The Gleaner is a theme-based literary journal edited by the undergraduate students at Delaware Valley University.

We showcase all forms of written work as well as artwork and photography pieces.

The 2018-19 theme is The Sky's the Limit

The Gleaner is currently accepting submissions for its 2019-2020 edition.

DEADLINE: 1/31/2020

The theme is “Right the Wrong/Write the Wrong”

Submissions are open to all undergraduates for the categories of poetry, prose, photography, and artwork.

Send all submissions digitally to

Physical artwork can be dropped off in Miller Hall.

Film Competition Submission Guidelines:

DEADLINE: 3/29/2019

Filmmakers must be full-time undergraduate students or high students that attend school (or live) within one hour of the Delaware Valley University campus.

Selected finalists must be able to attend the Gleaner Gala in April 2019.

Film must be no longer than 10 minutes from opening to closing credits.

Opening credits should include at least the film’s title.

Film must include closing credits.

Closing credits should include the name of your school.

The file should be saved as your last name + first initial + school.

Upload link or file via Google drive to

Email questions to

High School Writing Competition Guidelines

DEADLINE: 2/3/2019

The Gleaner is a theme-based literary journal staffed and published by undergraduate students at Delaware Valley University. The theme for the upcoming issue is The Sky's the Limit, which as a concept is open to interpretation. Poetry and prose will be judged based on how effectively it fits the thematic concept.

High school entrants limited to students who attend a school (or live) within one hour of Delaware Valley University.

9th and 10th grade prize

First Place - $100 First Place - $100
Second Place - $50 Second Place - $50

11th and 12th grade prize

First Place - $100 First Place - $100
Second Place - $50 Second Place - $50

By Publication Year

By Genre

By Recognition

Appeared in print edtion

First Prize

Second Prize

Third Prize

Grape (visits) Domestication Crop EvolutionGrape (visits) Domestication Crop Evolution


Vitis is a widely-distributed plant species of great economic importance. While the wild plant is far less prominent than the domesticated, the comparisions drawn between the two gives insight into the history of the plant. Due to its long historic use by human, information on Vitis can be found in all forms, yet with varying degrees of accuracy. Morphological data can often be inaccurate due to changes in seed characteristics over time. Genetic data, while plentiful, is affected by the relatively constant exchange of germplasm throughout human usage. Historic data is also affected by the overwhelming time period of use. Despite these potential areas for error, it is generally accepted that Vitis has early origins of use by Paleolithic peoples and was eventually domesticated in, or near, the fertile crescent. From there, its history unfolds in all direction, touching every continent aside from Antarctica, through a series pressures created by humans for human preference. 


Both domesticated and wild grapevines exist today. The wild ancestor, V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, is a species that climbs trees to reach the canopy where they flower and produce berries. The domesticated grapevine is V. vinifera subsp. vinifera1. This plant provides three main resources for humans including table grapes, wine grape, and raisins. 

Wild Vitis was likely collected for consumption before domestication. The Paleolithic Hypothesis proposes early humans ate wild grapes, but also saved them in jars for later. These conditions would allow for low alcohol wine to be produced and “serendipitous inebriation.” Therefore, when people switched to permanent settlements around 12000 to 10000 years ago, one of the crops that the Paleolithic people would have wanted to domesticate and have more readily available would have been the wild grape. This likely could have led to the first domestication event also called the hermaphroditic hypothesis. A small portion of sylvestris are hermaphroditic plants. The large majority of them are single sexed plants, meaning that both male and female plants must be present for production of berries. As grape plants were cultivated and groomed for domestication, the hermaphroditic plants would have been ideal. Male plants would never produce berries and therefore be considered useless. Female plants would only produce berries if near male plants, and could therefore also be considered useless if not in the right conditions. The small percentage of sylvestris that were hermaphroditic would have 

produced berries every year and therefore would have been used most often. This hypothesis would explain why domestic species are hermaphroditic2. 

Domesticated vinifera of today differ from their wild relatives in more than just reproductive strategy. Traits selected for also include berry size, sugar content, and seedlessness. Seedless varieties go through a process known as sternospermocrapy were the embryo is aborted resulting in the lack of seeds3. 

While Vitis is an important plant economically, it is not considered beneficial to wildlife, as it provides no real nutritional value nor coverage. It is also considered a weed in various parts of the United States. In states, such as Ohio, it is listed as a weed if left unmaintained for two or more years4. However, it is generally considered to be an important crop internationally. The various hypotheses encourage an investigation into the historical aspects of the crop. Due to its long history in a domesticated setting, there is a great deal of skepticism and conflicting evidence as to the center of domestication. 

Results and Discussion: 

Botanical Evidence: 

Seed shape has changed greatly over the domestication of Vitis. Wild grape pips are generally more round with short stalks where as domestic grape pips are more elongated with longer stalks. While seed morphology can be helpful in locating the center of domestication, it is often disputed as well. The main issues that arise are the overlapping shapes of the seeds and the deformation of the seed during the carbonization processes5. The former is an issue when considering pips are living wild and domestic species while the latter also involves archeological data. 

Genetic Evidence: 

In recent year, many genetic studies have been conducted as testing has become more accurate. A study conducted to test allele frequencies entitled, “Genetic structure and differentiation in cultivated grape, Vitis vinifera L.” studied a total of 366 accession. Only 244 of those were used for the final study due to occurrence of synonyms for the same cultivar, which is a common issue within the Vitis groupings, and these were divided, genetically, into 16 groups. This study did not find any geographic trends in allelic frequency, which supports the history tendency of often moving grape cultivars, but did show the groups in three major clusters. These reflect on the original eco-geographical theory. This theory proposes three major cluster referred to as occidentalis, pontica, and orientalis. This studies clusters are not identical to those and are given 

the names, Mediterranean table-grape cluster, Western European wine-grape cluster, and Central European grape cluster6. 

The Mediterranean table-grape cluster only contains two of the sixteen groups. The grapes from this group are commonly grown in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Southern European varieties, and some seedless types. The Western European contains ten of the groups. This includes French wines grapes, wild grapes, and Greek and Italian wine and/or table grapes. These were likely grouped together as germplasm has historically been proven to have been exchanged between these nations. The addition of the wild grapes likely relates to the introgression between wild and cultivated grapes that occur in these regions. The Central European grape cluster contains the last four groups. This includes wine grapes from southern and south-central Europe as well as table grapes. This connection is likely the result of the infusion of the Near Eastern table grape germplasm into the European wine grape gene pool7. As discussed later, table grapes are more common in the Near East, were as wine grapes are more common in Europe. While germplasm transfer and introgression both affected the European grape lineage, the majority relate back to the eastern and southern edges of Europe. This is a strong indicator of the initial spread of Vitis. The plant likely moved into this region from an area to the south and east of Europe. 

There has been an effort recently to use genetics to determine if there was a single or many domestication events within Vitis. One study claims two independent domestication events, one in the Near East and the other in Western Europe, with evidence coming from chloroplast microsatellites markers. However, this theory was contradicted by another that claims one complex gene pool has undergone strong artificial selection. These theories are difficult to prove given the long and complex geographical history of Vitis. Despite the contradicting ideas, there does appear to have been some type of bottleneck early in Vitis’ history. The bountiful progeny of Pinot and Gouais within cultivars in many regions strongly supports this idea8. 

Archeological Evidence: 

Archaeological evidence is difficult to interpret. The domesticated and wild grapevine are very similar making the evidence more difficult to document with certainty. The species differ the most in reproductive strategy, which leaves less information to be collected over time. Other traits like increase in berry size, bunch, and sugar content also relate to domestication but leave little to no trace. The best trait to look at over time is seed morphology9. 

Signs of early grapes, including pips and parched berries, have been discovered in current day Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and the Aegean area. These have been dated to the Bronze Age. At the same time, the art within Levant and in Argean belts indicted wide spread grape usage along with the remnants of wine storage vessels. Charred wood and mall, rounded pips with relatively short beaks were found in Israel10. Archeologists have also uncovered walls in this area that were likely constructed to surrounded vineyards to keep out thieves11. Archeological sites have continued to be excavated along the upper regions of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers with similar finds. This reaches up through the historic fertile crescent. This area has been recognized as a center of domestication for many crops known for agricultural importance such as einkorn wheat, peas, chickpeas, lentils, emmer, and rye12. As this area is known to have been the founding area for so many crops, it is generally accepted that this is likely the area of early domestication. 

Archeological remains dated between 4500 and 2000 B.C.E. throughout Southern Greece indicate the spread of Vitis into Europe. Seed morphology changes during this time period coincide with the emergence of viticulture. It appears that a seed type more similar to the wild sylvestris was found before this time, but the shift resulted in a more vinifera morphology. Overtime, carbonized pips with similar changes can be traced through Northern Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France13. 

Historical Evidence: 

Vitis’s long history places it in many historical texts. There are references to vine training and pruning in the Hebrew Bible. Egyptian iconography show the transfer from tree supported plants to arbors or trellises. Both Jewish and Christian religious texts reference wine and ancient Greek and Roman societies encouraged wine as the drink of choice. Even though wine is prohibited in the Islamic faith, table grapes and raisins are referenced in text and hold high value14. 

The Bible specifically mentions the domestication of the grape in the passages about Noah and the Ark. The legend states that Noah’s Ark ran aground on Mount Ararat and there he planted the first vineyard. Mount Ararat is a volcanic dome located in modern day Turkey. There has been no other evidence to support this idea as cultivated and wild grapes have never been recorded in that area otherwise, nor has evidence been discovered archeologically15. 

As the spread of Vitis enters more recent history, information becomes available through somewhat more reliable sources. For example, texts written about missionaries traveling to the 

Americas after Columbus’ travels mention the introduction of seeds, and later cuttings, to the newly colonized regions. Likewise, the introduction of Vitis to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand is well documented in the 19th century. At the conclusion of the 19th century, a possible bottleneck is also well documented. With the extensive plant based exchange occurring between the Americas and Europe came diseases. Phylloxera, a mildew, was introduced to Europe resulting in widespread destruction of vineyards. This caused a great reduction in genetic diversity in both cultivated and wild Vitis. European viticulture was revived by the introduction of Vitis species from the Americas that were not of the vinifera variety16. 

Linguistic Evidence: 

Linguistic evidence in relation to Vitis involves many extinct languages. The Anatolian Farming Hypothesis of grape domestication relies on these as evidence that the process began in Anatolia. A long extinct language, Hittite, stemmed into the Indo-European languages 8700 years ago. This coincides with the general spread of those languages with the spread of agriculture 9500-8000 years ago. Anatolia is considered to have been a location with ideal conditions for grape growth and domestication, as well as winemaking. Therefore, words related to the fruit are common in Indo-European languages. When considering the word for wine, root words such as “woi-no” or “win-o” or “wie-no” were used by the early populations in Anatolia and later varied with changes in language. That being said, there are also non-Indo-European languages, such as Kartcelian spoken in Georgia, Semito-Hamitic spoken in old Egypt, and Semitic which is a version of early Hebrew, that provide evidence for an ancient and unknown common root for the word17. 

Domestication Syndrome: 

There are many traits that have been selected for by humans to produce a more profitable plant. The first of those would be the selection of hermaphroditic plants over single sex. This allowed for a larger harvest, as the non-fruit producing male plants were eliminated, as well as a more consistent harvest, as there was no need to ensure both male and female plants were planted in close proximity. 

As there are three varieties of grapes, each has slightly different traits that were selected for. Traits that are considered advantageous for table grapes include seedlessness and large fruit size. Wine grapes were historically selected for greater sugar content and specific flavors that correspond with the wine created. All three varieties have traits such as shorter vine growth and larger batching that make the harvest more accessible and produce a larger harvest. These traits are both more profitable and energy saving making them more likely to be the result of human interaction. 

Future Lines of Research: 

While the general geographic spread of Vitis is more widely accepted, the center of domestication, and the determination of secondary sites of domestication is still in question. Vitis was first used by humans around the fertile crescent, moved out towards China and Japan as well as towards Egypt and the Mediterranean. From the Mediterranean region, it spread throughout Europe. Exchange between the Americas and Europe further moved the plant. Likewise, European nations relocated Vitis to Australia, New Zealand, and Southern Africa. Exchange of germplasm still occurs today both between cultivars and wild species. While various branches of science have come together to determine this pathway, the definitive site of domestication has not been fully agreed upon. Studies with larger samples could potentially produce more definitive answers as well an incorporate more aspects of Vitis culture. Emphasis is placed on high producing and profitable varieties, leaving the lesser varieties with a smaller research base. Studying those varieties could lead to a better understanding of the Vitis plant.

Critical / Analytical Essay

The Changes of the Tide: My Monday MorningThe Changes of the Tide: My Monday Morning

Sweeping waves of emotion roll over old feelings and replace it with new emotional perspectives. Monday is the motion of the sea as waves come crashing in. We have our normal lives that are very placate, but Monday stirs our emotions by simply reminiscing about tough times in our lives. Whether it is losing someone you care deeply for or seeing hope when there was none before, change happens. A Monday sneakily drags you through the waves to something completely new. Change may be sorrow or it may be hope as it has been in Monday songs like “Blue Monday” by Fats Domino or “Monday Monday” by the Mamas and Papas. “Blue Monday” is sorrow of a new work week, but the hope for the coming weekend. In “Monday Monday” it is entirely hope that the band sings for with their bright tones. In “Monday Morning Church” by Alan Jackson and “Monday Morning” by Death Cab for Cutie how can change be seen in the songs? 

Whenever I first listen to a song, my attention gets directly focused on the melody. It is the simplest part of a song that can be discerned, and it is usually the vocals of the piece. The rises and falls of the sweet gravelly voice of Alan Jackson and the pinched unique voice of Ben Gibbard flow in their songs to create intricate interplays between the melody and the background instruments. Coming together as one, the instrumentation and vocals provide a sound in both songs that takes the listener on a journey. While completely different genres, the classic country feel of “Monday Morning Church” uses instruments such as the violin and steel guitar to slowly take the listener into a somber, sorrowful mood, and “Monday Morning” uses the guitar to guide with catchy licks to an upbeat, reflective feeling. In both songs, the guitar plays a special part with licks or tiny phrases of notes to end a phrase in the lyrics. Overall, the instruments create an audio effect of directing the listener’s attention to the vocals. They make their role of the background noise to make sure that the vocal expression is evident. They showed their expressive side with their long held out notes, showing Jackson’s turn to sorrow and Gibbard’s hope and meaning he puts into the time of Monday morning. Jackson’s sadness in his voice is extremely overpowering with the violin and the steel guitar echoing this feeling. The floaty but powerful sound of “Monday Morning” resonates similarly with uncertain hope with the drums being a steady presence, but not overpowering enough to deliver Gibbard’s hope for his new relationship without questioning if he can follow through with the riffs in the electric guitar. It is interesting how the light musical accompaniment adds to the meaning of the vocals in the songs. 

The lyrics are straight forward generally but because like a wave and like Monday they only show their face, but their power is hidden underneath surface by using vocal expression in addition to emotional lyrics. Do the artists have anything to hide about their subject? They talk about love and loneliness. The two seem to go hand in hand. In the song “Come Monday” by 

Jimmy Buffett, he is lonely as he is away from his beloved girlfriend and lonely in his musical style for the time, all while wanting to be with his love again after the break they had and loving the music he played. “You left my heart as empty as a Monday morning church” the line from Jackson’s song shows the immense loss that is felt after losing someone, of being empty and alone. Love hurts the most after they are no longer there, but you are still constantly reminded of them in your daily life. These memories change that emptiness of emotion into anger and misery just at the sight of her bible or piano brought out by Jackson’s deep gravelly voice wavering. Whereas in “Monday Morning”, Gibbard’s shows worry with the line “I never learned how to stay”, he wants to be hopeful for a relationship with the girl he is singing about and to. His voice shows his passion for this hope when saying “Monday morning” repeated as he stretches the words out to as if to refer to Monday morning a dream. He is lonely as he has always run away from love before, but she is different and they can build their love like the “maps of our designs” he describes. The lyrics elude to a change in emotion when Monday morning is referenced. 

Both these songs bring up the image of remembrance in my head. The sorrow and heartbreak of “Monday Morning Church” brings up images of my grandfather and aunt’s deaths. I was in elementary school for my grandfather’s death, but even then, I knew something had rocked my sense of stability out of place permanently. I was extremely religious, but I never questioned why I choose to be. Then, two years ago, my aunt died of cancer and all the questions I had of my own beliefs weighed down on me until I broke my ties with religion as it was what my questions centered on. At church, it was when I felt most empty like Jackson does in his song. My connection to my loved ones was not in church, but the teachings after their deaths never felt as grounded as they were before. I remembered them at church and I did not want to feel the grief and sorrow as shown in “Monday Morning Church”. When I listen to “Monday Morning” I do think hope, but it brings me back to a time in high school when I was introduced to some of my best friends in orchestra, but I was worried I would not be a quality friend as my past best friends either drifted or left me. I know it is different from Gibbard’s situation of being the one to always leave, but I thought there was something wrong with me, but the people I met were just as crazy and funny as me and I knew we could be great friends if what happened before did not happen again. Both circumstances were times when my emotions were changing which I think seems to be a pattern in the songs and in Mondays. 

Monday is time as it passes by lessening the hurt of pain or amplifying the desire to be with another person. Change always happens, but it is time that causes the intensity of the change. For grief, a long-time is needed for any slight change to happen. With the emotions of love and hope, it is sudden change from the standard emotions of everyday to this overwhelming presence. Mondays stand for a metaphor for many things, but it is the day of change in these songs. The tides and waves change what lies underneath the water, like Monday as the day has a steady battering of waves of changes and events that change the hidden emotions in people.

Personal / Creative Essay

The Red DoorThe Red Door


Where Do We Go From Here?Where Do We Go From Here?

There aren’t a lot of female serial killers. 

That’s not to say there aren’t any, but they’re an anomaly. Something special. 

Lucy prided herself on that, and even more so on the fact that she was probably the last person anyone would think of as dangerous. Between her waist-long wavy blonde hair that shimmered in the sun and bounced in cadence with her bubbly laugh, her petite frame, and her light-hearted Valley Girl way of talking, she was the picture of girlish innocence, and she knew it. She thrived on it. It made everything so much easier for her. 

She wasn’t surprised when a car sidled over off the highway, its wheels crunching the gravel as the gleaming SUV braked to a halt a couple feet from where she stood, thumb up and flashing a coquettish smile. She rarely had to wait more than a few moments before someone took her bait, and this time was no exception. The tinted window hummed as the driver rolled it down. 

“Where’re you headed, sweetheart?” 

Lucy flashed a grin at the man inside, pleased to see that he was alone. She cast a quick, covert glance in both directions, but it was hardly necessary. There were no other cars on the road. 

“Parkersburg” came her quick reply, in a tone that made it seem more like a question than an answer. She smiled again, flashing her pearl white teeth and batting her large doe-like green eyes expectantly. 

“Well, you’re in luck. I’m headed to Marietta. Hop in.” 

She grinned widely as he unlocked the door, and lithely slid into the passenger seat as the driver introduced himself. He was middle-aged, mousy and soft-spoken – utterly innocuous, the kind of man that would be putty in a woman’s hands. 

“I’m Louisa,” she lied effortlessly. “Thank you so, so much for giving me a ride, Mark.” The silky seductive tone of her voice made the man shift uncomfortably in the driver’s seat as he shifted the car into gear and pulled back onto Route 50. 

“A pretty little thing like you shouldn’t be hitchhiking,” he reprimanded her gently, his voice tinged with nervousness and an almost paternal note of concern. “Lots of crazies out there. You could get hurt.” 


For a few moments they drove in silence, but the awkward tension that hung in the air made it seem much longer. Mark was struggling to keep his eyes on the road, and kept casting furtive glances at the pretty girl sitting in his passenger seat. She was twirling her thumbs in her lap, and he traced his way up and down her body with his eyes. He noticed her slender legs and the way her jeans hugged every curve as if they had been painted on, and the simple elegance of the amethyst pendant that rested on her buxom chest. But what really 

caught his attention was her hair, and he could hardly resist the temptation to just reach out and touch it. It looked so soft, so silky. Every now and then she would run her fingers through it or twirl it around her forefinger as she smacked her chewing gum, and he imagined what it would feel like to stroke it for himself. The thought alone nearly made him shiver with anticipation, and it took every ounce of willpower he possessed to keep his eyes on the road as he grasped the steering wheel with a white-knuckled grip. 

This is wrong, he thought to himself. I wasn’t going to do this again. 


There was only one rule, and the rule was simple. 

If he didn’t make a move, she wouldn’t hurt him. All he had to do was take her from Point A to Point B without trying to fuck her or rape her or pressure her into blowing him. Simple enough, right? Sure, it was an unspoken rule, but telling him what the stakes were, what the rule was…well, that would ruin the game. Besides, if he violated the rule, did he really deserve to live anyway? 

For her part, Lucy did try not to work the men up too much, in the interest of fairness. She could hardly help the fact that she exuded seduction, but that was no excuse for them to try to make a move on her, a perfect stranger who – for all they knew – was just a vulnerable girl in a situation over which they had all of the control. Of course, that wasn’t actually the case: she had a 10-inch fixed blade hunting knife resting in her cute hobo purse that she could deftly pull out and use before you could say “blue balls,” and you’d be amazed 

how many times she’d had occasion to use it. No shortage of perverts who would take advantage of any opportunity to get their dick wet, even if – or, more likely, especially if – it involved coercing a helpless, trusting girl. Over time, Lucy had been equally intrigued and disgusted to find that that was what seemed to seemed to get them riled up, the idea that they could force a girl to pleasure them in any way they wanted in this kind of situation without even brandishing a weapon – the implication alone was enough to get just about any girl to go along with whatever kind of fun they had in mind. 

But not Lucy. 


Mark was perturbed by the unsettling moistness of the leather steering wheel as his palms grew slick with sweat. Every now and then the girl would ask some benignly vapid question in an attempt to break the suffocating tension that hung between them, and he struggled to answer, never offering more than a word or two in response. It’s not right, he kept telling himself over and over in his head. You don’t have to do this, she’s just a kid… 

That voice was strong, but the other feeling was stronger, and growing stronger with each passing minute. He felt his heartbeat quicken as beads of sweat started to roll down the back of his neck and every hair stood on end, even though the AC was going and the dashboard informed him that the car was a balmy 76 degrees. The sensation was electrifying, egging him on, and he felt its intensity growing every time he glanced at her, heard her sing-song voice, breathed in the delicate scent of her perfume that hung in the air. She was different from the others, he could see that, he could feel it. The others had been common and 

filthy. Cheap. This one, though…oh, she was so much different. Something fine and rare, pure and delicate. Soft. Feminine. Innocent. 

Something for the real connoisseur. 


Ahead of them, the sign for the Deerwalk exit loomed against an amarillo sunset. Looks like he’s going to make good on his word, Lucy thought to herself. She was hardly surprised. The man – Mark – had been nervous just sitting near her, and she had noticed the modest wedding band on his ring finger. Sure, he had ogled her a couple of times; she was amused by his utterly futile attempt to be inconspicuous in doing so. But she could hardly blame him for that. This car ride was probably the closest he had been to a woman that wasn’t his wife in a long time, let alone a young, attractive girl. And all alone, just the two of them. No wonder the poor schmuck was shifting around and sweating so much. Probably an accountant, father of four, married his high school sweetheart…you know the type. Boring as all hell. Probably had daughters of his own, they might even be close to her age…heck, maybe that was why he had picked her up. It was kind of sweet, albeit just a teensy bit disappointing. She had been hoping for some fun tonight. 


This is it, Mark thought to himself. The sun was setting fast; it would be dark in another twenty minutes or so. This was his chance. Just a couple miles up ahead was an exit that led to a county road that ran through a small, unincorporated town with a big lake, a couple scattered farmsteads, and a whole lot of untamed wilderness. It wasn’t his usual 

dumping ground, but he was familiar enough with the area – it would do. There was hardly ever any traffic, and his car was inconspicuous. Remarkably forgettable. He would have time out there, and plenty of space to do what he wanted – what he needed – to do. 

He hit the turn signal. 


Lucy had been absentmindedly admiring the greenery that ran along the highway when the ticking of the turn signal roused her from her reverie. 

“We’re pulling off the highway?” Her voice was inquisitive, and a bit startled, but not alarmed. 

“Just for a moment, I’m sorry,” Mark replied apologetically, nearly stuttering from abashed nervousness. “I hope you don’t mind, it’s just…well, I need to…you know…relieve myself, and there aren’t many rest stops out this way and I’m afraid I can’t wait until we get to Parkersburg.” 

“Oh, that’s no problem at all, I totally understand,” Lucy said indulgently. 

Mark couldn’t bring himself to meet her eyes. 

“Again, I apologize. It should only take a moment or two. I suppose I should hav–” 

“Mark, it’s fine, really,” Lucy blithely reassured him, laying her hand on his pallid, clammy forearm. “Just don’t get us lost, it’s getting dark out here.” 


Within moments of pulling off Route 50, the SUV was navigating a circuitous gravel street that soon gave way to a dirt road in a woeful state of disrepair. Lucy heard the sound of low-hanging tree branches scraping against the hood of the car, which was engulfed on either side by trees and brambles. The headlights were on, but they were of little service. She could hardly see anything up ahead, and the thick foliage that surrounded them seemed impenetrable. She discreetly pulled her bag off the floorboard into her lap. 

It’s always the ones you’d least expect, she mused to herself. 

Maybe there would be some fun tonight after all. 


Once he came to a point where the road would permit them to go no further, Mark shifted into park and killed the lights. The girl didn’t notice; she seemed too preoccupied, fiddling with something in her bag. 

Probably looking for her cell phone, he thought to himself with some bemusement. She didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting service out here. His left hand was already stroking the grip of the .22 he kept in the driver’s side door pocket, and he felt himself grow hard. He looked over at her, and she meet his gaze, both of their eyes sparkling with anticipation. 

“Looks like this is the end of the road, Mark,” Lucy said playfully. “Where do we go from here?”

Short Fiction

Stepping Away From the Broken GlassStepping Away From the Broken Glass

Imagine​ ​being​ ​afraid​ ​to​ ​speak​ ​in​ ​your​ ​own​ ​home.​ ​For​ ​some​ ​of​ ​you,​ ​that​ ​might​ ​sound absurd.​ ​Maybe​ ​a​ ​few​ ​of​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​to​ ​imagine​ ​it​ ​at​ ​all.​ ​I​ ​sure​ ​don’t.​ ​Imagine​ ​feeling​ ​a​ ​cold rush​ ​of​ ​anxiety​ ​every​ ​time​ ​you​ ​open​ ​your​ ​mouth.​ ​That’s​ ​what​ ​it​ ​was​ ​like​ ​for​ ​me,​ ​growing​ ​up.​ ​I live​ ​with​ ​my​ ​grandmother--a​ ​bitter​ ​woman​ ​of​ ​70​ ​years,​ ​who​ ​let​ ​the​ ​passage​ ​of​ ​time​ ​sour​ ​and harden​ ​her​ ​heart,​ ​and​ ​who​ ​chose​ ​to​ ​vent​ ​her​ ​negativity​ ​in​ ​the​ ​form​ ​of​ ​spewing​ ​hate​ ​at​ ​me.

Imagine​ ​with​ ​me,​ ​if​ ​you​ ​will,​ ​a​ ​little​ ​girl.​ ​She’s​ ​five,​ ​or​ ​maybe​ ​six,​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​her​ ​first​ ​day​ ​of school.​ ​From​ ​my​ ​experience,​ ​kids​ ​are​ ​usually​ ​excited​ ​for​ ​their​ ​first​ ​day​ ​of​ ​school.​ ​That excitement​ ​tends​ ​to​ ​die​ ​out​ ​remarkably​ ​fast,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​not​ ​the​ ​point.​ ​This​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​isn’t​ ​showing any​ ​signs​ ​of​ ​excitement.​ ​She’s​ ​not​ ​bouncing​ ​up​ ​and​ ​down,​ ​or​ ​wriggling​ ​in​ ​her​ ​seat,​ ​or​ ​talking animatedly​ ​to​ ​whomever​ ​will​ ​listen.​ ​Her​ ​grandmother​ ​told​ ​her​ ​that​ ​those​ ​behaviors​ ​were​ ​bad,​ ​that they​ ​make​ ​her​ ​weird​ ​and​ ​annoying.​ ​So​ ​instead,​ ​she​ ​is​ ​standing​ ​perfectly​ ​still,​ ​staring​ ​at​ ​her​ ​feet. She​ ​is​ ​terrified​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​home​ ​because​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​told​ ​her​ ​that​ ​school​ ​was​ ​really​ ​difficult and​ ​that​ ​if​ ​she​ ​didn’t​ ​do​ ​absolutely​ ​perfect​ ​she’d​ ​be​ ​beaten.​ ​This​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

Imagine​ ​this​ ​same​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​a​ ​few​ ​years​ ​later.​ ​Now​ ​she’s​ ​eight​ ​or​ ​nine,​ ​and​ ​her​ ​friend​ ​is throwing​ ​a​ ​birthday​ ​party​ ​on​ ​Saturday.​ ​She’s​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​go,​ ​because​ ​now​ ​she​ ​knows​ ​that​ ​if​ ​she’s in​ ​a​ ​public​ ​place,​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​won’t​ ​scream​ ​at​ ​her.​ ​Her​ ​grandmother​ ​is​ ​different​ ​in​ ​public, she​ ​has​ ​learned.​ ​Nicer,​ ​friendlier.​ ​She​ ​has​ ​a​ ​beautiful​ ​smile.​ ​What​ ​the​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​doesn’t​ ​know​ ​yet is​ ​that​ ​it’s​ ​all​ ​a​ ​mask--a​ ​way​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​the​ ​suspicion​ ​of​ ​others​ ​away.​ ​Instead,​ ​the​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​can​ ​only believe​ ​what​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​tells​ ​her;​ ​that​ ​she’s​ ​lazy,​ ​worthless,​ ​a​ ​waste​ ​of​ ​space.​ ​It​ ​must​ ​be her​ ​fault​ ​that​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​doesn’t​ ​smile​ ​when​ ​it’s​ ​just​ ​the​ ​two​ ​of​ ​them​ ​around,​ ​the​ ​little​ ​girl thinks.​ ​This​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

She​ ​has​ ​fun​ ​during​ ​the​ ​birthday​ ​party.​ ​She​ ​plays​ ​tag​ ​with​ ​her​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​rides​ ​a​ ​horse that​ ​was​ ​rented​ ​for​ ​the​ ​party.​ ​She​ ​cherishes​ ​this​ ​time,​ ​for​ ​it’s​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​few​ ​times​ ​she​ ​can​ ​play outside.​ ​Her​ ​grandmother​ ​doesn’t​ ​let​ ​her​ ​outside​ ​except​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to​ ​school.​ ​This​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

The​ ​little​ ​girl​ ​isn’t​ ​so​ ​little​ ​anymore.​ ​She’s​ ​almost​ ​thirteen,​ ​and​ ​dreading​ ​her​ ​birthday. Her​ ​grandmother​ ​told​ ​her​ ​that​ ​once​ ​she​ ​turned​ ​thirteen,​ ​she’d​ ​be​ ​a​ ​‘big​ ​girl.’​ ​The​ ​girl​ ​doesn’t understand.​ ​She​ ​doesn’t​ ​know​ ​what​ ​it​ ​means​ ​to​ ​be​ ​independent--her​ ​grandmother​ ​controls everything.​ ​What​ ​she​ ​eats,​ ​what​ ​clothes​ ​she​ ​wears.​ ​Her​ ​grandmother​ ​does​ ​her​ ​laundry​ ​and​ ​cooks all​ ​her​ ​food,​ ​and​ ​while​ ​to​ ​some​ ​of​ ​you​ ​reading​ ​this​ ​this​ ​might​ ​sound​ ​nice,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​girl​ ​feels worthless.​ ​She​ ​can’t​ ​cook​ ​or​ ​clean,​ ​she​ ​has​ ​no​ ​control​ ​over​ ​her​ ​life.​ ​From​ ​what​ ​she​ ​understands, being​ ​a​ ​‘big​ ​girl’​ ​means​ ​doing​ ​all​ ​these​ ​things​ ​she​ ​doesn’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​do,​ ​and​ ​everytime​ ​she works​ ​up​ ​the​ ​courage​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​her,​ ​she’s​ ​abruptly​ ​shut​ ​down​ ​with indignant​ ​retorts.​ ​When​ ​she​ ​turns​ ​thirteen,​ ​her​ ​grandmother​ ​doesn’t​ ​relinquish​ ​any​ ​control​ ​over her​ ​life.​ ​This​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

The​ ​girl​ ​has​ ​learned​ ​to​ ​do​ ​things​ ​behind​ ​her​ ​grandmother’s​ ​back.​ ​She’s​ ​terrified​ ​of​ ​being caught​ ​for​ ​a​ ​long​ ​time,​ ​but​ ​eventually​ ​realizes​ ​that,​ ​so​ ​long​ ​as​ ​she​ ​is​ ​careful,​ ​her​ ​grandmother will​ ​never​ ​know.​ ​She​ ​dares​ ​to​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​maybe​ ​someday​ ​she’ll​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​live​ ​a​ ​normal​ ​life.​ ​This girl​ ​was​ ​me.

​The​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​accepted​ ​into​ ​college.​ ​She​ ​shows​ ​the​ ​acceptance​ ​letter​ ​to​ ​her​ ​grandmother, expressionless,​ ​but​ ​bounces​ ​up​ ​and​ ​down​ ​and​ ​dances​ ​around​ ​her​ ​room​ ​once​ ​she’s​ ​alone.​ ​She​ ​still doesn’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​do​ ​much,​ ​but​ ​now​ ​she’ll​ ​finally​ ​be​ ​free​ ​to​ ​learn.​ ​This​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

Her​ ​excitement​ ​quickly​ ​turns​ ​to​ ​dread​ ​and​ ​fear,​ ​for​ ​the​ ​unknown​ ​is​ ​a​ ​terrifying​ ​thing.​ ​She doesn’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​cook,​ ​how​ ​to​ ​clean,​ ​how​ ​to​ ​do​ ​her​ ​own​ ​laundry,​ ​how​ ​is​ ​she​ ​supposed​ ​to survive​ ​college,​ ​where​ ​everyone​ ​was​ ​independent​ ​and​ ​could​ ​take​ ​care​ ​of​ ​themselves?​ ​This​ ​girl was​ ​me.

Her​ ​mind​ ​is​ ​quiet​ ​as​ ​she​ ​moves​ ​into​ ​her​ ​new​ ​home​ ​for​ ​the​ ​next​ ​few​ ​years.​ ​The​ ​people​ ​are friendly​ ​and​ ​welcoming,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​it​ ​feels​ ​as​ ​though​ ​she​ ​isn’t​ ​stepping​ ​on​ ​broken glass​ ​every​ ​time​ ​she​ ​opens​ ​her​ ​mouth.​ ​This​ ​girl​ ​was​ ​me.

She​ ​raises​ ​her​ ​hand​ ​and​ ​asks​ ​questions​ ​in​ ​her​ ​first​ ​classes.​ ​She​ ​feels​ ​like​ ​she​ ​finally​ ​has​ ​a voice,​ ​that​ ​she​ ​can​ ​establish​ ​herself​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​She’s​ ​learned​ ​that​ ​curiosity​ ​isn’t​ ​a​ ​bad​ ​thing.

This​ ​girl​ ​is​ ​me,​ ​and​ ​this​ ​is​ ​my​ ​memoir.​ ​Abuse​ ​is​ ​a​ ​hard​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​come​ ​to​ ​terms​ ​with,​ ​but now​ ​that​ ​I’m​ ​away​ ​from​ ​that​ ​environment,​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​as​ ​though​ ​I’m​ ​already​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​better,​ ​more independent​ ​person.​ ​I’m​ ​still​ ​afraid,​ ​of​ ​course.​ ​Years​ ​of​ ​abuse​ ​can’t​ ​simply​ ​be​ ​forgotten.​ ​But​ ​I feel​ ​hope,​ ​happiness,​ ​and​ ​peace​ ​now.​ ​Maybe​ ​that’s​ ​what​ ​matters.

Personal / Creative Essay



Post RainPost Rain


Used to ThinkUsed to Think

Seed: I used to think that there was nothing more that I could love than the rain on the roof above

as I lay deep in my bed of blankets, but then I saw your eyes.

I sat there by the window, mug in my hand, blanket wrapped around my body, the cat

snuggling into my lap as my eyes stayed glued to the storm outside. There was subtle thunder off in

the distance and I subconsciously willed it to come closer and closer. The clouds furrowed their

brows in response.

Should I pray to Poseidon, maybe? I thought. My cat snored in her sleep and I took that as a no. I

looked down at her, her orange tail wrapping itself around my arm whilst she slept, then directed my

gaze back to the window.

Why would I even pray to him? It’s not like I want the storm to go away.

Thunder boomed.

And I don’t think it’s his job to keep it going.

I sipped my tea.

Or is it?

I really need to brush up on my Greek mythology. As if to confirm this thought of mine,

Zeus sent a spark of light streaking across the cloudy sky. It reached from one black cloud to

another, stretching, like that one painting of Jesus (you know which one I’m talking about; I may

have minored in art history but I don’t remember everything I learned) and I thought of how I

reached towards you and took your hand in mine.

But I’d rather run my finger over your Grecian nose than study these myths, as it’s so

pointed, so tilted, and the way it caves and curves sends booms and echoes through my heart.

Though I may find solace among Socrates and Sophocles and all their friends, you make my

world brighter and my heart so much lighter. And you turn my internal dialogue into poetry and my

insides into a muddled befuddled soup.

The lightning leapt and danced as it dared to brighten up the sky, split the world in two, and

connect two otherwise unrelated beings or halves of the sky, much like you and I did that day. And I

wanted to reach across the sky, like the lightning, and pull you closer to me, once again.

I used to hate the sound of my name, the syllables and letters crashing into one another in

an entirely ungraceful way until I heard it roll off of your tongue and into my ear.

When I say my name I sound like the blandest brown-haired girl sitting in the back of the

classroom answering to a roll call but when you do I sound like a Swiss mountain, an Italian wine, or

even the subject of a poem by Neruda or Whitman. When you’re the one introducing me to the

world, I feel beautiful. And for once in my life, I loved my name. But only because you were the one

saying it.

And for once, I could look in the mirror without looking away because you taught me to see

myself through your eyes. And when I looked at myself that way, I felt like the belle of the ball.

And when you sat with me by this same window and listened to me talk about the love I

have in my heart for art and the earth and its beautiful people and I knew I was rambling something

awful, going on and on about Picasso and how far up his ass I was, but you stayed and sat and stared

and listened. And you smiled. You smiled so beautifully.

Somehow I could tell you something you've known for years and you'd listen so attentively

that I’d feel as though I were teaching you something new. I could read you your own birth

certificate and you’d thank me for opening my mouth. The same mouth that was slapped in the past

by others for simply speaking her mind. Sewn shut. Shuttered and closed. And right then I knew

that you were something special, Amy.

And you had so much power and influence over me. And you knew this. And you never used

it to your advantage. Not once, despite you knowing how weak and sensitive and vulnerable I am.

Instead of breaking me down and using the scraps to build bricks to hoist yourself up, you find new

bricks elsewhere to place underneath me to lift me higher, higher, higher.

And I hear the thunder crack. It sounds like it’s coming closer. And I wish you were coming

closer to me right now. We’d sit here, sipping tea, snuggling with each other, a cat laying across both

of our laps, listening to each other and loving on each other. Each of us, together.

And as the rain poured onwards and downwards I was cozily comfortable, wrapped in my

thoughts of you. And these thoughts kept me warmer than the blanket around my body did. And I

wished you could be here to share the covers with me.

And after a little bit, the sky stopped crying and I thought I’d at least try to take up the task

for her, to spare her the task and save some of her waters, for she had the entire world to water. Her

brows were still cross so I knew she could start up again at any moment, but I decided it was my

time to go and see you.

So I set my half-full mug down on the windowsill, picked up my snoozing kitty and gently

placed her on a cushiony pillow on a stool standing by my chair’s side. I stood and draped the

blanket around my shoulders like a cloak, then slowly made my way to my closet, feeling like a

goddess of sadness and lovelorn.

I pulled the closet doors open, and as my arms raised from either side of my body, I let the

blanket drop from its place on my shoulders. And I stood there, looking into my closet. When the

doors hit their stoppers, there was a small noise like a door closing on a movie set; real, but not real

enough. And the noise must have floated its way towards my cat, because I heard her meow. I

glanced over at her, her ears perked up, and she looked sleepily around the room, then jumped down

from her makeshift bed and ran into the kitchen.

“Sorry, love. Didn’t mean to wake you,” I called after her. I paused after speaking, keeping

my mouth open slightly, as one does when gently concentrating, straining to hear any and all sounds

coming from the kitchen. None came, and I smiled with the left half of my mouth, showing an

expression probably resembling more of a smirk than a smile, then turned back to the closet. My

kitty had probably already fallen back asleep, knowing her.

I took out one of my plain black tee shirts and softly laid it down on our small bed as it

stood right there next to me. Then, I scoured the shelves and hangers, looking for that one pair of

black skinny jeans you told me made me look like a rockstar, and after some pushing and shoving I

found them and placed them next to the shirt. I took two, three pairs of thick socks from out of my

drawer and pulled them onto my feet, knowing the shoes I’d be wearing would be a tad too big for

me, and I had to prepare accordingly. And then I put the rest of my outfit on.

And as I thought of you, my pace grew slower and my soul grew melancholy as I took off

my cozy comfortable at-home clothes and slid into an all-black ensemble. And the sky seemed to

peek and see me changing into the darkest of clothes, and she too grew dark again.

I match the sky, I thought.

I came into the kitchen and checked on my cat, and sure enough, she was asleep atop the

counter. I stroked her fluffy back twice, each time in the same manner.

By the door, I looked at the shoe pile. I then picked up the black combat boots and tugged

them on. The maroon ones sat there, staring at me, wondering why I didn’t choose them to wear,

since I usually did. And they fit me much better than the ones I was pulling on now.

“Why aren’t you wearing us, Mom?” the maroon ones seemed to ask.

“I’m sorry, I can’t today,” I thought. But felt guilty. But knew I had to do what I was doing.

Thanks to the boots, my feet were sleek and black and shiny, and the rain outside would only

make them more so. And I felt powerful and confident, the way boots like this always made me feel.

But then I remembered where I was going and I grow somber again, and no boots could boost me

up like you could. But you weren’t here.

And I remembered the day you and I went to the mall to escape the rain, and we ended up

buying ourselves these matching boots. The ones I wore now. But mine were maroon and yours

were black and I wonder if that was a sign the universe gave us in regards to what was going to


I remember I stood there, looking at the colorful shoe section and you stood there too, right

by my side. You were shorter than me by just a couple of inches, but your feet were somehow bigger

than mine. My disproportional cutie.

You had pointed to the pink boots. “I like these, Mona. Do you?”

I looked and then said, “On you? Hell yes. On me? Hell no.”

You smiled, but also kind of pouted; some sort of half and half expression on your face.

“Why not on you?”

I placed a hand on your shoulder. “Because you can rock pink shiny combat boots but I will

look like, uh,” I paused.

“Like what?” she asked.

I had to think, but then said, “I don’t know, like I accidentally melted cotton candy onto a

raincoat and plastered it onto my feet. Lolita candy chic, or something.”

Great description. Makes perfect sense.

She furrowed her brow, trying to look cross, but instead looked confused and didn’t manage

to hide the giggle that snuck out. In a second, the two of us were laughing. Deep laughs, my deep

voice and her bright one mixing into a cacophony where neither of us knew what the fuck we were

doing but at least we were having a good time. And the sound of us laughing must have alerted the

shopkeeper from the back and he came up to us. I was instantly jealous of the gauges in his ear, and

I subconsciously tugged on my own earlobe, wishing I had some of my own.

“Hi, ladies. Can I help you find anything today?” he’d asked.

She’d turned around and smiled at him. “Hi, do you have these in a size ten?” She pointed to

the very-pink shoes.

He nodded, and said, “We should, I’ll go check!”

And he went to check. But they didn’t, and instead you settled on black, saying it was classic

and rather standard and would go with everything, unlike the pink ones. You looked like you were

content with having the black ones. But I saw in your heart that you wanted the pink ones quite

badly, and I made a mental note to myself to order you a pair online in your size when we got home.

And I reminded myself in the next store. And the next. And in the next, I sent myself a text saying

“buy pink boots when home,” just so I wouldn’t forget.

But you never got home.

And now here I stand by the door, our door, wishing the boots she bought were pink instead

of black. Wishing it was just a stupid coincidence and not an omen of what was to come. I stand

wishing I didn’t have to wear black to see you today. I was wishing you and I could take an umbrella

and walk to town under the rain instead of me taking a walk alone under a cloudy sky to see your

stone. And I wished I could see your name in my notifications and your head on your pillow instead

of your name on a rock and your body under a headstone. And most of all, I wished I were the one

who was in the driver’s seat when we were hit, because then you’d still be here and I wouldn’t. And

even if I had to give up my life for you to have yours, you know I would do that. And I wish I could


I was hit once, when we were collided with, and twice, when the doctors told me there was

nothing more they could do for you. And the second hit hurt considerably more than the first.

With my broken arm and broken heart I came to see you in the bed next to mine and I

kissed you goodbye.

And so today, I walked as the rain softly tickled my hair and bounced off of the leather of

my jacket. I was my own little black rain cloud as I walked towards your resting place. When I was

about halfway, the rain began to pour. But I didn’t quicken my pace. I was in no rush to leave you. I

had nowhere to be besides by your side.

I have a rose gold necklace with the coordinates of where you are, and on the flip side it says

your name. Every time I see someone wearing the pink boots you wanted, I feel guilt rushing

through me. I can’t help thinking that if we had bought you the pink boots you’d still be here. And

my heart tells me so, but my brain chastises her for being illogical. Like always, I don’t know which

one to listen to.

And with thoroughly soaked hair and a dripping heart I pushed the woven metal gate open

and walked into the field that is home for those who are no longer.

I followed the path to the crossroads where the east and west lines intersect, then turned left

and made my way to the oak tree, because I knew you were there underneath it. I’d picked that plot

because in the summer it would be shady, and in the winter you’d be protected from the snow by the

branches above. In the spring and fall you’d have the changing leaves to look at above you: pinks and

whites in the former and yellows and reds in the latter.

Your name was etched into the stone just the way it was before: Amy Tailor. The dates below

were all too familiar. The first was one of balloons and parties and presents and the second was of

tears and hearses and things gone too soon.

April 15th, 1992 — March 3rd, 2016.

“Amy Tailor,” I whispered as I knelt down and placed a hand on the flowers by your stone.

The rain continued, just as hard as before, but the thick oak leaf-ridden branch above our heads kept

me drier than the skies above had, but the occasional drop managed to sneak through and land atop

of me.

Amy Tailor.

Also known as Amy. My Amy. My one and only.


Mona and Amy.


Mon ami.

Mon amour.

I glanced at my left hand, and sure enough, the ring she had picked for me was still there, on

its rightful place on the ring finger. And I knew the one I picked for you was on yours, too. Because

I had checked to make sure before they closed your casket.

“If only we made it four more months, Amy. Then we’d be married,” I whispered, choking

up. “Together for eternity.”

I was crying now, but I only knew so after the fact, as the rain distracted me from myself.

And I was grateful for the rain because maybe like this Amy wouldn't know I was sad. She wouldn't

know I was crying. She’d think the water above her was just the rain. The symptoms and side effects

of the booming thunder, and not the aches and pains of my broken heart. But at the same time, I

wanted her to know. I wanted her to know how much I missed her, and how she’d never be

forgotten. And I sat there with her, kneeling on the muddy dirt for hours.

And when the skies grew dark and dusk came, I had to pry myself away from you, because I

could stay with you forever, but you needed your rest. I stood up slowly, looked at the sky, then

stretched my arms toward the stars.

I used to think there was nothing for me in this world but that was before I met you. And

after I met you, I used to think that maybe there was some beauty in this world, and something

worth living for, a different something for everyone. In my case it was a someone.

And my someone was gone.

And I used to think we’d grow old together, but I’ve aged ten years a day since you’ve been

gone. But you’ll stay twenty-three, pretty and perfect in my heart and mind forever.

And when I’m wrinkled and old and sitting on a rocking chair with the cats we’ve always

wanted sitting at my feet I won’t be sitting beside anyone else but the memory of you, and you’ll be

your bright-eyed pretty pastel young adult self, outshining me in life and in death. And I don’t mind

at all.

And I used to think you were the one for me.

But I don’t anymore.

I look down at your headstone one more time, then kneel on the rain-soaked ground next to

your name, and place a hand there, lit up by the rising moon.

“Now, I don’t think,” I whispered.

“I know.”

Short Fiction


The wind was blowing hard, trees were hitting against the glass of my window and, my mother burst into the house with a hard gust of air behind her. " Jai, I'm sorry you have to go through this, but this was outta my hands" the look on my mother's face as the words spilled out of her mouth onto my skin like a burning liquid was tragic. I was only 12 and he was gone, would I ever hear his voice again or feel his warm hugs. These thoughts ran through my mind as a sharp pain ran through my chest. He's gone, was all I could say. Change is different, difficult and weird, you never hear change described as good, needed or nice. Most of all change is new. 

The lost of a family member is hard especially a parent. In my case I didn't lose my father to death, I lost him to my mother's prettiness and his own proud spirit. Several motivating factors helped me overcome this separation. Starting with the friends I encountered, The coaching, and athletes of my track team and a person who I never really noticed. 

New house, new school, new teachers, new rules. Everything slowly changed and I didn't know what to do. Everyone said I should embrace the new life. My father was gone and my mother worked all the time but, I did what I do best, I ran. I ran from my old friends, I ran from my new teachers, I ran from my mom and I ran from the friends I could have made. The running came to a stop when one bold Girl became the biggest obstacle in my way. She was taller than me, she weighed more than me but she was younger. She was so outgoing and kind. She was Keyana, and she ran me over like I was the road under her. It wasn't on purpose, it wasn't an act 

of bullying, we were just two girls who ran everywhere and needed to be stopped. She became my first friend, we laughed about our meeting and it was over from there. I stopped running, we walked everywhere. I was never the type to just go out and hang out with people but Keyana got me out of my shell. She distracted me from my father. I didn't check my phone awaiting his calls or even text. I checked my phone looking plans from her and funny jokes. We went to the movies, skating rink, mall, out to eat, parties and many more places together. My world slowly became brighter. This lasted for a while, it lasted all the way up to my first track meet. 

On your mark. Get set. As the gun went off I couldn't help but look up and realized he wasn't there, and he would never be there again. It wasn't the same at this point I realized how it could never be the same. He was the main reason I started track he was the only reason I wanted to continue. He was my support system and without him how could I go on. The lack of confidence in myself and my running grew from there. Yet it did not get far because shortly after my first meet, my coach lets me in on a little secret. " It doesn't really matter who's faster or whos stronger it's who wants it more." He told me that if I only ran track for my father I would not have signed up or tried at practice. He helped me realize that it was much more than my father's support that keeps me running it was my love for the sport. My coach became my new support systems and my teammates picked me up when I started to slow down. My teammates were always there for me whether it was with borrowing a clothing item or encouraging me to finish the workout when they saw me lacking off. That season became my greatest with three school records broken and two personal records. Life went on, and not only did it go on it went on better than before. I have more friends, I was involved in a lot of schools activities and in a few months I would be graduating high school. 

She was always there and never really there all at the same time, my sister helped me the most. Even though Keyana has been with me through every failed relationship, failed test and bad track meet, and she stood by my side for every A, medal, an award I received and I never thought I'll meet anyone who cared about me as much as she did. After losing my dad, my family was the last people I would go to for help. I didn't really believe that family would always be there for you anymore. My dad was gone and my mom worked more than ever now. My little sister and I never really got along. We fought all the time and when we weren't fighting we never really talked. She was two grades below me so we never saw each other in school. And because she had a different dad she went to his house for the weekends. This all changed when she started High school. We had lunch together every day and our friend groups started to merge. We hung out every day and did almost everything together. She became the only person in the world that made me vulnerable. Keyana was still my best friend but my sister was something different. Her success and achievements were personal, her happiness meant the world to me. I don't really know at what point my hatred for her switched over but I'm glad it did. My sister's and I's relationship was the final factor that helped me overcome the loss of my father because she showed me how to love again. 

The sun was blinding, the wind was giving of the just right breeze and my name was up. The whole day I've been stress even though everyone says " Jai, this should be the Happiest day of your life so far." As my name was called I got out of my seat and walked the path I've practiced for the past three days. All eyes were on me I looked out and I saw everyone who helped me so much to get here. My sister was smiling with her phone out taking pictures, probably zoomed in on the pimple on my face. Keyana had an emergency so she called me before and I could just picture her standing right beside my family and as I scanned the rest of 

the crown I saw my coaches and members of my track team all with smiles on their face cheering. I could have dropped out of school, I could have cried every day wondering why my dad wasn't here, I could have lost all hope and faith in myself, but because of those smiling faces watching me cross the stage at graduation, I changed. I changed for the better and greater and I wouldn't have done it without them.

Personal / Creative Essay

Autumn SolaceAutumn Solace


I am FromI am From

I am from a mottled past

where the grit of Kensington and Hanoi 

met the saltiness of Pawtucket.

Where decades of pride punched holes in family histories,

and where pieces would be put back together, 

but never fit completely.

I am from the soft rhythm of a rocking chair,

and the whispers of my sisters.

I am from a hard shell that sustained me,

a side-eye that steered me,

a fear of failure that fueled me.

I am from a change of plans 

and a tall dose of happenstance.

Twenty fingers and twenty toes that graced me,

a January and July who taught me where I truly am from. 

Poetry / Spoken Word

Looking BackLooking Back


History's Last RequestHistory's Last Request

When I look into the mirror 

I catch a glimpse of my father: 

his family’s hands wrapped around a bottle, 

bloodlines tangled around my neck, 

suffocating me under the generations of addiction. 

The type that has poisoned our family tree for years. 

The type that turns bark black and makes leaves fall. 

Every day, it climbs closer to my branches, 

and I wonder if my cousin searches 

for something in her veins. 

Maybe she thinks she can find 

herself if she escapes far enough into her arm, 

Or maybe what she thinks what she's injecting 

will erase an entire history of hurt. 

Does she know that she fulfills a prophecy? 

That she admits defeat to a curse cast 

on our entire lineage, 

one that destined us into thinking 

the cure is dark magic. 

A pill or a syringe that handcrafts you wings to take flight. 

Wings with feathers that will melt once you fly too high 

To some, it is called inevitable. 

To others, its name is heritage. 

To me, it is the warnings of my mother, 

reminding me that I am a time bomb. 

It is the flowered curtains that I keep closed, 

but it is also the chimes of broken glass 

meeting the floor when I shatter the mirror. 

If I reach far enough, past its jagged reflection of me, 

I hit something more than struggle and suffering and sorrow 

I pull out something consisting of culture 

And clarity 

Behind the mirror, I find a prettier day 

One where I can embrace my father's shadow 

As I age 

I will grow into my mother’s eyes 

And hopefully her smile. 

And when I give birth to you 

You may feel fear while waiting 

next in line to someone so damaged, 

but I want you to know 

that just because you come from the womb 

of a wounded woman 

does not mean you have to inherit her cracks. 

The only thing you need to break is the pattern, 

and every morning, when the day holds you as if you were its own 

when the sun strokes your face 

remember that flying too close will get you burned.

Poetry / Spoken Word


You never asked. 


We came two, 


lifted to the edge and over shoulder, secured and fastened 

but never coddled. 


Love left us when we left you. 


We sucking breathless 

smothered in a salted balm you’d hoped might soothe every bruise that came, too-- 


I know. She can’t be like this forever. 

Accidents only happen when they have the chance, 

but we had purpose you told us. 

Day’s dawn rides hurricanes and the truth is under that silver slip, 

but boys don’t wear skirts, you told us… 

You told us love’s thick thinned out in all those tears. 


Love tears thin when it runs over all those years. 

I know now he can’t, 

not all holes fall down, you don’t need to close your eyes to see the light. 


Night only stays forever if you let her … 


We never asked to be alone. 

He only wanted to die alone.

Poetry / Spoken Word

Where Am I Going? Where Have I Been?Where Am I Going? Where Have I Been?

I have been, forced to marry - still a child, seen as property, sold for wealth 

I have been, stuck in a kitchen, curlers in my hair and crinoline under my polka dotted skirt, cleaning all day and cooking all night, working hard and yet still judged as incompetent 

I have been, replacing men in their jobs when they went off to fight, only to have the shreds of discrimination abolished - to be replaced again as soon as the bombs stopped going off 

I have been, with flowers threading my hair and my thoughts, tie-dyed clothes with labels of sincerity, love, and equality 

I have been, harassed in the workplace and in the classroom, forced to change my appearance or change my clothes thus inevitably taking energy and time away from my education, my career, and my future to benefit the learning of those opposite me 

I have been, marching among hundreds in protest, our footprints imprinting hope and humility into the paved, cracking, fuming streets 

I have seen, the true happiness in advocates for equality rising more and more frequently 

I can now see the reverse. 

As long as we have existed there has been struggle, there has been hate 

Under every new leader there are new things we must embrace as a nation. 

But the spread of 

Hate, Injustice, Discrimination, Sexism, Harassment, Intolerance, Violence 

Those should not be principles endorsed 

After so many years 

Of fighting for the opposite 

We stand 

Underneath the stars, Underneath a glittering congenial reality 

With open arms and open mouths 

Wondering where our voices have gone 

Were they ever even there? 

Were they ever even heard?

Poetry / Spoken Word


Painting / Illustration

Ooooo Aaaah OooohOoooo Aaaah Ooooh


Delta DuskDelta Dusk


To Be ContinuedTo Be Continued

There is cake so it must be my birthday, 

A painless time. 

Film cameras flashing, people smiling, 

Gifts piling 


Up, and away! 

There goes my kite 

In the air, swaying in sight. 

But now 

I am in the field running around chasing cows instead. 

Juvenescence explains why I am so easily distracted, 



Willing to explore. 

Good thing I am not a bad kid, 

However, that is just an opinion. 

Flashing forward to opening the present; 

The gift is an obstacle. 

Stalled in the field 

Chasing cows is no longer productive 

Because I have to be responsible, 


Quick horror story: 

Establishing a new priority. 

Do this 

Take care of that 

Get it done. 

Often it feels as though the more I try, the less likely I am to succeed 

But quitting is not an option. 

What was once a kite dancing in the sky 

Is now a deadline 

Only seconds away from landing. 

Decisions, decisions 

Must be made but there is a time limit. 

Multiple visions, 

Different goals, 

I do not want to prohibit 

Myself from creativity, 

Or become restricted to just one path. 

How do I settle for simplicity 

Without losing my authenticity? 

How can I help the world when I need assistance too? 

There are so many things I want to do— 

Times up! 

The expectation to have it figured out on the spot 

Has caught up. 

How about a rain check? 

Even if I meet the deadline and shake its hand 

There is no guarantee as to what comes next. 

So what now? 

Maybe I’ll go back to running around the field chasing my cows. 

Reminiscing on painless times.

Poetry / Spoken Word

The Edge Of The WorldThe Edge Of The World

I know the Earth is flat 

because I have been 

to its edge, 

and I’ve almost fallen off. 

I stood on the cliff 

that borders our world, 

gazing at the vast expanse 

of where I’ve walked 

to get there. 

I see mountains of regret 

and oceans of mistakes. 

I see fields of chances 

and cities packed with 

broken dreams. 


All I want to do 

is take another 





into the sky, 

but I don’t. 


I am a believer 

that all things come 

f u l l c i r c le 

so when I feel the empty air 

beneath my feet, 

I freeze in fear. 

I try to drag myself back 

across the landscapes 

I’ve traversed, 

but my legs will only take me 

f o r w a r d. 


And when I finally 

take that step, 

I do not fall. 

I find myself back 

on solid ground, 

the flipside 

of the Earth. 

I find myself with new 

mountains, seas, 

and chances. 


I do not know where 

I am going, 

only that I am meant 

to be there, 

and this path brings 

better things. 


I know that the world 

isn’t round 

because I have been to 

its edge, 

and I survived. 


I have been to its edge, 

and now I’m thriving 

beyond it.

Poetry / Spoken Word

Anywhere St.Anywhere St.


My StoryMy Story

I am five years old. On my bed, there is a pile of thin Barbie dolls, wearing slim-fitting pink dresses with sparkling bows and sharp heels. Their eyelids are painted blue, their blonde hair is whipped back into messy braids, their frail hands are glued to their hips. I am coloring a picture of Barbie as a mermaid, surrounded by teal coral and roughly-sketched fishes. I want to be as pretty as her. 

I am eight years old. On my bed, there is a stack of paperback books, pages brimming with magic and fairytales, where the damsel in distress is saved by her prince. I am dreaming of my own fairytale ending, where I am the princess, diamonds clipped around my neck, ball gown sweeping the floor. When I fall asleep, it is to Cinderella music. I wish to be rescued from the boredom of life. 

I am eleven years old. On my bed, there is a laptop. I play games where I am the hero of the tale. I navigate worlds with glaciers and deserts, exchange ripped jeans for skater skirts as I please, solve puzzles and hunt for clues, and decide which paths I take. My life has no boundaries in adventure games. I hope that one day, reality will be as exciting as this. 

I am fourteen years old. On my bed, there is a phone. Behind its screen, I have access to everything I could ever want. There are videos of crafts I’ll never make, pictures of outfits I’ll never wear, and articles about places I’ll never visit. The world is so big, and I can watch it unfold from the comfort of my room. I wonder why I feel so empty. 

I am now seventeen years old. On my bed, there is a journal, and every line is filled. I write stories about the heartbreaks of small-town lovers, poetry about the days when there were one too many tears, and most of all, I tell my own narrative. I pen down the places I know I will 

visit, journal about the adventures I find in each moment, and illustrate the treasures I find. I know I am strong. I am beautiful. I won’t be a damsel-in-distress-turned-princess because I’m already the queen of my own fairytale. 

I have been through days when I could barely rise from bed and nights where I breathed life back into my friends for hours. I have seen the coldest winters, but I have also experienced the sun. I have battled the lowest points of my self-esteem and mental health, but I was the one that slayed those days with a sword. I no longer wish to be a Barbie because I wish to be more. In my life, I will heal others. I will continue to tell stories. And I will never stop. 

On my shelf, there are more journals. I fill them with not only my dreams but also my goals. I may not be able to turn the clock and change where I’ve been, but I’m clutching the wheel to navigate the sea that I have yet to sail. I cannot control the winds, but I control how I handle them. The days of fiction are over because I decide where the story takes me next.

Short Fiction

The Other SideThe Other Side


It Was Taken Out ThereIt Was Taken Out There



Painting / Illustration

The Answer in Your EyesThe Answer in Your Eyes

In your eyes I see the stars

The fires that made them glow

Now they stare upon me 

With a love that only we can know. 


We met so long ago, it seems

Eons before time

Our hands were meant to touch

All part of God’s design.


Remember those fond years

When we would laugh like fools

We’d raise hell together

Breaking all their rules.


Some part of you is in me

Some part of me is in you

As I leave this world

I know our love is true.


Somewhere out in space

There is a home for us

Out there in the emptiness

We’ll end as all things must.


But even after we meet death

And join those particles in the sky

To all of life’s eternal questions

You are my reply.

Poetry / Spoken Word

On The Domestication Of Coffee (Coffee Arabica)On The Domestication Of Coffee (Coffee Arabica)


The Coffea genus comprises approximately 100 species all of which are native to the tropical forests of Africa, Madagascar and islands of the Indian Ocean. In Africa, Coffea arabica found its home in Ethiopia in the northeastern region, the birthplace of Coffea canaphora is in the Congo in the south, Coffea liberica’s homeland is in Liberia in the west, and in neighboring Sierra Leone Coffea stenophylla can be found.1 However, only a few of those species including C. arabica are economically important. Eighty percent of the world coffee production comes from C. arabica, due to the greater cup quality, low bitterness and good flavor. Being geographically isolated from the rest of the Coffea species and naturally restricted to two isolated mountain forests on the western and eastern sides of the Great Rift Valley, C. arabica is the only naturally occurring species of Coffea in Ethiopia and occurs in the undergrowth of the montane rainforest at altitudes between 1,400 and 1,900 meters above sea level.2 Incidentally, highest densities of the plant were recorded between 1,300 and 1,600 meters above sea level suggesting that that is the optimum altitude of wild coffee. 

Flowers of the species are typical of the genus Coffea: short corolla tube, long style with exerted stamens.3 It is one of the only species in the genus Coffea that is tetraploid and is able to self-fertilize, a single plant being able to produce fertile seed from its own pollen.4 All other known taxa of Coffea are diploid and outcrossing. Facultative autogamy and the capacity to produce homozygous recessive mutations are well established attributes of Arabica coffee. Evergreen, coriaceous dripping leaves of Arabica coffee associate it with the rainforest, however, the adaptability of the Arabica coffee plant to full sun in some areas where it is cultivated is one of the more remarkable adaptive aspects of this basically heliophobic plant.5 These traits, along with their advantageous degree of compliance to their environment, alluring to us yet arising out of Coffea’s fight for survival and expansion, allow for high yielding clones to be readily propagated nearly true to seed. 

Furthermore, the first use of coffee and history of domestication of Coffea arabica is not very clear except the most commonly recalled legend of a goat-herd named Kaldi, who around 850 A.D. noticed his goats cavorting excitedly after chewing berries and branch-tips of coffee 

bushes. Likewise, he also tasted and enjoyed their stimulating effect.6 This account coincides with the commonly held belief that coffee cultivation began in Ethiopia around the 9th century. At present, however, most authorities agree that Arabica coffee originated from trees in Ethiopia. Early reports show that the roasted and powered coffee were an important travel diet after mixing with butter and fat for the Oromos, one of the ethnic groups in Ethiopia, during long safaris since ancient times.7 Conversely, Arabica coffee has a long and treacherous history of cultivation and subsequent domestication occurring across the Red Sea in Yemen. 

Results and Discussion 

The botanical evidence 

Botanical explorations in Ethiopia began with James Bruce, fearless Scottish traveler and naturalist, the first and only European to collect botanical specimens in Ethiopia in the 18th century. Throughout his travels between 1768 and 1773 in northern Ethiopia around Lake Tana where he sought to discover the source of the Nile River, Bruce mentions the coffee plant but no herbarium specimens are known to exist.8 Nonetheless, Richard Quartio-Dillon and Antonia Petit collected seemingly the first herbarium specimens of Arabica coffee from cultivated plant growing in northern Ethiopia in the 1830s.9 From these collections, the first full description of the plant was published by Achille Richard in his Tentamen Flora Abyssinicae. As early as 1848, Richard considered Arabica coffee as spontaneously occurring in forests in Ennarya and Kaffa and introduced elsewhere in Ethiopia.10 

In 1961, Frederik G. Meyer traveled to Ethiopia to collect and study the undocumented coffee plant which his previous colleagues found growing spontaneously in the verdant, evergreen, montane rainforests of the southwestern part of that country. After investigating the early history of botanical exploration in Ethiopia, Meyer concluded that documentation of wild C. arabica has long eluded botanists due to the geographic and political history of Ethiopia.11 Meyer’s expedition centered around his interest in southwestern Ethiopia, mainly in Illubabor and Kaffa, where the plant is abundant. 

Throughout the Kaffa province, Meyer noted that in Jimma at an altitude of 1,600 meters, Arabica coffee plants were widely cultivated in gallery forest. In Ghembo, Arabica coffee plant is both cultivated and spontaneous at an altitude of about 1,555 meters. In Bonga, Meyer specifically noted that old plants with trunks of diameters between 3 to 5 inches and 20 feet tall were abundant around an altitude of 1,555-1,628 meters.12 In Omech, there was a rarity of the plant most likely due to the altitude of the location at 1,828 meters.13 Along the road in both Jimma and Ghembi (at altitudes of 1,646 and 1,634 meters respectively), Meyer identified Arabica coffee plants growing in the shaded gallery forest. 

In Illubabor, Meyer journeyed to Teppi, a village in the heart of the rainforest belt of southwestern Ethiopia and unmarked on any known map. Here rainfall reaches 70 inches and is fairly distributed throughout the year, although concentrated principally from June to October. In this area, Arabica is grown around most homes, extremely verdant and often larger in size, but the main coffee harvest if derived from spontaneous plants in the rainforest.14 

In Walkitte, Meyer found many who cultivated Arabica coffee for themselves. The distinctive characteristic of one of the landraces was its nearly spherical fruit, aptly giving the plant its name – C. arabica ‘Arore’. With high productivity when grown in full sun, the fruit had a much darker red pericarp than in other cultivated plants. Additionally, averaging 16 mm long by 11 mm wide, Meyer made sure to note that nothing found in the wild approached ‘Arore’ in size or shape.15 Similarly, the farmer who grew C. arabica ‘Chercher’ told Meyer that he collected his seeds from the Chercher Mountains of eastern Ethiopia. This landrace was grown relatively longer and narrower than wild coffee found in the district at 16 mm long by 11 mm wide.16 

Meyer made the first serious attempt to document C. arabica from rainforest in Ethiopia. From his data, it can be seen that the Arabica coffee plant is abundantly spontaneous between 3000 and 6000 feet altitude in Kaffa and Illubabor provinces. However, Meyer states that the coffee plant cannot be considered a refined plant in this area. Suggesting to the reader that domestication has not yet occurred, but the presence of observed differences in landraces and peoples of the area actively choosing fruits for their benefit allows for the speculation of later domestication of the plant. Continuing, Meyer noted that genetic variability in coffee plants in rainforest districts in Ethiopia is much greater than other parts of the world where it is cultivated.17 With Meyer’s adventurous discoveries, he strengthened the belief of Ethiopia as the modern center of dispersal of C. arabica while providing the implication that Yemen was the major germplasm center for the further domestication of the plant. 

The difference between wild and domesticated coffee 

Additionally, Meyer quoted Mr. Hugh Rouk of the Agricultural and Technical School at Jimma and Dr. Edgar Anderson, who noted two loose complexes existing among semi-domesticated coffee plants growing in the Bada Buna forest: one plant was studied with large, fattish, deep red, small scarred, sharply tapering berries while another had small, roundish, orange-red, large scarred, gently tapering berries.18 Suggesting through this study that there is more variation between coffee bushes than in C. arabica cultivated now. 

While coffee was traditionally grown in the shady rainforest understory, many coffee plantations can now grow coffee under sunnier conditions in order to produce faster, higher yields.19 Therefore, shade was abandoned as a regular cultural practice in several coffee growing regions. Additionally, with a natural temperature range being between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius, 

Arabica coffee plantations have installed management conditions increasing the growth temperatures to as high as 25 degrees Celsius.20 

Earlier Arabica coffee plantations were established at fewer than 2,000 trees ha-1, however, the compact plant stature and disease resistance of some modern coffee cultivars have allowed closer spacing, resulting in almost complete ground coverage and better uptake of available soil nutrients by denser rooting.21 Through selecting for the more erect coffee bushes over time, Coffea has evolved into an erect tree with a higher degree of compliance to increased temperatures favoring a sunny location to produce maximum quantity. 

The geographical and historical evidence 

Such as with many other plants, the aborigines of Africa used various parts of the coffee plant for food which they gathered from the naturally occurring stands of coffee scattered scarcely throughout southern Ethiopia.22 The short period of availability of fresh coffee pulp containing the stimulating caffeine has led many botanists to believe the ripe fruits were first chewed. Over time, chewing the fruits gave way to the use of coffee in solid mixtures with other items. Between 523 and 525 A.D., the Ethiopians are reported to have used coffee in the form of bars as a ration in the crusade of King Kaleb when his forces went to punish the ruler of Yemen who was persecuting Christians.23 The early introduction of Arabica coffee plants into Yemen may have been part of an exchange of people and plant products between the Arabian peninsula and Ethiopia sometime after 575 A.D. James Bruce, in a memoir of his travels through northern Ethiopia, described a concoction of ground, roasted coffee beans mixed into a ball with oil and fat, which was carried as food into the desert.24 

Before the end of the 15th century, there is no recorded evidence of humans trading in coffee as there are with other long consumed foods such as tea. Trade was scarce among the archipelago of peoples that inhabited Ethiopia, where transport was very difficult, dangerous, and slow, and market relations were mainly done by barter for countless years.25 Early Arab invasions are a significant part of Ethiopian history and could have been an implication for the spread of Coffea seeds through the travels of warriors. It may have been that the Oromo had simply carried coffee cherries with them to eat, spitting out the beans as they traveled throughout their lands, and from these fertile seeds coffee trees found their way to the other regions.26 

Furthermore, one of the world’s most popular type of coffee is called “Arabica” because it is believed to first be domesticated for trade in Arabia Felix, today known as Yemen. Yemen’s location at the intersection of the earliest civilizations (Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, Persia, and India) and on the route of the China-Rome trade make it a perfect area for the beginnings of the domestication of Arabica coffee.27 Two legends are passed down in this region. Attributing the discovery of coffee to Yemenite Sufi mystic Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili 

traveling through Ethiopia, it is preserved in Yemen but has a definite parallel to the tale of the goatherd Kaldi from Ethiopia while accrediting still the origin of Coffea to be from Ethiopia. During a tiresome journey of spiritual matters, it is said the al-Shadhili encountered a flock of energetic birds that had been eating the fruit of the bunn plant – which is known elsewhere as the coffee plant – and feeling weary himself, he decided to try these berries, unearthing the wonder that they emitted an enthusiastic response from him also.28 

With a monastery built in Mocha in his honor, the second tale of discovery of coffee claims its pioneer as Sheik Abou'l Hasan Schadheli's disciple, Sheikh Omar, who was living as a recluse in Mocha, Yemen.29 Sheikh Omar, a doctor-priest and a follower of Sheik Abou'l Hasan Schadheli was exiled to a desert cave close to the mountain of Ousab. According to the myth, this exile was for some sort of moral transgression. With Omar’s master on his deathbed, he practiced medicine on the princess for a disease of unknown ailment and origin. After curing her, he decided to "keep" her and was then exiled by the king as punishment. On the verge of starvation, Omar found the red berries of the coffee plant and was immediately invigorated. His exile was lifted when others brought the word of Omar’s excitatory ingredient back to Mocha and he was ordered to return home with the berries he had discovered. Upon return, he shared coffee beans with others, who found that it 'cured' many ailments. It was not long before they hailed coffee as a miracle drug and Omar as a saint.30 

Although the origins of coffee are unclear, it appears that Yemen had been the only supplier of cultivatable coffee to the world, and the Netherlands the first European country to acquire the first planting material in 1690.31 With a fortuitous combination of appropriate climate, human adaption, location, and timing, Arabians enjoyed a lucrative world monopoly between the 1400s when cultivation is believed to have started, until the 1700s when Europeans began successfully propagating coffee amongst their colonies. 32,33 The minimal initial demand for coffee enabled Yemen to dominate its trade. Because it was not a known crop in its beginnings, Arabians had to create a taste, thus a market for coffee, and they guarded their success jealously.34 The raw beans were not allowed out of Africa without first being steeped in boiling water or heated to destroy their germinating power. The man acclaimed for spreading coffee to India was an Indian pilgrim and triumphant Muslim saint by the name of Baba Budan.35 In 1600 A.D., he is said to have smuggled seven coffee seeds capable of germinating from a highly protected plantation in Yemen by strapping them to his stomach.36 Once out of Yemen, the coffee plant spread rapidly to other parts of the world. From Yemen, the Arabica coffee plant was taken to Java, India, and Ceylon between the late 17th century and early 18th centuries. This raises the implication that the spread of Arabica coffee around the world was based on a very limited number of trees. 

From there, Arabica coffee plants was shipped from Malabar more successfully to Java in Indonesia in 1696, as well as to Sumatra and Timor. The first reports of Java coffee arriving in Amsterdam came in 1706 and would become the first commercially grown beans in Europe. Sent to the Amsterdam Botanical Garden from Java, these seeds and seedlings were distributed to the major botanical gardens in Europe and South America.37 

Moreover, once they established their role as distributors in the now international trade of coffee, the Dutch started to give away their wealth. In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France.38 In the New world, the coffee industry is said to have been established from a single plant of C. arabica introduced with difficulty to Martinique from the Jardin des Plantes in Paris as a legacy of King Louis XIV.39 Captivatingly, in 1723, a young naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu is reported to have obtained a seedling stealthily and skillfully from the King's plant, which allegedly lived on to parent almost 20,000 Arabica coffee trees.40 

The French were the second European power to enter into colonial coffee production when C. arabica seeds were introduced to the island of Reunion, situated off the east coast of Madagascar, in 1715.41The French East India Company governed the island and its merchant capitalism from 1708 to 1758. Throughout Europe’s Industrial Revolution along with the rise of bourgeois society, there was an inexplicable link between overseas slavery, coffee production, and plantations. 

Subsequently, European colonial powers brought the powerhouse coffee production system first developed in the East to the Americas. The first literary reference to coffee being served as a beverage in North America is from 1668 and, soon after, coffee houses were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other towns.42 Interestingly, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was planned in a coffee house, the Green Dragon.43 

All in all, the mysterious and legend laden history of Arabica coffee demonstrates the southwestern Ethiopian highlands as a center of proliferation and possibly also of origin of C. arabica. Due to the available evidence, it is proven that Arabica coffee originated within the confines of the Kaffa-Illubabor province in the Ethopian highlands, where the vitalizing plant was taken first to Yemen, was cultivated and monopolized, then made its notorious journey to the rest of the world. 

The linguistic evidence While an African origin for the word coffee is acknowledged, the Arabian etymology is more frequently accepted. One possible origin of the name is the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant was thought to begin undergoing cultivation. The word ‘coffee’ was created via Turkish kahve, the Turkish pronunciation Arabic qahwa, a truncation of qahhwat al-

bun or wine of the bean.44 On the other hand, the Arabica coffee plant was believed to have been cultivated in terraces in Yemen for many centuries before it was known outside the country. As the plant became recognized in Europe, at the end of the 17th century, Arabica was thought to be a native of Yemen. Thus Linnaeus, father of modern plant taxonomy, coined the name Arabica for a plant that he believed was native of Arabia Felix, a political division of the southern Arabian peninsula consisting of Yemen, Hadramaut, Oman, and the Hasa tract.45 In actuality the plant was only grown in Yemen, however, the Ethiopian phase was unknown to him. 

The genetic evidence 

In a 2001 study by Anthony F. et al., molecular markers were used to assess polymorphism between and within genetic bases of Arabica coffee. 26 accessions – 4 of the Typica genetic base, 5 of the Bourbon genetic base, 2 commercial cultivar hybrids of Typica and Bourbon, 4 cultivars growing in Yemen and 11 subspontaneous specimens collected from Africa, the primary center of diversity of the species – were included in the study in order to define their relationship to one another.46 Two separate genetic bases spread from Yemen and were classified as two distinct botanical varieties: Typica and Bourbon.47 Coinciding with historical data, it can be seen that the Typica genetic base originated from a single individual from Yemen which travelled to Indonesia that was subsequently cultivated in the Amsterdam botanical gardens in the early 18th century, which attributes to the low polymorphism recognized in this genetic base. 

Polymorphism among the subspontaneously collected material from Yemen was much higher than among the cultivated accessions. Conversely, genetic diversity, expressed by the number of markers detected and polymorphism, was weaker in the cultivated accessions than in spontaneous accessions.48 Thus, one can conclude that polymorphism was reduced during the cycles of selection, which are due to the overall similarity of genetic structures, favored by the predominant autogamy of the species. The higher polymorphism in the Bourbon genetic base indicates that it was constituted from the descendants of several individuals.49 This result confirms the historical data in which multiple seeds of C. arabica were introduced from Yemen to Reunion Island (formerly Bourbon Island) by the French between 1715. 

The Yemen cultivars presented multiple genetic markers similar to the Typica- and Bourbon-derived accessions, though they were classified unambiguously with the Typica-derived accessions by the AFLP markers.50 Accordingly, this result supports historical data on the diffusion of the Typica genetic base from Yemen to Java then subsequently to Amsterdam. The presence of a microsatellite allele common to the Bourbon-derived accessions can be interpreted as a result of a common origin of the Typica and Bourbon genetic bases – from the same pool of Ethiopian coffee introduced to Yemen.51 Conclusively, Yemen appears to be the 

first center of dispersion for cultivatable coffee outside of Ethiopia and one of its primary centers of domestication. 

Recommended future lines of research 

There is a great urgency for intensifying studies of the still existent wild coffee populations, especially in those geographic areas where such populations are most threatened by extinction. Cultivated Arabica coffee is under threat because of a low-level of genetic diversity within the crop cultivars, leaving plantations vulnerable to pests, diseases and climate change.52 Either by conservation of the natural forest habitats or by establishing living collections preservation are methods which should be stressed and secured. In this respect, a center of high diversity for C. arabica is the highlands of south-western Ethiopia so these regions may require special attention in the conservation of the species. However, environmental problems are compounded for both wild populations and crops because coffee seeds cannot yet be stored successfully for multitudes of years in conventional seed banks due to the low temperature and low moisture environments the seeds are subjected to.53 

Works cited 

"Coffea arabica L." Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed April 14, 2017. 

Charrier, André, and Julien Berthaud. "Botanical Classification of Coffee." Coffee (1985): 13-47. 


Damatta, Fábio M., Cláudio P. Ronchi, Moacyr Maestri, and Raimundo S. Barros. 

"Ecophysiology of coffee growth and production." Brazilian Journal of Plant 

Physiology 19, no. 4 (2007). doi:10.1590/s1677-04202007000400014. 

D'Costa, Krystal. "A Trail of Coffee Beans." Anthropology in Practice. July 28, 2010. Accessed 

February 02, 2017. 


F., Anthony, Combes M., Astorga C., Bertrand B., Graziosi G., and Lashermes P. "The origin of 

cultivated Coffea arabica L. varieties revealed by AFLP and SSR markers." TAG 

Theoretical and Applied Genetics 104, no. 5 (2002): 894-900. Accessed February 01, 

2017. doi:10.1007/s00122-001-0798-8. 

Geletu, Kassahun Tesfaye. "Genetic diversity of wild Coffea arabica populations in Ethiopia as 

a contribution to conservation and use planning." Ecology and Development Series 44 

(2006): 1-147. 

Goodwin, Lindsey. "The Origin of Coffee: Ethiopia and Yemen." The Spruce. February 26, 

2017. Accessed April 13, 2017. 

Larson, Samantha. "How to Find a Friendly Cup of Coffee: Nitty-gritty." Stanford Magazine. 

Accessed April 14, 2017. 

Meyer, Frederick G. "Notes on wild coffea arabica from southwestern ethiopia, with some 

historical considerations." Economic Botany 19, no. 2 (1965): 136-51. 


Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon grounds: the history of coffee and how it transformed our world. 

New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999. 

Tadese, Mesfin. "Ethnobotany in Ethiopia." In Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, 

Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, edited by Helaine Selin, 835-37. 

Springer Science & Business Media, 2008. Accessed April 12, 2017. 

Teketay, Demel . "History, botany, and ecological requirements of coffee." Walia 20 (1999): 28- 

50. Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

Topick, Steven. "The Making of a Global Commodity | Part 1: Out of Arabia." The Specialty 

Coffee Chronicle. October 4, 2013. Accessed April 13, 2017. 

Wild, Antony. Coffee: a dark history. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.

Critical / Analytical Essay

Underneath Our SolesUnderneath Our Soles

Metal bird wings wiggle 

Through the nebulas

Turbulence on my mind 

Breezed over the pacific sea 

My eyes at ease 

The stale cold kissed 

My cheeks double 

South America’s warm welcome 

For an exchange student 

From the United States


Los cerros de Chile 

Those Chilean hills 

Steep in attitude,

Buses run angrily

While stray dogs 

Protect the curves

Where Pablo Neruda walked


In Valparaiso, colored homes 

Toppled by gleam hues 

The nervous ocean roars 

The Atacama Desert struggles 

To speak in my presence

Healing is still a process


Metal bird shook

Over the Andes mountains’ 

Sharp decline

Our hearts fall too 

Like the others have

Heading to Argentina

The good air of the port 

Evaporated in October


A mother’s fight 

To protect memory 

Circles La Casa Rosa

Where is Maldonado,

Where is my child,

Where are my rights, 

Still continue 



Metal bird wings sway

To the North region of Arica 

Smuggling a day in Peru

Their sentiments differ 

For Pisco is Peruvian

Not Chilean in soul,

For the cession of land in

The War of the Pacific

Are told to tourists 


Metal bird’s last stop 

On the Island of Hispaniola

Los ladrones stole again

Dominican plantains

Smashed into mangú

On their plates 


Water streams sporadically

Light returns for the hour 

El Presidente is shared 

Among neighbors at night

Celebrating my departure 


Across the continent

The ocean tilts forward

Spanish tongues mingle

Dialects of migrations

Underneath their soles

Our pathways will cross again. 

Poetry / Spoken Word

Micula Bridge in Tacna, PeruMicula Bridge in Tacna, Peru


Fresh MeatFresh Meat

Freshman year was a trial run 

I’ll do better next semester 

This is only mile one 

I've grown a lot 

Learn, love and loss 

I learned how to love even though I've lost 

I hit rock bottom and turned back to the cross 

I've been sinnin’ 

Stained my white linen 

Ripped out my own wings and I’m fallin’ fast 

A splash of Amsterdam spilt down my chest 

Get close enough you’ll see purple lips 

The result of marijuana changing my flesh 

Hands that have touched 

Lips that have sucked 

Lustful moments I can’t erase 

The worst part was I wasn’t sorry 

Wallowing in Your safety net called grace 

I took the L 

You tested me 

And I failed 

I was supposed to be your Job 

But now it’s Lucifer’s story being told 

Yet somehow I've been made anew 

Reminded me that I’m to mirror You 

I’m ready now 

Sophomore year; round two 

Trial’s over 

Time to pay my due

Poetry / Spoken Word


Guilt binds give and take

between the hillsides of want and enough,

drawing scar-ways and night-signs

from tomorrow to peace.

Noose just one word and watch

darkness shout light beyond the stars.

Snowfalls and keyhole brightness

suffer the candle thrust into the fold

of a mind too tired to wait-out

Summer’s locksmith damp.


Hear me when I say that more

winds lie hushed beneath

the warm mist of pages

pinned between hand and shoulder.

Taste the sky wake blue.

Thunder the day’s first step.

Poetry / Spoken Word

Close CallClose Call


Deathless Hunger The Wendigo in America Pop CultureDeathless Hunger The Wendigo in America Pop Culture

“It is called Atcen…Djenu…Outiko…Vindiko. It has a dozen names in a dozen lands, and it is older than the hills. It feeds, and the more it feeds, the hungrier it becomes. It starves even as it gorges. It is the hunger that cannot be satisfied.” 

Thus Rick Yancey, a best-selling author of horror and fantasy novels, introduces us to the mysterious and terrifying monster that wreaks havoc in his novel The Curse of the Wendigo. The “Wendigo,” as it is most commonly referred to, is a figure that plays an important and complex role in the traditional belief systems of a number of Algonquian-speaking peoples throughout North America, including the Cree, Ojibway, and Naskapi Innu, among many others. Although it is now known primarily for its anthropophagic proclivities, this dynamic mythological figure also has positive attributes and played an important religious, philosophical, and social role in the indigenous communities in which it was conceived. 

Since being introduced to the horror fiction genre by Algernon Blackwood in 1910, the Wendigo has made a number of appearances in American entertainment. The examples span a wide variety of media, from Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary to the popular web-based video game World of Warcraft. Variations appear in a number of movies, television shows, and even Marvel comic books. 

My goal is to explore how – and why – the Wendigo has been incorporated into so many products of the American horror and fantasy genres and furthermore, why is it often in such a way that the more dynamic aspects of the figure and the important and complex role that it had to 

the people and communities in which it was conceived are all but entirely eliminated, reducing it to little more than a zombie-like monster fueled by pure evil and an insatiable, taboo hunger. 

So, what is a “Wendigo?” On its most basic level, the Wendigo is part of the Manitou family of supernatural spirits found in the mythologies of Algonquian-speaking tribes. It is believed to be an evil Manitou, a dark and malignant spirit, the opposite of all that represents good and balance in the world. Many Algonquian-speaking tribes have a Wendigo figure within their belief system, including the Cree, Micmac, Naskapi Innu, Ojibway, Chippewa, and Seneca, among many others. While it is primarily associated with northern tribes, figures bearing a striking resemblance to the Wendigo can be found in the mythologies of tribes as far south as the Lakota, Iroquois, and Navajo. The etymology of the word itself gives us a good idea of what this figure represents. In his book The Manitous, Ojibway scholar Basil Johnston posits that the entity’s name is derived from the phrase ween dagoh, which – roughly translated – means “solely for oneself.” (Johnston 22) 

In terms of form, the Wendigo is a shapeshifter, in both its mythological representation and in how it is represented in folklore, movies, literature, etc. It is sometimes depicted as an ice giant, or even an ice storm, and it may have the face of a corpse or a wolf. It may be tall as the treetops or taller than the mountains. Johnston’s description of the Wendigo’s appearance is perhaps the most commonly encountered. “A giant in height only…” he describes it, “gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bone. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody from its constant chewing with jagged teeth.” (Johnston 221) In many Cree stories, on the other hand, the Wendigo has no face, no body, no physical presence at 

all, but the Cree people can recognize the presence of this malevolent spirit by the death and destruction that it brings with it. 

The Wendigo is, to some degree, an ineffable entity – indescribable by its very nature. It has as many faces as it has names, but at its core, it always symbolizes imbalance and ravenous, insatiable greed. There are two types of Wendigo: the monster (such as the ice giant described above), and the Wendigo that is – or once was – human. This latter type is arguably the most frightening, as it is infinitely more insidious. The concept of human susceptibility to being transformed into a Wendigo is a major aspect of the myth, and one of the most terrifying things about it. There are three ways that a human might be turned into a Wendigo: first, one may be bitten by a Wendigo. Secondly, one may be transformed into a Wendigo by consuming the flesh of another human being, usually having been driven to this desperate act by extreme circumstances. Finally, one might be purposefully transformed into a Wendigo by a shaman or accidentally through dreams or vision quests. 

Western attitudes and interpretations have approached the Wendigo from many different angles, but they almost always seek to discredit or diminish the numinous aspects of the legend through rationalization. Some have hypothesized that the controversial psychiatric condition known as “Wendigo Psychosis” could be attributed in some cases to the presence of lead in canned rations that the travelers who most frequently succumbed to the condition consumed on their journeys through the wilderness. Some prefer to think of it as a type of “bush fever,” and Cathcart, the Scottish physician in Blackwood’s story, rationalizes that “the Wendigo is simply the Call of the Wild personified, which some natures hear to their own destruction.” For centuries – even as recently as 2008 – the Canadian government has tried (and in some historical cases, executed) self-proclaimed “Wendigo Hunters” for murdering individuals whom the 

accused thought were “going Wendigo.” Influential Christian missionaries vehemently denounced belief in the Wendigo among native populations as a form of devil worship. In the preface to his book, Johnston recalls teachers at the public school that he attended during his youth telling him that his culture’s belief in Wendigoes and other manitous was “superstitious, pagan, and childish.” (Johnston xi) 

In Western pop culture, on the other hand, the Wendigo is more frequently reduced to a stock monster in the pantheon of supernatural entities that fantasy and horror writers prevail upon to frighten their audiences, and only in the most generous cases is it represented as a metaphor for the infinite manifestations of human greed. 

The Wendigo was introduced to the horror fiction genre with Blackwood’s story, which was published in 1910, but English-speaking writers had mentioned it far earlier – even Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the Wendigo in his book “The Wilderness Hunter,” which was published in 1893. Although Blackwood’s representation demonstrates an admirable degree of cultural sensitivity and respect, it has since been transformed in ways that egregiously strip the Wendigo figure of nearly all of its complexity. 

In the years since Blackwood’s story was first published, the Wendigo has found increasing popularity among horror and fantasy writers. A young reader in the 1980’s might have encountered an abbreviated and heavily simplified version of Blackwood’s The Wendigo in Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in the form of a short story entitled “Burning Feet.” Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and Rick Yancey’s The Curse of the Wendigo both incorporate the figure, and it appears in the films Ravenous and Wendigo. It has also made its way into television, video games, and even Marvel comics, in which it fights such popular characters as the Hulk or Wolverine (Hibbard 49). The Wendigo appears in the popular TV show 

Supernatural as a recurring monster for the Winchester brothers to contend with, offering viewers a refreshing and intriguingly exotic respite from vampires and zombies. This is inarguably one source of the Wendigo’s allure for authors and screenwriters: although it offers the tantalizing mystique of being associated with ancient Native American lore, it is relatively fresh material, particularly in comparison to the zombies of The Walking Dead or the glittery, brooding vampires of the Twilight series. Factor into this the association of the Wendigo with cannibalism – society’s greatest and arguably most fascinating taboo – and one can appreciate how such a character would be irresistible fodder for storytellers. It also offers the psychological thriller angle as well, since the fear of Wendigoes is twofold: there is the fear of being eaten by a Wendigo, and the fear of becoming one. The shapeshifting Wendigo is also adaptable to suit a wide variety of storytelling purposes, from morality tales to metaphors, to your average, run-of-the-mill monster story. 

Yet when one considers the implications of incorporating this sacred figure of indigenous belief systems into mainstream Western entertainment, the question of whether this is morally permissible naturally arises. Larry Fessenden, writer and director of the film Wendigo, encountered significant backlash over his decision to use the Wendigo as the basis for a modern-day horror movie that revolves around a dysfunctional white family. Fessenden countered detractors by asking “Is it an insult for a white man to be inspired by native mythologies? Is that a form of usurpation? Or is it a form of respect to be moved by another culture’s Gods and Monsters?” (Introduction 26). 

Fessenden asks a legitimate and thought-provoking question, and in seeking to answer it, one needs only to observe with a critical eye the ways in which the Wendigo has been represented in the products of Western pop culture such as those mentioned above. Do such 

representations impart the worth and relevance of Native people’s ideas and values, or do they simply seek to capitalize on the unique attributes of the Wendigo that make it such an appealing monster for authors and screenwriters? 

The Wendigo in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is considerably nuanced and shrouded in mystique, and it serves as a powerful metaphor for a type of greed that many of us could identify with – the reluctance to let go of a loved one taken too soon. However, he also deploys the jaded trope of a mystical Indian burial ground as the site of most of the story’s climactic action, and Native Americans are only represented in brief allusions to the Micmac tribe and their legends, which are considerably corrupted. Rick Yancey’s novel is an odd and disquieting amalgam of research about Wendigo murders, borrowings from Blackwood’s The Wendigo, and Yancey’s own fictional constructs, which coalesce into a chaotic and obscenely gory tale of murder and mayhem. Like King’s novel, Yancey’s is more or less devoid of Native characters, and his representation of the Wendigo conveys very little of the nuance and complexity that this spiritual entity has to offer. 

Ravenous, a 1999 black-comedy/horror film written by Ted Griffin and directed by Antonia Bird, takes place at a remote military outpost in the Sierra Nevada mountain range during the Mexican-American War. Both the hero and antagonist of the story are white men, as are most of the main characters, but there are three Native Americans who are integral to the plot. The film is in many ways a scathing, sardonic condemnation of Manifest Destiny, and this is often represented through heavy use of irony and metaphors. For instance, an Indian scout is the first victim of Colonel Ives, the story’s Wendigo, and the significance of this goes deeper than the ironic humor of the fact that the Indian scout was the one who first told Colonel Ives about the Wendigo. Specifically, he had told the tuberculosis-ridden Ives that eating the flesh of 

another person would not only cure him, but make him stronger than ever. “Consequently,” Ives reminisces, “I ate the scout first and he was absolutely right.” Beyond the obvious dark humor of this scene, Ives embodies a destructive trend of westward expansion: in seeking to nourish white settlers, the lives and livelihoods of Native peoples were sacrificed – consumed, in a sense. Later on, Ives talks about the “thousands of gold-hungry Americans” – whom he intends to eat – that will soon be passing through his camp, and connects them with the idea of Manifest Destiny. In this scene, the hunger for gold, the Wendigo’s hunger, and Manifest Destiny are inexorably connected – all of them are enriching, in a sense, but all of them come at great cost to others and will ultimate only feed a hunger that grows exponentially with every meal. “This country is seeking to be whole,” Ives observes, “Stretching out its arms, consuming all it can. We merely follow.” 

The film Wendigo, written and directed by Larry Fessenden, takes place in the Catskills, where an upper-middle class white family from New York City is vacationing. The major theme of the film is displacement, particularly that which occurs as a result of colonialism and capitalist consumerism. The film’s somewhat brazen critique of these central tenets of American culture and history render it one of the more interesting Wendigo stories conceived by non-indigenous people; however, it still contributes to the erasure of Native Americans in representing them only with the brief appearance of a Native elder in a convenience store – a man that only Miles, the family’s young son, can see or communicate with. As in Ravenous, this Native American character serves the purpose of introducing the concept of the Wendigo, in this case by describing it to Miles, who has demonstrated an interest in Native American history and culture. 

Of course, these observations only address a small representative sample of products of the Western entertainment industry that incorporate the Wendigo. But even this brief glimpse 

illustrates the many shortcomings of such representations. More often than not, and to varying degrees, the Wendigo is reduced to just another type of cannibal, and stripped of the important role that it played in fostering a sense of living for the greater good and as a warning against selfishness and greed. Even when the Wendigo figure is used in Western entertainment as part of a social commentary, the metaphor is often shrouded beneath a somewhat opaque veneer of humor or horror. 

On some level, the Wendigo story in all of its forms might be likened to Frankenstein, for just as Shelley’s novel serves as a cautionary tale about the dangerous hubris of science, Wendigo stories warn us of the insatiable nature of human greed in its infinitely wide array of manifestations. The Wendigo should not be infantilized or trivialized into a boogeyman, nor dismissed as something belonging to the past. In The Manitous, Johnston vigorously asserts that the Wendigo is very much alive, with an appetite unprecedented in its rapaciousness. The Wendigo’s greatest crime, after all, is that it forgets – it forgets societal ties and obligations, it forgets the environment that produced and sustains it. As Johnston writes, “The Weendigo has no other object in life but to satisfy this lust and hunger, expending all its energy on this one purpose. As long as its lust and hunger are satisfied, nothing else matters – not compassion, sorrow, reason, or judgement.” (Johnston 224) It forgets everything in an endless pursuit to satiate a hunger that is, by its very nature, insatiable. How can we say that the Wendigo is a thing of the past or a mere figment of primitive imaginations when we are sending our own people overseas to fight, and die, and kill indiscriminately so that we can pollute the very environment that sustains us at a faster, more economical rate? Pristine forests that once seemed limitless in their expanse have been decimated, and continue to be destroyed with ever increasing efficiency. The deathless hunger that the immortal Wendigo represents has never been more relevant or 

more sickeningly ironic than it is today, when we are using our military to forcibly suppress the peaceful protests of Native American tribes trying to protect their sacred land – land that rightfully belongs to them – so that we can wring every dime of oil that we can out of it with no regard for the long-term effects of such an operation, even if it poisons the very water that our families drink. We forget the sanctity of our environment, forget the people from whom it was taken, and forget the future generations that will be forced to live – or die – under the ramifications of such unchecked destruction. 

In describing the Wendigo, Johnston wrote “What lips it had were tattered and bloody from constant chewing with jagged teeth.” (Johnston 221) Is this image of obsessive, self-mutilating mastication not chillingly reminiscent of the masticators used in large-scare logging operations, ripping and rending primordial trees from their roots, gutting lush forests and leaving desolate, barren wasteland in place of beauty and abundance? Perhaps the greatest crime lies not so much looking into the numinous world of an ancient culture through the appropriated lens of a subjugated indigenous people in the interest of entertainment, but in summarily dismissing it and the people who conceived it as part of the past, amusing but of little relevance or importance today. 

“The Wendigo is hungry, always hungry,” the Elder tells Miles, “And the more it eats the bigger it gets. And the bigger it gets, the hungrier it gets…The Wendigo will consume you with its ferocious appetite. And its hunger is never satisfied. And we are hopeless in the face of it. We are devoured.” 

Works Cited 

Bird, Antonia, Director. Ravenous. Heyday Films, 1999. 

Blackwood, Algernon. The Wendigo. Lexington, KY, CreateSpace, 1910, 2016. 

Fessenden, Larry, Director. Wendigo. Magnolia Pictures, 2001. 

Fessenden, Larry. "An Introduction to the Reader: On Myth, Psychosis, Culture and Omens." Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader, edited by Larry Fessenden, Peninsula, OH, Fiddleblack, 2015, pp. 23-27. 

Hibbard, Chris. "The Many Faces of the Wendigo: An Examination." Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader, edited by Larry Fessenden, Peninsula, OH, Fiddleblack, 2015, pp. 45-53. 

Johnston, Basil. The Manitous: The Supernatural World of the Ojibway. New York, Harper Perennial, 1996, pp. 221-37. 

King, Stephen. Pet Sematary. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1983. 

Meland, Carter. "Windigo Teaching: Cannibal Critiques in RAVENOUS and WENDIGO." Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader, edited by Larry Fessenden, Peninsula, OH, Fiddleblack, 2015, pp. 109-24.

Murphy, Bernice M. "Consumption, Chaos, & Family Values: 'The Shining' as Wendigo Narrative." Sudden Storm: A Wendigo Reader, edited by Larry Fessenden, Peninsula, OH, Fiddleblack, 2015, pp. 127-34. 

Yancey, Rick. The Curse of the Wendigo. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Critical / Analytical Essay

The NestThe Nest

A place of healing and introspection- the breeding ground of meditative thoughts, my apartment terrace overlooking a back ally of Orwigsburg whispers invitation to relax. It is connected to an old Victorian style building, with ornate detailing outfitting the structure. Resting at the second level of the building, this balcony holds a space in my heart reserved for tranquility and comfort. I regularly share this retreat with my beau Mitchell, he too believes in its healing powers. We refer to it as our nest, our home spot with a view of the outdoors. Roosted up on the balcony, nothing can harm me. I sit and contemplate. 

My mind floats off the balcony up into the clouds of imagination as the soft sound of earth-tone windchimes remind me to keep my feet on the ground. As I sit sipping on hot tea, the aesthetics match up perfectly with my sedative mood. My tea warms my torso and bathes my lips with sweet milky liquid, a rebirth of motherly love. Many colors have seen this porch: sunsets of pink and orange with ever changing clouds whisking the sky. Bright illuminations from a flash of lightening, omitting any darkness from the corners of the mustard colored walls for a few brief seconds. The large clear window adjacent to the door sits at hip level as a perfect ledge to hold my drying herbs. Occasionally during the warmer months, I hang bundles of fragrant plants from the rafters which waft the area with an earthy flower aroma. Late on weekend nights, the scent takes on a decadent aroma of garlic, oil and spice. The authentic Italian neighbors own an 

affluent café two doors down the block. I can sit from my perch and watch the dishwasher busily go about his work in the back kitchen. 

An overturned wicker basket serves as a table to hold cups of tea and a tobacco pipe. Occasionally there will be a petite notebook sharing the small space. A notebook filled with words of the minds voice, my poetry. Many poems call this porch their birthplace. It has allowed for me to clear my mind and produce many scribbles on paper. I can calm my mind to a slower rate of thinking. The quiet scene of the relatively private alley holds few to no distractions. Over the tops of the surrounding buildings I can see ancient mountains in the distance calling my mind to fantastic places. 

As my bum cheeks go numb from sitting in the cushion-less chair I notice the grubby dishwasher from next door taking out the rubbish from the café. That obtrusive blue metal hunk of a garbage bin always tends to harsh my view. The absence of wealth is prevalent in the furnishings. Maybe not absence of wealth, so much so as the absence of caring about it. For a far too long of a time, I sat with my back against the wall on a ratty old pillow and shower mat. Since then I have progressed to faded puke-green lawn chairs. 

The structure of the porch itself screams unsafety. Upon stepping out of the door, gravity pulls my balance forward on the sloped wooden paneling. If I were to lose my balance I would fall into a wooden grandfatherly railing. If I am not careful, I am sure to smash my head into the oversized light fixture that hangs directly at forehead level. It took me two weeks of goonies to learn to avoid it. The paint will drive any perfectionist crazy. Old rotting wood peeks through an ugly shade of greyish blue similar to mold on bread. Peeling and flaking off on nearly every surface, the time for renovation is in dire need. A large grey carpet covers the worst of the imperfections. I dread winter months of looking out to the barren trees and isolated alley, devoid 

of life’s symphony. The back alley remains quiet for the most part, excluding every Saturday morning when a herd of delivery trucks rumble their way in. As I sit burning my lips on my mug of tea I can hear the parade coming. They park their busses, still burning fuel and polluting my breath with exhaust fumes in the three lane too small street. There they stay for two hours, unloading their product into the basement of the café. The noise does not cease, interrupting my morning with a splitting headache. The pungent scent of burnt gasoline hovers in the alley long after they blunder away. 

Nowadays my nose is filled with the scent of cow manure and communal living. Being on campus has taught me to have great gratitude for quiet moments like the ones I have on my beloved balcony. The quiet seclusion of my terrace is lost here in dorm room life. Although my room has become my home away from home, despite its numerous imperfections, my love for that balcony remains. While writing this piece, I was taken back to that feeling of pure peacefulness. No matter where I am, I know I will have the memory of serenity with me.

Personal / Creative Essay

Path Through WinterPath Through Winter


Into the DistanceInto the Distance


Pat's DinnerPat's Dinner

The only words 

my father spoke 

to me of Vietnam 

were halfway through 

eggs and toast, 

his fork stopped, 

but his mouth said, 

if he were standing, 


in Long Binh Junction, 

he would know it 

by the smell. 

“Like something burning, 

constantly burning. 

Like incense and brush.” 

I wanted to turn into 

Diane Sawyer or 

Tom Brokaw 

and ask him the 

too hard questions: 

about helicopter rides 

with men with missing limbs, 

about discovering 

marijuana there, 

the volatile letters home, 

and the aftermath— 

years of affairs, 

blackouts at the 

bottom of the stairs, 

mom, lifting up her 

skirts to walk over him. 

And, of course, 

the big question 

that has yet to be asked, 

let alone answered. 

But his fork, 

and his face, 

told me 

not to.

Poetry / Spoken Word



Forward We GoForward We Go


The JungleThe Jungle


Hike of LifeHike of Life

Depression is a difficult illness to explain, especially if you’re like me and have been dealing with it for a long time. Because of its nature, depression is tricky, and even trickier to articulate. You can’t see depression right off the bat, and you can’t expect it to look the same every day or person to person. So try to imagine living with depression like this: 

Living with depression is like going hiking with a pretty hefty backpack on. You might not even think it’s heavy when you put it on and you might not notice it there. But when you start to feel the weight of it all, you think “ok, I can do this, so many people have done this before, so I can handle this challenge because I am strong”. As your hike continues, you come across a hill. Maybe it’s not so steep, and normally you could overcome it no problem, but man, with this backpack on, the top of the ridge looks miles away. Even when you reach the top you still feel awful because not only are you tired from the climb, but the weight on your back is still there pulling you back down. But you press on without a break because that’s what people do on hikes, and it’s expected of you. On your hike, you might come across fallen trees you have to crawl under, a river you must ford, or rocks and branches to climb. Sure, you used to be able to crawl under the tree - but now your backpack is stuck and you’re sure as heck stuck with it. Crossing the river is fine – until your backpack gets soggy and now it’s even heavier than before. Climbing is going well – until the backpack offsets your center of balance. Simple obstacles are now setting you back more and more, and you dread the more treacherous parts of the trail you know loom ahead. 

“Just take off your backpack!” a helpful friends might suggest. “Just let it go and keep moving!” You notice they don’t have a backpack and didn’t have one to start out with. You wish you could shrug off your pack and leave it behind, but at this point you’ve been through so much it feels like a part of who you are. “Try an easier path, try something you enjoy doing!” another friend suggests. The easier path is nice, but the pressure on your shoulders is ever present, and even after a scenic route you are still exhausted from carrying it around with you. Other people don’t ever notice your backpack, even when they become close friends on the journey. 

Some days it’s not so bad. The pack feels a little lighter and the path looks like something you can totally conquer today. You think to yourself “I’m getting over it! I’m strong enough for this, maybe it’ll just keep getting easier. I can do it!” And you do. Until one morning your pack is heavier than ever, and instead of thinking of how strong you’ve been, your thoughts turn sour; “I was foolish to think it wouldn’t be heavy. I should have seen it coming, after all, I still have the backpack in the first place. I might not be strong enough for this”. You’re never totally sure how heavy the pack is going to be, or for how long. But you keep hiking. 

Sometimes you meet other people with a pack like yours. Some might not want to talk about them, others do. Sometimes you meet someone who will help carry your backpack with you, even if they have a pack of their own, and you are grateful. Some people suggests ways to make the backpack lighter, and sometimes that works for you, 

sometimes it doesn’t. You try to help others with their packs, too. You keep moving forward. 

Hiking with this weight is exhausting. You can take breaks here and there, but the backpack is still heavy and the path is still so long ahead. You can pick up your pack and keep going, over and under all the obstacles that await you. You can take it one step at a time, and try to enjoy the view as you go. Above all though, you have proven your strength so far, so why not see what might lay over the horizon? And who knows, maybe you won’t have to carry your pack anymore one day. No matter how heavy the pack is on your back, all you can do is just keep moving forward. 

That's what depression is like, every day, for thousands of people. If you or a loved one feels the weight of depression, don't be afraid to seek help and guidance. Depression may be a heavy burden, but you don't have to carry it alone.

Short Fiction

Lucid NightmaresLucid Nightmares

Fear is dangerous. It makes you sweat, shake, and the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It keeps you awake at night, listening to the sounds of the horde shrieking and dragging their broken claws against the glass doors while you pray to a god that doesn’t exist. But most importantly, it immobilizes you, paralyzes your limbs so you can’t move. Fear can kill you. 

But, in the same way fear sparks rebellions against gods and demons, fear kindles questions. If you live with fear long enough, you begin to wonder how much worse it can get, what could happen. You wonder what you could do to make your life better, how you might escape your personal hell. 

These are questions that will get you killed. But man discovered many things because we asked questions. We learned how to topple empires, how to slay demons, and strike the fear of death in the immortals. History says as much, and though history is dead, I still cling to it like I am a child and it is my favorite doll. The subject I once hated is now my obsession. I sacrifice my rations for history books, my water supply for research papers. I reread the texts over and over again until I have almost memorized them. 

In another world, I used to procrastinate, take for granted my phone. I had no use for history, no desire to preserve the story of our evolution. But then, I did not need to win a war everyone has already decided we lost. 

"Three hours, Watcher," Annalise says, her hand held out expectantly. A steep price, over half of my remaining hours, and for a moment, I consider haggling for a better deal. I knew Annalise before the New World. She was a quiet girl with long black hair and a gentle smile. We used to sit next to each other at lunch, occasionally going over to each other’s houses. 

But this is not the Annalise from the Old World, just like I am not the Casey I once was. New World Annalise has dark eyes that cut through stone and uneven hair that ends around the edges of her jawline. Her clothes are stiff and practical, her hands spotted with callouses. She has become hard and cold. She will not grant me favors, and we are not friends. 

Wordlessly, I hand her the electronic dog tag I keep around my neck next to my cross. Annalise brings it to hers and touches them together. They flash green briefly and then fade. When she hands me back the dog tag, I have two hours of work remaining and my rations. 

Carefully, I tuck the tag inside my shirt and flash my knife at the people around me, warding off any wannabe muggers. They look away. Satisfied, I pocket the knife. Money is 

useless in the New World. Instead, we use dog tags to determine our worth to the community, which is decided by how many hours we log. Then, we spend the hours on necessities. It’s a simple system; it’s what’s keeping us all alive. But it’s also what’s killing us. There are only so many hours we can work, and prices are steep. Already, more than one person has lost their tag to muggers. 

I weave through the sea of teenagers, passing some Old World trophy cases that have been looted. This hallway used to be a high school cafeteria, the same high school all of us attended until one day, we woke up in various classrooms with dog tags, instructions on how to run our "community," and the doors locked. 

Of course, there was panic. People tried to break glass, pull fire alarms, and call for help. All of that was useless. No matter what we did, the glass didn’t break, all the electronics were dead—the lights didn’t even turn on, and no one drove by the school. In fact, there were no cars outside or across the street. And in the eight months we’ve been here, we still haven’t seen a car. 

We read the instructions when we calmed down enough to think straight. They were very detailed, assigning each member of our “community” with a job, like "farmer" or "doctor." I was assigned as a scientist. It is my job to learn how to engineer food, recycle water, make clothes, and other necessities with the limited resources we have. Of course, the directions did not mention who wrote them, why we are here, or what happened. They did not tell us how to escape, how to contact our families, or even what happened to them. Just that everything we did must be "for the good of the community." 

At first, we were evenly divided. Some of us were desperate for leadership, a system that worked, and instantly latched onto the instructions. Others of us fought, refusing to bow before the sickos who put us here. I was freaked out. But Old World Casey was already dying, and my survival instincts were emerging. I stayed neutral. 

The first night was the worst, no one could sleep, and more than one of us was crying. But the first morning was the most terrifying. Our school had never invested heavily in security, so when we woke up to cameras with red, blinking lights, we were terrified. Sometime, during that first night, someone or something had placed over three hundred working cameras in every room in the school, and no one had noticed. They were watching us. 

A group of students scoured the school with baseball bats and smashed every camera they found. We went to bed uneasily that night, most of us huddled in groups, and some of us 

suspecting other students. The next morning, the cameras were back up, and any student who had smashed a camera was gone, missing. They never came back. 

After that, we all played along. We did our jobs, followed the rules, and stayed away from trouble, the blinking cameras silent witnesses to our every move. Sometimes, someone would go what we called Mad Hatter. They’d snap and smash a camera or steal supplies. They’d be gone the next morning like clockwork, their belongings exactly as they’d left them. But they were successful in a way none of us were. They got out of this hell. 

My backpack strap digs into my shoulder, bulging with my notebooks and history texts, as I climb the stairs to the first floor. Then, I open the doors to the lobby and set up camp, pulling out old notebooks. I look up and nearly jump. Only habit keeps my face expressionless. 

A man dressed in a grey suit stands just outside the door. His skin is pale and his grey hair is slicked back. His eyes are hidden behind dark sunglasses. I call him Silver. And just as before, there are six men behind Silver, dressed in black suits and dark sunglasses. 

"Casey, have you been sleeping well?" Silver asks, concerned,"You look tired, sweetheart." 

My grip on my pencil tightens, and my hand itches to grab my knife. But I force myself to write his words on paper, and I don’t answer him like I did before. The first time I met Silver, Old World Casey was still alive. It had been three days since the Old World died, and I was desperate. So when a strange man with a stranger entourage began making promises to me, telling me he was going to get me out, save me, I broke down and begged him to help. It was only later I realized he knew things he shouldn’t. Things I hadn’t told him, like my name, my dreams, my favorite ice cream flavor. 

And it wasn’t just me he knew things about. I’d told the others, and they’d come to see Silver. They were creeped out by him and stayed away. I didn’t. George Washington didn’t win the Revolutionary War by force, he won through spies and information, something we desperately lack. 

The door opens behind me, and I startle. 

"Jason!" Silver exclaims."It's been forever!" 

"Shut the hell up," Jason snarls. 

The door shuts and a tall, lanky boy emerges. His hair is black, his eyes a deep brown, and he looks sixteen. I recognize this boy as another scientist, and also, Old World Casey's crush. 

She used to imagine their first date in Algebra 2, watching while Old World Jason fell asleep in class. 

But like me, Jason has changed. His eyes are no longer dreamy. Instead, they are sharp and focused like the hard planes of his face. Jason sits down next to me, and my stomach remains unaffected, the old butterflies dormant. Old World Casey is truly dead. 

Jason pulls out his notebook and begins to take notes as I have, and for the first time in a long time, I have a partner. Silver does not talk anymore. He just stands there, watching us with an understanding expression on his face. He does that a lot, like he thinks we'll trust him. 

Jason and I ignore him, our pencils scratching against our paper as the shadows grow long, our elbows occasionally bumping each other; Jason is left-handed. Then, five minutes before the sun sets, Silver and his cronies leave silently. So silently, that I nearly miss them go. Involuntarily, I shiver. If the devil had a human form, I’d imagine him as Silver. 

I glance over at Jason, wondering why he is here. He seems nervous. His gaze keeps flicking to his journal, to the glass door, and back again. Jason fiddles with his pencil and turns to me. He opens his mouth as if to say something, and then closes it. 

Though I am curious, I focus on my notes. I cannot have incomplete data, and this is not the first time Jason has been acting strangely. For the past two weeks, he has been on edge, arriving to meetings late and straying closer and closer to my observation post, like he is trying to work up the courage to do something. 

Old World Casey would have fantasized Jason confessing his undying love for her, but I am no longer so naive. New World Jason does not have time for such frivolities, and neither do I. If New World Jason is worried about something, it is not a crush. More likely than not, he knows something the rest of us do not. I had the others confront him, but he dodged their questions. He knows I suspect him of withholding information, and he is on edge. Watcher, as I am known, has a reputation for finding answers, and others will do what I tell them because they are afraid of me. My unspoken threat hangs heavy in the air between us as I wait him out. 

"Are you staying for the horde, Watcher?" Jason finally asks. 

I nod, switching out my journals. Jason leaves without another word, and I am not surprised. For months, I have been the only one to observe Silver and the horde. By coming here, he has only confirmed he knows something I do not. If Jason does not tell me what he knows, I'll have to confront him personally. 

In another world, I respected people's privacy. I did not pry, I did not watch them, and I did not catalogue their actions. But I have too much at stake. I need to see my family again, tell them I'm sorry for all the things I said. I cannot die here. So I keep an eye on everyone, their schedules, their hobbies, and their jobs. There are too many people for me to keep track of daily, but I know enough about them from my notes that I can spot unrest before it begins. Usually, I am even able to tell who will go Mad Hatter next. Their eyes always go blank, emotionless. I'd call it bored, but there isn’t even boredom in their eyes. They're just...empty. 

I used to try and stop them, save them, but they had gone mad. They did not stop and they did not listen. No matter what I said or did, they always snapped. Now, I wait for it to happen and analyze what they did and why. I try to see if there is a pattern, if the Mad Hatters mean something. So far I have not deduced much, but I cannot stop my research. It must mean something, there must be a reason why we are going insane, a product implanted in our set community. 

The others say it is depression, that the Mad Hatters have given up hope. But I cannot believe them, because I'm beginning to see the same dead look in everyone’s eyes. If something does not change soon, we will all be Mad Hatters, a community collapsed from hopelessness. I can’t allow that to happen. But even so, my research has yielded few results. I know it is only a matter of time before my eyes go dead, their spark extinguished. I don’t want to die over a few smashed cameras. If I am going to meet Death in this hell, I want it to be amid the flames I have set. I want to go out as an explosion, tearing down this twisted society with me. 

So I sit and wait for the horde, my notebook open and my pencil ready. But even after all these months of sleepless nights, I still have to force myself to stay and wait. I am the only one to observe, and I must carry on my experiments. The information I gain is valuable, and the other scientists and researchers depend on my data. 

My shaking hand closes around the gold cross at my neck. It is bent and smells like quarters, but I can’t bring myself to let go. Old World Casey went to church every Christmas and prayed for an A in Chemistry. I am no longer sure if God exists. The monsters are here, and I am abandoned. If there is a god, he has failed me. 

I am still clutching the cross as night falls, and the first howls of the horde echo into the night. I hear their claws gouging pavement, their huge paws striking the road, cracking it. I imagine Death astride her horse, leading a horde of nightmares with her terrible smile. 

Something slams against the glass doors of the lobby, rattling the frame. I jump; they are here. They look like dogs, if dogs were the size of small horses with foaming mouths and three rows of teeth. Others are afraid of the horde because they know we don’t stand a chance against them. The horde is the sole reason why we stick to the instructions. They are afraid if we break out, the horde will kill us like they are rumored to have killed our families. 

I agree with them, but I don’t want to die here. So I force myself to drop the cross and begin the experiment. Slowly, I walk from one side of the room to the other, and the horde follows, slamming against the glass next to me, rattling the building, rattling my bones. I am not afraid of the horde's physical strength. But I am terrified of their intelligence. It gleams in their red eyes, a predatory sense that seems to know more than I do. They follow me back and forth across the room, throwing themselves at the glass over and over again, baying at the scent of my coppery blood. Not for the first time, I wonder how the glass holds. 

Eventually, I sit down and take out my notes, struggling to keep my shaking hand steady. Something clicks behind me and I whirl around. At first, I see nothing, just the long hallways dark except for the red, blinking lights of the cameras and a lump on the door handle. Then I realize that the lump is a hand. There is a figure clothed entirely in black standing in the door way. I freeze and look up until I see his eyes. They are almost black in the darkness, but Old World Casey has dreamed about those eyes too often for me to forget them. 

"Jason?" I whisper and the figure nods. 

Silently, he slips inside the room and stands in the corner. It dawns on me then: Jason is waiting for the horde to notice him. He is testing their eyesight. For several long, painful moments, the horde continues to throw themselves toward me, ignoring Jason on the opposite side of the room. It’s only when he begins walking across the windows that the horde throws themselves at him. My pencil scratches furiously against paper as I scribble down my theories and observations, recording everything. 

Eventually, the sun rises, the horde leaves, and I pretend I am not still shaking. Jason pulls the ski mask off his face and meets my gaze. 

"Why?” I ask."Why now?" 

Jason glances over my shoulder, and I turn to see a camera, watching us. Jason pulls me closer to him, his grip on my arm tight. 

"I know something, Casey," he whispers. 

Casey. No one has called me Casey since the beginning days of the New World, since I first started observing the demons that haunt us. The name sounds like a half-forgotten lullaby to my ears, a memento from my childhood. I thought everyone had forgotten it. 

Jason's dark eyes bring me back to the present. They are desperate, and they flicker across my face like he is searching for something. The boy I used to love has unraveled a mystery and is trying to determine if I have done the same. 

"Not here," I whisper, gesturing to the camera."Meet me behind the bleachers." 

Jason nods and takes off. I watch his lanky form receding in the distance, and I hurry to gather my things. The hallways are silent and dark. The others are still sleeping. 

It takes me three minutes to reach the gym, and I head to the bleachers without hesitation. But when I duck behind them, I don’t see Jason. I glance around and trip over something soft. I catch myself and nearly scream at what I see. 

Jason is lying on the floor at my feet, facedown. 

"J-jason?" I ask, fear like icy knives against my skin. He doesn’t answer. 

Dreading what I might find, I bend down and hesitantly tap him. He doesn’t respond. Adrenaline seeps into my bloodstream, a crimson poison. I shake as I turn Jason over, and my hand flies to my mouth. I feel like someone has crushed my lungs, and I drop to my knees, quivering. 

Jason's dark eyes stare up at me, unseeing. There are no marks or bruises on him. He is just pale with a single trickle of blood drying at the corner of his mouth. He is still warm. Acid bile rises in my throat, and I lurch away, heaving. I am going to throw up. I want to throw up, erase the image of Jason's dead eyes staring at me. I heave, but nothing comes up. 

I need to get out of here, escape while I still can. But I need to examine Jason's body, see what killed him. The murderer probably left in a hurry when he saw me. If I am quick, I might even catch a glimpse of him. But what I need to do and what I can do are two very different things. I can’t bring myself to touch Jason again, and I can’t force myself to my feet. Instead, I tremble on the ground, icy terror washing through my veins while a tiny part of my brain is obsessing over how long it will take to erase Jason's death-gaze from my nightmares. 

I let the tears come, finally allowing Old World Casey to grieve. Now that Jason is dead, she will crack and shatter to pieces, and not even New World Casey will survive. All that will be left of me is Watcher. 

Slowly, I crawl forward until I am by Jason's side. I reach behind my neck and pull at my cross necklace. My fingers fumble with the clasp, and I break the chain. The cross falls from my neck, and I drop it over Jason's heart. I am burying a part of me with him. 

I sit back and reach for Jason's bag though I already know what I will find. The bag is empty, Jason's notebooks and texts gone. The killer had a purpose. I need to get out of here, now. Shaking, I rest a hand against the gym wall, willing my trembling legs to move. Something that sounds like muffled laughter echoes through the gym, a soft, mirthless lullaby. 

Slowly, I look up, and my heart freezes in my chest, terror crystallizing in my veins. Silver is behind the bleachers with me, standing in the shadows, smiling at me. But his smile is no longer understanding or concerned. Instead, it twists on his face like a viper, white and ruthless. Slowly, he reaches up and removes the dark sunglasses, smiling like he is showing me something I should already know. The hair on the back of my neck stands up when I see Silver's eyes. They don’t have whites or even pupils. Instead, they glow red, flashing slowly, mechanically, just like the camera lights. Something howls in the distance, and I hear claws crushing pavement outside, drawing closer. 

My breath comes in ragged gasps, each one like a knife to the chest. And I know. I know like I know the paralyzing terror of fear, which now comes to me unbidden. Stumbling back, I take one last glance at my friend's cold, dead eyes. Devoid of life and emotion, empty. Glancing up at Silver's menacing red eyes, I know with every fiber of my being I have failed. 

Jason is dead, and I am next.

Short Fiction

Where Are You Going?Where Are You Going?

Where are you going?
Daddy will be home in a little while.
Time to clean up your toys, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get my brother 
Get your stick and cleats.
Time for practice, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get my bag
Toto is scratching at the door.
Time to take her out, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get her leash
Graduation practice is about to start.
Time to get your gown on, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get my tassel
It’s raining cats and dogs out there.
Time to leave for your interview.

Where are you going?
To get my phone 
The ceremony starts in an hour.
Time for the photographer, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get the rings
If the water’s broken, it won’t be long.
Time to get the car, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get my keys
This child has more toys than he could ever play with.
Time to help blow out the candles, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get my camera 
I know there’s going to be a lot of traffic on a Friday
Time to leave for my doctor’s appointment.

Where are you going?
To get your cane
The pain is getting worse by the minute and my throat is dry.
Time for my meds, Ronny.

Where are you going?
To get some fresh water
Really, dear, I’m ready to see your father.
Time for me say goodbye, Ronny.

Where are you going?
Nowhere, Mom.

Poetry / Spoken Word

Silent OwlSilent Owl

The sun rays were peeking through cirrus clouds that looked like cotton candy being ripped apart between two best friends, who happened to fight over, who gets the bigger part of it, for themselves. I remember walking down a very steep hill, hearing the crunching sounds of the leaves underneath my boots. It was chilly, but I wasn’t complaining. I loved going down this path to the waterfall with my parents. It was our usual family, autumn tradition. And there was my favorite tree whose roots were knitted like thread stretching from one cliff to another one below. We always took pictures there. This time I was amazed, how silent it was, not an eagle or hawk soaring by. I happened to wish that we would be able to see some wildlife today. 

“I’m sorry but your daughter is deaf”. I am pretty sure these words were the most shocking words, a mother of a three-year-old can hear a nurse announcing at the doctor’s office. I wish I could imagine my mother’s reaction, what she was feeling, what went through her head. I am sure she had to sit down, and let it all sink through her, maybe she even had an emotional break down. Who knows? I was too young to even remember any of it. I don’t remember what it was like to hear during my first three years of my life. All I do know was what it felt like to not be able to hear. I remember not being able to hear my mom’s footsteps as she walked in on me, when I was playing in my room, always startling me. I remember not being able to hear half of the words she said to me, even though she was barely a foot away from my face. I remember being confused, trying to decipher the words that she mumbled right into my face. And I remember her talking with my dad, and them staring at me with worried looks. 

We walked through the steep hill, careful not to slip on the smoothly carved stones along our path. My father decided to take a path less traveled. My mother and I happened to lose track of him, in all of those gray trunks of trees and piles of brown, red, and yellow leaves. We decided to follow him, shouting his name along the way. A faint voice of “I am here” could be heard from a distance. He was bent down, sort of examining something below his feet. As he saw us approaching he began to run around like he was looking for something. He told us not to come near. We were stupefied. He came back with two sticks and happened to use them as chopsticks. Then I finally, was able to see what he was doing. He came upon some bird, lying face down. He used his “chopsticks” carefully trying to turn the bird around. After several tries we noticed it was a baby saw-whet owl. A cute lifeless baby owl. My dad was seriously having some fun as he tried to use the sticks to lift the owl and place it on a dry tree stump. The owl happened to be falling off, every time he happened to balance it with his chopsticks. We were dying laughing, and acted like immature kids. And then I felt sorry for it, and told my dad to leave it alone. We decided to walk away, returning back to our waterfall path. 

I was rather a good and quiet kid. I never got in trouble, always obeyed my parent’s commands. But I also remember being extremely exhausted by the end of the day. I had to focus on paying attention to the words twice as hard. Instead of relying on my hearing, I relied on 

body language cues, and used my eyes to figure out what the person was saying. I was also studying their facial expressions and movement of their lips as I tried to read the words being said. I remember the first day I was fitted with my hearing aids; how loud everything was to me that it was overwhelming. I remember, being amazed to hear the clock ticking, or how my mother’s voice sounded in reality. I remember, stepping outside and actually regretting I have hearing aids, as the world that I once knew to be silent- was screaming at me. I remember being paralyzed as the sound of the wind whistling. With so much going on, I wanted to yank my hearing aids out of my ears, and throw them out. I remember my mother’s concern and tears falling off my cheeks, as she explained to me that it will take a while for me to adjust to new sounds. I remember my mother taking me to see child psychologist, who was evaluating me how well I would be able to comprehend what is being said to me with some background noises. I remember having to answer questions with and without the psychologist’s mouth. They were trying to tell whether or not I would have to be home-schooled or mainstreamed. I remember playing with puzzles while my mother had to clap her hands. Without staring at the psychologist, being concentrated on my puzzled, I had to answer questions she was asking me. Upon careful examination, sever visits to audiologist and continuous hours in speech therapy, I was finally enrolled in a small private school. 

Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) are small owls that are native to North America. They tend to be 6.7-8.7 inches long with 16.5-22.2 inches wing span. They can weight from 1.9-5.3 oz. Scientists say they’re close to the size of an American robin. They tend to have small found face that is brown and cream or have white streaks, they also have a dark beak and yellow eyes. Saw-whet owl tend to have a tooting whistle sound screech. They also have very sophisticated hearing. Because of vertically asymmetrical ears, and different shape of the ear openings, they are able to precisely localize their prey. They are nocturnal animals. In Greek culture, owl is a symbol of knowledge and wealth. Some cultures associate owls as guardians and protecting one from evil. 

I remember my mom being anxious, yet happy that I would be starting school. I remember my parents decorating my room before I woke up. I was told to sleep, but I happened to be glancing what was going on, as my mother forgot that the bright light from the lamp, would wake me up immediately. I remember being “woken up” an hour later, my mother acting like she had no idea who decorated my room. She was so excited! She was literally bursting out of joy! I remember being very happy to be starting my first day of school. I remember, having a Donald Duck backpack and a sailor navy blue dress. I remember my mother dropping me off into a classroom full of chatting and anxious children. I also remember my mother whispering something into my new teacher’s ear. I was pretty sure it was about my hearing loss, nut I didn’t care. She was also telling all the other parents I can’t hear. I remember being terrified to know if I would be able to understand my new teacher. I remember every parent staring at me with curiosity, they probably felt sorry for me. I remember feeling like an owl. I had big round eye glasses and my eyes were wide open. I was trying to read off cues from the background noises or what was going on, while everyone was setting down in their tables. I remember my teacher walking in shortly and standing right across the table, in front of me speaking, loudly, clearly and slowly. The sudden screaming world was silent once again. I remember, everyone staring at my face. And I remember smiling, because the fear of not being able to understand my teacher was gone. I remember my mom shedding a couple tears, knowing that after all, I would be OK.

Personal / Creative Essay

Hope In FocusHope In Focus


Past and PresentPast and Present


Goodbye, ManhattanGoodbye, Manhattan



Everything sounds the same

Because it is

Difference failed to make an appearance

People try to blend

They call America the great melting pot

But really, I think high school is

and Reality is coming to meet me.


Everyone wants to be like someone else

They don’t like who they are

Each and every person

Blending and mixing, personalities smudged and eroded

to the point where no one is really themselves

But they lie and smile and pretend everything's okay

and Reality is coming to meet me.


They ignore their problems behind a mask of makeup and football helmets

"Smile wide,"they say,"Everything’s amazing."

Nothing is amazing or right

But I smile anyways, and it feels fake

I am a Cheshire Cat

I grin no matter what

Cuz nothing else matters but being popular

and Reality is coming to meet me. 


In a little while, no one will care who was prom queen

But it seems a million years away, like adulthood won’t ever come

We are powerful and vulnerable all at once

Child and adult

Our potential's at its peak

We can be anything and nothing

So they ignore the fact that their bosses won’t care about their hair

Or the boyfriend they have or who they kissed

Because that is all that matters now

and Reality is coming to meet me.


Confined by rules and adults who want us to be responsible

They want us to get a job, get good grades

Sometimes, I think we're adults already-society doesn’t give us time to adjust

Just throws us into the fray and laughs and says,"Good luck."

and Reality is coming to meet me.


Cuz we’re all just hoping for the best

Praying and working for our dreams to become tangible

While reality rushes up to meet us with its knife sharp statistics

Stabbing our hopes and imaginations and watching while

They bleed out into fear of failing, crushing some

But most, reality cripples

and Reality is coming to meet me. 


"It’s alright," they say,"I didn’t care about it much anyway."

While inside they break and shatter and scream in envy

As someone else steals their chance, their spot, their goal

I don’t want that to happen to me

Though statistics say it will

and Reality is coming to meet me.


"You just have to work hard," they say

But sometimes hard work isn’t enough

Sometimes you try and try and try

And work and practice until your fingers bleed

And your legs are shaking and you can’t breathe

and Reality is coming to meet me.


I don’t want my work to not be enough

I want my work to add up, to equate to something I can touch

I don’t want to become a statistic

So I work some more

and Reality is coming to meet me.


I study when I can

Finding little pockets to work

I practice soccer

Tennis balls, treadmills, crunches and leg lifts 

and Reality is coming to meet me.


I wonder when I stopped working because it was fun

Because I wanted to be the best

And when I started working because I am afraid to fail

and Reality is coming to meet me.


But it’s already here.

Poetry / Spoken Word