop on her shoulder, nestling into the crevice of her neck.
Gently stroking it with the long, slim fingers of one hand, she dips the other into the lake below. The water stirs then ripples, greeting her in turn. She smiles as the gentle breeze returns, pushing a layer of the water onward and waking the bird on her shoulder.
As the bird flew away with a chirp of goodbye, she rose...
Thick, black ink, spilling in from all directions: cracks between floorboards, holes in the walls, tares in the ceiling plaster. She shouldn't have come here. She should've listened to the warnings.
Finding the door drenched, she frantically scanned the building, spoting a window. She turned to sprint to it, but couldn't. Looking down, she saw the ink had reached her ankles. She couldn't escape the tar-like substance. Panicking, she knelt to loose her feet. Suddenly off balance, she fell, her body rapidly being pulled under the surface. She opened her mouth to scream, but it was filled with ink.