Priscilla the Pessimist

by Kiana

“Priscilla Darthwormor was your average sardonic teenage loner. Her hobbies included whipping back dry-witted comments associated with razor sharp sarcasm. She found the stupidity of others entertaining, especially because when she talked to them, they didn’t even realize that the words squirming out of her mouth were actually insults. Her voice was nasally, and she wore big round glasses that paired perfectly with her dark auburn hair. She was a natural-born genius who read incessantly and took apart just about anyone who seemed shallow or superficial — which was just about anyone.”

“Well there you have it, that’s my eulogy for you,” Jenny said sarcastically.

Jenny Cullentent was my tall, skinny and perhaps equally sarcastic best friend.

“Thanks. I think you really captured my personality.”

Jenny and I were discussing how we’d present each other in our eulogies, depending on who would die first. I knew it’d be me because I have no soul, and I’d rather be dead then have to wake up at 6:45 a.m. to go to the pile of poop we call school. Jenny and I walked to school every day, but not by choice. It was mostly because I couldn’t afford a stinking car, and my career-fixated parents wouldn’t buy me anything I wanted….but if it was for Toby, my brother, God forbid he go without being treated like royalty! But that’s beside the point.

Jenny and I were walking today, and it wasn’t your average muggy, I’d-rather-be-dead kind of day – it was worse. Today we had our annual Panther’s Peppiest of the Pep pep rally just before the first home game, which happened to be followed by a school dance.

I didn’t know why I had to go. It wasn’t like I was going to the stupid game, for crying out loud. I hate football, I hate sports, I hate people.

Just as we arrived, we glanced at the cheerleaders, who were already in their incredibly revealing peppiest of the pep uniforms.

“How is it that I get dress coded for wearing a tank top, but these chicks can flop around in their superficial uniforms, and it’s considered ‘sport’?” Jenny said.

“Beat’s me,” I replied.

The cheerleaders were performing icebreakers near the entrance. Their annoying voices were giving me a headache. It’s 7:45 in the morning, for crying out loud!

“Hey Jenny and Priscilla! You coming to the game tonight? It’s gonna be WAY cool! :DDD Oh wait..I forgot, you don’t do anything,” Josie, the team captain shouted out. The team followed with an in-sync laugh.

…read the rest of this story on Kiana’s blog.

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Nice Guys

by Kiana

I woke up dazed and confused. This isn’t my bed? Are those my pants? Why am I wearing boxers?

“Good morning 🙂 Coffee?” said some guy. He proceeded to hand me a cup of coffee regardless of whether or not I wanted it. His mug had a bunch of black cats on it—felt like they were staring me down and judging my life choices.

I don’t remember meeting a guy last night? This is typically what happens when I have one too many dirty martinis and piña coladas. Serves me right for going to Boulevard3, the most promiscuous nightclub in L.A. What can I say? It was Becky’s birthday!

“Uhh, morning….I’m sorry, I don’t think I got your name?” I said.

“Haha…I’m Andrew. Melanie, right? Did you want to grab breakfast, or can I get you a cab?” Andrew asked.

Andrew was…cute. He gelled his dirty blonde hair to the side in all the wrong places, had green eyes, an okay smile, lips…not so much, and his body…oh man, it needed some work. What the heck did I get myself into?

“I’m all right. Actually, I have to go. I just realized I’m late for a meeting…I’ll call you,” I said in a rush. I lied.

I found my pants and my pumps and ran out. I caught a cab home, but when I tried to pay, the cab driver told me that Andrew had taken care of it. Okaaay? I’ll admit I felt a little bad that I had left him hanging, but who cares? I didn’t leave him a number, so it’s a good thing he can’t get a hold of me. I cleaned up a bit and dashed off to work. I needed some ibuprofen.

“Jenny can you cancel my 12 o’clock?” I asked. Jenny was my assistant.

“Sure, oh, and someone sent these in for you,” Jenny exclaimed.

Roses, chocolates, and a note. What the heck?

“I had lots of fun last night. Can’t wait to see you again 🙂 – Andy”

Andy? Oh my God. Andrew from last night found out where I worked!? This was getting a little weird. First, the cab, now roses and chocolates? What’s next he stands outside my building reciting Shakespeare and throwing rocks at the window? This was just supposed to be a one-night stand, and a bad one at that.

I got through most of my day without thinking about Andrew. I did, however, eat the chocolates he provided. Just as I was about to head out, Jenny gave me a paper with ANOTHER note from Andrew.

“Hey, Jenny wouldn’t give me your number, but, lunch tomorrow? At Casanova’s? My treat! I’m starting to miss you. XOXO -Andy”

Okay, that’s it. Andy you have got to go. I decided to agree to lunch so I could express my discomfort. When I arrived, he was in a suit. During the day? At Casanova’s? It’s a bar and grill for crying out loud.

When he saw me his face was elated. He went in for a kiss, but I…I went in for a handshake.

“Uh, it’s so good to see you! You look beautiful, I can’t take my mind off you,” Andy said.

“Thanks. Listen, I can’t be here for long. I’ve got a meeting at 12:45 a.m.,” I said harshly.

“Andy, you’re such a nice guy, but I don’t think this is going to work out. You’re…you’re…too nice. And to be frank, you’re kind of clingy.”

“Wow. Uh. This is news to me. I thought you might be different, but you’re just like the others,” Andy said. You could tell he was frustrated.

“Look, I’m sorry. You just need to cool it. Roses, chocolates, notes? We barely know each other. It’s not going to work, I have to go.”

Andy looked heartbroken, but I didn’t care. I had to leave, and I didn’t want to see him again…too clingy and WAY too nice. I walked out of Casanova’s without eating. I had lost my appetite.

Inside, Andy thought, “Wow, I guess I really bring the ‘nice guys finish last’ clichè to life…Oh well. No more one-night stands for me.”

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Hot Tuesday

by Kiana

“Hey, I’m gonna go pick up some lunch, you comin’?” I tell my coworker, Jane.

“Uh no, I’m gonna eat in today, can’t stand the heat. My hair will poof, and Dan might see!!” Jane was always oddly pessimistic, she also had an obsessive crush on Dan the Doorman. “I spent two hours straightening this puffball!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  “Whatever floats your boat,” I say indifferently.

I take the elevator down our 50-story building because, let’s face it, I am not ruining these new Jeffrey Campbell pumps! I walk through the lobby, lend a smirk to Dan who is obviously hoping Jane is coming down, and just as I open the door…BAM! The heat hits me like a gang member who has just found out that I don’t “got the stuff.”

I consider going back inside my air conditioned getaway to escape the heat, but my stomach growls, and I think of the amazing pad thai down street. I instantly re-embark on my mission to fulfill my obligation to my stomach.

As I head on out, my hands start to shake. Did I drink too much coffee? Am I going to pass out? Is this an overactive thyroid problem? Before I can add in another thought about my shaky hands, the officer directing traffic suddenly starts to break into song!

“Candy Girl, you are my woOoOorld! Ya look so sweet, you’re a special treat!”

I find this rather off, considering the fact that Larry the Officer is always in a bad mood. I try to gather my thoughts when I see Otto from the fruit stand across the street throwing fruit in a group of people’s mouth. Hold on? What the heck!? What are they doing? I question. Oh my God… they’re dancing! Looks like a number from Glee or something.

Things are getting weird now. First the shaky hands, then the officer, then the dancing fruit eaters? All I wanted to do was get a good plate of pad thai! All of a sudden, my shaky hands turn into a shaky body, and I start moving in a rhythmic fashion, which is unusual because I never dance. EVER.

Before I know it, I’m dancing and singing Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” Lemme tell ya, there is nothing smooth about this groove I’ve got goin’ on, but I start feeling it, and people are doing it with me!!

Guess this lunch break just turned into a dance off. Crazy what the heat does to people, right? By the end of my lunch period I’m left sweaty and feelin’ groovy. Never would I have thought that a lunch period could be so entertaining! I walk back into the comfort of my AC building and pass by Dan.

“Hey did you hear?! The heat is all over the news! Everyone’s talking about the weirdness that it brought? Scientists are studying what’s going on at this very moment!”

“Oh…I’m not sure, I’ll check it out!” I say aimlessly, I didn’t want to tell him what had just happened because I wasn’t even sure myself.

I head back to the comfort of my office and pass by Jane, who has no interest in my atrocious appearance, and sit down. I Google “Heat Wave.” It takes 0.82 seconds for me to see the results. I’m astonished. Scientists have figured out that the heat caused everyone’s brains to overdose on happy endorphins!

“Makes sense….” I think to myself, even though it doesn’t.

At least I know now what triggered my unusual grooviness. I collect my thoughts and realize…I forgot to get my pad thai! Great – happy endorphins are done for. My stomach grumbles as I realize that my lunch break is over. At least I got a workout in!

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Moe’s Cafe

by Keely

After I devoured my pancakes, Moe came up to my table.

“I’m looking for someone to give this place to,” said Moe. “I would be willing to give it to you. What do you think?”

“I’m flattered that you think that I would be a good person to sell your café to,” I responded, “but I’m only passing through town.”

Moe thought about it for a second before sadly nodding his head in agreement. He stood there for a moment more before I noticed that he wasn’t looking at me, but past me. I turned to see a picture hanging on the back wall. I stared in disbelief at an old, faded picture of a younger Moe tenderly holding a baby in his arms. Moe looked so happy in the picture compared to the disgruntled old man who stood before me now. The baby as well as the picture somehow looked familiar to me, and out of pure curiosity I asked Moe if that was his child. He nodded, looking as lonely as ever.

“That child there,” he said softly, motioning to the picture, “was mine long ago.”

“Well, where is she now?” I asked.

“Off somewhere living a better life than she would’ve had here, I presume.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

But then he smiled at me warmly and said, “It’s okay. At least I got to see her one last time.”

A wave of relief washed over me as I hoped for the old man’s happiness in his final days. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I took one last look at the café in my rear view mirror and felt a sharp pain in my chest. I stared at Moe who stood at the corner waving. The sun blazed and burned my eyes. I hastily flipped down the sun visor, and a wrinkled black and white photo fell into my lap. A single tear ran down my face as I held the photo in my hand. I wonder when it was that I had forgotten about this picture of a happy young man and his child, the same picture on the wall at Moe’s Cafe?

I turned around.

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Who Ate the Cottage Cheese?

(This is a collaborative story written by four different people.)

“All right! Who ate the last of the cottage cheese? Listen here, Jeffery, that was grade-A cheese from Italy! I spent years tracking dow that hole-in-the-wall store…and for what? For you to eat it with some $3 pack of Ritz crackers…uh…I don’t think so! You’re going to pay Jeff. You’re really gonna pay!”

Jeff ran out of the store. I chased him down the alley, hopped over trash cans and fences, dodged a few police cars, and still couldn’t catch him. I finally yelled, “This is not over, Jeff!” I tried to catch my breath as Jeff disappeared.

Furious, I paced back home. “Stupid Jeffery,” I thought. “How could he be so inconsiderate?” I spent years trying to find that cheese, and now — just like that — it’s gone.

At home, I sat down aimlessly. All I could think about was that gosh darn Italian cheese! And then, just when I’d decided to cut Jeff off for good, I heard a “baaa,” and I saw the cheese-eater, Jeff, standing beside this cute little goat.

“For you, to make all the cheese you want!” he said.

At that point, I could forgive Jeff for what he had done. He did more than apologize for the original cheese; he allowed me to have as much cheese as I want. Thanks, Jeff.

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A Dim Light

by Brandy

He shudders in his darkness. In the night,
Blind to an escape
My boy looks for the flickering light
That will save him from the rape.

Blind to an escape
He searches for a distraction
that will save him from the rape.
He stays far from the deadly attraction.

He searches for a distraction
To keep him on his toes.
He stays far from the deadly attraction
Before he is enclosed.

To keep him on his toes,
He chases the light in me
Before he is enclosed,
He sets his body free.

He chases the light in me,
But the seduction of the devil is winning
He sets his body free
Until his head is spinning

The seduction of the devil is winning
Yet it seems to be a tie
Until his head is spinning,
I keep the ocean dry

Yet, it seems, to be a tie
I must not let him sink.
I keep the ocean dry
But he’s drowning in his drink.

I must not let him sink,
But I’m sick of the heavy sea
He’s drowning in his drink
And I want him to be free.

I’m sick of the heavy sea,
So we climb in his dreary mind.
I want him to be free,
But a new bulb’s not easy to find.

We climb in his dreary mind,
My boy looks for the flickering light,
But a new bulb’s not easy to find,
He shudders in his darkness, in the night.

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Deus ex Machina

by Cole

I came, I saw, I caved from out the inside
I waited, I wanted, I Lusted, I died.

Some drown in greed,
I burned in my own shadow

My heart’s never empty,
but always too shallow.

Sailing on Goodness
Just isn’t as fun

As walking a beaten path.
And looking in the mirror

Is a spiritual experience.
My time will come,

When my fingers will have pierced the sky
But it won’t be as fun
As systematically burning alive.

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by Faith

Why was Reverend McBride staring so hard at me during his sermon?

I immediately thought back on what I’d done that past week, considering anything that would be considered sinful behavior. Maybe this guy was the real deal, and he could sense that I’d somehow done something wrong.

I began shifting uneasily in my cushioned folding chair in the third row, his gaze steady and blazing with conviction. His actual sermon was pretty mellow, but the way he was locking his stare with mine, you would’ve thought he was preaching about hellfire.

Just as I was beginning to seriously consider bolting out the door while I had the chance, Reverend McBride stopped talking altogether.

I gazed up at him in horror. He stood there, almost seven feet tall, with his white robe contrasting with the deep black of his hair. His tea-colored eyes glared at me, as he remained planted where he was on the stage. Of course at this point, everyone gathered was staring at me with flaming curiosity, and an intense hush fell over the people in the audience.

Reverend McBride decided to break the silence then.

“Young lady, you remind me of a special kind of poodle I once saw at a dog show!” he exclaimed in an alarmingly matter-of-fact fashion.

I just stared at him with my mouth slightly open in astonishment.

“Especially with that bow in your hair,” he added, stating it with a firm confidence that seemed to reassure him of the notion.

And just like that, the observation was out of his system, and Reverend McBride went on with the sermon as usual, and never looked my way again.

As I slipped the bright pink bow out of my teased half-up-half-down hairdo, I began to reconsider getting perms so often. Maybe my straight hair wasn’t so bad after all.

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Dream Come True

by Nu’u

Jerry, a teenage boy with cancer, wants nothing more than to be able to sing on stage. He is given the great opportunity to compete on the game show, The Sing Off.

Jerry was a college freshman who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. All of his life, Jerry dreamed of being a famous singer; however, now that he may only have a little time left, he wanted to make that dream come true.

One day after class, Jerry called the producers of The Sing Off and told them his lifelong dream of becoming a singer and the struggles he had recently been going through. The producers felt sympathetic for him and offered him the opportunity to try out.

Jerry did his favorite song, All of Me, by John Legend. The judges were astonished by his amazing talent and unanimously voted him through to the real show.

On the set Jerry met the other contestants, one of them being an archeology professor from his college.

Jerry was full of excitement but looked nervous as a puppy going down the stairs for the first time. He slowly shimmied onto stage; sweat inched down his forehead into his brows; the audience stared with beaming eyes and waited anticipating his performance.

“Hello, my name is Jerry Simmonds and I am going to perform All of Me by John Legend.”

The audience went silent; there was no noise but the sound of the anxious breath of Jerry. The audience went from silence to roaring applause once Jerry sang the first line. He could not hold back his tears of joy, for he had completed his goal of singing on stage and was given the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream.

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by Faith

Stars shuddered into nonexistence,
The moon dimmed its reassuring light,
Not even a faint outline showed through
the gathering clouds.

The city was lowered
to a subjugated buzz of energy,
Cast out through
Countless bulbs of fluorescence,
Emanating limited exuberance
into the sky’s reproachful absence of light.

People in their homes.
The roaring hush forced doors shut,
Hauled people into their bedrooms
to consume the foreboding sky,
Eyes aglow with anticipation,
A reflection of lights dot the city,
Like ladders to the extinguished stars.

It began.

The lightning clawed at the silence until
Its seams gave way.
Its fabric nothing more
than a web of buzzing, shuttering glass.

Fizzing streaks of electricity
Set the sky aflame.
White pounding the ground
With furious blows
That make buildings’ knees quake.

People dash from their windows,
Shut their curtains,
Pull up covers,
Press hands to ears.

Some scream,
Some produce no sound
Minds stifled with the vibrations
and blinding illumination of
lightning strikes.

On a cliffside not far away,
The entire escapade is nothing more
than an aftershock of light,
Echoing booms of thunder.

A man snaps a picture,
and forever captures
the deathless power
and suppressed vitality
of lightning shearing
the layer of vibrancy
that plagues the city streets
at night.

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You Asked for It

by Faith

I gaze at his picture longingly, taking in his warm brown eyes and wide, generous smile. It’s been a month since our divorce was finalized, but I know in my heart that we will be together once again.

Whenever he got especially upset with me, Johnny went on about me being controlling and obsessive and other such nonsense, to which I simply chuckled as I held his phone over the kitchen sink filled with hot water and dirty dishes. He thought it was creepy that I’d gone through his phone to investigate when things got a bit suspicious. Forty-five minute lunch breaks instead of thirty? Now, what on earth could he have been up to in those extra 15-minute intervals?

Well, as I came to find out, he’d been sending some very suggestive messages to one of his co-workers, Charlene.

Johnny: Hey, I thought your presentation was great!

 Charlene: Thanks, John. You’re such a great friend.

Johnny: Yeah, you’re practically my sister!

Now, do these look innocent to you? More like code they must have used so that they could meet up during lunch at work. After I drove by one day to check his punch card, I noticed he’d broken his pattern and taken fifteen extra minutes at lunch.

When I inquired about this, he looked at me like I was crazy. He was all, “What were you doing at my work?”

Obviously he was avoiding the question. He was guilty for sure.

For some strange reason, we began to fight a lot after he found out that I’d been sneaking into his work building to check on what he was up to. I knew that I was just being a good, caring wife, but for some reason he didn’t seem to think so.

When he filed for divorce as well as a restraining order, I knew what the whole thing was really about. Back when we were dating, he was, quote-on-quote “friends” with a girl he met during a vacation he took on Maui.

While he was away, I sat in my apartment and watched his Facebook page all day, every day, and eventually a picture came up of them eating lunch together in an apartment he was staying in. In the picture, they were clinking glasses and smiling at the camera, accompanied by others doing the same thing. The caption read: Spending time with the best friends in the world. I knew then and there that I had him caught.

Instead of losing my cool when he got back to California, I simply pretended I was pregnant so that he would marry me, and then he couldn’t just casually date other women from Hawaiʻi as he pleased. He was officially mine.

I ease myself into my chair and heave a contented sigh, clicking at the computer screen until I get to Johnny’s Facebook. I check it for a brief hour, and then switch tabs and go onto Craiglist.

The woman he met all that time ago is the obvious reason for his pulling away, but no matter. I have a simple solution.

I type out an ad for this casual home wrecker, trying my best to accurately portray how they’d had an obvious fling back on Maui. I say that it would be great to get to meet up again, and focus on making the overall tone welcoming and cheerful.

I look up at the calendar on my wall, eyeing the big red heart I drew on tomorrow’s date: Valentine’s Day. I check to make sure my flight tickets are still arranged for the flight tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I can probably catch one coming back on the same night, just in time to go on a date with my so-called ex, Johnny.

I give the hammer propped up in the corner of the room a meaningful look, wishing I wouldn’t get busted if I tried bringing it with me on the plane tomorrow. It’s my lucky one. But I can get one on Maui that’s just as good, I suppose.

I turn back to my computer screen and hover my mouse over the post button that will get the ad up online. I’m almost hesitant for a moment, but then I remember how she must have known he was dating another woman before she barged in uninvited.

“You asked for it,” I whisper to the open air of my apartment. I click the button.

Now all that’s left to do is wait.

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A Real Man

by Kainoa

Gunshots filled the air as my fellow Riders and I took cover behind some trees. The Spanish could straight up fight, and they would not give up. Unfortunately for them, neither would we. Sweat trickled and disappeared under the collars of our tattered shirts and pants. The smell of lead and gunpowder invaded our noses. However, despite the chaos and trauma, I could still hear him shouting, “Don’t give up boys! If you just believe, you’re halfway there!”

Now you have to understand who “him” is. I wasn’t serving any ordinary man. I was serving the great Theodore Roosevelt. A true leader, this man inspired everyone who was around him, and could get any job done. Colonel Roosevelt was physically fit and had tremendous strength, but his biggest weapon was his mentality. Whatever he set his mind to, he would get done no matter what.

We had run to the bottom of the hill that the Spanish had placed themselves on. Specks of dirt and rocks shot up into the air like spouts from a great earth whale. Turning my head, I could hear screams as men dropped after a steady rhythm of bullets sounded. Jimmy Hanks, the farm boy I bunked with at camp had his head snapped back as crimson red sprayed. As I ran past him, he never got up. Diving down, that’s how we got to the trees.

I fired back with my bolt-action rifle towards the pops and flashes among the dust at the top of the hill. Barely exposing myself, I took a careful look and aimed up the hill. A familiar sound echoed. Thock! It was the sound of a bullet penetrating through a shoulder muscle, finished with a scream of agony. One less man to fight, I tried thinking optimistically. The fact of the matter was that we were losing men. Glancing over to a bush, I saw my friend Harrison Wilmon, a Harvard graduate.

“Harry!” I shouted. “I’m gonna move out, cover me!” He didn’t respond. All I could see were his legs while he lay on his stomach. I went to go confront him. “What’s the hell’s the matter with you? He-,” my sentence was cut off. My stomach flopped as I saw cherry blood flowing out of a hole in his temple. As blood turned the golden grass crimson, the world seemed to slow down. It’s hard to believe that only a year ago, this was they guy I trained with, sparred with, ate lunch with, and even wrestled with. He was now gone, forever. Shaking the thought out of my head, I heard Colonel Roosevelt call me.

“Soldier! Soldier over here, lad!” I turned around to see a marvelous sight. A black and gold machine with wheels steadily rolled along the dry grass, taking aim at the top of the hill. The black was bold in the bright day, while the gold illuminated everything around it. I could see ten gleaming barrels casting a deathly gaze in the direction of the hill.

“Man the gun, private, I’ll take another group to the side!” Roosevelt whispered in my ear, “Just keep fighting, boy, and give me all you’ve got! We’re taking that hill on my call. You hear me?” Nodding my head, I stood behind the gun, resting my hand on the crank. He stormed off with another group of men.

“I gotcha, Sammy,” said my friend Willy, as he hooked a heavy belt of bronze bullets into the gun. “Fire it up.”

The sound was like music to my ears. Ten barrels whirled and spat out bullets like a drummer. Tat tat tat! Dust and dirt shot up into the air as Spanish soldiers dropped like potato sacks. We heard screams briefly until they were drowned out by the loud hum of the gun.

The colonel called me to his side. “Be ready,” he whispered. While dust settled, the panic of soldiers could be heard. The world held it’s breath as beads of dripping sweat became audible. In a glorious voice Roosevelt shouted, “Charge!”

At that moment, I no longer felt the soreness in my feet, or the throbbing in my head. The shaking of my hands eased, so they became still, and all the ringing in my ears finally faded. Adrenaline along with the sound of our leader’s magnificent voice seemed to take away all the pain.

That glorious moment of charging up that hill. Despite the flashing of muzzles, nobody stopped. Unsheathing my Bowie knife, I heard a war cry unlike any other. I lifted my head just in time to see Teddy charging up the hill. Nothing was stopping him, even as bullets whizzed past him, one nicking the sleeve of his shirt.

Nobody has ever inspired me the way Teddy Roosevelt did. Every time he was near me, I felt fearless, ready for action, determined and hopeful. This man taught us lessons that nobody else on this planet could. Rather than talking or lecturing us, he simply let his actions speak words of wisdom and inspiration.

That day, we took the hill. In the beginning, all of us were low on morale and hope was fading like a lone flame on a match. But Teddy ignited the flame, turning us into a blazing fire that could not be put out. To this day, I’ve never met anybody quite like Theodore Roosevelt.

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Bad Luck at the Beach

by Cole

“Sir, I really don’t feel comfortable with this.”

The large man held out a bottle of lotion.

“C’mon, it’ll only take a bit. Do you want to live your whole life like this? Scared?” The man spoke in a Scottish accent that was as thick as the rest of him.

“Not scared, just uncomfortable. As in, I really don’t want to put lotion on your back,” I replied.

The large man scoffed and waddled away. I sat back down on my towel and resumed reading The Lord of the Rings. My bliss was interrupted a page and a half in by the lady next to me on her cellphone. It sounded like she was on a business call. Her son was making sandcastles a few feet away. He was on a leash. “Good job,” I thought to myself.

I was never a religious person. I’ve always believed that when things happened, they did so for no reason other than chance. Things go well because not everything can be bad. Things go wrong because, well, that’s just the way life is.

“Go to the beach. Get some sun. It might be the best thing for you.”

My therapist’s words echoed in my head. I sighed as I put my book down. The beach was completely packed. Mostly with pasty white people, and speedo-clad old men. In the distance, I could barely make out a bearded figure stumbling around. Where the figure walked, others seemed to steer away. Finally, the figure and I crossed paths. The bearded man stopped in his tracks the minute he saw me. “Jacob! What’s going on?”

My eyes widened. “I… what?” I said.

“It’s me, Tom! From high school?”

Flashbacks of mysterious paper bags and cheating on exams went through my head. I had nothing to say to this man. “Oh…Hi there.” I finally said. He didn’t blink that much.

“It’s been a long time! You busy later?” he asked.

“I… guess not,” I said. I shouldn’t have said that.

“Well if you’re not, I need to do some stuff, and if you’d give me a ride, you’d really be helping me out.”

His hair was long and scraggly. The width of his eyes, and the way he always looked behind was truly a sight to behold. Why I agreed to help him, I have no idea, but the whole time, I felt something I haven’t felt in quite some time. Alive.

“Drive that-a-way,” he said as we got into the car.

“All right.”

The way he looked around, quickly scanning the road reminded me of a rat. Somewhere along the ride, he pulled a rag out of his back pocket, and inhaled deeply. “You after a bump?” he said, handing me the rag.

“No, I’m… driving,” I said.

He coughed violently before saying, “Suit yourself.”

Finally, we arrived at some location. It was a poorly lit, scraggly neighborhood that matched Tom’s hair well. “Give this guy a second,” he said.

Across the street, a man came out of a house, if you could even call it that. The man was in his late twenties. He was wearing a clean white wife-beater and a pair of jeans that were probably blue at one point. His boots were covered in the same grime that covered his pants. I was pretty sure that this man only wore those jeans and boots, but washed his shirts.

“Do you have the money?” the man asked. His voice shook when he talked.

“I… No,” Tom said. The man put his head further through the window. The white in his eyes was especially white.

“He cool?” The man asked.

“Yes. Yes, I am,” I said without looking straight at him.

“All right, Tommy, I knew you weren’t gonna pay, so go to Train Bike’s house, and he’ll hook you up. I need it by tonight.”

At this point, I was already way out of my comfort zone. We pulled up to a house as dingy as the last. “Who’s Train-Bike?” I finally asked.

“A guy. Wait here,” Tom said before getting out of the car. I waited for about five minutes before hearing a bang in the house. Suddenly, Tom ran out of the house holding four VCRs that looked about ten years old. He got in, and threw the VCRs in the back. “Who’s Train-Bike?” I asked again.

“Drive!” he replied. A man ran out of the house wielding a metal baseball bat. As I put the key in the ignition, I dropped it. Baseball bat man yelled out “TOM” and smashed the back window. I finally got the car started and sped away.

“You should get a new license plate,” Tom said.

I dropped Tom off at the wife-beater man’s house and sped away before anyone could come out of the house. I don’t know what happened to Tom, or what the man wearing the wife-beater did with those VCRs, but I remember that day, because that was the day I found God. I knew there had to be a God because I survived.

There is a God, and he’s up there, laughing at us.

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by Cole

Oil lanterns lit up the hay in such a way that the orange of the flame mixed with the brownish-yellow straws and created a rustic ambience within the barn. I stumbled in, in an attempt to get away from the hellish storm that seemed to have come out of nowhere. After inspecting the barn, making sure that I was, indeed, alone, I blew out the oil lanterns, and packed the hay into a clump that I could rest my head on.

As soon as I closed my eyes, I heard an otherworldly, yet familiar noise. It was a noise that was both intimidating, but somehow comical enough to give me pause. Cautiously, I stood up, and lit the lantern that was closest to me. What I saw then was no awesome sight. In fact, I have seen this scene many times over.

Before me, a cat with ears flattened to its head circled around what looked to be a large rodent. My first thought was to ignore the quarrel, thinking that it was not up to me to alter the balance of nature in such a way. It then dawned on me that this was a rather peculiar rodent. Upon further observation, I realized that this rodent was no possum, raccoon, mouse, or beaver. This rodent was an extremely large rat. The body alone on this rat had to be above seven inches. I didn’t bother to include the tail. “These two must know each other,” I thought to myself.

It seemed as though any attempt I made to sleep that night proved to be unsuccessful. The noises of the battle that raged on ten feet from where I lay, and the rain that fell from the sky like atom bombs made me restless. I don’t exactly know when it happened, but I eventually fell asleep, though it was not a peaceful sleep. I dreamed, in vivid detail, of the exact things I was running from, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt. And hellfire.

I woke up itchy and uncomfortable. I had slept in a barn, after all. There was plenty of blood, but no remains of either of the creatures. The air outside was as pure as autumn. I walked to the other side of the barn, into the cornfields. I then realized the severity of my hunger. There was plenty of corn, however. I doubted that whoever owned this farm would miss a few ears. As soon as I reached for an ear, I heard a rustling behind me. The beady eyes of that rat met mine. It had to have been the same rat, it was wet and bloody as a newborn. What struck me as odd, was that the rat did not run away. It just looked at me. Suddenly, I saw an orange blur. The rat struggled to get free, but eventually let out its last breath. The cat had won. Through all of this, I kept eye contact with the rat. I saw the life drain away from it’s eyes. The rat in the end, could not escape. Its death was inevitable. “Inevitable” I thought to myself.

“You said there was no one in the house!”, I shouted in agony. “It matters not anymore. The deed is done.” He replied. “They screamed! They screamed and burned! I heard women! Children!” I could taste vomit. “An unfortunate mistake.” He replied coldly.

I awoke drenched in sweat. There are no words to describe the guilt I felt, like a thousand daggers against my back. Under a flickering street light, a lone payphone stood. Sighing, I went to it. I fished a quarter out of my pocket, and kissed it. “Inevitable” I said out loud. My voice was rough and tired as ever, as I hadn’t spoken in weeks. I slid the quarter into the machine, and dialed 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

I hesitated.

“I’m turning myself in,” I said.

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The Hot Spot Cafe

by Faith

The tiles were layered with dust, dirt was caked in the grout, and footprints showed faintly over the entirety of the floor. I drew my attention away from the ground and tried to focus on the menu layered in plastic. The words were all handwritten, there were no pictures whatsoever, and there was only an option for half of each thing: A half a sandwich, a side of a sliced bagel, one piece of toast… there wasn’t even coffee on the menu.

I decided on just getting a sandwich when the waitress strolled over to my table, a strange Lucille Ball look-a-like with her red lipstick and curled hair teased into an up do. Even her nametag said “Red” on it. She plopped a glass of water with no ice onto my table and flipped open a tiny notebook, scribbling something down even before asking what I wanted.

I looked up at her curiously and she said, “What’ll you have, then,” but not in a questioning tone, as if commenting on the color of the sky.

“Sandwich, please,” I replied, unperturbed when she twirled around instantly and swaggered away.

I stared after her in mild amazement before gazing around at the walls covered in bleached-out pictures of what I was sure were family members of whoever owned the place. In the corner of the room, there was a small TV set playing an old kid’s show from who-knew-back-when, with a dog sitting in front of it and watching the screen intently.

In the next booth an old couple sat across from each other, and I could hear them arguing about their mortgage payments in dull voices. My mind began to wander from their lulling conversation to the scent of cooking meat coming from the kitchen. I leaned out from my booth and looked towards the kitchen, where a man was making something there.

I got up, and as I made my way to the counter I got a better look at him. He was tall with long black hair pulled back from him scruffily bearded face into a loose bun. His nametag said “Hot,” which I thought was odd.

“Hi, Hot,” I said reluctantly. I could see he was grilling burger patties.

“Welcome to my café,” he replied, smiling as he sprinkled salt over the meat.

“Cute dog,” I said as I glanced over at the Labrador in front of the TV set.

“His name is Chili Peppers,” the cook said, shooting a quick look at him.

I grinned at that, and after noticing Red emerging from the back, scurried back to my table to await my coming dish.

She didn’t come to my table immediately as I’d expected, so I tapped my fingers and kept myself occupied with looking around absently. I could smell the mustiness of the air conditioning vent, the cigarette smoke drifting in from outside, the sickly sweet smell of the old couple, the vague smell of damp dog, and the aftermath of a spritz of Windex on the only clean window in the café, the one in the kitchen.

Finally, Red brought my half a sandwich and slid it onto the table. I was surprised at how gorgeous it was, with neatly sliced white bread and a strategically layered assortment of turkey, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. There was a thin wood stick pushed through its center, with colorful plastic streamers dangling down from the top of it. It was all set atop an immaculately clean little china plate.

I was in awe, and ate it delicately to give this sandwich the honor it so deserved. Afterwards, I strolled over to the silent jukebox and chose an Elvis Presley song, “Falling in Love With You,” which was the only one of the options I recognized.

Suddenly, a woman at the counter let out a shrill scream that seemed to shake the very foundation of the old café building. Everyone stopped, and all eyes went to her as she paced back and forth, her scream fading to heaving gasps.

Red ran over and put her arms on the deranged woman’s shoulders, trying to calm her down. The woman halted and grasped Red’s dainty hands in her trembling ones.

“It used to be our song,” she said, her voice shaking.

Red looked even more confused. “Our song?” she ventured, her head tilting slightly to the side.

The woman’s eyes were unseeing, staring straight through Red into some universe only she could perceive. “Johnny…” she exhaled his name with pain etched on her face.

Red’s expression softened. The woman had tears in her eyes. She began to sway in time to the song, and Red started swaying with her. The woman hesitated, and then all at once swept Red into a tight embrace, and they were dancing together.

The song played on as the widow and the waitress waltzed about the café, the woman enraptured in her grief and Red in her sympathy. The people about just stood and watched.

As the song came to an end, the woman and Red slowed. The last notes played, and everything was still. The woman looked up at Red, her eyes like that of starlight and her face aglow. She was not in the Hot Spot Café any longer. She was with her husband in that moment, before the war took his life.

The song ended, and for a moment there was a stifling silence.

Everyone applauded.

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by Faith

My brother was always a meanie-head.

I remember wanting to be cool like him, wrestling with his friends in the arena and playing X-Box in his room with the door closed. I could hear them laughing, yelling, and knocking things over wherever they went.

I would be playing in my room when I would hear their whoops and shuffling through my window. I was on the other side of the house, but that’s how loud they were. This would either entice me enough to emerge from my room, or further push me into the depths of my imagination in my safe haven when their voices were harsh.

Sometimes I gathered the courage to ask to play, too.

“Kaleo!” I would call from the arena gate, gazing at them as they tackled each other and sand flew every which way.

He would usually either ignore me or tell me to get out of there, so I would end up slinking away, either up a tree or back to the house, so I could complain to my mother.

The answer seemed to always be clear: No.

If I asked to hang out in the same room as him and his friends: No, usually followed by a chorus of agreement from his clan of buddies.

If I wanted to go next door with him to visit one of his best friends: No, leaving me where I was as he trekked off to some great adventure.

My brother didn’t really care about me.

One night, the monsters in my head kept me awake, as usual. Everything was silent and dark because my dad didn’t stay up to watch late night TV like he normally did. My door was wide open to the pitch dark of the house, and the fear was stifling.

I crept to my brother’s room and padded across his carpet, trying not to wake him up as I crawled onto his bed where it was safe. As I tried to stealthily make myself comfortable, my brother shifted.

In the dark, everything seemed muted. I could hear my brother moving under the thick covers as he turned to face where I was lying down and breathing shallowly, hoping he would fall back asleep.

“Faith,” he said groggily.

I stayed as still as I could.

“I know you’re in here,” he said, reaching out in the blackness and smacking my arm with his hand.

I held my breath and awaited his sharp voice that would command me to leave his room.

Instead, he said, “Why are you in here?”

“I’m scared,” I whispered.

There was a pause.

I waited.

“Fine. Just for tonight, Faith,” he said, rolling back around.

I turned and tried to see him in the obscurity, disbelieving of what he’d just said.

He simply settled back into his spot adding, “And I sleep like a starfish, so you might want to move over a bit.”

I smiled up to the murky ceiling before rolling towards the wall and tucking myself under the covers.

Maybe my brother wasn’t so bad after all.

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An Endless Dream

by Prince

The memory of my childhood is something that I would never forget about, the days of being an innocent, carefree child. It was an absolute dream that would go on forever and ever. Lounging was my favorite, of course, lying down and taking a nap anytime, holding my pillow as close as I could to my body and hiding under the blanket like closing the curtains on a stage. Cutting the light from everything, filling and surrounding myself with the still of darkness. I never wanted to do anything, nothing dangerous and nothing unexpected; all I wanted was lie on my bed and close my eyes. I fell asleep on my cloud-like pillow holding it and pressing my hand on it, just thinking that this could never end, pulling my blanket and covering myself like a shield blocking all the elements thrown at me, feeling the warmth of a flame that just never died out. I would always fixate on staring at the moon as it moved throughout night like how a kid would stare at his favorite cartoon show, having the moonlight rays shine on me, and at each second feeling the light move across my face. And while the fair breeze blew as though they were dancing in night, I could even taste the salt from the breeze that was from what I could call the silent sea that was not far from my house. As time passed with the moon moving through the sea of stars, I slowly closed my eyes with no doubt about anything whatsoever because everything was perfect just the way it was.

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by Maile

If I were in charge of the world
I’d cancel homework,
Uncomfortable bras,
Crappy airplane food, and also,
Platform shoes.
If I were in charge of the world
There’d be no art assignments (unless in art class),
No college tuitions, and
Roller coaster lines would be non-existent.
If I were in charge of the world
You wouldn’t have hungry.
You wouldn’t have hurt.
You wouldn’t have curfews.
Or “Do your chores.”
You wouldn’t even have chores.
If I were in charge of the world
A Brookstone chocolate covered acai berry
would be a vegetable.
All judgment wouldn’t exist.
And a person who sometimes forgot to be nice.
And sometimes forgot to think twice,
Would still be allowed to be

In charge of the world.

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The Beach

by Elijah

Sun in your hair
Salty air
Sun on your skin
Putting on a fin
Sun is getting hotter
Jump in the water
Wash off in the shower

Repeat in an hour.

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Sleepless Dreamer

by Carolynn

This is a poem that caresses you softly,
In the dead of night when you can’t sleep,
That listens to your woes and worries,
Because no one else will,
Because they’re all fast asleep,
Forgetting reality in their slumber.

And when the weight of it all
Begins to crush you,
To the point where sleepless nights
Are the least of your troubles,
This is the poem that helps you
Learn to dream again,
In your own world,
Where the burdens of this one don’t matter,
Like whitewater rapids
Slowing to a glassy stop.

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Hot Stuff

by Hiʻilei

Tuesday night, home late from work
Creeping in quietly
Up the stairs I go to bed
To snuggle my girlfriend silently

Each step I take I hear a noise
Not from me or my feet
But from the bedroom across the hall
Where I lay my head to sleep

My girlfriend in her birthday suit
On top a big, bronze man
Surprised to see me home tonight
I turned around and ran

Next morning I receive a text
“I’m sorry, forgive me” and such
She was the love of my life
But maybe not so much

Revenge, the only simple answer
With this mess I will be done

A dinner date next weekend
Will surely be much fun

On the Internet, I search hard
For an ingredient that makes heads spin
A cheap price suits me well
For this slight, little sin

I made for her a lovely soup
And smiled with joy too much
Before the meal was completed
I added an extra touch

Anticipating her first slurp
I watch with a devious smile
She swallows, satisfied with her meal
And then her face goes wild

Hawaiian chili peppers
The hottest of its kind
Taught an important lesson:
Cheating- it will never cross her mind

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Senioritis, Not Just for Seniors

by Maile

It’s back,
More deadly than ever,
You think you won’t catch it,
Never say “never.”

It’s not just the seniors;
It’s juniors and sophomores.
“No, don’t show me,
I don’t wanna see my scores!”

Students are crying
Out in the quad,
They care more about getting
That hot summer bod.

“What is this!? They ask.
“It’s a deadly disease!”
“I’m not getting A’s,
Only C’s and D’s!”

The smell of defeat
Fills up the air,
This deadly disease,
Lurks everywhere!

Senioritis has struck
Our campus once more,
Students are done,
School’s just a bore

What can we do
To cure this disease?
Let us out already,
I’m begging you, please!?

We’ve been in school
For oh-oh-so-long,
Waiting ‘til May,
It’s all just so wrong.

Students are tired,
And they need a break,
All of this work,
Makes my mind ache.

The sweet thought of summer,
Keeps me alive
But with this junioritis,

I’m not sure I’ll survive!

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The Duck

by Chandler

Once upon a time there was a duck. His life wasn’t all that great, and he didn’t have much luck. In spite of all of this he was a happy duck, with happy thoughts, and he was kind to everyone in sight. The duck spent every day helping others, but only ever wanted one thing for himself. What he wanted was simple: a truck.

Every day he put a penny, which he got from helping others, into a jar. Day by day, he continued to put a penny in that jar, and day by day it filled up. For many months he never complained and slowly filled that jar. Penny by penny, day by day, month by month, and year by year he did so much and went so far to fill up this jar.

After 3 years of filling, the jar was finally overflowing with shiny copper pennies. He went to the store with happiness to the core and put a down payment on a brand new bright yellow truck. He got in that amazing yellow truck to finally drive home after spending years saving up for it. He started up the engine and immediately crashed it into the nearest wall, completely smashing his new truck.

Well, what did you expect? He’s a duck, and ducks can’t drive cars. I guess he was a duck with no luck.

What if I told you that you are that duck, and that truck is your happiness. The main thing is to make happiness your goal, like the duck with his truck. You may “crash” at times but never let it make you sad, or affect your happiness. I may be sappy to write a story about being happy, but in the end, let’s not pretend that I’m wrong. So, though your life may suck and you’re just a regular duck, your truck is out there, and you just need to go out and find it, good luck.!

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The Lost One

by Madison

“I lift my chin stubbornly, holding back tears. They can’t see me cry. They will never understand. I must keep smiling,” Rehua says to herself. She looks over toward her family and their eyes meet.

“I love you,” they say to her.

“I love you, too,” Rehua replies as two men shove her body out of the door. The men are solid, Māori warriors, marked with the ancient tribal tattoos of their ancestors.

“You knew this day would come,” Piripono says to her as they walk away from the town she once called her home. He is the taller warrior of the two and also Rehua’s childhood friend.

“I didn’t think it would be so soon,” she answers.

“Don’t be so stupid, Rehua,” Tohe yells. “Father will be pleased with your return,” he sneers.  Tohe is Rehua’s older brother known for his hot-temper and intense strength on the battlefield.

The night that Rehua was born, the moon was black, and only one star illuminated the sky. That was the first sign that Rehua was a special child. The prophesiers predicted that she would take over her father’s throne and conquer all of Aotearoa. However, the prophesiers did not want to tell the king of this, because they knew he would become jealous and kill the child.

When Rehua turned seven, her body began to show signs of great strength. The prophesiers were worried that the king would find out about her destiny and plan to kill her, so they had a secret meeting; however, a kōlea bird overheard the meeting and told the child’s parents. While the king was taking his rage out on the prophesiers, Rehua’s mother snuck away to Rehua and sent her off to live in Hawaiʻi with her brother, Whenua. When their father finally burst into Rehua’s room in anger, hoping to kill the child, he found his wife there and beat her to death because she swore never to tell where the child was.

Rehua, Tohe, and Piripono walk for five more miles. Upon reaching the shore where their canoe is stationed. They pack up the canoe and sail on toward the north island of Aotearoa. Night falls, and the moon is almost black. The ocean is calm. Tohe is asleep, but Piripono has the duty of sailing the canoe. Keiki sits and gazes up at the one star illuminating the sky.

“Rehua, I haven’t seen you in so long,” Piripono says. “You look so grown up.” The young woman sits there in silence. “I know you’re mad at me for bringing you home, but I’m just doing my job. Please talk to me,” Piripono begs.

Rehua continues to stare off into the distance, but begins to open her mouth, “How can I talk to the man who is bringing me to my own death?”

“I am only fulfilling my responsibilities, Princess,” Piripono replies.

“Your responsibility is what? To have me killed?” Rehua shouts. “You know what bringing me back means.”

“Shhhhh!” Piripono scolds. “Don’t wake your brother. He’ll become angered, and we’ll both be in trouble. I want to protect you and help you end the wars between our tribes. I know your destiny is to unite all of Aotearoa, and I believe you can do it.”

“Please, like I believe that,” Rehua sneers. “You work for Ihi.”

“You call your father by his name?” Piripono teases.

“Oh shut up Piri, that man is not my father,” Rehua replies. He’s a monster who killed my mother and nearly killed me, too.”

“Because you’re destined for great power, my Princess,” Piripono says.

“Ewwwww, don’t call me the ‘P’ word,” Rehua says.

Piripono smiles. “I missed you,” he says. “I haven’t seen you since we were kids. You’re a lot prettier now that you’ve slimmed down.

“I’m gonna punch your face Piri,” Rehua says. “You’re so lucky you’re cute. I’d false you a good one right between your teeth.”

“Still rough, aren’t you?” Piri says.

Rehua’s head drops. Her smile disappears. “I have to be. I knew that this time would come, and I’d have to be ready to face my father. My uncle has been secretly preparing me for this time to come, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. What if I’m not ready?”

“I’m here for you Rehua,” Piripono replies. “You look strong, and your ancestors will help you along your journey.”

They continue to sail on for a week and finally hit the shore of the north island. The beach is covered with everyone who lives in their kingdom. Conch shells sound and King Ihi is awaiting their arrival in the front of the pack.

“My daughter, it is good to see you home,” King Ihi says to Rehua. Her eyes do not meet with her father’s as she goes in for their hongi.

The king has been planning the murder of his daughter for eighteen years, and he has spent countless hours searching for her too. Many of the villagers hate the king, but they must show him respect out of fear for their own lives. They have been waiting for the return of the princess to overthrow her father and unite the tribes. The villagers weep upon her return and bow down at her feet when she arrives.

Piripono was in charge of guarding the wharepuni that Rehua was supposed to sleep in. King Ihi put him in charge because he did not want the princess to escape.

“Huuuui, Rehua,” Piripono whispers into the doorway. “I know you’re up.”

“Of course I’m up, you dummy,” Rehua replies. “My father and his men could sneak up any second now.”

“Don’t worry Rehua, I have a plan,” Piripono replies. “The king, due to his big ego, plans to defeat you on his own and will come alone to your wharepuni when the moon becomes light. When you’re ready, I want you to run to Cape Reinga and wait for me there. I will take your place in the wharepuni and when your father comes to kill you, I will fight him off. If I do not return to Cape Reinga, I will send my family guardian, a whale to come find you. He will tell you of my doings.

“My father is a fierce warrior, Piri,” Rehua says. “He can kill you! It’s too dangerous. It’s me he wants. You don’t have to do this.”

“The people and I have waited long and hard for your return, my princess. I’m not letting him take you away,” Piripono replies.

“I love you,” Rehua says as she leaves the wharepuni and begins her journey to Cape Reinga, fifteen miles away.

“I love you, too” Piripono whispers back as he takes her place on the mat.

Finally, the moon is light and King Ihi comes to the wharepuni where the princess sleeps. He walks through the doorway, but is struck down with a blow by Piripono. After a long hour of harsh battle, Piripono leaves victorious, killing the king.

He runs to Cape Reinga to find Rehua who is ecstatic to find out that Piripono is alive and welcomes him with a kiss.

Over the next few years, the prophecy is fulfilled with Piripono at the side of Rehua. The kingdom is conquered and the people are happy.

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How to Shine Like a Diamond

by Pualalea

With so many well-known people who are beautiful, rich, popular, or even snobby with their different talents, different clothing, and different bodies, it’s not so easy to be normal. If you’re normal, then you don’t fit in well enough with the fast-paced, ongoing, beautified world. Famous people are praised for their over-emphasized struggles, immorality, athletic skills, talent in the arts, or even just their looks. What about people like you and me who aren’t extremely gorgeous in any way and aren’t particularly good at any sport, or musically gifted, we who actually enjoy being happy and not making big scenes with our own personal problems at home? Yes, us with our own values still existing. We are the minority and we are feeling forgotten.

Well, getting noticed is easy. We just need to find a way to shine and get noticed. Our big break is here, and it’s time that we took advantage of it. We are going to shine as bright as any other football-winning, Beyoncé-singing, Kim-Kardashian-looking person ever.

The first step to shine like a diamond is to listen to Rihanna’s song called “Shine Bright like a Diamond.” It’s the only way that we can truly understand how we must change ourselves to stand out in the crowd. Be sure to notice how everything in her music video makes no sense and how confused and lost she seems. After you’ve listened to the song, you must observe other famous and popular people from afar. Try observing your school’s Mr. and Mrs. Popular, or maybe go and watch a popular TV series, or even go online and search the lives of other well-known music artists and or celebrities. After you’ve done your research and observations, make a comparison chart between two of the celebrities. You will eventually realize that those two people you have compared are pretty much the same.

After you’ve figured out the simple similarities, proceed to changing your whole wardrobe and fashion taste. If you hate shopping, then you most likely need a new sense of style. I advise you to keep up with the latest fashion trend and mimic the bestselling outfits to the T.

Next, you must pick an area or subject where you want to shine. I suggest picking the media because it is the easiest way to get discovered and shine. Make sure you look perfect by putting on a lot of makeup, and if you are a girl, I suggest showing off your chest and or butt on your social media websites. This is sure to get you the attention that you desire. After about a month of posting revealing and demeaning pictures of yourself you will most likely be praised by those around you. Then, BAM you’re Instagram, Twitter or Facebook famous. After about a year of being on the “cool” side and posting a lot of pictures of yourself, you will have generated millions of on online friends who only like you for your looks and/or humor. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet someone special through the Internet and even lose your virginity.

At this point, there’s no way you’re a nobody anymore. Average is not anything near describing you. Now you are popular and famous! You’re just like everyone else who used to give you a hard time. You’re shining brighter than any pearl or sapphire right now!! Congratulations!!! Oh wait what? Now you’re just like everyone else…isn’t this supposed to be a guideline in helping you be different?  Hmmmmmmmm, maybe in the world we live in, by being “average and normal” you ARE different!

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From A to Z

by Daisy

A has a massive crush on B.
But B doesn’t feel the same way about A.
C really likes A, but knows about A’s massive crush on B.
Dreams and hopes of C being with A faded quickly.
Eventually, A asked B to the football game on Saturday night.
Falsely, B said yes.
Game night, and B did not show up.
“Have you seen B?”A was asking people.
I, A’s friend called B to see where she was.
“Joke. It was a joke. I would never go out with A,” B said.
K, C’s friend dragged her to the game.
Last game of the season was that night.
Many people were there, but the first person C saw was A.
Nothing could stop C’s feelings for him.
Other than the fact that A liked someone else, there was nothing standing in C’s way.
Possibly if C told A her feelings, he would forget about B.
Quickly, she made her way through the crowd to A.
Rethinking if this was really a good idea or not, C just stood there in front of A.
“Sorry to bother you, but can we talk?” C stammered.
Traumatized, C slowly walked to a quiet place with A.
Unexpectedly A said, “Do you want to hang out?”
Very surprised, C replied with a yes.
Weeks later, they started going on real dates.
X amount of weeks went by, and A finally asked C to be his girlfriend.
“Yep!” C exclaimed.
Zoos, movies, the mall; they went everywhere together.

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Paper Skin

by Destinee

I remember walls of fragile wood trembling and quivering as if I was trapped in a box with someone attempting to free me, yet at the same time squish me within. My room was dingy with the exception of the dim light like the underground tunnels lit with old-fashioned wax candles. It was like searching through a mummy tomb with Rick O`Connell in The Mummy. Except, this was my bedroom, and instead of treasures of gold and knowledge, there was only me and my faint soul.

My room was a sauna with no steam. I would feel light perspiration from the hot air trail down my forehead and back. Loose strands of my own hair, always up in a messy bun, dangled on the back of my neck making me paranoid that something was constantly trying to crawl beneath my battered skin. As for the stuffy air, that was because my room lacked proper ventilation.

I refused to open the windows and turn on fans. I used to believe that, if I left my windows open, some evil spirit would invade my sanctuary and possess me or steal me away to remain in the depths of the Underworld forever. As for turning on fans, I just found it difficult to listen to the murderous screams in my head with the sound of the blades rotating like how I can never hear a word my school teacher says when a custodian is vacuuming in the room next door. I should have kept the fans on but the voices… they were… real.

I heard voices a lot. There were so many, and I could never tell which voice was mine. A million different voices would flow into my mind the way water escapes after a dam has been destroyed. It went from: I see you. Alone. Go away. Get lost. No one cares. Not now. They left you. And rapidly switched to: How could you? What’s wrong with you? Why are you here? These weren’t the only voices I heard either. I could hear the firing of shots that were all the straining voices yelling from other rooms inside my house. The breaking of glass made me cringe at every piece that hit the tiled floor. The slamming of tables and countertops made me tense up so much that, with each pound, I tightened my grip on my legs that I had bent in order to tuck in with my arms. This was not my home, just a house I lived in.

That house I grew up in was not a home. A home is a place where you feel safe and secure. I did not feel safe or secure. I was constantly living in fear that everyone was going to leave me one by one, the way it had always been. I was frightened by the realization that no one understood that my heart was bleeding words that begged to be heard.

If that three-bedroom, one-story house was a home, it was a home to demons that ran around me daily. I always felt like someone was out to get me. That Death would be right around the corner. There was an endless amount of nights where I’d wake up panicking, checking to see if I was still alive. I’d be sweating and hyperventilating as my scream alarmed the entire house that I had just seen the face of the Grim Reaper.

I used to sleep with my stuffed animals to add comfort, knowing that I was not alone and that I was safe. However, as much as I loved my stuffed animals, when night fell, all I saw were their eyes stalking me like a surveillance camera that watches your every move. It made my heavy breathing grow louder and louder just like my heart that would pound so hard I thought it would emerge from my chest and fall right into the palms of my hands.

Nightfall became one of my greatest fears. I could feel the darkness consume me and devour me whole. I could feel tiny venomous snakes slithering past my veins. I began to scratch my wrists and my thighs hoping I could claw them out of me. My skin would blush, and soon my arms and legs would form crimson puddles on the filthy floor masked with crumbled, torn-out papers from my storybooks. The air would thicken, and my throat would dry up. My tear-stained eyes and cracked lips were signs of my uneasiness swirling in my gut. Hair floated down beside me from all the times I tried to pull the voices out. You’re weak. You’re ugly because you are weak. I’d fight back, but… they were right. They were always right.

I can’t recall when exactly, but one night, before I closed my eyes for the last time to dreamland, I said to myself, “Just count to ten and no monsters will lie under my bed”. Little did I know that the monsters lived in my head: We’re coming for you.


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It Sucks, I Know

by Destinee

I was sitting doing a writing assignment that had to be about a time when I learned something new or grew as a person. It was kind of hard since I didn’t like people and never bothered to associate myself with them. It had to be in the form of an essay. I hated essays. Long, dreadful sentences on topics I couldn’t care less about. I bet someone was writing about when they learned how to ride a bike or when they realized that they were one day going to be an adult and have to provide for themselves. Everyone in my school were mindless fools that got on my nerves by simply existing, but I can’t complain because I probably do the same to them. Plus, we had to read these essays out loud for everyone. I hated hearing about other people’s problems. I don’t need to constantly learn about the past and all the mistakes that dwell in it. Life sucks, people are mean, and no one is ever truly happy. Tell me something I don’t know.

So here I was scribbling down words I barely put thought into, and before I could finish my introduction my pencil snapped in half. I guess my grip was too strong from pressing too hard onto the paper in hopes of writing faster. I didn’t have an extra one, and my teacher had no pencil sharper in the classroom. I know it’s irresponsible of me to not carry around another pencil, but I’m an emotionally unstable teenager, and I have too many problems in my life to take time out of my day to even consider packing a spare pencil. If anything, it’s the teacher’s fault for not having a pencil sharpener. It should be a requirement for teachers to have such supplies in a classroom for their students. The school system can be a total letdown sometimes. Correction: all the time.

After spending a good ten seconds pondering what to do, I turned to Daniel Stone to ask him for a pencil. Daniel was my school’s quarterback. He may not be the brightest of the bunch but for some reason everyone else made it seem as if his model hunk looks made up for it. Typical society, always quick to making the luck of looking drop-dead gorgeous a good cover-up for having a peanut sized brain. Unfortunately for most ladies (the ones who basically drool over him), he was taken by Kelly Temple, who was the head cheerleader and was just as idiotic as he was. My three-year-old baby cousin reads better than she does. If she didn’t have breasts the size of mountains she’d be known as the girl who didn’t know what one plus one was. Daniel and Kelly were perfect for each other. They had everything in common: good looks, dead brains, and high reputation. They were the “it” couple.

I think I whispered his name around five times, each said louder after every time, until he finally heard my voice. He literally sat a foot and a half away and was deaf as a doornail. Either that, or he just didn’t care to pay attention to me. No one ever did. I was one of those girls who didn’t really exist. It’s not that I felt invisible and completely untouched by the world. I wasn’t one of those girls who no one ever knew went to their school. I actually felt very visible and completely ignored by the world at the same time. People would look me straight in the eye and bump into me as a joke that they didn’t “see” me when it was obvious that they did.

“Can I help you?” he laughed as if it was some type of inside joke he and his two defensive linemen had (keep in mind that they weren’t all that bright either).

“I broke my pencil; do you have an extra I may borrow?” I asked kindly. It was unusual for me to be nice to the “popular” kids at my school. It was rare for me to be nice to anyone actually, except for my friend Joyce Farrington. Mostly because she became the only person I could tolerate at my school.

“Suuuure,” he elongated with a tone of voice that implied he thought I had some kind of ulterior motive for wanting his pencil. I wanted so badly to wipe the stupid smirk off his face. He looked like one of those big ego guys from pointless reality TV shows who just picked up a girl who everyone thought was impossible to impress. I found it hilarious how an imbecile like him could possibly think I’d want anything to do with him. He wasn’t my type. None of them were. I always thought of guys as a completely different species, you know?

One of his friends whistled like your stereotypical construction worker trying to hit on a hot lady walking by. It was pathetic in my opinion. Women are not dogs. You don’t whistle at them.

“Danny, I think Ms. Robinson is flirting with you,” his other friend said.

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped at him with eyes like daggers.

“Sorry, Fiona but it’s true,” he said using my first name. I really hated my name. My mom’s name is Judy and my sister’s name is Anna. Why am I stuck with Fiona? Hearing it spill out of the mouths of others makes me sick to the core.

“Just give me the danged pencil!” I shouted as I snatched the pencil from Danny’s tightly clenched left hand. They began to laugh and teased me for the rest of the class. It was torture, but then again, everything was torture to me.

Before the bell rang for lunch, Danny slipped me note as he got up. He didn’t even make eye-contact with me. No one seemed to notice the poorly folded lined paper that was shoved into my History textbook. ”You’re cute”, it read. I was puzzled but gathered my things and headed off to lunch.

At lunch, Joyce and I were talking about History and the incident between me, Danny, and his friends. It occurred to me that perhaps this note from Danny could be the start of something new. I didn’t tell Joyce this, but I was about to embark on an exciting adventure.

The next day I wrote Danny a note and shoved it into his textbook while he wasn’t looking, which wasn’t that hard since he spent most of his class time chatting with the rest of the jocks in the classroom. Ever since that day, I kept slipping him, what one would call “love notes,” and he’d actually write some back. This went on for days, weeks even.

One day, he slipped me a note asking if I’d want to go to the movies with him. I figured why not? I mean… I hated movies but I thought it was time to kick it up a notch with Danny. Movies were always stupid. Overly dramatic people who think they’re all that acting out “real-life” situations that end with unrealistic endings. No one is that happy, you know why? It’s all just one big fairy tale waiting to explode in our faces. But, hey! Going on this date gets me free food and a movie ticket while being able to meddle even more with Danny and Kelly’s relationship.

We ended up watching some weird comedy about this guy who was the strangest man alive and always got himself into trouble. Everyone would laugh at him yet think he was “super cool.” Basically, it was terrible. The guy was so dumb and weird and it reminded me so much of Danny that I swear the movie was based on him.

When the movie ended we walked out of the theater only to find Kelly buying tickets for some chick flick with some of her cheerleader friends. They had finished practice early because their coach had personal problems. Personal problems? What happened? Did you break a nail? Turned out I was right. This is what I’m dealing with. I’m surrounded by idiots who think that split ends mean the end of the world and that perspiration means you’re melting.

Anyways, Kelly was not happy to see us together. In fact, she was furious to the point that anyone could mistake her head for a giant red apple mask. If she didn’t care so much about her perfectly intact skin, she’d probably bunch up her face, and then complain about how much it hurt.

“What the heck is this?” she shouted.

“You must be stupid AND blind if you can’t tell that we’re on a date,” I mocked.

“Shut it, Fiona,” she shot.

“Well? Aren’t you going to explain yourself, Danny?” she insisted.

“What’s there to explain? We’re on a date,” he said as if he thought he had done nothing wrong. This made Kelly so mad I could smell smoke steaming from her ears. To this I smiled, I never had so much fun in my entire life.

“So that’s what you’ve been doing? Going on dates while I was at practice? With HER?” she said. She was annoyed with Danny but mostly me because she couldn’t believe he would cheat on a so-called flawless girl like her with a nobody like me.

“At least I’m not an incompetent fool,” I teased.

“What is that supposed to mean? You think you’re cool because you know words? Because you’re not,” she snapped. This girl really thought she was better than me.

“If you can understand even the most rudimentary form of the English language, you will understand this: go away,” I smirked.

I’m pretty sure that was the last straw for her. She went on a rage on her blog and Twitter. All her rants about me made me feel like I actually existed for once. People finally acknowledged my existence and I was no longer painfully invisible.

After a few days of fighting with his girlfriend, Danny made a public announcement over the intercom during second block asking everyone to meet in the cafeteria and to stay there during lunch. Of course, everyone listened to him and was excited to see what it was that he’d called us all for. Even I was excited. Scratch that. I’m never excited. I was merely interested.

I walked into the cafeteria to find him standing on one of the long lunch tables with a bullhorn. He began to make a speech about all the gossip that was going through the air at school. He was addressing all the rumors that pertained to me and him being a “thing” or “item.” It was probably one of the most hilarious moments of my life actually, and I wish I could replay it over and over again. Watching the looks on everyone’s faces? Priceless.

He started off by admitting to cheating on Kelly with me through our love notes and secret dates while she was at cheer practice. He then went on about how, apparently, he was going to dump Kelly anyways. The look on Kelly’s face was pure rich, and I wish someone had taken a photo of it to plaster all over the walls at school. In his mind, Kelly’s “turn” was done and it was time for him to find another girl.

He then turned to me and asked me to be his girlfriend because it was my “turn” to be his. What kind of guy thinks that way? That’s right, the narcissistic imbecile I’ve been so-called flirting with for possibly the past month. Sheesh, his ego was so big a pack of elephants could live in there.

So what did I do? I turned him down in front of the entire student body and faculty. I explained how I did it because I wanted to see how big his ego could get, and boy was I surprised. He got a bit embarrassed, and most people began laughing. I felt a bit bad, but I didn’t care. Not to be mean, but if anyone should be sad it should be me. I was the one who had to tolerate him for over a month.

After lunch was over, I introduced him to my younger sister Anna. Anna was my irritating sister who thought way too much of herself. She was kind of like Kelly except I lived with her, which made her way more annoying. My sister and Danny began dating, and it was probably the most irritating relationship I’ve ever witnessed. I wanted to vomit looking at them. However, I thought it was perfect punishment for them to have to deal with each other’s big ego and always trying to “one-up” each other with who looks best and what-not.

So what did I learn from all of that? Nothing. Nothing important anyway aside from the fact that people are just as mean, stupid, and irritating as I thought they were. My life went back to normal. I was back to being the girl no one cared for and who got pushed in the halls to elicit a laugh. I was okay with that though. All I needed was my notebook, pencil, coffee, and Joyce, so I had someone to share my mischievous adventures with.

By the way, I know this was supposed to be an essay but I don’t like essays, and I don’t like this class. Lecture me all you want tomorrow. I won’t listen. I never do. You know why? Because all you’re going to say is how terrible this paper is, and I really don’t care. It sucks, I know. Tell me something I don’t know.

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by Lily

Ah yes, my favorite time of day.  It’s 3:00 p.m., which means, IT’S BINGO TIME!  Bingo day has got to be my favorite day of the week. Being in the bingo parlor filled with other old people like me is thrilling. The wide open room with rows and rows of bingo tables makes me smile. Also, I love the applesauce that they serve. By God, there’s always the best applesauce at bingo.

Although I love going to bingo, it’s 15 blocks away from my senior living facility, so I have to catch the ratty old bus. I hate the bus because it’s always filled with a bunch of loons, but it’s the only way I can make it to bingo on time. On the bus, it always smells like pee, and people always try to talk to me. Whenever someone approaches me, I pretend to be deaf because, well let’s face it, I do look old enough to be deaf. I was staring out the window thinking about how well I was going to do at bingo today, when a crazy old bat sat down next to me.

“Just pretend to be deaf,” I told myself. The young lady who sat down next to me looked about 30 years old, and she was obviously on some kind of drugs. Her red hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she wore old ragged shoes with holes at the toes.

“You got any plums?” asked the lady. I didn’t respond, hoping that she would quit bothering me.  Then she stated again, “You got any plums?” She had probably asked this about 10 times before I finally answered, “No.”

The lady got up from her seat, and moved to the front of the bus. Finally she’d left me alone. See, this is why I don’t like the bus. “Does anyone have plums?!” the lady yelled. She ran up and down the middle aisle asking everyone if they had plums. Why plums? Drugs, I tell you, they can do wonders. A couple of people got up to give her something, but I didn’t know what they were giving her. “Anybody else?” said the lady.

She started to get on my nerves, so I yelled, “Sit down and leave everyone alone ya crazy loon, nobody’s got any gosh darn plums!” The lady sat down and didn’t move. I went about my usual business of couponing when someone tapped my shoulder. “What now?” I thought.  I turned to look back and see what they wanted.

Then, the stranger handed me a note on a piece of scratch paper that said, “She didn’t say plums, she said gum.” Oh! I guess she wasn’t crazy after all.  That’s when I realized, I was the new crazy loon on the bus.

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The Downfall

by Justin

Agent Jamie? Yea, he was one of the best operatives the Hornets ever had.  People say his aim was so sharp that he could shoot another man’s bullet right out of the air.  But things went from bad to worse to quick that day, I tell you.

The enemy was a man named Dragunov, leader of the hostile army called the Dragons.  He got his name from shooting his country’s previous leader dead between the eyes with a Dragunov sniper rifle.

Anyway, the Dragons were starting to become a problem for us Hornets, especially with the kind of pressure that was being put on our capital city, Heyworth. See, the Dragons, they wanted to take over and reform society around Heyworth, but we drove them out a couple years back.  Now they are staying in some old abandoned city, Washerstown, D.C. or something like that.  Nobody really remembers what was there before.

Jamie’s mission was simple: Assassinate Dragunov at his upcoming rally speech with the rebel supporters; however, the wind got real bad that afternoon, so the shot was basically a failure to start with. Don’t get me wrong. We all remained hopeful at the time. I mean it was Agent Jamie; he never missed a shot.  Until that day that is.  He missed by a foot and nailed Dragunov’s advisor right in the heart. All hell broke loose after that. Our other operatives were compromised, and riots broke out all around the square.  One shot missed, and they gained the upper hand.  Jamie went missing for a short while after that happened. I guess a man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do when the burdens of a whole country once rested on his shoulders…

It was absolute chaos. The people with me at HQ were scrambling in a mad race to get the mission back on line, but we had lost all control over what was going on in the square. Our best agent was nowhere to be found, and the Dragons’ plaza went on complete lockdown. The lockdown ended up cutting off all communication we had with the men on the inside.  That bullet should’ve been through Dragunov’s skull, and this war should’ve been over.  But now with the threat out in the opne, the Dragons retreated back into their den.

At this point, the details get a bit fuzzy, since none of us intel guys had any eyes or ears in the area, so I’m just going to give you the secondhand account.  Over the course of the next few months after that, our agents who were already on the inside went under the radar and took the mission into their own hands.  A few of them were lost in the initial riots, but the ones that got to safety managed to hatch a plan to finish what Jamie couldn’t.

They were holed up in the ghettos of the city as they tried to get all the information and supplies they needed to infiltrate Dragunov’s mansion and take him out.  How exactly did they go about doing this? We really don’t know, but what we do know is that once they were inside, the Dragons had no idea how badly the Hornets could sting.  They were determined to kill and fix all the trouble Agent Jamie caused.

But, here’s the thing: Jamie showed his face again after all those months, and it was inside the mansion with those Dragons. You see…Jamie didn’t miss his shot at all.  The whole thing was planned against us from the start, and now the enemy had the single most skilled fighter on this planet.  None of our men ever came back, and the reason I know what happened behind the lockdown is because Jamie told us in a message that was accompanied by a personal message to our own president: “You’re next.”

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