You Want It, You Got It
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
She was never the quiet type. Her voice was always the one booming through the jams at parties, the one to say hello as though you were a football field away when you were only a couple feet from her, the one who needed to be told that she was yelling in the middle of class (when she was still enrolled at Parkton High).
That morning was no different. The sun had barely shed the sleep out of its rays to climb over the horizon. But hearing her, one would think it was the middle of the day. The landline was pulled most of the way into the kitchen by its curly cord. She spoke as though each word was being chased by the last and as though her jet engine of a voice couldn’t wake anyone, but it did.
“Angelita mamaguebo, I have to go,” she said into the phone as she finished off the last of the groceries on a sandwich.
“Muchacha gimme 10 minutes. I have a son too, you know?” Angel said from the other side through the muffling sounds of getting a shirt on a sleepy 7 year-old.
“He’s already waiting for me outside, yo no tengo diez minutos.”
She wrapped the sandwich in plastic wrap and scrawled “morenito” with a heart over it and placed the would-be breakfast on the counter.
“Don’t be a b-i-t-c-h…aunque sea dile bye al niño. Just wait for me, I’ll be there soon.”
She placed the phone back on the wall in the dining/living room and went back towards the bed on the other side of the ratty studio. A packed suitcase sat beside the nightstand. She looked over at him, guilt trying to push itself into her esophagus. He lay there as though lifeless, the black tee he wore to sleep once hers, but now his since the moths took a liking to making holes in it. In the semidarkness she could see him lying there, the blanket still halfway on his small body, resting on his side with his hands tucked under the pillow, his eyes alert as though they’d been open for an hour.
He looked just like her, right down to the high cheekbones and the dark skin that made people call her Haitian on the island as though it were an insult (of course that is how she took it). All he got from her were her looks; who he was came out of the ether fully formed and nothing like her. He was quiet, cried for less than five minutes at birth, cried only when he was hungry or needed to be changed (and never for too long), and as he grew older, he cried less. At that point she hadn’t seen him shed a tear for almost a year. His almost black eyes took the world in and let none of it out. His great aunt used to say “él nació críado;” he was born raised.
“Go back to sleep, morenito, I’ll be back soon,” she soothed.
He didn’t say a word, just kept staring into her as though he was the parent and she the child feeding him bullshit they both knew wasn’t true. She knew he wasn’t buying it; she could feel it as she stooped down and got eye level with him.
“Your auntie is gonna be here soon to pick you up and take care of you for a bit,” she said as she knelt.
“I love you, morenito. Tu eres mi alma…you’re my soul,” her eyes began to water.
She reached over into her suitcase and pulled out her Discman and the CDs she knew he liked: Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (that she’d just recently bought) and ATCQ’s debut.
“Here, hold these until I get back,” she said.
She placed the black saucer and headphones in his small outstretched hands, leaving the CDs beside him on the bed, and placed one kiss on his forehead before getting up and hurrying out. He listened to her footsteps run down the three flights of stairs and got up once he heard the door slam on the first floor.
In quick succession, he threw on his thong sandals and a pair of shorts that were lying around and ran after her. He wasn’t sure what he was doing. He just knew that he didn’t want her to be gone. Didn’t want her to leave him forever. He ran out of the heavy white door of Fort Knox, what the two of them had taken to calling the heavily surveilled building they lived in, and saw her getting into an all-white semi with the slogan “You Want It, You Got It” in a yellow bubble plastered across the length of its haul. Its wheels were as big as him and the engine roared louder than her voice ever could.
“Mom!” He yelled, the loudest he’s ever spoken.
The passenger door to the haul gave an audible thunk in response. The semi growled and hissed as the driver, some white guy in his late thirties from the look of it, put it into drive and started to take off. He ran behind it, yelling for the first time in his life, tearing his vocal chords raw, flexing an inheritance he had not yet learned to control. He could see her face in the side mirror, her angular features making her look mean even when she didn’t mean to be. Her high cheekbones, that made her big eyes small when she laughed, took some of the threat out of her look though. She was radiant. He could see her looking at him in the side mirror. The same blackened brown eyes she had given him, staring at him in the reflection, seeing him run after her, but not saying a single word to stop the truck’s movement.
He couldn’t catch up. His legs much too short and his lungs too empty. He could all but stare as the semi turned out of Saratoga Lane. His voice was shot, his throat stripped and throbbing, and the thong of one sandal torn out. His dark eyes were wet but stayed focused on the slogan “You Want It, You Got It” emblazoning the black script and yellow circle into his memory. Before long, tears streaked down his cheeks.
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
Loneliness covers him
Like the thin layer of dust
That covers all living things in a desert.
His black beard drips the last of his water.
It can be said that sadness
Etches the three creases on his forehead,
But those who would say that would be wrong.
Anyone who knows love can see
That he’s looking for the right constellations
In the bare starless sky.
The fish and bulls
That’ll lead him home
Where his thirst will meet rivers and
His hunger will meet the skin of his beloved.
His haunting grounds are the memories,
Of lips only touching but not kissing,
Of tongues tasting sanctuary, and
Of noses pressed against one another,
The scent of silence so sweet that
Tears are the only appropriate response.
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
An Interpretation of “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Clock on the Far Wall
It hangs nearly lifeless above the seldom-visited bookshelf. Its crimson hand slaps each second, skipping its obligatory pause at each black line. It races instead, tracing the lines of its body with each round. “I’m ok. I exist. I’m ok. I am here,” it ticks. Deranged from loss, like a loon at the asylum, it walks its pedantic circle. A dog, contorted neck and twisted rump, chasing its nonexistent tail, hypnotizing the onlooker. Forever after the sweet taste of sanity.
Clock Above the Door
Its dull face tells of the time it’s had. 12 is just as relevant as 7 and 8 as close as 5, because it doesn’t care whether it lives or dies by its purpose anymore. Time is no longer of its essence. But it’s sane, its arms still moving how they were synchronized to at the very beginning—the faded red hand taking its necessary half-second pauses from jogging. Its black minutes and hours ticking to the right times that it only follows because it was theirs. It still remembers its partner. It can still recall when each one of its ticks were echoed. It can still recount how it whispered ‘I love you’ in between each sound. It still relays their lost synchrony that they shared back before one of them was moved to the far wall. Every second the same as when they were one.
At the Blackboard
Two teachers chat at the front of the room. One proctors an exam. The other is on their lunch period. “They’re finally replacing that damn clock.”
What Does ___________ Mean?: The Roving Love Dictionary
What Does ___________ Mean?: The Roving Love Dictionary
What does Love mean to you?
Love is seeing past the cracks, the missing acts, and the backbreaking tax of loving someone else. You don’t fall in love, you choose to love.
by Connor Zimmerman ’20
What does Eye Candy mean to you?
Eye candy is what I see when my girlfriend walks into the room with a smile.
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
What does Amazon Prime and a good time mean to you?
Amazon Prime and a good time means a love as strong as the “Amazon Prime” shipping tape but gone as quickly as their two-day shipping.
by Julia Zygiel ’19
What does Galentine’s Day mean to you?
When all the single ladies assemble their Spiked Seltzers, ask their guy friends for flowers, and cuddle puddle their way to the climax of The Notebook and Letters to Juliet. It’s okay to be alone on Galentine’s Day, as long as they’re alone together.
by Jay Willett ’20
What does a Ray Date mean to you?
To me a Ray Date is one that is not very special. Some days the food can be better than others, but really, who would want to go there on a date? Although Chicken Nugget Thursdays are a hit, any other day of the week it is very up in the air if you will leave Ray actually satisfied. I feel that if a Ray Date, especially the first date, is the place you go, then from the start you should know that it is nothing serious. They’re not even using Friar Bucks for crying out loud!
by Grace O’Connor ’22
Eating While Black
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
He was stocky, built more like a fridge with a magnet on its chest than a man with a badge. I didn’t even notice him walking into the pizza spot until he was in front of me. He stood what he must’ve considered a safe distance away. I saw his lips move, Cole coming from my headphones muffling whatever he was saying.
“What was that, officer?” I asked through a mouthful of fry, as I took the buds off my ears.
“Where ya comin’ from, chief?” he repeated, his hand creeping toward his holster. The gold and silver badge pinned on his uniform stared at me, reflecting the passing headlights into my eyes. Badge number 656. Badge number 656. Badge number 656. I froze for a second. Maybe a second too long.
“D-down the street, officer,” I sputtered.
“Oh, you live around here?” he asked, taking hesitant steps toward me, as though I were a dog he wasn’t sure would bite. I was coming from nowhere he needed to know, but I, of course, could never say that.
“Uhh, yeah, right on this street, officer,” I said as I tried not to grit my teeth, my heartbeat echoing through my arms and legs.
“Right. Do you have a gun on you by any chance?”
“No, officer.” My blood began to boil.
“Mind if I pat you down?” he asked. “Just wanna be sure.” It wasn’t so much a question as he was already in my personal space. Of course, I would mind. Of course, I wanted to say no. But of course, I didn’t say anything.
“No problem, officer,” I said. I got up slowly, hands up like every black and brown boy has been trained to do. The moment didn’t have to be anything more than it was. So long as I stayed calm, everything would be fine. He nudged me into the wall. His hand burned at the touch as he gripped my forearm. His fingers dug into my armpits, into my hips, into my thighs, in between them, and into my pockets. There was nothing there. Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm. My heart kept humming until he stopped.
When I turned back around his face was that of a kid who didn’t get what they asked for on Christmas morning: eyes placid and detached, lips pursed into a close-mouthed smile. It was familiar. It was confirmed innocence. It was another day survived.
“Sorry, you fit a description,” he tried to justify. I let the silence settle between us. My heart felt as though it wanted to punch through my ribcage. Heat seeped into my lungs. My knuckles warped and tensed as the tendons in my fingers balled.
“No problem, officer,” I spit at him as he started towards the exit.
I slammed myself back into my seat and ripped chunks out of my BBQ chicken sub.
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
Of those already called back to the air I am the one that can’t burn. When I was six, I set things aflame in the kitchen sink when mom wasn’t home. The skins of napkins crinkled, as the soft scent of burnt cotton slithered into my nose. Packs of boxed matches came and went. I would waft the smell of matchheads like a chef their masterpieces. My G.I. Joes were in the fieriest wars, their faces oozing with black and blue puss, still smiling because they survived. When mom would get home, she’d wrinkle her forehead in disgust like she found curly black hairs on her toothbrush. Her hands were wooden paddles on my ass. Pinpricks of pain pulverized my dreams of pyrotechnic displays pulsing the pupils of concert-goers around the world.
One day, after a spanking, I locked my room door and threw a lit candle across the room. The tapioca tinted curtains shined and sizzled like a firework on the 4th of July. Flames waved their arms at me in triumph, thanking me for their newfound freedom. The warmth waddled over towards me for a hug as sparks jumped from curtains to dressers and dressers to carpet. Mom knocked my door down and yanked my arm for years before she could force me away from the giggling gurgle of the rolling flames. But of those called back to the air that day, I lived because I cannot burn.
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
The plastic body of the alarm clock rattles as it wakes for its one purpose. The green glow of 5:30 a.m. blinking sleep out of its eyes. The sharpness of its sound is only joined by the deafening buzz of the dial tone coming from the unhooked landline; its body slung off the nightstand attached only by its cord like a hanged prisoner. The man’s bed already released him from its cotton shackles. He’s already gone, the bed defeated, its sheets torn open and lying in a wrinkled pile. Lacking is the air of its coffee cologne and its humid body from a steaming shower. He never leaves without his rituals. The sun’s rays won’t touch his dark earth without the fulfillment of his acts.
And yet there he is, racing down the road in his black Nissan Altima at twice the speed limit. There he is, wearing thin polyester pajamas, teeth unbrushed, body unwashed, and hair undone as the radio plays J. Cole lyrics he usually pays attention to. He drives through woodland road, the canopy overhead arching to kiss the dark blue of the predawn sky. Smooth asphalt gives way to bumping dirt road as the path to the cliff snakes through the trees. Why here? Why now? Why? He thinks as he parks. Augustus! He yells at the man standing at the cliff’s mouth.
Augustus’ feet flirt with the edge, a man facing death for the thousandth time that week. The crickets in the bush below roar, the bush sways with the wind, the breeze carries autumn in its fingers, and the sun finally rises—its light shining into Augustus’ azure eyes.
The Carson Killer
He didn’t want to get caught. The day he was suspected the shadows scratched across the hardwood floors of 29 Carson Avenue, as though the sun were trying to drag them to the basement. Day or night the sun succeeded; a cellar filled with more dark than light said as much. That’s how dark it must’ve always been. Yet, it didn’t stop the man from making it more midnight than milky-way-with-no-stars down there. Sealed windows and a victim a week kept the room heavy with languor only he could enjoy. Save the unheard screams from his “play dates,” it was quiet. Seldom was there a reason to suspect him of all people in the neighborhood. He was squeaky. Not a speck on him. When all the gardening he did finally got him dirty enough to be a suspect, he was gone. The police found a letter at 29 penned to them and the neighborhood.
“Reach inside,” he wrote. “Dig and dig. Look for it. Look, actually look. I assure you it’s there. I’ve seen it. All of them had it. All of us do. I saw it. They saw it too, before I let them go. The Capacity for murder is there. Everyone’s a killer if pushed far enough. The Capacity is buried below the gallbladder for most or in between the heart and the right lung for the extraordinary. I can’t wait to find out more in each of you. I can’t wait to find out which one I am.”
He didn’t want to get caught…so, he didn’t.
—Dawyn Henriquez ’19
“One of Them”
Halloween used to be my favorite holiday. Like so many others, I went trick-or-treating. I watched horror movies and visited haunted houses. I wasn’t immune to the world’s fascination with the dead who stay behind. But look where that got me. If this isn’t the definition of “cruel irony,” I don’t know what is.
Back then, costumes mattered. Halloween mattered. Now, the only thoughts I give the dark night are those of disgust. How, you must be saying, was I supposed to know how insensitive I was being when I was still alive? I can’t help it – I’m ashamed of who I used to be.
I remember my last Halloween. It was the first one after graduation and I’d driven three hours to my former roommate’s house in the middle of nowhere for a mini-reunion. Incredibles 2 had premiered that summer, so I was dressed as Elastigirl – not my most creative costume, but it was comfortable and, I had to admit, I looked pretty damn good in it.
The house backed up to a forest so dense I could hug two trees at the same time. It was my idea to go exploring there, to dare Death. After, I heard my friends rationalizing, claiming I didn’t deserve it. “She wasn’t thinking,” they said. “She’d had too much to drink.” They were kidding themselves. Cider may have played a part, but I was sober enough to know I was playing with fire.
Once we were in deep enough for the house lights to be swallowed by the wood, I started taunting the spirits, only half joking – Halloween isn’t fun unless some part of you believes in ghosts.
“C’mon out!” I yelled, laughing. “Bet’cha can’t scare us!”
The trees rustled incomprehensibly.
After a minute the air began to thin; only then did I pause to inhale and – I could have sworn – I heard the trees inhaling too. Suddenly, everything around me was thrashing violently. The wind scratched at my clothes, grabbed at my hair, and I screamed someone else’s scream.
Now I am one of them.
—Erin Venuti ’20
“So. We were in the woods. Hanging out. Smoking—,” he paused, pursed his lips. “Wait, you guys aren’t, like, tightasses are you?”
The interviewer gave him a dead-eyed stare.
“Okay, it was cigarettes. Eddie’s new girlfriend is some wannabe witch, always yapping about stones and the moon and other bull. So, she’s feeling the spirit of the holiday, talking our ears off about All Hallow’s Eve, about honoring the dead, and she whips out chalk. But we’re in the woods, so she can’t really do anything with it. I think Andrew made some comment about using it on leaves.” He snickered.
The interviewer was unamused. “Mr. Greene, could we please get back to the matter of Wednesday’s incident.”
“Right. So she turns to the damned trees, talking about nature and oneness with the earth and once she’s on her third symbol on the third tree the whole circle of ‘em starts vibrating hard enough to stop a heart beat. It made my legs feel like pudding.”
“The chasm, Mr. Greene.”
“Listen, telling a story is like weaving a web, it’s very delicate very preci—”
“We are on an incredibly limited time frame.”
“Alright. So the trees are vibrating and Casey’s on the ground screaming, begging forgiveness, and there must’ve been something lost in translation because the freakin’ ground opened up and swallowed her and we were all standing by the edges because we were freaked by that point… Eddie’s gotta be devastated.”
“And you wouldn’t say your perceptions of the event were affected by the… cigarettes you were smoking that evening?”
“No way. I’ve been paranoid before, I’ve seen ghouls in shadows, but my mind is not nearly creative enough to make that up. That girl was messing with some chaos magic or something. What are you all telling her parents?”
“Our agency doesn’t handle that, only containment procedure.”
“So this isn’t an isolated incident?”
“Mr. Greene, right now all I can discuss is this particular event. Did Casey mention anything at all about a group called the Circle?”
—Julia Zygiel ’19
I wave goodbye as the last roommate’s car drives off into the darkening afternoon light. I sit myself down in my favorite beanbag with a mug of warm tea and close my eyes, the thought of having the house to myself causing a smile to play across my lips as I slowly drift into a lazy and much deserved nap.
Bang! A loud noise jerks me suddenly back to consciousness. My heart is in my throat as I look around wildly. Somehow, hours must’ve passed as the sky outside is a sheet of pure darkness. Inside, the dimness of the room without the lamps paints the furniture in white and black and gray, the same living room I have been used to for months made unfamiliar by the night. I hear the noise again.
“Hello? Back so soon?” I call out, hoping against hope that one of my roommates has simply forgotten her pajamas or her toothbrush.
The faint warbling of the wind answers me. From down the stairs comes a prolonged knock. One, two, three, four, five, six slow raps against the wooden door. “Did you forget your key?” I try again. No response.
Somewhere in the house the hundred-year-old floorboards creak and the windows rattle loose in their panes. The slow plodding of heavy footsteps reaches my ears. I turn and look into the kitchen, my eyes frozen and fixed on the door that guards the stairs. A screech of metal as the doorknob slowly turns. My heart has stopped beating altogether.
I hold my breath as the door swings open.
—Taylor Godfrey ’19
You Have Two More Wishes
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
The Mind does interesting things when you’re trying to keep certain thoughts from it. Like a genie, it can give you that wish of eternal life in the form of cancer. “That part of you will never die!” the man in the lamp assures you, as you slowly metastasize and tumor your way through existence. When you tell yourself not to think of your fiancée boning her spiritual advisor in the back seat of your jalopy that you let her borrow for “girls’ night” at the drive-in, like a genie, your consciousness rings the doorbell with your order of a large migraine. That’s what it is, your Mind, and it attracts the unwanted along with what you initially desired. Sex that you think of slowly when you lay in bed alone, cautious not to bring her into the image so as to not question her whereabouts. But, sure enough, thoughts of her saunter in slowly through the paint-flaked French doors like she has eternity wedged between her manicured toes. The idea of her sits square on your chest as you try to pray for the two of you, and you hope that your wishes to God can replace your worry as to why she isn’t there now. But the Mind in the lamp that is your skull molds that into another image of her lying on the bed. It lies next to where she should be on the quilt she knit in the class you paid for. The damn thing always felt store-bought, but you never questioned why. You always wished those ideas would disappear, and like a genie, your Mind granted it—but without your realizing that you never specified for how long. And those thoughts aren’t even the bad ones. The bad ones are trickier. They rush in all at once in the space between blink and breath. Bonfire scents and omitted BBQs melt into tears damned behind eyes that were always blind to the sexual innuendo from your bride-to-be to a guy you don’t see. “This part of you will never die,” your Mind the genie reassures you, as you slowly trace a finger around the diamond and mistrust your way through existence.
To The Ceiling
by Dawyn Henriquez ’19
“Boom, then crash
The shattering of glass”
Strange fruit hanging and you expect us to forget the past?
Even though I saw my Momma in shackles at four,
You really believe equality is an unnecessary bore?
How quick to forget you are, truly, how fast.
Who of you haven’t thought that we’d be last?
The ones still standing,
Some brown amalgamations,
The most slandered colors in a crayon nation.
This hue is what sits between equality of heart and soul
And causes our people to pay red’s deathly toll.
So how dare you lie
When you say, this is a melting pot for all colors?
Even though we’ve always been aware of the skin that struts its stutters.
Be honest majority, you never meant it,
You’ve always proliferated yourself,
White supremacy: you cement it.
“And, yeah, I got anger
But I don’t let it take me down
Because my Momma taught me better
And she holds me up when I fall down”
Just so I can go forth with a scraped knee
Before the impending white sea,
Salt in my veins,
Weights on my feet,
Tears in my eyes,
Trying to shrug off defeat.
We all want glass broken,
Whether we know it or not,
But we live here, in this damn 64-piece box
Where white is the primary color in each slot.
And when we complain about the lack of preparation
All we get is fucking shame and deprecation:
Things like “try harder,” you say,
As if we can wear your boots
On our backs like flowing capes,
Prompting the question:
Is this the United States, home of the brave, where we got clean slates?
Or is this the United States, place built by slaves, the land that freely hates?
I think the latter, how about you?
Or are you out there too worried about your new hairdo?
Don’t answer that.
Yes, we’ve got anger,
If their society was a strangler?