Aerie 2021: The  Elephant in the Room

It is my pleasure to inform you that your school’s literary magazine, Aerie: The Elephant in the Room, has been selected to receive the rank of Superior in the 2021 NCTE Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (REALM) program. From all of us at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), congratulations to you and your students on this exceptional publication.


Emily Kirkpatrick

NCTE Executive Director

Letter from the Editor

We are extremely delighted to present Aerie 2021 “The Elephant in the Room". This is our second year digital and we could not be more excited to get the chance to be on your screen! We have been given the amazing opportunity to work as a group and see what incredible things our peers were able to create during these trying times. And now you do too!

I am incredibly proud of the staff this year, most of whom are completely new to Aerie and were thrown into this with no experience. They have done such a great job working as a team, creating a fun and welcoming environment that makes for an even better magazine. Through the help of my fellow editors, Lada Gallant and Mia Howard submissions and our website were a breeze. I cannot stress the sense of gratification that being a part of the 2021 staff had brought me. Though it was made a lot easier having such a lively and some might even say...loud class, they brought energy, laughter, and a positive attitude.

A very big thank you to our amazing advisor, Mrs. Bruzzese, who year after year makes it possible for us to work as a team and put out this amazing magazine. She is always by our side, or rather always at her desk ready to jump in where we need her. We appreciate you so much and could not do this without you!

Madison Thorn


Letter from the Advisor

Dear Aerie Staff,

Last year at this time the Aerie Staff was navigating crisis learning, learning how to work from home, and figuring out GoogleSites in order to publish Aerie 2020 on our brand new website. It was definitely an experience (not always good, not always bad). When the National Council of Teachers of English Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (NCTE REALM) committee honored that issue with a First-Class designation, I'm not sure the new staffers understood why we were so proud to have earned that award. After the past few (hectic) weeks, I'm sure you all have a better understanding of things. 

This year, you decided you wanted to publish both a book and a website. And (as with everything else), pandemic guidelines tried to thwart our efforts. The second semester started with all students remote, AND seniors graduate weeks sooner than the underclass year ends. You opted for twice the work with half the time! I always tell the Aerie staff that they can choose to take the magazine in whatever direction they want as long as they are willing to put in the work. And, work you did: You circled after school, published during lunch and mornings of off-days. You took editing and plagiarism checks home and you delegated web responsibilities to next year members. You created new ways of organizing submissions, you helped each other make layout decisions, and you advertised submissions, scheduling and sales. 

So now I say this without a hint of sarcasm: I hope you're proud of yourselves. You should be. Thank you for dealing with The Elephant in the Room. It wasn't easy but the good things usually aren't.


Thank you!

Mr. Jared Parker -- For being our art hero. You made sure our art was in its best form even during our crunch time (which meant giving you deadlines for volunteer work)!

Oliver Santos -- For designing and creating the cover for this year's Aerie

The Firebird English Department -- For promoting Aerie throughout the whole year

Joseph Broaddus, Chloe Burke, Anna Gustin, Arian Ineza, and Lillee Vest -- For a little help getting the website organized and published

Mrs. Jessica Stickel -- For giving us unlimited access to her room and InDesign insight


Words hold tremendous power. They possess the ability to start and end wars. They make us laugh and cry. By them we fall in land out of love. Words illustrate the way we live. Sometimes, we live beautiful, eloquent, grammatically correct lives. Other times we live roughly with a little more crassness and a little less punctuation. Nonetheless, we live and communicate through the words we share with the world.

Aerie represents the power of words. Within this publication, you will find the silliness, anger, passion, joy, sorrow, and most importantly the talent of Fairmont students. The emotions expressed in Aerie are not intended to reflect the views of the Fairmont High School staff. They are simply intended to move you, our readers, and to help you see the world through a different lens. The grammatical structure within these works is as they were submitted to us; perhaps with the intent to evoke emotion, despite proper grammar rules.

With that in mind, go ahead. Read on. Be awed by the power of words.

Authors & Artists in Order of Appearance

Abigail Harold -- Sunset

Will Tschirhart -- If Only You Knew

Trace Olow -- Untitled

Charlie Cute -- Hope is a Ray

Graham Glovka -- Untitled

Sierra Grubb -- Summer Daze

Charlie Cute -- Colorful Fragments

Corine Cannarozzi -- Roses

Keri Masters -- School From Home

Brice Runyon -- Feeling Tired

Hannah Wilt -- Untitled

Liesl Kuschnerus -- Goodmorning

Ian Kelly -- The Beauty of Tennessee

Sierra Savage -- Capture the Beautiful Moments

Anonymous -- Forbidden Stranger

Grayson Fogel -- The Journey

Mallory McCall -- A Storm Brewing, Colorful Beach Sky

Trace Olow -- Ex-Husband

Diego Valadez, Eric Ruiz, Adam Lynch -- Gambit

Chloe Burke -- Impressionistic Landscape

Jessica Parsons -- Don't Fly Away

Toby McElwee -- Untitled

Madison Thorn -- Chihiro (Spirited Away), Rin (Blue Exorcist)

Sophia Toth -- A Mirror Image, Escapism, The Milk Bar, The Trial, The Color Green

Kathrine Hill -- Day Trip to Columbus

Anonymous -- crushcrushcrush

Payton Probasco -- Untitled, Untitled

Abigail Beach Knox Perkins -- Untitled

Ashley Reents -- Isla

Chloe Burke -- Beautiful Scenery

Addison Peters -- Worm's Eye View of Flowers

Corine Cannarozzi -- A Pretty Tree

Hannah Wilt -- Untitled

Makayla Turner -- Untitled

Olivia Rose -- Two Ghosts

Charlie Cute -- We Are Here

James White -- Flower Power

Anna Grace Galle -- Ballad

Darcy Tipton -- Untitled

Sierra Grubb -- Welcome Home

Charlie Cute -- Peanut Butter Pancakes with Chocolate Croissants

Keri Masters -- Quarantine Hobbies

Jordan Ritenour -- Bullpen

Ashley Daniels -- Museum Exhibit

Isabella Drozd -- Lost

Madison Thorn -- Untitled

Authors & Artists in Order of Appearance

Abigail Harold -- Sunset

Will Tschirhart -- If Only You Knew

Trace Olow -- Untitled

Charlie Cute -- Hope is a Ray

Graham Glovka -- Untitled

Sierra Grubb -- Summer Daze

Charlie Cute -- Colorful Fragments

Corine Cannarozzi -- Roses

Keri Masters -- School From Home

Brice Runyon -- Feeling Tired

Hannah Wilt -- Untitled

Liesl Kuschnerus -- Goodmorning

Ian Kelly -- The Beauty of Tennessee

Sierra Savage -- Capture the Beautiful Moments

Anonymous -- Forbidden Stranger

Grayson Fogel -- The Journey

Mallory McCall -- A Storm Brewing, Colorful Beach Sky

Trace Olow -- Ex-Husband

Diego Valadez, Eric Ruiz, Adam Lynch -- Gambit

Chloe Burke -- Impressionistic Landscape

Jessica Parsons -- Don't Fly Away

Toby McElwee -- Untitled

Madison Thorn -- Chihiro (Spirited Away), Rin (Blue Exorcist)

Sophia Toth -- A Mirror Image, Escapism, The Milk Bar, The Trial, The Color Green

Kathrine Hill -- Day Trip to Columbus

Anonymous -- crushcrushcrush

Payton Probasco -- Untitled, Untitled

Abigail Beach Knox Perkins -- Untitled

Ashley Reents -- Isla

Chloe Burke -- Beautiful Scenery

Addison Peters -- Worm's Eye View of Flowers

Corine Cannarozzi -- A Pretty Tree

Hannah Wilt -- Untitled

Makayla Turner -- Untitled

Olivia Rose -- Two Ghosts

Charlie Cute -- We Are Here

James White -- Flower Power

Anna Grace Galle -- Ballad

Darcy Tipton -- Untitled

Sierra Grubb -- Welcome Home

Charlie Cute -- Peanut Butter Pancakes with Chocolate Croissants

Keri Masters -- Quarantine Hobbies

Jordan Ritenour -- Bullpen

Ashley Daniels -- Museum Exhibit

Isabella Drozd -- Lost

Madison Thorn -- Untitled

Sunset - Abigail Harold

Will Tschirhart

(Click the link to listen) 

Trace Olow

Hope is a Ray 

Charlie Cute

Hope is a ray

That shines from the moon,

And cannot be weighed.

Hope is a beam

Shimmering from the sun so soon,

Sea to shining sea.

Hope guides us all 

To a gleaming boon,

A future of awe.

Graham Glovka

Summer Daze - Sierra Grubb

Colorful Fragments 

Charlie Cute

"Yet his golden muse glowed bright"

Red burned

With passion

With fury

But she went pink

When she saw White

Her wife

Orange rose

To a challenge

At 5AM 

They competed

They lived

They didn’t want

A love life

Having friends is enough

Yellow glowed

And loves his life

Watching movies

With Green and their cats

Though he glowed,

Green was the light of his life

He loves his husband Green 

Green grew

He read

Whenever he could

He loved his black cats

And Yellow

And wrote daily

To share it with others

Yet his golden muse

Glowed bright

Blue flowed

Like water and 

Though he was sad

Dealing with mental health issues

He could depend on 

His husband and his wife

Purple and Teal

Happy in his little

Polyamorous marriage 

Roses - Corine Cannarozzi

School From Home - Keri Masters

Feeling Tired

Brice Runyon

"Waiting for good news to arrive in desperation. Desperation seems to be my only feeling"

Today, I woke up tired

Tired of waking up in a cloudy mindset again

Again, and again, everyday

Everyday, life feels a bit more hard

Hard because I can’t see my friends

Friends that I haven’t seen in months

Months of sitting in this house waiting 

Waiting for good news to arrive in desperation 

Desperation seems to be my only feeling 

Feeling like this pandemic will never end 

End is near though, or so I thought 

Thought everyone would be happy for the vaccines 

“Vaccines will track and kill you” they say 

Say, where did you hear that? 

That is the sound of this never ending tiredness 

Tiredness is the new trend 

Trend of hopelessness 

Hopelessness in the past year 

Year one down, how many more to go? 

Go to bed early 

Early enough to forget what’s happening outside 

Outside I hear the ambulance sirens 

Sirens I woke up to today 

Today, I woke up tired.

Hannah Wilt


Liesl Kuschnerus 

"He pushes us further into the plush.  Mind filled with fantastical dream."

New days start with the death of another. 

A solemn end to your time awake.

Yet, in the morning our minds are reset. 

New and fresh, like the dewy grass. 

Yesterday’s son lifts us awake. 

Clear and quiet, he rises unnoticed. 

Completely still and silent,

He lays his sights upon our noses. 

Together, one,

All of our brains sweetly blank

In his presence. 

His soft light caresses

Through the thin slits of the blinds. 

He touches our skin, 

“Wake up friend”

Head thick with him,

We feel our hand and our fingers, 

Our stomach and chest,

Undulating with breath.

Melting intimately around our body,

He pushes us further into the plush. 

Mind filled with fantastical dream, 

We arise into the clean air

Greeted by other wiped minds.






 Ian Kelly

Capture the Beautiful Moments - Sierra Savage

Forbidden Stranger Anonymous

Since September, things have changed

My best friend was no longer a companion

But a stranger

Somebody I’ve known since junior high


Not someone I can talk to 

Sure, all is well though,

For everything is swept under the rug

We don’t laugh like we used to

But we still make jokes

We don’t talk like we used to

But we still text about school

We aren’t friends like we used to be

But we pretend

Because to admit we are strangers

Is something we forbid

The Journey 

Grayson Fogel

A Storm Brewing

Mallory McCall

Colorful Beach Sky

Mallory McCall


Trace Olow

13 years ago, my ex-husband passed away. The two of us were perfect for each other, both leaning more anti-social, and not having many friends or personal outings besides work and the grocery store. We deeply loved each other, or rather, I deeply loved him. I was never sure how much he had loved me; he never expressed or showed any emotions throughout the time span I had known him. Things wouldn’t have ended the way he did if he just expressed emotion to me once in a while, never even verbalizing the words “I love you” to me.

The two of us got married after we had both finished college, both attending the same university not far from our hometown. To celebrate our marriage, we purchased a house a little ways outside of our hometown in the woods. It was a white brick house, if you disregarded the white paint peeling off the bricks. The house sat plump in the middle of the forest, with a long dirt driveway leading to the main road. The trees surrounded the house, towering over it, silencing any sound from entering or leaving the house. 

Eventually my husband’s time had come, and he passed away. No one knew he had passed, and no one really came to check on us. Majority of people, even family, knew the two of us preferred to be left alone, and they respected that. After all, it made it easier on me afterwards. I didn’t have to come up with any lies, hide anything, or worry about anything. 

After my ex-husband had passed, I was left alone in the small brick house in the woods. It was quite nice being left alone all day in the house. I sat on the porch, watching the sun beam down through the trees and into the house through the windows. Peaceful, I’d describe it. However, at night, the word peaceful was shattered. Nothing in this psychotic house was peaceful at night. My ex-husband came back to visit every single night, if “visit” is even the correct word to describe the terrifying events. Even if all the doors were sealed and locked, he’d knock on them throughout the night. He’d knock for hours on the windows, doors, and walls, somehow knowing each and every room I was in. For years I had thought the events were just deranged nightmares of mine, but eventually I learned it was most definitely real one night after forgetting to lock one of the door bolts. I didn’t know what he wanted, or what he had found in doing this every night. My deed was done, and revenge was far from ever being accomplished by him. If he had just loved me, truly loved me… 

I wouldn’t have had to bury him in the backyard. 


-Diego Valadez, Eric Ruiz, Adam Lynch

Impressionist Landscape - Chloe Burke

Piece inspired by The Loing Canal by Alfred Sisley

Don't Fly Away

Jessica Parsons

Toby McElwee

"I breathe in, I breathe out. The butterflies fly through me."

I breathe in

I breathe out

The butterflies fly through me

Each exhalation letting them free

Each inhale trapping them inside



It's tiring caging these butterflies

But I'll survive





They want to be let out

They're tired of being trapped

They want to fly free

So I can't breathe





Pouring out my lungs

A beautiful stream of butterflies

My final hum

Chihiro (Spirited Away)

Madison Thorn

Rin (Blue Exorcist)

Madison Thorn

A Collection by Sophia Toth

A Mirror Image

Clara awoke in a cold sweat, laying rigid against her bedframe and thin mattress, terrified to take a single breath. This was the third time this week that she had heard the sounds, and she had been jolted from her nightly sleep, heart racing furiously in her chest. She was paralyzed, unable to move in bed, despite trying desperately to lift even just her fingertips. She miraculously closed her eyes, bracing herself from the sounds that would come yet again.

At first it was a cool whispering, that seemed to emanate from within the wooden walls, slipping through the cracks and knots. Clara kept her eyes closed tightly, attempting to block out the sound, to little success. She felt the wind rushing over her eyelids and underneath her nose, despite both her bedroom windows being locked tightly. Clara involuntarily shivered underneath her thin blanket, but then returned to the futile motionlessness. The whispers grew more intense, but remained frustratingly unintelligible, appearing to form words for a moment, before dissolving into a sea of chatter. Clara strained against her bed, seemingly pinned in place by the sounds, until suddenly, the whispers evaporated, and Clara bolted up in her bed, throwing a panicked hand against her heaving chest. She fumbled in the darkness for her lantern and lit it with shaking hands, freezing tears streaming down the front of her face. 

The small lantern emanated a small dose of welcome light into the room. Clara could see her hand suspended in the mirror across from her, delicately holding the lantern, as well as a sliver of her face. She tentatively stepped out of bed, relieved to see her full body come into frame, clad in a striped nightgown. She glanced around the room anxiously, checking the windows and door, but all seemed to be in place. Approaching the mirror, Clara set the lantern on the wooden surface and observed her own face. She pulled at her lips, which had turned a diluted purple and were chapped from the incessant wind, and the whites of her eyes were dotted with broken blood vessels as the sleepless nights piled up. 

A sudden determination overtook Clara, as she reached for her thick cloak and put it on overtop of her nightgown. She had been avoiding addressing the issue head on for weeks, but unable to tell any of her neighbors out of pure fear, Clara realized she would have to take matters into her own hands. Pulling open one of the top drawers in her dresser, Clara dug underneath a pile of stockings and removed a thick stack of bills, tucking it into the inside pocket on her cloak. She swept her hair into the hood, and braced herself for the cold, stepping out of her small home and into the pitch black of the night. 

The air was tinged with moisture as the sky spit occasional raindrops from above, periodically surging into a strange deluge that caught Clara by surprise. The wind whipped around as she quickly traversed the dirt streets, abiding by the streetlights, but nonetheless she was reminded of the quiet whispers that haunted her each night. Imagining them was almost as bad as the event itself, and Clara forced herself to put them out of mind, and burst into a quick sprint towards her destination. 

After traveling a few streets over, Clara approached a small building labeled “Bane’s Apothecary.” She had heard rumors about those suffering from mysterious ailments finding solace in a potion or antidote from this small black building, yet it was shrouded in enough rumors and shame that Clara only felt comfortable approaching it at night. She prayed that whoever was inside would be able to do the same for her. A small wooden sign dangled from the overhang, reading Open All Hours. A delicate wind chime tinkled next to it, and Clara observed what looked like small animal bones hanging in between the metal chimes. A chill snuck down her spine, but Clara forced herself to remain calm, as she approached the large metal door knocker. 

Pulling at the thick metal ring and letting it fall onto the wooden door, Clara shivered in the midnight air. Alarmingly, with the fall of the ring, the black door slid open and a small crack of light appeared, that beckoned Clara to enter. She pushed open the door and stepped inside, enticed by the warm light. 

Stepping inside the doorway, Clara was greeted by a warm, glowing light that emanated from decadent black chandeliers hanging from the building’s high ceiling. The doormat was red and fluffy, reading "Welcome!" in an embroidered golden script. As far as Clara could see, tall black shelves covered the walls and spanned the floor in front of her, decked with enticing objects.

“Hello?” Clara called out into the empty room, surprised to see that in fact no one had opened the door for her. She removed her cloak and gently laid in on a coat hanger composed of a giant bird’s claw. Peering behind and through the rows of shelves, Clara spotted what looked like a lantern sitting on a desk, next to a brass cash register. She carefully stepped off the plush welcome mat, and walked through a maze of shelves, heading towards the light at the back of the shop. Jars of mysterious floating substances, dangling dried spices, and giant shining gems greeted her from all angles as Clara traversed the store. She felt an underlying compulsion to pause and observe each item, but pressed ahead. 

Approaching the table at the back of the store, Clara was disappointed to find no one waiting at the cash register. She observed the table carefully, again drawn to the array of delicate and ornate objects that lined the shelves behind the dark table. Suddenly, a strong glimmer in the corner of her eye caught her vision, and Clara turned to her right, away from the table. 

A giant floor mirror met her line of sight. Perched against the wall, the mirror’s golden border was inlaid with jewels of all kinds, rubies the size of eggs and sapphires smaller than a pea dazzled in the warm lighting from the chandeliers above. Clara smiled involuntarily at the mirror, its golden glow filling her with a joyous feeling. She approached it, carefully, and observed each precious stone that covered the mirror from floor to ceiling. She could see her arm, suspending her extinguished lantern in the mirror’s surface, and stepped inward, to view her gaunt face surrounded by the precious gems. Her thin cream-colored nightgown stood out awfully from her decadent surroundings, and Clara again peered in at her face, tugging at her lips and eyelids. Compelling by the mirror’s silvery smooth surface, Clara touched it, gently, the glass grazing against her pale fingertips.

Clara pulled away, but was caught by the mirror’s surface, unable to remove her hand that was now firmly pressed up against it. A sudden panic raced through her mind, and to her shock, her left hand was now firmly pressed up against the mirror’s surface as well. “Help!” Clara called out into the emptiness of the apothecary. Inexplicably pulled inwards, Clara’s cheek grazed the mirror’s cool surface, and in an instant, her whole body was pressed up against it, unable to be extricated from the shining grey. 

Clara closed her eyes gently, and felt the hard surface around her melt away, a faint trickling surrounding the shell of her ears. In a panic, her eyes were forced open again, only to find that the store around her had turned to a grey, matte background. Her hands and face were still locked firmly with the mirror surface, only looking inward, Clara no longer saw her face reflected back at her. She peered into her new surroundings, seemingly a small room, with a single bed and side table. Clara felt the blood in her run cold, as she recognized the bedsheets and lantern on her table to be her own. Pressed against the mirror surface, Clara was forced to watch as the door to the room was opened, and she watched herself step inside and undress, changing into a nightgown, and then slip into bed. Clara pressed herself hard against the surface she was bound to, desperate to break the glass and fall back into her own bedroom, but the effort was futile. Tears streamed helplessly down her face, but only melded with the glass surface of the mirror, keeping her more firmly pressed up against it. In a last effort, she screamed with all the force of her lungs and kicked her feet against the bottom of the mirror. A faint whisper echoed onto the other side, and a delicate wind picked up with each kick of Clara’s feet. 

On the other side of the mirror, Clara awoke in a cold sweat, laying rigid against her bedframe and thin mattress, terrified to take a single breath.


I opened the small window to sea spray, the sun’s warm rays, and a subtle breeze that caressed my long blonde hair. My view was like a film scene— the rolling waves perfectly positioned, the lemon grass swaying gently, as if stationed there and instructed to move by a set director. 

I turned away from the window, the salty air now curling my nose hair and tasting acrid in my throat. I internally roiled at the scene, a symbol of my monotonous life. Standing in front of my wooden desk, I opened the top drawer, revealing a small set of watercolor paints and a stretched canvas. Spreading open my easel, I placed it on the desk, facing the wall, away from the beach scene that beckoned to me. I spat at the scene, told the beach to go away, and find another unsuspecting victim in this small village town to prey upon, to entice with its seeming beauty. 

The canvas was now placed gently on the easel, blank and unassuming. It could become anything, go anywhere. The future was a white abyss of endless possibilities, and I envied it. A mason jar of water sat still, a perfect pool of clear glass, untouched by my dark paints that would soon muddy it. I plunged my brush into a circle of dark grey on the palette, the supple brush hairs soaking up the color and its cold embrace. I loved the color grey. It was gentle and calming; it was warm, unlike the icy blue of my sea and sky. 

Dipping slightly into the water, a small drop of grey fell to the bottom of the jar. My brush now slid across the white canvas, disrupting its purity. I smiled as a vision formed in my head of tall skyscrapers, streets bustling with life. My brush followed the vision, rectangles turning into buildings turning into skyscrapers, each one full of an individual full of their own dreams and desires. I poured my desires onto the fabric, my paint running a sea so different from the one that crashed against the beach. It chipped away at rocks; it chipped away at my dreams. Soon, I would leave it behind. 

My brush followed a jazz player who stood on the street corner, playing a melancholy tune from a tarnished brass saxophone. The notes poured out rich and full, and joined my brush to form the strokes of New York City. A burning sensation flowed into my heart, as I yearned for the feeling of the city. 

I felt trapped inside this town, a small enclave on the beach, untouched by news or change. It was my grandmother’s house that kept me confined— a tiny cottage that stood upon the slick rocks that overlooked the roaring Pacific Ocean. I had spent my whole life in this place, bestowed to my grandmother, a single lone relative who was suited to take care of me after my parents had been taken by the sea. The ship had capsized, and to the cottage I was sent. 

The outside world came to me in bursts. A postcard of New York City was now an entire world in my mind. I had a skyscraper home, a job as an artist for the paper, or perhaps someone who painted the glorious displays that lined shop front windows. The possibilities were endless on my canvas, in my mind, which traveled as far as it liked away from the cottage prison. 


A voice crawled up the ancient wooden stairs and presented itself at my doorstep. I contemplated kicking it and sending it away. 

“Yes, Grandmother?” I called back down at last. 

A request presented itself. “I’ve prepared supper.”

I cursed my Grandmother inwardly for interrupting my escape, and mentally prepared myself for the uncomfortable talk over dinner that would ensue. Her stricture was imposed from across a falsely inviting meal of roast chicken and buttered potatoes. 

I slinked down the stairs, now mentally arming myself with a request. I would present it like the caramel candies she loved— wrapped beautifully and tasting sweet, before it inevitably became wedged between her teeth, and resistance would be futile. 

In the dining room, a small display of food was sat at the small table, seated for two, and only two people. Never was anyone to be invited over for dinner, let alone invited into the house on the cliff, overlooking the ocean, far away from the small town.

I smoothed my long skirt, and pulled my chair away from the table to sit down. My grandmother emerged from the kitchen, her grey-brown hair pulled tight into a strict bun, her little, cold blue eyes casting an ever-present gaze that chastised my every breath. My heart was now conducting a fast-paced tempo; the jazz musician sped his tune into a quick waltz. 

My grandmother said nothing, as she sat down and lifted a chicken leg from the silver plate spread in the middle of the table. I held my breath as she settled herself. The cool ocean breeze entering through the windows attempted to hold me back, but I shunned it. 

“Grandmother,” My quiet voice broke the glassy silence that separated us. 

“I’m leaving tomorrow for New York City.”

Suddenly, her head shot up and the cold blue eyes attempted to shoot me in the heart. 

“What are you talking about?” she said curtly. “You’re ridiculous.”

The fear shrouded me. I was afraid to push for more, to push the boundaries of what I wanted and lay them out clear for her. I craved something new, something more, but yet I was terrified of leaving it all behind. 

I cleared my throat and straightened my posture, then presented my case. “I’ve saved enough money from selling my paintings in town. I have enough to afford a small apartment for a couple of months while I find work.”

Grandmother let out a small snort and returned to cutting her piece of chicken with a knife and fork, using small, aggressive motions. “Okay. Tomorrow is your day to wash the sheets and put them out to dry, remember?”

It was incredulous; she didn’t believe me. “Yes,” I responded, my mind a world away, in New York City, painting the glass display of a candy store in red and white peppermint stripes. The jazz player let out a celebratory rift, and dimes showered into the open saxophone case. 

I quietly finished my dinner, before climbing the ancient staircase and returning to my room. The small city scene sitting on my desk yearned for me to return, while the ocean kept up its persistent battle, crashing waves against cranium, attempting to wear away at the years of plotted escape. 

I took the unfinished painting from its easel and carefully wrapped it, placing it inside my already packed suitcase, full to the brim with the money I had saved meticulously and other paintings I intended to sell in the city. 

The fear of trying something new no longer crippled me. It was a friend, encouraging me onwards every step of the way. At last, I embraced it. 

The Milk Bar

A woman sat in front of a small mirror brushing her medium-length dark hair with a boar bristle brush. She ran the brush through her hair slowly, smoothing out the large curls. Her hand trembled slightly as she set the brush down on the wooden dresser top. 

Across from her in the small room, a window was wide open, allowing a cool breeze to enter the room and mingle with the heat inside. The blazing Algerian sun baked the room’s interior and it battled ferociously with the breeze, before winning out and leaving the room hot and stuffy. On the bed across from the mirror lay the woman’s niqab, fluttering slightly in the wind. 

The woman leaned towards the mirror and applied a bright red lip stain, contrasting pleasantly with her light brown skin. She worked hard to steady her hand, attempting to match the line of her cupid’s bow. Suddenly, the door was thrown open and the woman dropped her tube of makeup, cursing quietly. 

“Nour!” shouted another woman who entered. She was dressed in an identical full skirt and blouse, with matching dark pin curls and makeup. This was the popular clothing and hairstyle worn by the most stylish French women in Algeria. Nour and Hana had abandoned their flowing white niqabs purely because today’s duty, and today’s success, depended upon it. 

“Hana, you made me mess up my makeup!” said Nour, exasperated, reaching down to grab what she had dropped on the floor. 

Hana crossed her arms nervously and tapped her toe. “Are you almost ready? We need to hurry, Ahmed’s already downstairs.”

“Already?” An evident panic tinged Nour’s voice, coupled with her already shaking hand as she attempted to finish applying her makeup, painting the picture of a good, “modern” Algerian woman, one who embraced French culture to its fullest and abandoned so-called “backwards” Islamic customs. “He’s so early, I thought we’d have at least another half hour.”

Hana sighed. “Well, he’s here now, so you’d better come downstairs.” She swept out of the room with a flourish, leaving Nour alone with her thoughts. 

Nour finished her look, stood up to smooth her skirt, and took a final glance at herself in the mirror. She met her own brown eyes, which were rimmed with thin crow’s feet, borne out of the years of stress and worry during the years of war. The lines that creased her brow intensified, as the weight of today’s actions settled on her. The Algerian independence movement depended on her bravery, but more importantly her ability to be quiet and blend in. Nour left the room, leaving it empty save for the white niqab fluttering near the open window.

Downstairs, Ahmed was waiting with two women’s purses in hand. They were the type you would see any fashionable French woman carrying in the European sector of the city of Algiers: small, bright and boxy. He handed one to Hana and one to Nour, which she took with a shameful hesitance. 

“I’ve set the timer for forty-five minutes. You’d best get going now. I’ve checked and the coast is clear. To the revolution,” Ahmed said in an almost somber tone, before patting Nour softly on the back. Nour took a final look at Hana while standing in the doorway, and she met the other woman’s piercing and determined gaze, before the two women split off in opposite directions, clutching their purses in hand.

Nour walked swiftly towards the European sector of Algiers, the hot sun radiating off her shining curls. Not too fast, not too slow, keep your head down, but not too low, don’t attract suspicion… was the mantra playing through her head on a constant loop, like a broken record unable to be extricated from the player. Her mary janes kept time on the brick road below her, click-clack, click-clack, counting down just like the contents of her purse.

Up ahead, Nour could see the long lines of people that waited at the barrier between the Muslim and French side of Algiers. French paratroopers coasted the small wire fence, swinging batons idly, but keeping a watchful eye. Nour approached cautiously, hoping that her look would do the work for her. Algerian women in long niqabs waited on all sides of her, mixed in among the Algerian men in their dark business suits and ties. At the fence, French soldiers patted down the men, checking aggressively for weapons of the revolution. The veiled women passed through, as the French troops had learned to avoid touching what wasn’t theirs. The line trickled slowly, and likewise a bead of sweat dripped down Nour’s neck as she clutched the time-sensitive bag under her arm. She waited patiently as the line slipped and slid, Algerians politely jostling each other in the stifling heat of daybreak.

Suddenly, a French soldier spoke in her direction, as she approached the middle of the line. Nour stood out like a sore thumb, a properly “cultured” Algerian hidden among the rest. “Miss, you can head on through,” the Frenchman gestured, making way for Nour to pass through the line. Nour gave him a glowing smile, parting her red lips fully and displaying her white chiclet teeth. 

“Thank you, sir, the gesture is much appreciated,” she said in perfect French, stepping through the border and clutching her purse tightly under her arm. The soldier winked at her as he leaned against the fence, and Nour inwardly recoiled with repulsion. However, the fiery secret she held within her propelled her forward, knowing that unbeknownst to him, he had just let the revolution’s most dangerous weapon pass unchecked through Algiers security. 

Walking through the European side of Algiers, Nour blended in perfectly with the French women around her, and surprisingly, other Algerian women who had willingly embraced French culture, delicately clutching the arms of white Frenchmen. Nour followed the path mapped in her mind towards the Milk Bar, one of the most popular cafes for French youth in Algiers. She spotted its blue and white sign up ahead, the letters “MILK BAR” plastered across the glass front. Nour hopped up the steps in her mary janes, and smiled politely as a Frenchman in front of her opened the door. 

Inside the Milk Bar, a swing tune played from a jukebox, and white teenagers danced on the floor away from the bar and booth seats. The café was one of the most popular in all of Algiers, especially among French teenagers, who frequented it after school and on weekends. Nour quietly approached the bar, picking a lone tall seat among chatting French men and women, and set her purse quietly on the ground. Spinning around from the back of the bar, an employee greeted her, asking loudly over the music if she wanted anything to drink. Nour contemplated, and then asked for a soda, the employee pulling a shining glass from behind him and filling it to the brim with fizz. Nour placed some coins from her pocket on the tabletop, and quietly sipped the drink.

With her foot, Nour discreetly scooted her purse further underneath the bar table. She looked out across the dance floor, where a dozen teens danced to the jukebox’s radiant noise. "What a party!" she mused, sipping at her drink numbly. The large clock on the wall ticked down relentlessly, and although the second hand was silent, Nour could hear it chiming in her head louder than any music playing at the bar. She looked around the room to see a French mother, holding a small toddler being spoon-fed ice cream, covered in vanilla mess. Nour looked down, suddenly, choking back guilt that threatened to manifest itself as tears. Leaving her drink half full on the countertop, she quickly exited the Milk Bar, leaving her square little purse behind, tucked snugly underneath the bar table. She walked away in silence, head down, to return to the Muslim side of Algiers. 

Twenty minutes later, massive explosions were heard all across Algiers. The ground shook for miles as both the Milk Bar and another French café were blown to pieces, buildings crumbling to the ground with dozens of customers inside. Tucked away in their homes on the other side of Algiers, Nour and Hana cried softly into each other's arms. French police shouted as they ran through the city streets, banging on the doors of unsuspecting Muslims. Nour slowly closed the dark window shutters, blocking out the Algerian sunlight except for a single, shining ray. 

Want to learn more about the Milk Bar Café bombing? Click here!

The Trial

When my mother died, everyone knew I would be the one to take her place. Talent ran in the family, and it was inevitable that I’d be the one standing at our village’s edge, protecting our thousands from the darkness outside. The loss of her was unbearable, but knowing the lives of hundreds were now mine to protect and care for nearly prompted me to run away. But I couldn’t leave them. 

It was the first day of training. Mother had been gone for about a week, and the village elders were already clamoring for me to join them in the forest, so they could test my abilities. I had reluctantly agreed, guilt and shame pushing me forwards, rather than pride in the fact that this was my new role. As I passed through town, I could see small eyes peeking out from open windows, and the whispers of curious children followed me down the dirt paths that lead to where the forest met the village edge. I kept my head down, but shelf mushrooms sprung up under the heavy steps of my soles, causing the whispers to become only more fervent. 

It was no secret in town that today was the day. Today, the elders would see whether I was fit to become the guardian of the forest’s edge. The expectations were high, and the wind that whipped down the dirt path felt like my mother’s breath on the back of my neck, reminding me to try my hardest. She was a provider, but I was not. I had only taken from her what she had given to me, and given nothing in return. Now was my time to prove my worth. 

I had reached the forest’s edge, where the dry dirt path became dotted with ivy and clovers, swaying idly in the wind. I looked up into the maze of evergreens, packed tightly enough to block out any sunlight on the other end— if there was an end to the forest, after all. No one had ever traveled far enough into the foliage to discover it, and lived to tell the tale. 

I could see a clearing, where the five elders were clearly waiting. I was relieved to see Fauna, standing in a circle calmly with the others. She was the newest addition to the group of women who ran the affairs of our village. Fauna had been close friends with my mother, and I had spent the past week in her abode, sipping herbal tea in her kitchen as she comforted me. As the youngest of the town elders, she was the most approachable, and I knew she would act as a counter against the harsh words of the others. She gave me a warm smile, the corners of her chestnut eyes crinkling as I entered the forest clearing.

My breathing became shallow, as I stood in the circle. The elders had turned to observe me intently. There was nothing more intimidating than the group of elderly women, whose creased brows rarely showed signs of approval, and, more often than not, silently scolded you for any action that was out of line. Maritzia, the head elder, approached me quickly, as if gliding over on a blanket of warm air. 

In a stern voice, she addressed me. “Lena, our deepest condolences for the loss of your mother. She was a true asset to our village, and her sacrifices for many years to protect our people will not be forgotten. As you well know, today is the day in which you assume her role.”

Maritzia sighed deeply, as if it was so inconvenient for her that my mother had unexpectedly passed away. “With the townspeoples’ best interests in both heart and mind, it is crucial that today we test your skill. We must confirm that you are up to the task, after all.” She gave me what I assumed to be a smile, as the corners of her flat, grey lips turned upwards slightly. 

Fauna interjected. “We know you’re up for it, Lena. I have no doubts that your talents will prove to be immensely important for the protection of our village.”

I gave her a nervous smile, attempting to slow my flighty breaths. The calls of ravens echoed overhead, as birds flitted in and out of the thick canopy. Staring into the dark forest abyss did little to calm my nerves, as I knew that the beasts that lurked deep within the trees would soon become my daily company. I pressed my sweaty palms into my tunic, and tried to focus on whatever the elders were about to begin. 

The group of five gestured for me to enter the middle of the circle, where they then linked arms, surrounding me completely. Maritzia spoke again in a low, resounding voice. 

“Today, we will subject you to the dangers that lie in the depths of our revered forest. If you can successfully protect yourself against this challenge, you will have earned the role that your mother once held.”

Again, I attempted to steady my breathing. This was everything that my life had led up to, whether I had known it a week ago or not. The elders knew that I was too dangerous to live in the village alone, now without the watchful eye of Mother, or if I failed to achieve the singular role in which I could regularly expel my power. While training with Mother, I thought it would be decades before I would be facing the wrath of the elders. Now, I was here, with the dismal rest of my life laid out clearly before me. 

The five women closed their eyes, and a soft light began to emanate out from each elder. Their long, gray hair flew together seamlessly in the wind that had now picked up, as if suddenly a tornado of silvery strands had touched down in the center of the circle.

Suddenly, a harpy emerged from the sky above. The elders broke off, fracturing the circle and retreating quickly to the edge of the forest. This was the test. 

The harpy was skeletal and emaciated, foam spitting from the woman’s mouth, coating her extended talons. This was what my mother had faced, year after year, to keep our village safe. My blood curdled, as it shrieked a cry that shook the ground. 

I broke out into a panicked run, trying to create as much distance between me and the beast as possible. It flapped her wings threateningly, hovering just above the dusty floor that had now been swirled up into the air. I coughed the dirt particles out of my aching lungs, and hit the floor. 

Channeling my inner energy, I summoned a burst of vines from the forest floor, sprouting violently up from under me and suspending my body on a sturdy pillar. I was now level with the harpy, staring directly into her bloodshot eyes. It cried out in shock, and I summoned another burst of energy. I could feel the elders watching from the sidelines, Maritzia’s trained eye criticizing my every move. 

Faltering, the harpy surged during my lapse in concentration, and I stumbled on the pillar of vines. Tendrils curled up to wrap around my ankles, holding my body in place. I had to do something, other than stand here. I could feel its energy building, along with the impatience of the elders burning a hole in the back of my head. With a final push, I shot more vines from the ground, this time latching on to its curled talons. 

She fought hard to break away, but I held her there, drawing her emaciated body closer and closer to the ground. I felt something inside me twinge, as I watched her scrabble against the vines, claws attempting to break free as more and more vines tightened across her body. I knew what I had to do. Maritzia was compelling me. I could feel her mind within mine, whispering the cruel but necessary thoughts into my head. 

I carefully curled a vine around the harpy’s fragile neck. Staring into her panicked eyes, I broke it in one clean snap. Slowly, the vines retreated back into the ground, leaving me panting on the forest floor, standing near the lifeless body of the harpy. I braced myself, turning to the panel of elders, who had emerged from the forest's edge. 

My heart hurt, as Maritzia gave me her smug little smile. 

But Fauna delivered the blow. “Your performance was quite outstanding, Lena. Your late mother would have been proud to see her daughter fight so valiantly.”

I lowered my head solemnly, and then bitterly spit the sour phlegm from my mouth. It mixed with the dirt and a small, white mushroom sprung up from the damp ground.

The Color Green

I sat lonely in Mother’s chair, staring out at the rain. The raindrops looked like panicked fish as they ran down the window, with little tails helping them to scurry as quickly as they could until they reached the windowsill. I traced my finger along the cold pane, and felt a presence enter the room. 

“Is there anything you want for breakfast, dear?” Grandmother’s voice, crackly like dried leaves in autumn, cut out across the silence. 

I sat still, avoiding turning to look her in the eye. 

“I’m fine, thanks.”

“Alright, Violet, just let me know if you need anything. I’m always here for you.”

“I know,” I said, sadness creeping into the edge of my voice. I focused harder on my window, tracing patterns around the watery paths each drop left on the glass.

Today was the day that Mother had passed away, ten years ago. I could remember the moment as clear as day, as we trekked together in the woods for one of her adventures in botany. It was Mother and I, alone together in the towering pines of Northern Oregon. The air was crisp and cool, the sky a muted cornflower blue. There wasn’t a single cloud, and this forced your attention to the wildlife in front of you; greens of every color beckoning for your attention, from the bright chartreuse of the grass to the deep evergreen needles. 

I remember turning in circles, distracted by the beauty of the nature around me, and like that, she was gone. I found Mother face down in the dirt, lacerations burning bright red on her neck, wrists and ankles. I had run to the police station in a panicked blur, and couldn’t much remember what happened after that. Grandmother had told me years later that the report had deduced that she’d suffocated to death, although the source was unclear. A mysterious attacker that threatened me with barbed wire plagued my dreams for years, and even visited me still, ten years later, during late hours of the night.

I glanced around Mother’s room. After Grandmother had moved into our small house, we had unspokenly decided to keep Mother’s room the same as it always was. Neither of us could let go, still ten years later. Her clean wooden hairbrush lay on the wooden side table; dog-eared and damaged books sat precariously on the faded shelf. It felt inappropriate to see her belongings so full of life still in the room. 

Her closet door was cracked open slightly, and the green of the chipping paint held my vision. It was the spark of color in the room, bright and nearly neon compared to the faded neutrals that spread across her bedsheet and furniture. In the ten years since she had left and the ten times that I had sat devastated in this room on the anniversary of her death, I had never opened that door. I missed her more deeply than I ever had before in that moment.

I pried myself from the old rocking chair and walked over to the green door. With care, I placed my hand on the cold brass knob, and pulled slowly, not wanting to disturb the already damaged paint on the old surface. 

Suddenly, I spotted a burst of life emerging out from the crack. It was a flower bud, just waiting to bloom in the spring air. I furrowed my brow, pausing from opening the door any further. Mother loved her plants, as a botanist, of course, but surely none of them would have survived this long, in a dark, damp closet. 

I knelt down on the wood floor, and gently grasped the bud in my hands. It promptly burst into full bloom, bright purple emerging from the green casing. I nearly fell over, but caught myself by thrusting a hand out against the doorframe. 

This was impossible. No flowers could bloom that fast, in the span of mere milliseconds. With courage, I pried open the rest of the door, and was met with a barrage of green so intense I could hardly continue to look at the vibrant colors.

It was like a greenhouse, or a forest. Bright green moss carpeted the wooden floor, in a moist and supple coating. Nearly every inch of the closet that wasn’t covered in moss was shrouded in greenery, with eager ferns springing up from the ground and thick vines hanging down from the ceiling. I spotted Mother’s favorite flowers, some tiny violets huddled in the corner. There was no light source, but it was as if light emanated from each individual plant, illuminating the closet and all its greenery. 

I finally caught my breath, and reached out to touch one of the ferns. It was incredible that these plants could have survived all this time in the absence of light and soil. I grazed the fern with the tips of my fingers, and the tendrils curls inward, spiraling around my index. I yelped, and tugged away quickly, but the plant held on with strength. 

Steadying my breath, I turned to look for some scissors, but the plant then released my finger, spreading open its leaves once more. I could hardly believe what was before my eyes.

I placed my hand into the brush once more, and each species of plant careened forwards, tickling my forearm. I laughed uncontrollably, and willed the plants to stop. Suddenly, they did, and my arm was left vacant, an empty pocket of air surrounding it as each plant pulled away as far as it could go.

Was I… controlling them? I found the idea impossible, and suddenly I was grasped at every appendage and thrust into the closet. I called out in a panic, but a large oak leaf curled around my mouth, stifling my cries.

Vines wound around my ankles and I was pulled into the air suspended above the moss below. I looked up to the ceiling of the closet, but was shocked to find only a thick layer of plants that traveled up as far as the eye could go. How long had this been here? 

I began to struggle for breath, as the oak pushed further, stifling my lungs from pulling in what I needed. I scratched at the vines around me, but I was suddenly pulled taught, and I could no longer move my arms to reach across my body. It felt like a dream, where the mysterious attacker was wrapping the barbed wire tighter and tighter around my neck. 

It hit me like a ton of bricks falling from the sky— this must have been how Mother died in the forest. She was a botanist and always loved plants, and I wondered stupidly, could a love for plants kill you? The green began to cloud my vision, as tendrils sneaked closer and closer together around my eyes, forming a lattice before me. 

I wailed louder, but the leaves only snaked down my throat, and I nearly choked instead. I could control them before— what had happened now? I was so curious to see the bud bloom, that it had burst open at my mere instructions. I had hoped so fully that it would bloom, that it did. I couldn’t lose hope now. 

Suddenly, I felt the tight hold go slightly slack, as popping sounds echoed around me. The lattice of vines around my eyes unwound, and as my eyes adjusted to the green once more I twisted my head violently to look at my surroundings. Other colors were blossoming into view, as the vines erupted into bloom, and let go of my arms and legs. 

I hoped more and more that I would be able to escape, and fell softly onto the moss floor as more flowers burst into bloom. The green was now overshadowed by fuchsias, buttercup yellows, and dazzling blues, as each flower bloomed more fully than the last. I fed them with my hope— my hope that I would be free, that I could understand my Mother, and how she had left this world. 

I watched gloriously as the plants in the closet receded into small, delicate blooms on the floor, swaying gently from some unidentifiable wind source. I beamed at them, and knew that it was my hope keeping them alive. If all hope was lost, surely I would be pulled back into the closet again. 

I closed the door firmly, and exited the room, where I could feel that the storm had lifted. I smiled, as the warm smell of Grandmother making pancakes drifted up from the kitchen below. 

Here, I could always keep hope alive.

Day Trip to Columbus - Kathrine Hill

crushcrushcrush Anonymous

Her smile shimmers like a warm ray of light. 

And this golden blade pierces me through the stomach. 

Now the steering wheel is choked under my grip and

my knuckles scream and are strained white. 

The back of my neck feels like burnt rubber as heat beats down.

Or is it the subtlety of her gaze? 

The sound of her laugh dances in the cavern of my ears

and tastes like sweet ice when it rests in the pool of my tongue. 

I choked from across the helm because

she didn’t have her plastic so

we sat stationary in the black parking lot of her apartment,

as I fumbled helplessly with the ancient air conditioning. 

But I purposely miss spun the dial, and so we baked in the fever.

Cicadas droned from the large oaks,

then fell out of the sky from exhaustion

and neither of us could help them. 

Neither of us could give it the slip because

we were desperate and wore long grins stretched by youth.

We were about as cool as pavement. 

I prayed that I could glide through the windshield

and embrace the summer breeze. 

But the day after, and the day after that, will all fall flat against 

This simmering glass cage.

And the bitter sunshine that encouraged me

Had just melted me down like children’s crayons

On a hot day at noon, so shortー

I’ll have to let go of fleeting feelings in order to hold her tight.

Me sentí un sol eternoー

even as summer sells itself away in boardwalk stalls,

even as monarchs send their luggage abroad,

even as her lips purse in the silence,

covering glitter once and for all

Payton Probasco

Abigail Beach Knox Perkins

Isla - Ashley Reents

Beautiful Scenery

Chloe Burke

A charming park, 

With the soft whoosh of cars that driving by.

A charming older couple walk by enjoying a pleasant stroll along the bike path.

Today is perfect.

The Autumn breeze flows lightly, dancing through the brightly colored trees.

The soft pitter patter of a runner got louder and closer. 

He gave a friendly wave and I gave one back. 

 The bright sunshine glowed warmly, dousing everything it touched with soft rays of light. 

I laid in the grass and looked at the sky, waiting to see if there were any hidden figures written in the clouds.

Today was perfect.

Worm's Eye View of Flowers - Addison Peters

A Pretty Tree - Corine Cannarozzi

Hannah Wilt

Makayla Turner

Two Ghosts 

Olivia Rose

Today my teacher, Miss Palmer, asked us what our favorite holiday is. Mine is Halloween. It’s the best night of the year! It’s the only night that I get to hang out with my big sis. Her name is May. She’s a lot older than me and can be kinda mean sometimes, but I love her anyway. My mom says that’s just how big sisters are. I’m just happy I get to see her now.

As soon as I got home, I wanted to get into my costume. I was going as a ghost this year. Mom helped cut out the eye holes and trim the bottom so I wouldn’t trip. It was just a white sheet, and it smelled kinda like my grandma’s attic, but tonight, I was a spooky ghoul filled with frights! Muahahaha!!!

I helped mom put the final touches on our house. We stretched the spider web stuff over our bushes and trees, set out the pumpkin that I carved, and hung some spiders from the tree branches. Mom had to do most of that one. I couldn’t reach the branches, but the bats also gave me the creeps. They were all furry and veiny. Just gross.

I sat on the porch and waited for my friends. We had all different kinds of candy in our bowl that we usually used for spaghetti night: Reese’s, Butterfingers, Smarties, mini bags of candy corn, M&M’s, KitKats, Dubble Bubble, Sour Patch Kids, and so much more. Other kids dressed as superheroes, witches, and princesses started walking the streets, pillowcases in hand. I could barely keep my excitement inside me. I couldn’t wait for May to get here!

Finally my friends showed up. There was Tina the pumpkin, Neil the pirate, Amanda the cat, Benny who went as Spiderman, Clay the mummy, and Dana the vampire. Dana’s mom was there too. She was the one taking us trick-or-treating so my mom could stay and pass out candy. I yelled a quick goodbye to my mom and we started our hunt for candy.

After a few blocks, our pillowcases got heavy and our legs started to get tired. But there was no way we were stopping. We reached the end of the block where the huge circle was. There were lots of kids trading candy while their parents talked. Right behind the middle house was a line of trees that surrounded Weates Park. It was the only park close to us that wasn’t the school’s. I weaved in and out of the groups of kids and adults. No one was looking. I slipped away as quickly and quietly as I could, hoping that my white sheet didn’t stick out too much in the moonlight.

No one else was at the park. Honestly, I was kinda spooked. The playground looked kinda scary without anyone playing on it. There weren’t any street lights so everything was dark and shadowy. I crunched my way through the mulch.

“May?” I called out. “Where are you May?” I hoped she didn’t scare me. She knows I hate getting scared.

“I’m over here,” a voice replied. “Over on the slide!” I walked around to the metal slide where I burned my hands two summers ago. A figure covered in a white sheet just like mine sat there. I knew immediately it was May.

“May!” I practically screamed. I tried to hug the sheet but tumbled over the slide and over the side.

“Shawn, you have to be more careful,” May giggled. She picked up the sheet and draped it back over her head. “You’re going to skin your hands again.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said. “I’m just happy to see you.”

“I’m happy to see you too, bubs. Look, we matched this year!”

“I knew you’d be a ghost,” I said. “I did it on purpose.”

“Oh, so you think you’re a better ghost than I am?” May asked.

I shook my head. “No way. You’re the best ghost there ever was!” I looked down at where her feet should’ve been. All I saw was mulch. I don’t know how May turned herself invisible, but every time I talked to her I couldn’t see her. Maybe she got permanently invisible. I don’t know though. I was just happy to hear her voice.

“How have you been since last year?” May asked.

“Pretty good,” I replied. “I missed you a lot.”

“I missed you too, bubs.”

“Can I ask you a question May?”

“Always Shawn.”

“Why can’t I see you all the time? Why am I only allowed to see you on Halloween?”

If she didn’t have the sheet on, I would’ve thought she disappeared. It took a long time before she answered. “That’s just the way things are Shawn. If I saw you all the time, mom would get freaked out and I might not be able to see you again.”

“Can mom see you?” I asked.

“Nope,” she replied. “No one can see me. That’s why I have to wear a sheet. That’s why I can only see you on Halloween. I mean, if you saw a sheet floating around on any other day, wouldn’t you be a little freaked out?”

“I guess so,” I said. “I just miss you.”

“I miss you too,” May said.

“I wish you hadn’t gone away to college.” I said. Ever since May left for college, she became invisible. Like I said, I don’t know why.

“I wish I hadn’t gone to college too sometimes,” she said. “I thought it was the best thing for me at the time. I just thought I’d be able to see you more often, and not like this.”

I could tell May was sad by the way she said it. I wished I could hug her but I know I couldn’t. I’d fall through again.

“Shawn!” someone yelled. It was Dana’s mom. “Shawn we’re going home now! We’re going to leave you behind!”

“Oh shoot,” I said. “I have to go now. Are you sure you can’t come with me?”

“Hmmmmm,” May hummed. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt. But you gotta give me all your candy corn.”

“Ugh, fine,” I said, secretly smiling. I didn’t care about the candy corn. I’d give May all of my candy if it meant I could stay with her for a little longer. I love my sister so much. She always makes Halloween the best day of the year.

We Are Here

Charlie Cute

They say we shouldn’t know

They say we shouldn’t care

But the signs flashed in our faces

The issue was always there

We won’t let them choose our fate

We are here, we can’t wait

So bring out your purples,

Your blues, your greens

Take yellow, my fellow

They‘ll be forced to view what they’ve refused to see

Show your oranges and your reds,

Show that We aren’t dead

We’re here, queer, and in your face

And one things for sure, it’s not a phase

Flower Power - James White

Ballad - Anna Grace Galle

Darcy Tipton

before you

i was lonely

only recently losing who i was 

i had no sunshine on the cloudy days

yet, because of you

it hurts knowing i’m not your only

confused on why i stay, because

you are now the clouds that make sure the rain stays

Welcome Home

Sierra Grubb

Peanut Butter Pancakes with Chocolate Croissants 

Charlie Cute


2 cups Bisquick pancake mix

1 cup melted ice cream (any flavor)

2 eggs

3 melted Reeses 

Any kind of Syrup (maple, chocolate, caramel, etc), optional

Crumbled cookies

1 roll Pillsbury croissant dough 

3 pudding cups

Silver decorating sprinkles

Chocolate sprinkles

½ cup jelly

½ cup melted fruity ice cream


Mix chocolate sprinkles and pudding in a small mixing bowl, set aside.

Lay out croissants on a baking sheet, spread pudding sauce from step 1 on each, bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mix pancake mix, melted ice cream, eggs, reeses, and cookies in a large mixing bowl, set aside and wash hands.

Mix jelly, and fruity ice cream in a medium mixing bowl, set aside.

Pour pancakes in the pan, cook until sides bubble, flip, cook until golden. If the mixture is too thick for you, gradually add ¼ cup milk until desired consistency.

Stack pancakes on a large plate, pour jelly sauce into a bowl above the bread plate area, when croissants are done set them on a bread plate, serve as-is.

***Ice cream can be supplemented with milk, ice cream is just used to add unique flavor. 

Quarantine Hobbies - Keri Masters

Bullpen - Jordan Ritenour

Museum Exhibit - Ashley Daniels

Original Art by Sandy Skoglund

Lost - Isabella Drozd

When the smoke exits my lungs

I watch it and realize that it moves

Through the air with a type of carefree

Elegance that I’ll never have.

It spreads out to different corners of my room.

It takes up space.

If I turn my lights off, light a candle, and let the smoke evade my lungs

I can see who I used to be. I see my very youthful face, my hopes and

Dreams, and my friends up in smoke.

When I sit there and watch the smoke, I see the type of carefree I used

To be.

I ask myself “Where did she go?”

Up in smoke.

Madison Thorn