That Like (Not Love) Letter We've All Written
By Vanessa Sandoval
Uh, hey. I'd like to say first of all that I'm not good at letters, so don't expect too much.
—No, wait, I didn't mean that. Let me start over.
They say you are what you eat, so I eat Frosted Flakes for breakfast to be extra sporty. You probably eat angels. You have this angelic glow every time you walk down the hallway.
—That sounds like I'm accusing her of holy cannibalism. Scrap.
You have these, uh, awesome brown eyes that look like the deepest chocolate milk, only, unlike the milk in my fridge, your eyes don't have an expiration date... well, actually they do. That is, when you die.
—Wow. I never knew I was this morbid.
You are the cream to my cream puff; the spoon to my pudding; the doughnut to a fat kid.
—What the fuck am I writing?
—Yeah, what the fuck are you writing, man? Is that a love letter?
—In a diary?
—Really? Okay, whatever you say. But coach is going to make you do extra laps if he catches you.
—Shut up, Dan.
—From you? I'd rather noose myself. And my letter is going great.
—Says a guy drowning in a sea of crumpled papers.
—It is not a sea. Besides, I have a plan. All I have to do is practice a little more, get a little popular and be a little more noticeable.
—I can safely say that by the time you do that, she'll be graduated and a married woman.
—Fine! I admit it! I can't write a love letter, a letter to the Queen, a pen-pal letter, a school letter, or even a shitty Post-It note letter! The only thing I can write are shopping lists! HAPPY?
—You're losing your cool, man. You're losing your shit.
—Over this girl.
—So write that.
—Write her a list.
—Dude, she's not even my wife yet. I can't fucking write her a shopping list.
—Not a shopping list, dipshit! A list about stuff she does that you like, the way she looks, et cetera et cetera et fucking cetera. That. Girls eat that shit up.
—... I love you man.
—No homo, bro.
1. You're taller than me.
2. You're clever, witty and smart. (Which are all different.)
3. You smile a lot. You look like you actually enjoy high school.
4. You defend people. You care when no one else gives a fuck.
5. You have a sense of humour and you don't laugh when it's going to hurt someone.
6. You actually try. You give everything your all: all 110% of it.
7. You talk a lot, but you also listen plenty.
8. You can get mad, solemn, tired, excited and proud without hiding it. You can be human.
9.You're not pretty, not beautiful, not gorgeous. Enchanting suits you more.
10. You give everyone equal attention when they ask for it. So maybe you'll listen to me too.
By Laine Theocharides
Sometimes I like to wade through the sandboxes,
past the boundaries we ignored.
I like to go to the crease where two hills meet.
There’s a pipe that burrowed its way out.
We didn’t know what it did, but we liked to think
it lead to other worlds.
In the spring, water pooled into a knee-high swamp
from which thousands of mosquitoes sprang.
But we didn’t know that.
We just saw the line of four willow trees slurping it up
And deemed it acceptable.
Come summer, it dried up,
so we clung to the willow branches and ssssssssssswung,
and failed to keep our Sunday best from any lingering muck.
It rained and then it snowed. Our hidden wetlands froze over.
We cleared away the snow to find fossils of willow leaves trapped in ice.
We skated over top until the bog came back.
Sometimes I like to wade past the boundaries we never had,
past the playground, to the crease where two hills meet.
I try to see what I saw before.
Stuck in the back of my mind
By Emma Wright
The way she reached out and grabbed those words will always remind me of desperation. She clung to them with all her might, but in the end she knew it was better to let it go. All of it. I could picture the rain clouds in the top of her head, and it rained and rained up there. It rained until her head couldn't take it anymore, so her eyes leaked out the drops to stop her from drowning. Her eyebrows raised like a white flag. Her lips turned down, accompanying her pride. Her body went still and silent until all I could hear were her soft pillow breaths and her pogo stick heartbeat. Her hands cradled each other. For her, it was just another rainy day.
By MaCayla Nesbitt-Batten
We'll strangle their very dreams
Till they turn black with regret and fall
Silent with hate.
Till they sweat their sorrows
And gasp their grief.
By Emily Mai
Not until you do what I say.
Give me time.
We don't have any.
You'll crack eventually.
I'm already cracked, that's my point.
You're cracked in all the wrong places.
There are right ones?
Come with me and you'll see.
I'd really rather not.
Oh, why not?
It's too dark in there.
But the dark can be fun.
Not when you're cracked.
Then crack more.
You'll stop caring.
Nothing will ever hurt you again.
I don't want to hurt anymore.
Then come with me.
Come with you.
By Julia Pama
I plunge myself into the dreams
taking reality for the fake fronts of the dream world.
My fantasy is the world in which my body rests
with family, friends, and doctors
all huddled in a room looking over me.
My mind surfaces at a tear
shared between me and my mother
squeezing my unresponsive hand.
My conscious breaches into the world
but the pain returns and engulfs me.
I scream inside myself and retreat
retreat to the fake realities of the dream world
where no pain, emotional or not, can reach me.
Surrounded in images eternally cast by imagination
with the infinite beeping being the only link between real world and not.
By Jake Hobbs
I struck a chord in your tense heart,
And broke it.
You had just tuned it marvelously,
So I sat there in my deepest corner, and tried to shift the blame.
I am not here.
I think we should split up.
No solid reason,
No heated fight.
It boiled down to my selfish choices,
Against your sweetest smile.
I still felt nothing logical, not even self-loathing.
I am not one with myself.
All I ever wanted was for you to try.
Two hours later,
I found myself chasing that last glimpse of sunlight we would ever see together.
It was contemplation,
Followed by desperation.
I sunk in my seat, as my conscience left the room.
I am not at peace.
You’re hurting me more than you can imagine.
An Ode to the Recently Deceased, Mr. Fluffy
By Marie Benedek
I’m sleeping on a bed of coal... or perhaps I’m merely thinking on a bed of coal. Yes, that sounds about right. I’m thinking on a bed of coal, only my thinking is interrupted by this god awful screeching--
Actually, it was a wailing sound...or, maybe, more of a yowling. Yes, a yowling. A god-awful yowling, and I really have to wonder what my auntie was doing to that poor cat. Now, I should probably mention that I don’t actually own a cat, but that’s beside the point, anyways. Or is it? I suppose it doesn’t really matter if it’s beside the point or not—no, what matters is the fact that, when I go downstairs to investigate, dear old Mr. Fluffy’s head is separated from his body. If you hadn’t already guessed, Mr. Fluffy is our not-cat. He doesn’t actually have a name, to be honest, but Mr. Fluffy seemed to be a wonderful name for the headless corpse on my doorstep.
Speaking of headless corpses, I really despise having to deal with them. It’s a bother. Seriously. Especially when you have to bury them. It’s bad enough that when you have to deal with the bloodstains. Luckily enough, though, there’s a large executioner’s axe beside the cat, and it obviously makes sense that I should use it to dig a hole for Mr. Fluffy. So, I dig the deceased feline a nice, comfortable grave, and dump him in.
You would think that, with that, my problems would be over, correct?
You see, these men are trying to kill my dog. Don’t ask me why, or who they are, but they want to kill my sweet, fat, slightly stupid canine. So, of course, it’s up to me to protect him. And I do a fine job of it to, if I do say so myself. I manage to evade the three men—,
Sorry, it was two men, not three. I think. One doesn’t have time to count when one is running for their life.
Anyways, I escape to a mall and the blasted dog runs off, but I don’t actually care that much, really. I mean, I suppose I care a little. But not really. I’m more concerned about myself. Forget the dog—the men were after me now! Totally unfair. I spot a laundry mat in the mall, and head to that. No place is safer than a laundry mat. Seriously.
Except then the laundry mat is gone, and I’m in a sewer, and I must say that not only does it stink, but it is also horrendously unsanitary. The water is putrid, and dark, and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
Except the two-or-possibly-three men are back, and I have nowhere to go. Nowhere to run.
Except the water.
I dive in, and swim, and swim. I keep sinking, but I keep swimming, and as I do, far off in the distance, I hear a song so heartbreakingly beautiful that it must have been composed by heaven itself.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
What do we do? We swim, swim...
So, I just keep on swimming. Even when I sink, I keep on swimming, and swimming...
By Sarah Ruszala
This piece shares its title with a 1958 horror television series hosted by Boris Karloff.
“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin' or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin', an' he got nothing to tell him what's so an' what ain't so.
Maybe if he sees somethin', he don't know whether it's right or not. He can't turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too. He can't tell. He got nothing to measure by.”
John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
It has been three days in this room. I have not gone outside, not tried to find a way to climb out of this sealed room in the trees. I have only peeked through the small slits in the tin walls for a sign of animals or more unnatural beasts, something to tell me that the scenery I see is not simply an image hung in front of my eyes. It feels like nothing has moved in the last three days.
There’s some canned food up here, and a radio. I fiddled with it a bit on the first day but it only played static, like I knew it would, so I shut it off. It rained the first night. I cupped my hands under the leaks in the roof and drank before the water could escape through my fingers and then the floor. I didn’t worry about poisons or contaminants or any of the shit that was probably in that rainwater. I just drank it before it dripped away, feeling a lot like this little tin box in the trees that lets everything pass through it. Then I slept. I slept like I’d died.
My parents would always dress up very nicely whenever we would take the train. It always struck me as a little old-fashioned, but I guess it was important to them. I remember my father tying ribbons into my hair while I squirmed in my best dress. He would remind me to sit still and I would try my best for him, but something about the dress felt like a costume to me. Something about the dress made me feel like a liar.
When I woke up after the first night it took me a long time to open my eyes. With the sun filtering through the cracks in the walls I could almost pretend that the day was peaceful. I could almost make myself believe that I was simply spending a pleasant afternoon in my tree fort, but the heat and the boredom and the fear of the things on the ground kept me on edge just enough for it to stay make-believe. I stripped to my underclothes, not wanting to spend the rest of the day with drenched clothing. I somehow still found a way to feel self-conscious in solitude. There I sat for a long time, leaning back on my elbows and sweating bullets. Then I heard the shuffling and moaning of a groundling somewhere outside. I immediately checked all the openings to find it, finally spotting the creature stumbling around in some bushes about a hundred metres away. Before I could feel anything like chills, I realised that this was the first living thing I had seen since I got here. The first living thing I had seen since I got here, and it was a member of the fucking undead.
There's a ghost in her bed at night
By Kiera Sandrock
there is a ghost in her bed at night
he does not scare her
he does not make her skin cold
he loves her
and perhaps that is the scariest thing
that she thinks she needs a ghost to love her
sometimes she cries
and the ghost tries
to wipe her tears
with hands only halfway there
you heard crying one night
that followed you around the house
no matter where you went
so you went upstairs to her room
and listened outside the door
(but the crying stopped) (it had heard you)
it was not her who was crying
she thinks it was the ghost
and had you opened the door you would have found him
his black-ice teardrops vanishing into dust before they hit the floor
you would have found him (not seen him)
for finding the ghost in her bed was like searching a blackened room for your shadow
only a madman would search a dark room for a shadow
and yet you know it is there marking your steps
like a prisoner on death row
scratching his remaining days into the walls
of his cell
By Charlotte Cockburn
I like to turn up the music so loud that it feels like I'm being bounced back and forth in a room whose walls are made out of bass notes. Like my heart might just climb out oh my chest, walk over to someone, kick them in the shins until they lean down, and then my heart would whisper, "listen to this freaking song." All the while, I am standing there with an empty chest that is slowly being filled with A-minors and D-sharps, and then maybe my heart will head over to the gym and start doing some bench presses to prove once and for all that it is a muscle. But the only exercise it gets is when I a) try and go for a run (never works out) or b) turn up the volume and let it be the metronome, beating to a song that is sung along to more than it is actually sung. I wish I could sing in the shower but the water sounds too much like rain, and my heart is too busy thinking about the weather to get ready for a star performance sung into my bar of soap.
SHe Doesn't like avocados
By Katherine Ross
Read my vows darling my teddybear wrote them like he wrote my grocery list why have you lost my vows did she mistake it for our love letters she doesn't like avocados like I do maybe she's not yours anymore just like my vows
By Billie Kearns
It starts with the abstract voices
but looking into the face of unreality
a real realist, such as myself,
knows that the printing press
will beat these words onto the flipping pages.
And those pages will never stop flapping
under fingers and breezes,
the same ones that touch the skin of the ocean
when they feel like reminiscing
back to the days when they were less musty.
And when that stops
and said book has graduated
from the university of basement
and acquired eleven degrees in dust
the abstract will leave
Still parasailing streets
at fifty beats per decade
Dream of summer
By Sam Downs
Here we are, in this house of your imagination, of my imagination
there she is, she is, you are, I am not
visible, I am not present in your imagination (in my imagination).
Here we are, pounding our feet on the planks of the staircase
racing to the the alcoves in the attic,
racing to the drapery of summer sunlight.
I know it is not my place to intrude on this memory (of your imagination)
to peek from behind the translucent curtain at your squealing childselves
clamoring to a hiding place, hide-and-seeking from her
counting countenance, with her face hidden in her chubby hands.
But when I step out to leave, the painted floorboards recede
into the dark patio stones of a moonlight village square.
Snow builds in drifts until it leads to you
(and her, and her) packing it together in a fortress
around an old play structure of wood and ropes
(like that of my own personal childhood
if it had experienced upkeep in the last decade,
rather than demolition and plastic reconstruction).
She, and you and she nest your heads into your hoods
and lie down at the center of your structure.
She says: We will watch the moon reach its zenith,
and we will know we have entered the new year.
While your friends and strangers and children
begin to file into the square, begin to admire your handiwork.
I watch two young blonde brothers climb up rope ladders
push each other through snaking snow tunnels,
shouting: We are pirates! Kings! Pirate kings of the hill!
And I think, king of the hill was never allowed here.
I climb up into the crow’s nest and watch them,
as though my first observances guaranteed my guardianship.
But now there is another shift and I am in the old country manor again,
though now it is nestled in a picturesque suburbia
and a father figure hands me the house keys
and says: Me and Mary will be back in a few hours.
He exits into a green summer afternoon and I turn
to see the two blonde brothers behind me, waving goodbye
to their father. I say, Do you have any work to do?
The older nods and says, Only for science class.
And he sits at a kitchen table, rolls up a sleeve
and cuts his arm, in lines, with a razor,
letting his blood drip into vials and taking notes.
Tell me if you need anything, I say,
relieved that he is working quietly.
The younger brother is emotionally erratic,
I can feel his thoughts popping like electric bacon grease.
How am I supposed to entertain him?
He says, If he’s cutting, I should too.
And this seems like an inappropriate outburst.
I try and talk him down,
following instructions flowering on the walls in bright sans-serif fonts.
He curls like something wilted and I hold him;
He tells me this is only a foster home,
nobody hurts him here but he feels out of place.
I think: Like a cuckoo in a robin’s nest.
I think: I have met my inner child.
I think I can hear the crunch of tire on gravel
and the father has returned, my mother in tow.
It is time for me to leave. I get into our Corolla
while my mother leads me in the Volkswagen.
This suburb is picturesque, picturesque, picturesque.
White fences, even green lawns and
ladies with wide-brimmed sun hats chatting in the street.
I keep forgetting which pedal is gas and which brakes;
I am afraid I might hit a lady chatting in the street
especially since the streets are getting smaller and smaller.
But this is okay, since I am following my mother now on a bicycle
and the houses are becoming fewer and further between,
though the paths are more winding and cutting through hills.
I know this path, I have done this a thousand times before.
Here comes the lowest dipping valley,
on one side steep cliff-like hillfaces and the other a thin forest.
I become too aware as I descend the hill and lose balance,
driving into the forest, bumping harmlessly into a few trees.
As I back my bike out to where my mother has paused for me,
I comment that I am lucky not to have fallen.
I look down and the forest floor is a sheet of glass
with a lake underneath, mines glinting metres under the surface.
My mother says, The mines are to protect the treasure.
I say, I don’t want that treasure anyway.
I put my foot on the pedal and position myself to push off again,
homeward, when a swarm of bees flies past my head
each in file, not noticing me until the last,
as though it could hear my relief,
turns and zips straight back at my--
I wake up to an empty house.
By Emmie Nicholson
We are souls with bodies. And the problem is, my dear, that my soul is dead, making me the same. Of course, killing death is a laughable idea. So why walk around spiritually bankrupt when I could simply lay here in bed?
the art of the eye
By Shalini Nanayakkara
A large hole
At the hall’s end
Looking back at you like
You’re a mouse she’s trapped
In a box. But you approach closer;
Something’s shifting, colours moving;
The iris is disconnecting. Pixels, you think,
What an organized world. But you see the squares
Of sequin, quadrilaterals of magazine, cube faces of candy wrappers;
Something wilder is going on here – the voices of the sidewalks of all walks
Of life, here form an eye, looking back at you like you’re something interesting.
What a poor creature, staring into this hallway forever, hoping you will do a backflip.
By Rosa Addario
The worst part about the middle is that it's closer to the end than the beginning
When holding hands is actually a kiss of pain and slapping someone down is the same as building them up
That's what dreams are
And what they aren't
That's you messing with you
That what happens in the crack between dawn and dusk which is actually the nighttime but also the morning so is a space a crack and is a crack just a rip that wasn't supposed to happen ?
The night is a mistake and so is your mind that's why you make nightmares up there
Everything can be a mistake if you let it
And everyone does
By Emma Scruton
I remember when you stood there
your blank face contorted in anger.
Where is my hat Brian?”
The mechanical sheep attacked me and
the Russian Wal-Mart
instead of the German one.
I never got my letter to Hogwarts and
the Maple Leafs still sucked.
You told me
that Tony was beating me
but I didn't believe you and
Then I stabbed you with a ruler.
The people around me turned and stared.
They wanted to know how to get to Wonderland too.
I woke up screaming
and you weren't there.
Everyone had faces
and they were scaring me.
I just knew that Bob Dylan had gone evil
note from the editors!
Thank you so much to everyone who submitted. The beautiful writing and the gorgeous drawings are all beyond amazing. We hope you enjoyed this literary magazine!
Charlotte, Katherine, Rosa, MaCayla, and Emmie.