Category Archives: Short Story

Cab Ride

In the monotony of black luggage that circled the carousel, my tired eyes searched for the stained ribbon that signaled my ownership. “That’s Boston. And we’re growing now, too. Construction everywhere,” said the cab driver as he slammed the trunk closed. “We’re booming.” I could certainly feel it. I wasn’t sure if it was Boston so much as the thrill of moving to a new city. The hyperawareness as I searched for everything that made this city different from my own. I was always exceptionally good at those spot the differences games in the Highlights magazines.

Everything was the same. Glistening skyscrapers laughed in my face, my reflection flickering in their windows. Betrayal scratched at the nape of my neck. I moved from San Francisco to Boston in search of something “different,” a “change of pace,” only to find myself cowering in the coffee shop that most resembled my favorite back home.

Finally, the cab driver dropped me off at my hotel room, whose carpet matched that of my apartment building’s lobby. A faint scent of mildew immediately clung to my clothing, and I tried to shake it off along with the regret that crawled up my spine. I hauled my single bag onto my bed, untangled my faded orange ribbon from underneath, and unzipped the bag completely. When I threw the cover open, I recognized none of the contents. Silken blouses, starched shirts, high heels – the clothes of someone who had her life together – none of it was mine. I untied the ribbon and slipped it into my pocket. I must’ve grabbed someone else’s bag.

Gina Cusing ’16

Cat Call

Hey girl, turn around! Oh…come on baby, don’t walk away, you know you love it.”

The girl tries to hold her skirt down and keeps a brisk pace down the sidewalk, she will not turn her head. She grips a shiny, black keychain tightly in her hand. She lifts the keychain up to reassure herself and reads the word mace on the side; she sighs. The girl finally arrives at her apartment, shakily reaches into her bag and grabs her key. She turns her head after each step, hoping he will not appear behind her. On the third floor she enters her apartment and sets her purse down on the counter. The girl slowly falls onto her couch and looks up at the fan. She begins to study her day– each minute and every move. The girl reflects on what happened ten minutes beforehand. Is this skirt too short? Maybe I should throw it out…She recalls his exact words, “Oh…come on baby, don’t walk away, you know you love it.” Why does he think I like that? Did I lead him on? After lying down for a few minutes the girl stands and saunters over to the kitchen. She pulls down her blue silk skirt, gazes at it, and tosses it in the trash.

Xandi McMahon ’17

Aren’t They Beautiful?

      Aren’t they beautiful?” I asked my Lolo as he stared at the tropical fish in the aquarium of the nursing home lobby.

      My Lolo’s old, crinkly eyes looked up and met my gaze through the reflection of the aquarium glass. He smiled at me from his wheelchair and pointed to a bright yellow fish. “This one reminds me of home.”

      I nodded my head and sat back further into my chair, waiting. Waiting for my Lolo to begin retelling the stories of his childhood that I had never grown tired of listening to.

      “When I was younger,” he began, “I used to live among these fish. My family lived on the tiny island of Tiwi in the Bicol region of the Philippines, and our house was right along the ocean. If I wanted to see my friends, I would swim across the head of the island to get to them on the other side. Many of these fish,” he motioned to the aquarium, “Swam beside me. And at night, when we got hungry during those hot, sleepless Summers, my friends and I would take boats out into the bay. We would shine lanterns over the surface of the water, and as soon as a big Tuna came to investigate, we would spear it. We would spend those nights out on the beach, and in the mornings we would race among the rows of my father’s plantation.”

      As my Lolo’s eyes glazed over while he talked, I realized that he was no longer talking to me, but to his long forgotten friends of the past. His mind had transported him back to the white beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush plantations that I could only imagine. In that moment, I no longer existed to him…

      Later, as I rode on the bus going home, I didn’t allow myself to think about the bad fall that Lolo had taken last Spring, or about the sickness that was wracking his frail body.

      Instead, I thought about the little Asian boy who spent his childhood cutting coconuts from his father’s trees and swimming in the coral reef.

      I thought about the determined young man who worked two jobs throughout college, so that he could attend engineering school.

      I thought about the brave immigrant who was separated from his wife and children for one year before he could afford to pay for their plane tickets.

      I thought about my hero who used to take me to the playground and give me ice cream when it was only 8 in the morning.

      And above all, I thought about the native Filipino who, like so many other immigrants, left the only home he had ever known to create a better life for himself, his children, and eventually his grandchildren. The man who unwillingly, unknowingly, and unconditionally sacrificed so much for his family and for me.

Sophia Harrison ’17

Ripley’s Wild Rollercoaster

Welcome to Ripley’s Wild Roller Coaster. Grab a seat, buckle up, and get ready to ride!
Just a Wild Ripley Reminder for our passengers, please keep all your phalanges, radii, and humeri inside the car today, although humor-i is always welcome!
If you’re wearing a hat you should take it off because not only is it a bad idea to wear a hat on a rollercoaster, but also Staff will probably make fun of you!
If you feel signs of headache or nausea then why did you get on the ride in the first place! It’s Ripley’s Wild Roller Coaster not Ripley’s Chill and Relaxed Fun Train! Come on people!
At Ripley’s we do not allow cameras, flash photography, infants, (finish this with some weirdly escalating objects) on the ride at any time.
Well, now that we’re all thoroughly strapped in and have signed our release forms indicating that Ripley’s is in no way shape or form responsible for any accident or injury that may occur on the death train I mean ride, enjoy your time on Ripley’s Wild Rollercoaster!

Claire Fenerty ’16


Mariel walks despondently out of the office of Dr. Goodman. It is a long corridor. Her head faces the stained jade carpet, every piece of withering wool clouding her mind and vision. She sees nothing, hears nothing, wants nothing, all because she knows everything. She has miscarried. Five years she has been trying. Five years gone. She feels an immense pain in her womb, but she fears to touch it. How could life deal her this? What has she done wrong? Why is she so undeserving to bring a human life to this world?
The sun is brighter than she remembered it being before walking in his office. The street seems a lot longer than usual as well. Instead of embarking on what seems to be a long, back-breaking journey up the block to the bus station, she stands still. She closes her eyes, trying to feel something good happening around her. Nothing. She feels nothing. She opens her eyes back up, and there is a little girl walking towards her. This girl does not acknowledge Mariel, but both of their presences will soon meet. Mariel realizes that this girl, so young and sweet, easily could have been her daughter. The daughter she always wanted. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Faded blue denim dress.
“Why does this girl refuse to look at me?” Mariel wonders.
She feels like stopping her in the street, picking her up, and giving her all the love that she can muster up. This is too painful. Mariel would have named her Sophie.
To hell with it. Mariel gently says the name.
Nothing. The girl hears nothing, or at least nothing that she considers to be directed towards herself.
Mariel can no longer stand it. She has to leave. She’ll be anywhere but here.
During this encounter that Mariel has had, a homeless man walks on to the same street as her. He saw everything. He saw how she looked at the girl. He saw how she painfully called the name of someone who was not there. He sees what Mariel can’t. This man is no stranger to anguish himself; his story may not parallel Mariel’s, but loss is loss. It feels the same no matter the individual.
He walks behind Mariel, slowly accelerating so that he can catch up to her. He is dirty–ragged gray clothes, no shoes. He hasn’t showered in three weeks now. Mariel has noticed this man following her and feels helpless as to what to do. She realizes that she no longer has anything left to lose in her life, including her own life, so she turns around to confront him.
She says nothing. She is completely unable to produce the words. She tries to scare him off first with a look of abhorrence in her eyes, then she tries a look of helplessness with the hope that he will realize that she has already been beaten down enough. Then she stops and looks at him. She really looks at him.
It is at this moment that she realizes that the only thing harder than saying goodbye is saying hello.

Spencer Collantes ’17


The smallest commonplaces act as lifejackets, pulling memories up from the depths of my mind. A car door closing, a light turning on, a car honking, a child yelling… I was here, but my mind wasn’t. It wasn’t the haunting they warned me about. Sometimes I think that would be easier; but, then I see guys huddled in corners, scared of the sound of their own footsteps. No, I can’t want that. Yet part of my mind kept pleading, begging the other part to concede. Concede to fear, to panic. But the boiling in my stomach wasn’t terror, it’s desire.
“Fletcher, would you like to share with the group?”
I lifted my head and looked around. I didn’t belong here.
“I don’t really have anything worth sharing, Ms. Barnet.”
“Come on, Fletch,” My head shot right, to a guy named Ian. Ian belonged here. If his eyes didn’t give it away, his grenade-shortened legs did the trick.
“I’m sorry. I think that my experience was pretty…unique.”
“Hate to break it to you, man, we all served in the same war. We were all there and—”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t bad for me.” That shut him up, and also earned me the eyes of every other person in the room.
“Wasn’t bad how, Fletcher?” Ms. Barnet was leaning towards me.
“It just wasn’t, okay? It stays with me. Every day. When I hear a door close, I’m back. When a light turns on too fast, I’m back. When I hear a kid yelling, I’m back.”
“It’s the same for—”
“NO IT’S NOT!” I was feeling anxious now, like a little kid waiting for a flu shot. “I’m not scared when I remember. I’m scared when I don’t. Because… I miss it.” Nobody spoke. I knew I had said too much. Of course they wouldn’t understand, it probably seemed like I’m insulting them.
“Fletcher,” Ms. Barnet’s voice was soft, urging me on, “Why don’t you explain to us what it was like for you to leave the war.”
I took a deep breath, but I couldn’t bear to raise my head or look anyone in the eye. “I guess it’s like trying to stay awake, even when your body wants to sleep. Part of you knows you need to sleep, but the other part can’t bear not being awake. Before I left, I was tired as hell, but I didn’t want it to end. Now that I’m home, well, I guess it’s like actually sleeping.” I looked around to see every pair of eyes on me, each etched with a mixture of pain and understanding. “But, when I’m asleep…I start to forget.”

Madison Kaplan ’16


I know that face. I don’t remember how or why, but I just do. I’m in the The Armadillo right now, a hole in the wall bar downtown that everyone has discovered. I’m sitting at the far right hand corner of the bar next to some putz who’s been gabbing to me for the past hour and a half about his retirement plan. He thinks this will turn me on somehow. I’ve ordered about four drinks now hoping that he’ll catch on that this isn’t the kind of conversation that a sober person would want to partake in. I’m kind enough to keep myself physically present in this engagement, but I let my mind and eyes wander elsewhere.
There are two wall-sized mirrors in The Armadillo that are parallel to each other; one is on the side of the bar, one is on the side of the corridor that leads to the street. It’s a very spacious room. I look at the bar wall, surveying the room for eye candy or a sign of someone that can keep me entertained for a little bit. I see the same beatniks and self-loathing bougies who frequent this joint like it’s Burroughs’ grave or something of the sort. All of a sudden, something gets me. It’s this face. I can only see the left side of it. She’s far away; I can barely make out her complexion. Her brown hair is beginning to grey; wrinkles are slowly wrapping around the side of her face like a spider web. Her emerald dress is only for special occasions, but it is very worn-out. The allure of its velvet material was lost when kids start calling dresses like these trendy. Her arms are very tense, holding herself down; if she moves them up or lets them loose, she will fall to the ground. I can’t stop thinking of where I know her from! She just has one of those faces. I’m looking and looking at her, and then I start to try to analyze her. Like this’ll help me somehow. She’s sad, lonely; she’s just a reflection of somebody that she used to be. This makes me feel moody and sad. I want to get a batter look at her because maybe I really can help her.
I rudely interrupt my suitor’s spiel about the decline of institutionalism to say that I must be on my way. I fully enter the room looking around, but she’s gone. A panic rushes through me as if a mother has lost her newborn child. I walk to the center of the room, bleakly lightened, and survey the decay. I do a full turn and find myself looking right into the bar mirror. I see my reflection. More importantly, though, I see what’s beyond my reflection. The back of her head. She’s behind me. I swiftly turn myself around and look into the bar mirror to find that she has once again found a way behind me. I tell myself that I could play this game all day, so I end this nonsense. I walk out of the bar and return home.

Spencer Collantes ’17

From Dust it Came

Fingertips ghosted over the carefully arranged sand grains, not daring to touch its perfected surface. The man breathed softly so as to not make the sand below stir. For days, he had been toiling on this project. He had sacrificed sleep, meals, and outings. He had moaned and groaned over the sand design and the color choice, often cursing at himself for a minor slip up from exhaustion. Amidst the bloodshed, the agony, and the loneliness, this work of beauty and trueness had come to completion.
His art teacher assigned the prayer circle. Create it from small objects. Morph it into a work of art. Examine it, meditate upon it. Adore its majesty and greatness.
He agreed. He spent hours simply preparing the design of the prayer circle, discerning what symbolic meaning could go to which, or which style, the like. The work was endless, yet so too was his resolve. Now, all that remained rested in front of him.
A picture. A picture would immortalize this moment and trap it between a thin plastic covering that would eventually brown or bend… But that wasn’t the point of the exercise.
“You will create something painstakingly beautiful. Then you will destroy it.”
He took the brush in hand, engraved the picture in his mind, and bit his lip to prevent the tears from escaping. He couldn’t tear his eyes from it. His arm raised above, holding his breath as he tried to steal the masterpiece’s existence for seconds more.
“This is a lesson on how everything comes to an end. Beautiful or not.”
His arm tore across the middle of the piece of art. No. He could still see the swirls and the arches. He could still see the paths to the outer ring then freedom. Another sweep, in a diagonal. The swirls folded onto themselves. The colors blurred in the background.
“All art comes to an end. It must live on in the eyes of those who have seen it! But this art work…It shall only live on in your eyes.”
He would never get to tell his friends how he felt destroying this masterpiece bit by bit. He wouldn’t go into the specifics of realizing how humiliating it was to have wasted so much time on rubbish that would be destroyed in mere seconds.
“No art is ever wasted!” his teacher would bellow. “It is a message!”
A plethora of colored sand remained. Sand that lost its form. Even this, the remnants of his masterpiece, would not remain with him. He would find himself at the edge of the beach, dumping it into the waters. In an attempt to have others realize his achievement? To rid the disaster from his sight? He had no inkling. But it was gone.
As he watched the last grains tumble away, by sea, wind, or gravity, his eyes closed and concentrated on the image tattooed on the backs of his eyes. “…What is art worth if it lives on in one person?”

Danielle Eden Silva ’16

I Wish

I knew a little girl once. She laughed at the rain and danced for the sun. She sang for the stars and told stories to the moon. She ran circles around the house in her Mama’s oversized polos, tripping over the hem and giggling in laughter as she tumbled over her own toes. My little girl and I used to take walks in the park, pointing out the chattering squirrels, the musical songbirds, picking up acorns to line our trail and decorating the benches with various pebbles. When it rained we pulled on our galoshes and splashed through the puddles, giggling as raindrops fell on our noses and finally stopping to look at the worms as they crawled out to play. My little girl used to point at her own reflection, “Look! Look, it’s me!” And we would lovingly gaze at her beautiful almond shaped eyes, poke her round baby tummy, braid her thick luxurious black locks and stroke her flawless smooth caramel complexion. My little girl knew she was the prettiest thing in the world. She’d strut home, taking the time to glance at herself in more puddles, admiring herself for her own beauty.
I wish my little girl still thought she was pretty. My little girl doesn’t appreciate her caramel skin anymore. Now she asks me why people treat her differently than others. She asks me why none of the other little girls at school look like her and all her dollies don’t look like her either. My little girl doesn’t sing for the stars anymore, her songs sound different from those on the radio. My little girl won’t dance for the sun anymore, she says her dances are too showy for those around her. My little girl doesn’t strut home anymore when it rains; instead she rushes past the puddles, afraid her makeup will run down her face exposing her differences to those around her. But how I wish my little girl would love herself again as much as the rain and the sun, the moon and the stars still do.

Zarina Wong ‘16

The Therapist’s Office

He types in the entry code and ascends the steep staircase up to her office. She is already waiting there at the door to greet him even though it is only 2:52, 8 minutes early. Hello, nice to see you again, come on in! Without a word he hands her the $40 check his mom gave him and takes a seat on the pink paisley couch. She takes the seat across him and begins with the easy questions. How are you? How was your day? He nods, but still doesn’t say a word. She sighs and pulls out a small plastic baggie filled with pennies. Right I’m sorry. Let’s try again, how was your day? She leans forward and hands him a penny. Nodding slightly, he grabs the penny and inserts it in the small slot where the back of his head and neck meet. He finally responds, slowly at first and then quickly as his brain begins to adjust to speaking again. Exactly 3 minutes of talking go by when his voice cuts off mid-sentence, and she hands him another penny. After 45 minutes of questions, pennies, and answers she reaches in the bag, with only one more penny to spare. Okay here is my last one, any final thoughts you would like to share with me? He stops and thinks for a minute before popping that little round piece of copper into the slot. With some hesitation he mutters the question that has been plaguing him for the past year: are my thoughts really worth just one penny? The clock ticks and a timer goes off. Well looks like our time is up, great session, I’ll see you next week. That is his cue. He stands up and heads out the door. Before descending the staircase he turns back at the room just in time to see her pull out another plastic bag of pennies, waiting for her next client.

Kiana Murray ’16

Hey Baby Girl

Hey Baby Girl,
How’re you doing down there? I know the world can be a cold-hearted place. You seem a little shy now, maybe you’ve been spending more time alone than out with your friends. Baby girl I see you cry late at night when nobody can hear. Baby girl, I know you dry your eyes but it’s ok to cry. I know it hurts to be alone. But you have friends around you, teachers supporting you, and a mama and papa there to protect you. Reach out to them, take them aside, talk to them, ask them to spend time with you. They’d love to open up that beautiful mind of yours like I did.
Baby girl, I see you pushing food around your plate. The scared look I see in your eye when you sit down to a family meal, all laughter and the clinking of forks against plates but all you think about is the addition of calories. Mash potatoes 350, turkey 150, gravy 100, corn 75, water 0. But look at yourself, look at those hips of yours and that waist. No woman has ever been herself without any curves. Don’t forget that I love that stomach. How I tickled you when you were young, ran you around the house to catch. Baby girl don’t hit yourself, think of what your body does for you. How you can run, sing, play and hide.
Baby girl don’t look at those grades. They don’t define you. A number, a percentage, a cold hard figure doesn’t feel the warmth of your touch or the depth of your soul. It can’t label you any more than a stranger can. I know you’re smart, smart as hell you’ve got me beat. Do I care about my baby girl’s, you bet I don’t because you don’t hear yourself talk. Baby girl you don’t see the beauty you pull out of this world. How the pull of the Pacific catches you, reels you in, your wonder of nature’s beauty and morning’s early light. No baby girl, your intelligence can’t be measured. So buck up now, school won’t cage you in just yet, you’re made for greater things.
Baby girl drop that razor. Drop it now because I’m not there to take it from you. Don’t you dare do that to yourself. Mar your satin smooth skin. Have you forgotten how I used to shower you with kisses? Loving every bit of you, how I would kiss your bottom, your hands, your hair, eyelids and nose. No baby girl, don’t punish yourself for things you haven’t done. Baby girl you’re going to be ok. I look into those big brown eyes of yours and you’ll be ok. Your soul is too strong to be broken.
Baby girl don’t listen to the media. They don’t see your beauty like I do. They don’t hear the music your hands create, or the swish of your hips as you walk away. They don’t see you care for your friends or the way you cradle a child. Baby girl, look at yourself and all of God’s good work. His masterpiece set down on Earth as your playground. So don’t sit there and cry. I know I’m gone and I know this seems tough. Baby girl I know it’s unfair but you’re going to get through this. You on your own because that’s all you need but if you ever want Baby I’m here cheering you on just like I did when you were a little girl. Remember when you did gymnastics? Remember your routine off the high beam? Baby girl you were scared but you did it just like now. Because baby girl you got this life, you just gotta go fly.

Zarina Wong ’16

A Concrete Jungle

A candied peanut aroma ricochets through each block of smooth, stark pavement. A ragged dog rushes by with a steaming hotdog clenched between his jaws. Barely detected perfumes of various department stores vaguely drift through the crisp air. One can almost taste the smell of the churros piping hot in the glassy window of the vendor’s stand. City goers feel the movement, excitement, and energy of NYC like a young child’s glee bottled up and ready to explode at any given moment. The hustle and bustle of the shops and determined entrepreneurs with big dreams are detected even in the dead of night. Piercing the clouds, the razor-sharp skyscrapers invade the atmosphere. The narrow alleys below reveal quaint cafés with rabbit-white tablecloths gleaming under a rainbow of umbrellas. Central Park offers a quick moment of tranquility. The park is like a revitalizing splash of chilly water renewing one’s mind from the day’s tiring yet enlightening sojourns. Intricate window displays greet one with hospitality from almost every corner. Lampposts pose with valor, guarding the rough concrete jungle from utter and complete darkness. They uphold the chivalry of the knight alongside the kaleidoscopic advertisements that storm the sky of the city that never sleeps. Ceaseless sirens and honking horns never have a curfew in the Big Apple. It always seems to be Black Friday. New York City thrives as a melting pot that a diverse population of people call home.

Caroline Worthington ’19

The Battlefield Of High School

Yesterday, and this morning, per my routine, I put on my armor of a neat white polo shirt, socially acceptable Uggs, and curled lashes. As I walked out the wooden doors of my castle, I wielded my shield of silence and patted the quill — my weapon of choice — in my right pocket. I mumbled a quick prayer for the oncoming battle and prepared to step out onto the battlefield of high school.
Pre-war sickness tugged at me again, and I doubled over in the jungle of varsity football players more than a foot taller than me. I held the shield before me, and they moved silently past me. I rarely needed to use my weapon; the only time I’d used it was when I’d first chosen it — my English teacher told me repeatedly that “the quill is mightier than the sword.” And as I sat down every night at my desk to write, I believed her.
Why am I such a wallflower? Why don’t I jump into conversations and try to include myself? As I stand last in line to head off to battle, I only feel the cold shoulder — colder than the midnight wind — of the troop standing in front of me, her back turned squarely at me, and I understand the message she is trying to convey to me. And it is in ostracizing moments like this that I wonder why I am even here. I don’t want to have to brave the cold. It’s hard. In a large crowd of two hundred and fifty socializing teenagers, I’ve never felt so alone.
As I sank deeper and deeper into a soporific haze in an attempt to drown out the reality of ostracization, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated everyday with the ones who ignored me.
In a school that seemed to stress community and love, I found myself asking, “Where’s the moral in that?”
I was convinced there was no moral.
But, later on I did dig up the moral. As I sat in yet another battle one day, I pondered the reality of my situation, paying special attention to minute details I hadn’t before. All around me, during lunches, events, classes, I noticed the naturally-formed cliques of soldiers — the tough soldiers familiar with battle from their own cat fights with each other, and the group of beautiful troops who, in another life, would have had straight shots to the top of Hollywood with their perfect aesthetics and impressive social ability. Then, there was my “platoon.” As I resumed reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the second time, I realized that the moral was that I wasn’t alone — I was surrounded by eight people just like me. I was surrounded by eight people who were too shy to exert the energy to socialize, eight people who sat silently writing and reading and didn’t care what other people would think, eight people comfortable enough with each other to talk about their love for the timeless Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. See, despite the gawking of the elite, my friends are who they are; they are nerdy, shy, and awkward, and I’ve come to realize that that’s the point.
As I lurched through the dragging battle, I held my book tightly in my hands, all the while ignoring the judgmental stares of scoffing troops and feeling reassured that Charlie felt this way, like a wallflower, that my friends received the same looks, that they were right there beside me.
And so here’s the real, concrete moral: The fact that I’m here telling this story, and the likelihood that maybe you are a lonely high school geek like me, just proves the point of writing this in the first place. In an ironic twist, we’re not alone because we’re all alone.

Angelina Hue ’16