If the World Was Ending
Black snow tumbles from the sky, clinging to the clothes on your back as you push against the ocean of people. Running from falling skyscrapers. The combination of screams, car beeps, and glass shattering echoes in your head, drowning out every thought except one.
Bloody fingers grasp photographs strewn across the floor. Covered by a sea of glass turned crimson from the deep cuts spoiling the white carpet. The symphony of catastrophe poured in through the windows, filling the lonely halls. These perfect fragments frozen in time blurred by blood and tears. Erasing years. Struggling to remember who used to stare back at you during those sleepless nights.
Is she okay or did she die when the bomb dropped? Did she make it out or is she trapped under debris, struggling to breathe? A bloody fingerprint hard for the scanner to read. Smudges on the screen, making it hard to comprehend. All you know is you have to send this text before the world ends. The words swimming in your head. On the last day, you find yourself with no regrets, just a heart in your chest still beating for someone else.
It was 7am when I let you in, not expecting it all to end
But it was obvious, like it came in with a marching band
The chorus was filled with words we should’ve never said
The ruckus echoing off the walls in my head
The words hitting me till I bled
“Where have you been?”
“I’m back now, so calm down”
“I know you’re back, I’m not blind”
“What’s with the attitude, just say what’s on your mind”
“There’s been a rumor about you creeping along the vine
They say you’re not mine”
“Are you saying I lied or cheated, we talked about this
It’s a dead horse, why beat it?”
“Look me in the eyes and tell me you still mean it”
“How dare you question me, as if I’d ever leave
How many times do I have to say you’re stuck with me?”
“How many times have you lied and made me cry?”
“Not that many times, but why do you care? Don’t you ‘hate’ me?”
“Bringing up the past isn’t that great”
“You didn’t even want to date me”
“Oh god now I never wanted to date you,
why is it so hard to say the truth?
That’s exactly why I’m falling out of love with you”
“Tell me that’s not the truth”
Your silence has been ringing in my mind since
This encounter has left me loveless.
Now at I’m up at 7am,
Forever stuck in this memory
as I embrace the ghost on your side of the bed.
Food doesn’t taste the same, music has no melody
The sky’s forever a dingy shade of gray.
My world’s been thrown out of harmony,
The days seem to blend into weeks,
Weeks into that moment,
And I haven’t slept in peace.
Since you took that part of me
I long for the days when we had never met
So, you’d never be able to pollute my head.
It’s 7am and I’m wondering
Do you miss me yet?
Toni Rendon ’24
Here I am standing on a hill
Not at the top
Just here on the hill
Made up of the bodies of the kings I’ve killed
Their blood trickles onto the ground
Barely making a sound and washing my past in red
Their crowns’ weight bowing my head
Suffocating the last of the innocence I had
My sins lay naked before me in my chambers
But I’ll have to confront them later
For tonight another castle I must storm
So, I pick up my sword and blow the war horn
Another crown added to the weight
The previous owner dragged through the street
Only to be thrown on top of the hill
Just another body of a king I’ve killed
Now here I sit at the top
Looking over the land stained red from the blood that I spilled
My sword is rusted, and my face is old
My skin just a bag for bones
The final head drops
The crowns roll
The old story of a king slayer
Waiting to be told
Toni Rendon ’24
The clack of her coal-black heels on the stone echoes through the empty street as the warm breeze passes through her bright blood-red sundress. Her dark, curly auburn hair glistens under the light of the streetlamps. The shadow she casts is her only company, forever growing and shrinking as she walks under the twinkling lights. The solid stone suddenly becomes shifting sand, forcing her to ditch the two inches the heels provided her. At the end of the sand path sits an old boardwalk, its wood traversed by countless feet over the decade, kept in pristine condition, overlooking the ocean. Its deep blue accents are brought alive by the light shining from the moon. The wood feels warm under her smooth foot, leaving her with an overwhelming sense of tranquility. Taking her time to enjoy the walk to her destination, its music reaches her ears before she even catches a glimpse. Around the corner, the carousel is the only thing operating tonight.
The lights fade from red to orange to yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The animals carved from wood stand tall on the erect metal poles sticking out of the spinning platform, their paint worn where people have sat for ages. There, he is looking as dapper as ever in the black suit, white shirt, and red tie combo that she loves oh so much. His long chestnut hair has red hints from where the dye grew out; it’s box braided and pulled back neatly into a ponytail, two braids on either side of the head hang loose in the front because that’s his style. He sits upon the lion like the king he is, shoulders squared and ready to face anything the world throws at him. They lock eyes. His are pieces of lifeless porcelain sitting in his chiseled, caramel colored face.
“Emily, I’ve been waiting for you.” His rich voice echoes in her bones. It’s clear even as she loses sight of him as the carousel spins round and round. Each time he comes back into view, he’s perched atop the back of a different animal.
“You look beautiful tonight, are you meeting someone?” he asks with a sly smile from the back of an eagle poised to take flight.
“Yes, actually, I am. I think he’s running a bit late.” She pushes a lock of hair back into place behind her ear. He chuckles; it’s a soft rumble that erupts from his core, wrapping her in a warm feeling that she wishes could stay forever.
“Last time I checked, I’ve been waiting for you,” he replies, disappearing from her eyesight again only to reappear sitting in a chariot drawn by two stallions, one as white as freshly fallen snow and another as black as the vastness of eternity.
“Come here, Emily,” he says, beckoning her closer. “I saved you a spot right next to me.”
She starts to move forward, her feet moving on her own toward the man she loves. The thought of dancing forever with him the way the animals on the carousel go round and round entices her, welcomes her. But she hesitates ever so slightly, knowing that what could be shouldn’t always be.
“Victor, I can’t…” she says, her eyes beginning to moisten. “You know I want to, but I can’t. What about everyone else?”
“What about them?” he says, this time from the back of a snake carved to forever be poised in an attack position. “What have they done for you? They left you alone, they look at you crazy, like I’m not talking back whenever you talk to me.” His eyes are closed, teeth bared. It scares her to her core. She hates when he gets like this.
“Victor, calm down. It’s not their fault. I would look at me crazy, too.”
“It’s—it’s—it’s just unfair. It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t have to take the backlash just because I left.” Tears well up in the corners of his eyes. “I shouldn’t have left you behind. We should be going through this together.” This time he places his arms around her and pulls her in. “Emily, I—”
“Shut up, you’re ruining this for me,” she says, looking up at him.
Tears run down his blood-soaked face, the cuts on his face a reminder of the car crash that stopped him from showing up for dinner two years ago.
“Don’t cry, my dear,” she says. “It’ll be okay. We couldn’t have planned for this.” She wipes the tears from his face.
“I’m not crying, Emily; can’t you see the rain?” he whispers back as he fades into nothing, leaving her all alone.
About ten minutes pass before Emily erupts, crumbling and falling to the ground, her sobs penetrating the warm night air. Some time goes by before she decides to collect herself, standing up and dusting herself off. She looks out to the horizon, its light bathing her in hues of orange and pink.
“I’ll see you soon, Victor,” she whispers.
A Cry from the Heart
Toni Rendon ’24
A cry from the heart
Echoes through the night
It soars among the stars
And heads towards the light
A cry from the heart
Can be heard up high
When a true love’s kiss
Turns out to be a lie
A cry from the heart
Is a somber tune
It rings out
When a heart is beaten
Black and blue
A cry from the Heart
Shakes the world to the core
you question “is it worth it anymore?”
A cry from the heart
Is sung in twos
As both of you
Realize you had something to lose
A cry from the heart
Is the greatest love song
Written by me to you
by Toni Rendon ’24
“AGH, WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME?” Helen’s howls bounced off the walls of Packard Manor, causing Howard, the head of staff, to rush to the master bedroom in concern. What happened next could only be described as unearthly. Helen, the mistress of the house, was laying on her back in bed with her legs raised while her husband, Thomas, looked on with an eerie sense of satisfaction. Her stomach rocked and bulged as if there was something trying to claw its way out. Helen continued to howl and plead for help as her stomach began to tear apart from the belly button to the perineum.
“Come now darling, you knew what you were getting yourself into. Now be quiet and complete your duty.” Thomas demanded in a kind tone wearing a nightmarish grin.
Howard, petrified with fear, couldn’t help but watch as the final section of skin was torn asunder giving way to an Adonis of a man. Basking in his mother’s blood, the strange man yawned, stretched, letting the entrails that adorned him drop to the floor. Scanning the room to find who summoned him, he locked eyes with Thomas and approached him. Howard wasn’t able to hear the conversation, but from what he witnessed it wasn’t pleasant. Thomas slapped the stranger, who then picked Thomas up by his head and launched him through the door and into the wall behind Howard. His body landed with a squish and clear sound of bones shattering, Howard, now free of his petrification, rushed to his side.
“M-M-Master Thomas, what’s going on?” he stammered while propping Thomas’ body against the wall.
Floating in and out of consciousness, Thomas noticed the stranger approaching them, and with the last strength in his body, he looked at Howard and muttered, “Run, Howard. Run.”
Howard, realizing there wasn’t anything more he could do for his master, took Thomas’ advice and turned around, and began to run down the hall. Running at full speed, he was suddenly stopped in his tracks when the strange man said, “Stop.” The strange man began approaching Howard like he was a predator stalking his prey.
“Turn around,” the strange man demanded, causing Howards’ body to turn around on its own. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Leopold Wayne, and you are?”
“H-H-Howard J-J-Jones,” Howard stuttered.
“Nice to meet you, Howard Jones. Now you and I are going to make a deal, or I will kill you and everyone else in this house, understand?” Leopold grinned wickedly.
“Y-Y-Yes sir,” Howard whimpered.
“Good boy, now tell me, do you know what a bloodline is to a demon?” Leopold asked while sticking his hand towards Howard.
“COME BACK HERE, PUSSY!” is all Atlas heard besides his heavy breathing and the soles of his sneakers slapping on the pavement as he fled from the bullies. He raced down the block and around the corner towards his house. Reaching his front door, he felt a sense of peace washing over him as he reached into his pockets to grab his keys, but he couldn’t seem to locate them. It’s okay, I probably left them in the house or in my locker at school, he thought to himself, trying to remain calm as he heard the approaching call of “stop hiding you little bitch.” After banging on the door a few times, trying to get the attention of someone in the house, he realized his grandfather had already left for work and his mom hadn’t come home from her shift yet.
“I FOUND HIM! HE’S OVER HERE!” rang in his ear as he realized that his lack of entry into his house gave the bullies a chance to catch up. Before they could regroup outside of his yard, Atlas took off running again, his soles once again pounding on the pavement. I can’t run to Mom—she works halfway across town—so my best bet is to go see Grandpa and get his keys, Atlas thought to himself as he raced down the street towards the manor where his grandfather worked.
Reaching the manor, Atlas raced up the steps, threw the door open, and ducked inside the foyer to seek refuge. Taking a couple deep breaths Atlas heard the bullies call out, “YOU CAN’T RUN FOREVER, WE’LL SEE YOU AT SCHOOL TOMORROW!” and return in the direction from which they came. Atlas waited a few moments to make sure his pursuers had truly fled before got up and wiped his hands on his pants, leaving small palm prints on his thighs from where the sweat rubbed off. Grandpa has worked here for my entire life and I’ve never actually been inside before today, Atlas thought to himself as he explored the foyer.
“Grandpa Howard, where are you? It’s me, Atlas, I can’t find my keys, so I need to borrow yours.” Atlas called out to the seemingly empty manor, “Grandpa Howard, are you here? GRANDPA HOW—”
“I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO NEVER COME HERE ATLAS!” Howard shouted, appearing behind Atlas and putting his hand on his shoulder.
“I know, but I didn’t have my keys and Ma wasn’t home, so I came here to get your keys,” Atlas said, looking up into his grandfather’s stony eyes.
“I don’t care why you’re here; you should’ve never come to begin with. Now take my keys and leave before anyone else sees you.” Howard said, pushing Atlas towards the door. As Howard opened the door to let Atlas out, they heard, “Who’s your guest Howard?” which caused them both to turn around. Approaching them from across the room was Leopold, his beautiful caramel complexion glistening in the light coming from the windows. His 6’5” athletic build intimidated Atlas with its perfection, and making eye contact with Leopold instantly turned Atlas’ stomach inside out. One eye was a white as ivory and the other was a shade of pink Atlas couldn’t put his finger on.
“Are you going to make me ask again?” Leopold asked Howard, the neutral look on his face transforming into a pout.
“N-No of course not, Master Leopold,” Howard said, moving behind Atlas and presenting the boy to the head of the house. “This is my grandson, Atlas. He came by to get my keys, but he’s leaving now.” Howard said, proceeding to open the door and push Atlas out, but Leopold stopped him and crouched down to get a better look at Atlas.
“Atlas is it? A strong name for a strong child.” Leopold said flashing the same smile he gave Howard that night back in ’46. “I knew your genes would be strong. I just didn’t know they would be this strong. He looks exactly like you did when we met.”
“Yes sir, he’s basically my spitting image,” Howard said with his voice wavering. “He must really get going though.”
“Yes, take young Atlas home, but first follow me for a second, I must talk to you,” Leopold said, beckoning Howard to follow. A few minutes went by before Atlas saw Howard enter the foyer by himself.
“Come now Atlas, your mother is probably waiting for us,” called his grandfather as he walked out the door. “Atlas, I want you to know I’m sorry for everything that’s going to go wrong in your life.” A tear from his left eye slid down his face.
“Mr. Jones, your grandfather will see you now,” said the nurse, signaling that it was finally time for Atlas to see Howard. Walking through the waiting room, Atlas thought he spotted his grandfather’s old boss Leopold, but when he turned to check, nothing was there. Atlas entered the room to see his grandfather sitting up in bed staring off into the distance, his eyes cloudy from time.
“Hey Grandpa, how are you feeling today?” Atlas asked as he draped his coat across the back of the guest chair and took a seat.
“I’ve been dying for the past five years,” Howard struggled to reply. Despite never being sick a day in his life, five years ago after Atlas visited Packard Manor, Howard contracted a terminal disease and had been fighting for his life since, but recently the battle had gotten too hard for him to continue.
“How’s the eye, you regain sight yet?” Howard asked sarcastically while violently coughing. Atlas’ left eye had clouded over around the same time that Howard had been hospitalized, leaving him partially blind. “Atlas, I know I’ve been apologizing for the past five years, but I can feel my time coming to an end. I just want to let you know I was young and scared to die. I didn’t know you’d be the price when I made the deal.”
“What deal are you talking about?” Atlas asked.
“My deal with Leopold Wayne—” Howard’s EKG changed from beeping rhythmically to a long deafening beep, shattering Atlas’ world. Nurses and doctors rushed into the room trying to breathe life back into Howard’s body, but they were unsuccessful. Escaping the suffocating atmosphere of the room, Atlas rushed into the hallway for fresh air.
This doesn’t have to be the end, Atlas heard from a voice that he remembered belonged to Leopold. Looking around he abruptly noticed Leopold standing at Howard’s door, watching the doctors’ futile attempts to resuscitate him.
“What do you mean this doesn’t have to be the end?” Atlas asked, riddled with grief.
“I can give him back his life and health if only you follow through on his end of the bargain, my dear Atlas.”
“How would you do that?”
“Don’t worry about that, all I need to know is if I can count on you to follow through on the deal.”
“Yes, fine, I’ll do whatever I have to,” Atlas said, desperate.
“Good boy,” Leopold said, sticking his hand out and flashing a wicked grin, “Now put it there, partner, and I’ll tell you what a bloodline means to a demon.”
by Toni Rendon ’24
Why can’t life be more like The Sims
Where no matter what day it is, we can always win
Strangers come over to celebrate your birthday
And people can empathize with you on your worst days
Let’s build our home from the ground up
A place where happiness can always find us
Where our depression doesn’t have to win
And if we get stuck with it
We can always go to Create a Sim
and re-roll our traits again
Here we have a pause button
So, we don’t keep walking around like we lost something
There’s no fear if our hearts collide
Because here there’s only you and I
The NPCs are insignificant
This is our world, they just live in it
The bad parts, use fast forward to skip it
So, the sad parts we don’t really live it
Imagination is king here, so sky’s our limit
We always know how we are
Because our relationships are tracked in a bar
If we take the modding too far
And our perfect world crashes like a car
Promise that we’ll “Shift + Click” reset us
We can always work out the extras
Maybe this time we’ll get lucky
And the update won’t make the relationship buggy
I’m not trying to be funny
I’m just trying to raise my skills
So, I have what I need to pay our bills
Let’s not get into semantics
Instead use the mischief skill
And let’s get into some antics
We’ll never be bored now
There’s a whole new 64-bit world
For us to explore now
by Toni Rendon ’24
Heartbreaks are like Earthquakes
They rattle your bones, like the way the world shakes
You duck for cover, but there’s no escape
You’re afraid that this will be the last day
The home you built is rocked at the foundations
Cracks appear on the walls in different places
We’re all scared, you can see it on our faces
We don’t know what started this
So, we’ll remain blameless
You lose control as the tectonics shift
Leaving your heart with gaps in it
There’s a distance now, it keeps growing
You had one chance to close it
You blew that, so it kept going
The flaws you tried to hide
Are showing through the cracks on your skin
Your imperfections exposed
Like bricks under the cracking plaster
The ceiling is falling now
You drop to your knees as the world around you breaks
The ripple through your body makes you quiver and shake
This heartbreak makes you wonder
Am I gonna die today?
Trigger Warning: This poem includes
references to suicide and self-harm
by Toni Rendon ’24
Can we dance like Snowflakes?
Tumbling down until we hit the ground
Blood pooling around us
Scaring anyone who finds us
You should’ve known this love was suicidal
When I told you I’d die without you
Because I know the sun won’t peek past the clouds
If you’re not around
So, when you decide to step out on that ledge
Remember to grab my hand
So we can both greet death together
We agreed to “for better or worse and in sickness and health”
But what happens when the sickness and worse stick around
Like a generational curse we can’t break
Do we sit around and wait for the inevitable heartbreak?
Do we slit our wrists and stop our heartbeat?
Or do we pop pills and catch chills
As the world fades around us
We fell in love with broken people
The type who were labeled evil
Because we’re not afraid to watch the world end
We’ve already seen how the sky bends and breaks
And we’ve shed all the tears our hearts can take
So there’s nothing left to do
But dance hand in hand in the air
Like snowflakes until we hear the sound
Of our bones break
Him and Her
by Toni Rendon ’24
She’s so beautifully broken
So softly spoken
Hurt in the moment
Lost in the commotion
He’s entirely hopeless
Drowning in emotions
Needing a connection
This empty bed leaves him restless
Both clumsy and reckless
Living with a death wish
Helping pick up the pieces
Trying to make things even
They give each other meaning
Tryna make up for love’s past treason
All their hearts’ bleeding
The heartbreak seasons
And missed out dreaming
Knowing there’s a reason
For them finally meeting
They fall in love no matter how hectic
A couple of kids