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Who Wants Love?

Love is a great thing because it’s made out of hearts and beauty and handsomeness and awesomeness. And POW!

Love goes slow. Love is ridiculous. Love is fast like a pony with a wizard costume on and a green mustache. Love is sad. Love is crazy. Love is around the world. Love is a deck of cards. Family Love is happy and cool. Boyfriend and girlfriend love is yuck and nasty.

When it comes to love, a man has to have a job, a good diploma, and has to have an eight-pack. And he has to cook and has to look handsome. He probably has to be in his 30s.

Excerpt from “Oasis”

CHAPTER ONE

    The moonlight glowed bright over the singlewide home, a lone streetlight the only other illumination in the dry heat of the night. The house was dark except for a single lamp on the floor, next to a wooden crib. Between the bars, a baby lay sleeping. She was curled in a tiny circle, like a puppy would sleep to ward off the cold.

A soft thump sounded from down the hallway and a light switched on in another room. The small child squirmed in her crib, starting a soft-but-piercing cry that floated through the silence of the night. Down the hallway, there was a cacophony of sounds. Heavy things being lifted and set down. A single pair of feet stomping around the room. A crack of static sounded from behind the door, then the loud sound of a radio announcer filled the house.

The channels flipped vigorously, then settled on a station playing music that pulsed and swayed. The radio was turned all the way up and the baby cried a yawning scream, drowned out beneath the thumping bass.

CHAPTER TWO

    Fairytales are perhaps the least realistic stories we tell, but somehow they ring the truest. Tall tales of adventures sound impossible and beautiful when you hear them, but when they happen to us we don’t recognize them. The impossible and the beautiful get all mixed in with the everyday, with the ugly and the doubts in our heads.

Everyone’s got their own fairytale. Everyone has a happy place…  an island, somewhere they want to go. Everyone’s got a monster in their closet…  a bigfoot, a chupacabra, a fairytale. People knew about the island the same way they knew about fairytales, but they talked about it more like a destination vacation that they knew they could never afford. In China, they called it Měilì de Tiāntáng. In India, it was Pavitr Aaraam. Pacific Islanders called it Aiga Nofoaga, Yasawa, or Mokupuni Ohana.

They all translate to something similar; an island where you can be reunited with all the people who ever loved you. It has existed partially in science and through dozens of alleged locations around the world; hundreds of ancient maps reveal different coordinates. Skeptics, scientists, and historians have been locked in debate about the authenticity of the maps and plausibility of such a place.

Away from the lecture halls, research labs, and preserved documents, however, parents tell their children their own version of the island. Friends joke about booking a flight there for spring break. Weary strangers sit alone, weighing the possibilities.

CHAPTER THREE

    Carolina sat and swung her feet from the chair, her feet not yet grazing the ground. Her arms were propped up on the table and she focused on the bowl of cereal in front of her, watching the spoon as she slowly raised it and brought it to her mouth. Her father sat across from her, watching the small TV on the counter. Carolina slurped up the little Cheerios one by one, going cross-eyed trying to focus on the pool of milk left in the spoon. The TV played an ad where a beautiful woman made her son breakfast with Bisquick Pancake Mix, because no one knows breakfast like Bisquick. She glanced at her dad.

“Dad,” she began, waiting for his eyes to glance towards her. “Do you miss Mom?”

Her father grunted. Carolina stirred her cereal.

“I love her a lot!” she proclaimed. Her father looked at her for a longer moment.

“You didn’t know her.”

Carolina looked at the TV while her father looked at her. For a while, they watched as the soccer match came back on.

“Do you still love her?” Carolina asked, looking back at her father. On the TV, Colombia scored a goal and her father cursed.

“I don’t love anyone anymore,” he eventually groaned, “I’m too old for that now.”

CHAPTER FOUR

    There were always skeptics of the island, those who made it their agenda to mock those who studied rigorously to prove its existence. And then there were those like Carolina, who grew up hearing tales of the island through parents’ bedtime stories and teachers’ distracted tangents, or in rare books or document that crossed her path.

Nothing ever seemed concrete about the island except that fact that it was somewhere. News stories would pop up every few years — ships disappearing in search of it, passengers lost in the blue or washed up miles from their intended destination. These tales of tragedy at sea always competed for attention with the multitude of documents that seemed so sure of the island’s existence.

    It was often on nights like this one — after the breeze and crickets outside had been silenced by the long exhaustion of the evening — that Carolina found herself distracted from her homework and lost in her thoughts of the island. The room was dimly lit by an overhead fan that turned the air slowly, the yellow glow of the bulbs leaving most of the small kitchen in a fuzzy mix of shadow and soft light. Carolina dimmed the brightness on her laptop, her eyes dry and ready for sleep. The room was completely still as Carolina took a deep breath and refocused herself.

    Behind her, the silence was broken by the screen door banging open and her father’s muttering. He kicked off his sandals with a loud thud, then loudly creaked along the linoleum floor leading to his bedroom.

    CHAPTER FIVE    

    The scariest thing about it was that Carolina didn’t even know when it had happened. Her father was often gone — at work or hanging with the guys or who knows where else — so she didn’t think twice when she didn’t hear him come in at night or see him the following morning.

She left the house that day like any other, taking two buses and a train to get to work: a restaurant where she took orders, smelled like fries, and gave parents of screaming children their to-go containers.

    She didn’t know anything about the other driver. She didn’t even ask when the emergency room called. All they told her was that her father had been in a high-speed collision, and he hadn’t survived the impact. When she got down to the hospital, her head was spinning. The only things in focus were the facts that her father hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, and that the hospital bill was much more than she could afford.

Carolina decided to use her vacation time from work to sit on the couch and think. For a week she thought, the fog in her head only growing. Unanswered phone calls from family and friends piled up and her voicemail filled.

Everything that was certain in her life had vanished, and the rest of the world felt wrong in how unchanged it was. The small house felt bigger than it ever had before. Carolina sat on her father’s couch, surrounded by the house and all the belongings her father had loved. She couldn't tell if she had ever been as important as those things.

She glanced at the huge book of maps that had been propping up the coffee table for as long as she could remember. For the first time since the emergency room call, Carolina picked up her phone. She dialed her father's number, letting it ring out until the answering machine beeped its familiar tone.

“Dad, Papi,” she said “I’m going on a trip. I’ll be gone a while, but I’ll see you soon.”

Summer of 2097

It is a Tuesday in the summer of 2097. I have just signed up for the vacation in the sky. Hopefully it is worth all of the money I paid. I don’t know what to expect because all they said you would need was three pairs of clothes, including the one you would wear there. They all have to be the same, three white button up & down shirts, three blue jeans, three pairs of socks, and black shoes of your choice.

One month later...

    Today is the day. I am walking to where the bus is to pick us up when I see someone walking in the same direction as me. The only thing that is different about this man is that he has a lot more things than me. I ask him, “Why do you have so many of your belongings?” The man says, “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, and I’m not just going to leave my whole life behind me.

    We walk up to the bus. It looks weird. The bus doors open. I ask the woman in the driver’s seat, “Is this the bus for the vacation in the sky?” She does not look at me, but she nods her head. We board the bus. I see a couple of people in the seats. There is one other man about six feet tall and two young girls sitting side by side.

    I am surprised that they are here alone. The lady in the driver’s seat didn’t seem to be bothered by it. I sit by the two little girls. I ask for their names. The first one sitting on the outside closest to me says, “I’m Lisa,” in a small sweet voice. The other child wraps her arms around her legs and squeals out, “Rachel.” “Where are your parents?” I ask. They look away and don’t say anything. A few other people get on the bus and the doors close right before a man can board. She steps on the pedal, and we begin to move. The man runs with the bus and bangs on the side loud enough so the driver can hear, but she doesn’t stop.

    We start moving very fast, so I buckle my seatbelt. The driver pulls a lever, and I hear a loud grumble. Two large boards unfold from the sides of the bus.

To Be Continued...

Artists as Foods

Pitchfork 2016 was full of intriguing characters. Every artist had a lot of passion, talent, and flavor. A few acts seemed to have very specific flavor, some of which resembled my favorite foods...

JEREMIH
A rainbow bag of Skittles. It doesn’t matter if you like sugar or not. Once you taste Skittles, you’re in love. At least in the moment. This bag bursts with flavor and color, brightening up any party or even a night alone at home. This bag of Skittles brings people together, all their hands reaching to grab a handful. Each Skittle tastes so different, yet all the flavors work together in unity.

ALAN PALOMO of Neon Indian
A chilly slurpee from 7-11 — a mix of cherry and blue raspberry. The two flavors start to melt together, adding a subtle purple in the mix of this drink. It energizes you, despite having no caffeine. Its aura is of fun and enjoyment, and every sip brings back memories of sneaking out of the house to grab this delicious, colorful slush.

TWIN PEAKS
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, covered in neon-red powder that sticks to every part of you that it touches. The flavor is so sweet and painful and enjoyable. Before you know it, your fingers are stained red and your tongue is burning and your nose is running, but the feeling is so pleasant. Any time is a good time with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It’s crazy and delicious and brings up memories for everyone. You’ll always want a bag, wherever you are.

HALEY FOHR of Circuit Des Yeux
A double chocolate chip salted-caramel milkshake. It slams you in the face with powerful flavor, but the flavor is amazing and never gets old. There are layers and layers of flavor that unravel each time you take a sip and the icy drink hits your mouth.

SUFJAN STEVENS
A warm mug of mint tea. It isn’t hot enough to burn your tongue, but it is a pleasant warmth that you can feel sliding through your body. This tea feels purifying, and brings back memories of warm homes on cold nights. This flavor serves a purpose to whoever drinks it. On one level, it is a flavor on your tongue, but on another level it brings up feelings. Tingling in your nose, coldness on your skin. It is an experience.

CHRISTIAN HOLDEN of The Hotelier
A fresh piece of raw, red tuna resting on a bed of sushi rice. A really subtle, lowkey taste. It doesn’t jump out at you and scream FLAVOR in your face, but its subtlety is enjoyable. It brings you back to quiet nights in restaurants then walking home to a fluffy bed. You don’t notice your stomach getting full until it is bursting at the seams. It is a beautiful piece of food.

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An Exchange of Letters Between: Henry M, Matthew G, & Santiago N

Henry M, Matthew G, and Santiago N of Amundsen High School and Zapata Academy

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Lizbeth M and Javier T of Amundsen High School and Zapata Academy

Chiquitito / Tiny

Oliver S, grade 1

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