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Part of The Mosaic: Spring 2018




Brought to you by the
Marist College Literary Arts Society

Ode to Nothing
Troy Demers
My Most Loyal Friend
Hannah Kirk
Katherine Maradiaga
Method Acting, For Strangers
Brenden Davis
Sestina for a Toxic Lover
Marisa Prezioso
How to Write a Teen Novel
Brian Spiess
I only express my feelings in ...
Caitlin Gaudio
This Year
Hannah Kirk
Object Impermanence
Matthew Hanright
The Art Of
Isabella D'.Addario
A Tug on a String
Julia Franco
i ever kiss the stars
Paige DiFiore
Cavern Below
Matthew Hanright
Alyssa Casamento
I Brought You Flowers
Elizabeth Gannon
Matthew Hanright

Ode to Nothing
Troy Demers
Third Place, Poetry
You awaken with a panic,
"Did I forget to set an alarm?"
You jump up in bed, and check your phone.
Saturday, January 27th.
Ahh. Saturday, the single most relaxing word in the English lan-
A great relief flows through your body like chamomile tea through
your veins.
... what's there to do today?"
Your brain flies through various responsibilities.
Class. Homework. Work schedule. Social obligations.
Nothing. What a beautiful realization.
The future of your next 16 hours stands over you, arm extended.
So much of life is carefully orchestrated by others, leading many to
feel dissociated from their own lives.
Go to school everyday, and learn about some stuff you don't care
Go home, be respectful to your father, keep your feet off the table.
Go to work, and your boss is shouting at you.

But these next 16 hours, you are free to do absolutely nothing.
One of the best parts about nothing, is that it can easily turn into
Pick up a book and start reading. Call up an old friend and say hel-
lo. Get hooked on a new
But nothing is a rare and special entity, and it should be revered
and honored.
And if what you want to do with your rare nothing-time is nothing,
you should feel legitimized in your nothingness.
The next time you wake up on a Saturday morning with nothing to
do, try
Let the sun rays hit your face in bed with the internalized knowl-
really don't want to .. .I don't have
move from this spot at
makes all that time spent doing something all the more sweet.

My Most Loyal Friend
Hannah Kirk
She is always with me through the day
When I wake up
when I sleep
She never misses a birthday
And she never misses when I weep
She came into my life in high school
And has been with me ever since
She is calm and she is cruel
And stands there when I wince
She goes to all my events
Is there through all my falls
A guidance as she presents
And is there although I don't call
She is with me when I write every paper
And is with me for every decision
Disapproves as if I would caper
And forces me into collision
She is a blanket over me
Though I am not cold
I push but never does she flea
And keeps me in a tight hold
Her consistency I come to depend
She stands by me through it all
Anxiety is my most loyal friend
Because she doesn't leave me at all

Katherine Maradiaga
where do you stand
on baseball versus bungee jumps?
traipsing tailgates or ascending mountaintops? it would be a lie to
ignorance of your position
adventures with you
validate visceral desires to share every drop of sweat
every pound of bone
threats unencumbered
grasp my hand while I make the leap-
your fright of heights
and aversion
tremble at my cognizance
of us, standing on the bluff
you forgo fear for me
I cannot thank you enough

Brenden Davis
My life up until this point has been an exercise in
Method acting.
Who I am, or rather
Who I think I am, is an uncertainty.
I know myself as much as I know you.
I am my own stranger.
But I am still comfortable,
this nothing I'm familiar with can be called comfort.
I'm an actor at heart.


Sestina for a Toxic Lover
Marisa Prezioso
Love until breathing becomes painfully unbearable
Let the waves of lust crash
Into your shoreline as you wait
For him to breathe life into
Your aching lungs, eager and yearning
You need his love, you need his soul
Pure, confused, damaged -
that's his soul
But living without him is unbearable
So here I stay, forever yearning,
Praying for our worlds to crash
Baby please let me fall into
Your ocean; I don't wanna wait
He loves games so I wait
For a sign that his soul
Craves my eyes to look into
The thought of another is unbearable
No one else's bodies can crash
Together like ours; still I'm yearning
Why am I still fucking yearning
For his touch? He doesn't wait
Around for me, begging to crash
Into my body, into my soul.

The way he leaves is unbearable;
No midnight arms
wake into.
What did I get myself into?
Foolishly loving a damaged boy, yearning
For him inside me is unbearable.
I'm so tired of the wait -
The stars can't align our souls;
Our universes weren't meant to crash.
This was an entirely accidental crash-
Or was it? I got into
His car smiling, with my soul
In my hands for him, yearning
For his touch (always worth the wait).
Is the pain really this unbearable?
My yearning soul will search again,
Begging for a crash so unbearable,
I won't wait into the night
his love anymore].

- -
·. {
Third Place, Art


How to Write a Teen Novel
Brian Spiess
Congratulations to all those wannabe Stephanie Meyers, Rick
Riordans, Suzanne Collins, and J.K. Rowlings watching this pre-
sentation! You've taken the next step in writing the newest young
adult novel to take the world by storm! By following these simple
instructions on how to make your teen novel a hit, you'll enter a
world of laughter, excitement, and sweet, sweet profits!
Step 1 - Form a plot of some kind. This step of the process is
pretty easy, as creating a plot
your book is really only limited by
the scope of your imagination. However, for maximum success we
offer these recommended settings/concepts:
• A post-apocalyptic future where some sort of evil tyrant reigns
supreme, to remind your readers that HUMANITY IS BAD
• Something
do with the supernatural, preferably with vam-
pires, ghosts, or really just any monster that teenage girls
would find attractive.
• You also can't go wrong with a classic romance -
boy meets
girl, boy and girl are attracted to each other because of angsting
or pretentious one-liners, and boy and girl overcome massive
obstacles to be with one another. Note that this plot tends to
blend in with the previous two.
Step 2 - Create your main character. Again, creating the main char-
acter of your piece is really only limited to the scope of your imag-
ination, but here are some tips to keep in mind to create a truly
profitable protagonist:
• The angstier, the better. Teens love compelling drama in their
novels -
somehow it makes them feel like they can "relate"
to the main characters, plus it makes them more interesting to
certain demographics.

• Have your main character rebel against some kind of norm.
Again, this makes them more "relatable" to the angsty teens of
today as they fight against their own metaphorical post-apoca-
lyptic tyrants.
• Parental death (one or both is equally fine) is also a great cliche
to use -
especially if you're Disney. This can either be in a
random incident pre-story (better known as death by origin sto-
ry), or in an assassination by the main antagonist, to give your
main character a sense of vengeful purpose.
Step 3 - Include twists and turns for your protagonist as they go
through the story arc
This makes the story more exciting and
unpredictable, and also adds more character development for your
hero. There are several kinds of twists in the world of teen novels,
including but not limited to:
• The betrayal of a friend or love interest.
• The love interest you've been seeing this whole time is not the
person the hero ends up with.
• The cliffhanger - where the story ends in the middle of the
climax or predicament for our hero and is to be concluded in a
Step 4 - Sequel-begging ... that's all I can say. Staple a last-minute
stinger to the end of your novel in hopes that your fan base will
demand a sequel, regardless of whether the plot ended or not.
Step 5 - Write as many sequels as your plot will allow! Assuming
that your novel has a good ending and is loved by at least some
people, you now have free reign to keep suckering in your now-ra
bid fanbase with continuations to your franchise, regardless of
sequel rot or if the book you wrote was really any good to begin

Step 6 -The Franchise! -
Making movies and merchandise out of
your teen novel is an absolute must! Here you can follow in the
footsteps of Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games as you
drain your plot and characters dry in the hopes of getting more
Congratulations once again! You now know the insider secrets
to creating the next great bestselling teen novel! You now have a
piece of literary art that people will praise, compliment, analyze ...
and inevitably find something to complain about. Don't worry,
though! You won't be able to hear the criticisms while counting
your money!
Farewell for now!

only express my feelings in sports metaphors
Caitlin Gaudio
Before Liverpool belonged to you,
It was just a rival crest
With players dressed in the historic shirt
Now the club is
A Swiss knife
With poisoned switchblades
Crisp as alpine air
And your name
May as well be red
Terrifying red
Like drops accumulating
Between split skin
I once believed
You were Istanbul
Where dreams were incarnate
And everything burned red
Magnificent red
But it seems you were actually
The 2015 title run
Your reaction to
s slip
Was likely comparable
To the way I felt
Hearing your voice crack
Over the phone line

I had not realized
When I dreamed of men
Who loved their careers
Their ambition would be more
Than enough to leave
Loyalty behind
You blindsided me more
Than Fernando Torres
In the January transfer window
Because at least with him
There was advanced warning
My record for love
Without heartbreak
Is equal to the count
Of Jamie Carragher's league titles
That is to say
Maybe I should hang up my boots
And take myself out of the game
Just so I can stop
For something that feels
Much too attainable
To have eluded me
This time


Object Impermanence
Matthew Hanright
Tyler was a solid oak
barrel wrapped in just enough
floppy flesh to leave a full foot
of skin and fur hanging to
the ground. The humans he
lived with called him a basset
hound, usually preceded by a
"damned," and he loved them as
they always kept his food bowl
his water dish wet, and his
back well scratched. He showed
them his love as he was best
equipped to do so, with slobber-
ing licks and chewed up papers,
laying like a fifty pound blanket
across their feet at night, and
making sure that anything that
moved watched itself while it
crossed his line of sight.
To their credit, the hu-
mans loved Tyler as well. His
drooping eyes and ears
unconditional love, however
was almost always enough
to brighten a dim day. They
depended on Tyler as something
they all shared in common, and
as a keystone that kept everyone
upright and stable, but not too
close to one another
As such,
the humans would often bring
home new toys for Tyler to play
with. A fluffy blue bunny, crisp
counterfeit newspaper, a won-
derful squeaky snake, and his
absolute favorite: a lime green
plastic toy dinosaur with rotat-
ing head, arms, legs, and tail.
Of course, the baby was always
stealing that one away, think-
ing it was his, but Tyler knew
that when the others had first
brought it home and handed it
to the infant, that that was just
an honest mistake.
Tyler played with that
most magnificent dinosaur for
many years, more than he could
count, and the baby did as well.
Eventually the baby started
speaking to Tyler as well, and
then Tyler got scared. The baby
was always calling him a dread-
bad boy," or telling him
"no." It got to the point where
he needed to fight with the child
just to play with his beloved
dinosaur for a few blissful min-
One day, the infant was
particularly persistent. After
competing for control of the
rapturous reptile for several
minutes, the child finally yanked
it from his mouth and whacked
it down on top of his head. Ty-
ler was hurt, and scared, so he

did what he rarely did: he raised
his voice. The child screeched
and ran into the other room,
dropping the delicious <lino
in his wake. Tyler snatched it
from the ground, and ran to
his favorite chewing spot in the
backyard. With the leaves rus-
tling overhead and sun dancing
across his multitude of folds,
Tyler set once more to nibbling
and slobbering over the dusty
remnants of his once new toy.
He set his teeth to one
of his grooves, along the neck,
when with a pop the head came
free, and shot straight down
his throat. Tyler was surprised,
and growled in annoyance, but
a new protrusion now present-
ed itself for his maw, and he
wasted no time in setting to this
glorious task.
Not much later, at least
he thought so, but he wasn't
so good with time, his stomach
started to growl at him. He
growled back, but instead of
stopping it just started to hurt.
Leaving the decapitated dino-
saur alone for a few minutes,
he wandered about the yard,
searching for some relief from
the growing pressure in his
bowels. He scratched his side
against the tree to no avail, ate
the grass to little effect, and
finally rubbed his butt along
the ground but aside from the
scratching of an annoying itch,
the pain his tummy did not go
Finally, an idea popped
into his mind. There was one
bush he had always stayed away
from, with bright red flowers
and painful thorns. It made his
skin hurt whenever he went by
it, not to mention how much
the human the others called
"mom" seemed to dote over, so
he generally let it keep its space.
But now, since he was already
hurting, maybe the bush could
help it go away?
He lumbered over to the
lower branches and licked at a
blossom. It attacked his tongue,
so he fought it back, pinning
it to the ground with his paws
and biting it only to have it fight
back more. In the middle of
the fight of his life, the pressure
in his stomach finally settled
farther back in Tyler's barrel of a
body. Normally, he would have
went over to the far corner of
the yard, but when nature calls!
He squatted in the middle of the
rose bed, and tried to expel the

extraneous bit from his bowels.
With a whimper, the
head of his favorite dinosaur
popped out and landed in the
middle a fresh turd among the
now trampled roses. With a
nal good shake Tyler set back to
his tattered toy, already forget-
ting whatever had just had him
The clangy door at the
back of the house slapped
against the frame, and Tyler
turned his head towards it.
There was the human called
"mom" and she looked like she
was about to call Tyler a "bad
dog." He pulled his head back
in apprehension as she stepped
over to the shade dappled spot
under the tree and picked up his
surprisingly headless dinosaur.
She spun around and
stomped over towards him. He
cried as she opened her mouth
to say the dreaded words, and
froze as she saw the remains
of her rose bed. With a shriek
she looked back at Tyler, threw
the dinosaur at him, luckily she
missed, and with tears well-
ing in the corners of her eyes
stomped back to the house.
Tyler crept to the door, eager to
only to hear the hu-
man "mom" yelling with the hu-
man "dad." He heard his own
name several times, along with
"that damned basset hound,"
and then the human "dad" was
walking slowly towards him.
He murmured "sorry" to
Tyler, who found that confus
ing, but then picked him up and
carried him to the car. Maybe
he wasn't in trouble after all! A
car ride was always a good time.
The air carried his floppy ears
over the roads until the human
"dad" stopped the car in front of
a low grey building. He clipped
the leash to Tyler's collar, and
suddenly he didn't feel so good.
Where were they? Why did the
human "dad" look so sad? Be-
fore he knew what was happen-
ing some new human was car-
rying him away from the human
"dad" and put him in a cage in
a line of other cages with other,
strange, dogs.
Luckily for Tyler, he's
not so good with time, and
already forgot what was already
preoccupying him earlier. He
couldn't help but feel like he
was missing something, though.
Especially every time he played
with the lime green chewy bone
in the corner.

" I t ' s fun taking something easily mundane and spicing it up a
In terms of photography, I've had a camera since I was
really really young. I've also been breaking cameras since I
was really really young. Ironic, I know. I've had video camer-
as break and duct tape back together or corrode. But I've always
enjoyed taking photos and making short movies even before I
knew how to edit them. Since having a cell phone, I've always had
a camera on me and I'm known to pull it out and take a picture of
an artsy ally in Philly or a random Wawa.
I take pictures because I
see potential in them
and anything can be photogenic if you frame
it the right way and the right angle. I just do it because it's fun.
Writing wise, poetry isn't typically my thing. I've been writing
narrative prose since I was in kindergarten or something. Needless
to say, it's improved. A common thread I've noticed is that a lot of
the stuff I've been writing is kind of weird and quirky and different.
Most of what I write takes place in the real world and theortically
could happen, although it likely wouldn't.
I write to tell stories
stories leading up to the specific present of the narrator, or the sto-
ry of a few moments, or of a couple days, weeks or years whether
it's the story of 5 strangers meeting in a cafe, or a girl who's afraid
of oranges, or a cat sitting on a string and unraveling reality. I don't
buy into the whole poetic metaphor thing
talking about a thing
in flowery language for 8 or 10 lines, then it all clicking together
with the central metaphor and some statement about the nature or
life or reality.
I'm writing something, there may not be a deeper
message or truth about life or poetic point I'm trying to make. I'm
just telling the story,
leaving meaning up to the person reading it.
I ever become famous, the English teachers are going to have a
field day trying to put meaning in it."




The Art of Missing
Isabella D' Addario
I was walking across town.
The sky was dark
The road was slippery
My boots were muddy
As I walked across town,
My mind on a journey
Of all the roads
The roads I traveled
The roads long gone
As my mind thought on,
Heart fluttering within my chest
Cold aura of air
Warmth under my skin
My boots walked on
My heart still fluttering inside,
I am reminded of places
And of the people
And of the moments
I once was present in
My mind rings, reminding me,
My quietly happy soul thinks
I miss these places
I miss these things
I miss this, everything,
Happy soul thinks and feels,
Happy soul walking across town
Dead of the night
Ears ringing amongst voices
Happy soul thinks internally
Of all she ever misses.

The Art of Breathing
Isabella D' Addario
Inhale warm air
Stiffened nose from the biting cold
After walking inside
Your fingers to toes thawing out
Exhale warm air
Recollecting the thoughts
Whims once whistling in the wind
Solitaire stacked columns
Of all your royally flushed thoughts
Thoughts are recollected
Suck in deeply
Filling your wetted pink lungs dry
Particles slowly dissipating into the wild
Air falls flat
Hello old lungs
Stretching then filling and releasing slowly
Hello old thoughts
Recollecting then stacking and inspiring surely
Hello old self
Reappearing then staying and living fully.



The Art of Loving
Find a love
That makes
Your heart
Stop the way
The stoplight
Turns red,
Slowly, never without
Some warning,
Some sign,
You feel yourself
Breaking, stopping
Falling, fell
The love swells
Your victim
To its
Fall in love
The way
The stoplight
Isabella D' Addario
Feeling everything deliberately
Falling slowly,
And suddenly.

The Art of Dreaming
Isabella D' Addario
The once billowing waves
Burying me underneath them
Suffocating my stricken throat
Gripping around my neck
Receding and allowing air
To swell my lungs
The air of reality
More stifling than waves
Send me back under
Put me to sleep
Seize my mindless thoughts
Tuck me in please
Send me to dream
Of those billowing waves
That I ride nimbly
Never tumbling underneath them
Send me to dream
Ship leaving its dock
Exiting her safe harbor
Unafraid of those waves
Sure she'd reign victory
Make me that ship
Water take over me
Send me

Second Place

A Tug on a String
The cat sat on the string.
Julia Franco
Second Place, Poetry
The string was the thread of the universe.
When the cat got up from the string, it tugged it a little bit.
And that tug - well,
It tugged just enough to start ripping.
Ripping away the string from the fabric it was apart of.
Now there's a hole.
And of course, as they do, by some unknown power, it's getting
And bigger.
And bigger.
What happens when the universe starts ripping?
Things bleed.
Time bleeds.
The future becomes the past and the past becomes the present.
And that string, tugged, rips a little further away.
Reality splits and the imaginary becomes real and the real becomes
a dream.
Physics no longer work
And imaginary numbers are tangible and blocking traffic.
And the sound of a car horn topples the Eiffel Tower because the
light waves draw it in.
Chaos whirls and swirls and
The color green tastes like triangles.
Visible light gives you frost bite
And stars fall to earth writing binary in the sky.
Everything we seemed
know simply becomes irrelevant as
Dividing by zero now produces a small European island.
Memories of touching gamma rays erase all others and

Black holes open, spitting kitchen knives into Ancient Egypt.
Gods from every mythology blink into, and then out of, existence.
The very ground melts away into cardboard and the emotion of
Tuesday at noon.
Like Schrodinger said, everything is now alive and dead simultane-
Waiting for the future that has erased it.
Words are now spelled with darkness and music and alligators
And the common dog glows pink, then red, then dodecahedron.
The moon is a man and that man knows nothing about how banan-
as feel.
Something springs from nothing, and nothing springs into the
back seat of the Jeep
Speeding into the Third Law of Thermodynamics.
What ever is and whatever was is now irrelevant, lost
Like the left sock in the dryer that has evaporated into F#.
Pieces from other worlds come falling through the holes
Only to vanish again in a blaze of wood.
Everything implodes and explodes like a card game about kittens,
Colliding and flying and falling into a singularity and then apart
once more.
And when the seam is completely split
And reality has finally burned itself out like a candle and the num-
ber seven,
One question lingers.
Who was this cat?



Cavern Below
Matthew Hanright
Third Place
Bertrand had never seen
a rat before. He'd expected the
long whiskers, wiry pink tail,
and even the bits of filth trapped
at the corners of its mouth. The
rat twisted its head and stared
straight at Bertrand's eyes while
its muzzle wiggled and bobbed
about, sniffing. Those teeth
looked pretty scary, but he had
still never expected a rat to look
so, well, cute!
Its ears twitched and
turned toward Bertrand's
mother and its head soon fol-
lowed. His mother was very
tall, though, of course, Bertrand
was still very short so it could
be hard to tell. Her dun blonde
hair was tucked into a bun re-
vealing her pinched and solemn
face. Her frayed white apron
was tied about her waist to
protect her rippled gray blouse
from stray potato and carrot
particulates as she chopped for
the evening meal.
The rat suddenly start-
ed dragging its paws from just
behind its strange rotating ears
all the way along its stretched
out face to its pinkish nub of a
nose. After it finished a pass it
nibbled its hands for a moment
then started afresh from the
back. Bertrand couldn't help
but let out a little giggle from
his vantage: leaning into the
kitchen from the doorway to
the living room. He fell to the
floor and started imitating the
rat with his own face and hands,
giggling the whole time.
"Bertrand, what on Earth
are you doing?" He stopped
and looked up with a wide grin
stretched across his face at his
mother who had stopped with
her chopping knife embedded
halfway through a potato to
look at Bertrand's strange new
antics. A wry half-smile rose to
meet her one raised eyebrow,
which was the best he had got-
ten out of her in awhile.
"Just what
doing!" he
exclaimed with a stubby finger
pointed to the spot the rat had
been sitting just a moment be-
fore. He frowned as only empty
air now met his gaze and his
mother let out a quiet chuckle.
"Oh, so you went a made
a new invisible friend I see!
Monty, Jeffrey, Suzy, Mr. and
Mrs. Jingles, Dad and I aren't

enough these days, I suppose.
Not to mention all of your out
side pals-"
"Uh-uh!" Bertrand broke
in. "There was a rat
right there,
and it was doing
this with its
hands and I thought it was re-
ally funny so
was doing it too
"Wait, there was a rat!
Right there!?" His mother re-
sponded, her subtle mirth evap-
orated in an instance. "What
did it look like? Was it big?
Was it scratching at things, or
foaming at the mouth?"
Bertrand shook his head
as hard as he could until he
was red in the face. "Nu-uh! It
was cool and nice, but I dunno
where it went. D'you think it'll
be back?" he asked, brow fur-
rowed in heartfelt concern.
His mother was still
looking all around the kitchen
as though it could leap from a
corner at any moment. "Good-
ness, I hope not. I'll have to
make sure we get more traps
the next time Dad or I go to the
Now Bertrand's brow
was furrowed in surprise and
anger! "No! You can't hurt
him, what's he ever done to
"Oh, please, Bertrand.
Rats are vermin,
Tears welled in his eyes
and mucus rushed to clog his
nose as his eyebrows fell to a
hurt, sorrowful stance. "He was
cool! And he probably wanted
play! With me!" He scram-
bled to his feet as he finished
shouting and ran out of the
kitchen, across the living room,
through the hall and into his
room where he launched onto
his bed and buried his head into
his pillow, tears and mucus now
flowing freely. The one thing
in the whole world that actually
wanted to play with him, and
they were going to trap it and
kill it and call
a pest!
Hours later Bertrand's
chest rose and fell in a regular
the slow pulse of the
stars in the night sky. A warm,
hand-made quilt was tucked in
around him, the crumbs and
remnants of his dinner swept
from the dinner table, and fresh
clothes were laid out on the
chair beside his bed to wear
come the morning.
Of course, he wasn't
really there, in the cozy bed

in the dark and quiet house.
No, he was running through
the forest outside, except the
trees reached all the way to the
clouds only letting through a
dapple of light to dance atop the
mossy carpet of the ground.
Bertrand dashed from one
tree to the next, eyes peeled
for the seeker he was hiding
from. Suddenly he was tossed
to the ground which was soft
as a goose-feather mattress as
something jumped on him from
behind. He burst out laughing
and squirmed to wrestle with
the rat who had found him
fair and square. Of course, he
didn't really
like a rat any-
more, he looked like a kind dog
Bertrand had seen on the street
a few days ago, but Bertrand
in his heart that it was ac-
tually the rat from the kitchen.
A sudden scratching to
his left distracted him from
playing with the rat/dog. There,
a small rat was scratching at
the base of one of the trees,
though it sounded like someone
scratching on his bedroom door.
No, it was
rat who was
no longer playfully wrestling
with Bertrand, but obsessively
scratching at the base of the
Bertrand opened his eyes
and shifted his shoulders from
beneath the handmade quilt
tucked around him and rolled
onto his left shoulder. He had
just started to doze again when
the scratching started again, but
now it was
at his door,
and not the base of a tree.
Warm light streamed from
beneath the bedroom door in
a clean line, broken only by a
small, stationary shadow. From
which the scratching originat-
ed. Cautious, but hoping it
was his rat friend from earlier,
Bertrand stepped from his bed
into his slippers and reached to
open the door. Just as his hand
reached the knob the scratching
stopped, and when he opened
the door the hallway was empty.
But, why had his parents left the
lights on?
Turning towards his
parents' room, a shrill squeak
tugged his head quickly the
other way. In the middle of the
hallway sat his rat friend, whis-
kers twitching at the air, nose
pointed straight at Bertrand.
He seemed dirtier than before
though, with mud all along
his belly and paws and his fur

looked soaking wet. Bertrand
lowered his head and stepped
forward, hoping for a closer
look now that he'd been given a
second chance.
In a flash the rat was run-
ning away, but it stopped at the
top of the stairs and looked back
at Bertrand. The boy's eyes
shone and he dashed to chase
his whiskered friend. A game!
Just like in his dream!
The rat scampered down
the stairs always keepingjust
ahead of Bertrand. It graceful-
ly rounded the corner without
slowing down and
to the
foot of the staircase. Bertrand
was too scared to jump all the
way from the landing, but he
hopped to the ground from
the second step anyway. He
stopped after just a few steps
and his mouth fell open. The
door at the end of the hall stood
fully open revealing a dark
room with a soft glow far below
where the floor should be. His
rat friend sat at the edge of the
frame as though beckoning Ber-
trand forward.
"Now, Berty, don't go
down there, do you under-
stand?" he remembered his
father intoning once, when
Bertrand had asked about the
locked door at the end of the
ground floor hall. "It's dirty,
dank, dark, and downright
dangerous in there.
don't even
go down there unless absolutely
necessary. And besides, there's
probably rats and all sorts of
vermin, too."
The Basement.
True, he wasn't supposed
to go down there, but the door
had always been locked before,
so it standing there unlocked
and wide open was different,
right? And besides, he did
want a
friend to play
with. Still, his father was sad
enough these days anyway, may-
be he shouldn't do something to
make him angry ...
Bertrand looked back up
the staircase as though he could
see his parents' room from here
and receive some sort of guid-
ance through the door. Another
squeak drew his attention back
to the open door with his rat
friend at the precipice.
Well, maybe just a
game of tag, or something. And
then right back to bed. They
could always play more in the
morning, right?
His slippers padded

the sound of his feet moving
his body down the hall to his
waiting friend
His knees were
shaking and his mouth dry. He
was far more nervous than he
felt he should be.
At the door Bertrand set
a hand against the frame and
craned his neck to peak down
at the basement proper. The
walls and floor were dirt, but
the light was steady and didn't
leave any
creepy shadows.
Besides, the rat was now sitting
on a step halfway down, and he
couldn't hurt his friend's feel-
ings by following him all this
way just to back out
Damp, musty wind
rushed up the stairs to tousle
Bertrand's hair as he stepped
past the door frame. He
clutched the railing until his
knuckles turned white and set a
foot on the first step. Nothing
happened. Huh. Well, maybe
this wouldn't be
bad. His
other foot swiftly descended
beside the other.
The door slammed shut
behind with such force he was
almost knocked off his step.
Right arm windmilling Bertrand
pulled on the railing with all of
his might
regain his balance.
He looked at the door. It was
covered in scratches and gouges,
green paint peeling everywhere,
rusty knob almost falling out.
Were those
marks at the
Tentative fingers reached
for the drooping knob as the
door started shaking violently.
The door
towards him,
and then the moaning started.
At first it sounded like someone
in pain, and Bertrand worried
sort of sounded like his
father. Then
got angry. The
knob started twisting and some-
one yelled from the other side.
The door
forward again,
then again and again.
Tears rolled down Ber-
trand's cheeks, but his feet
refused to move. A metal thunk
broke his trance as the door-
knob finally gave up and fell
out. He watched in horror as
the knob rolled down the steps,
steadily picking up speed. His
feet finally moved as he rushed
down the steps to catch it.
Bertrand barely noticed as the
railing fell from underneath his
hand. He blinked and looked,
but where it should have been
was nothing but a dark void.

He looked around and saw that
everything had changed. The
walls had fallen away leaving a
too narrow staircase descending
from the ceiling of a massive
He looked back the way
he had come, but the door
had vanished into shadow. He
looked down the stairs
find a
warm light emanating from an
old candle lantern. The knob
had continued its race
ground, so Bertrand started
again, though with a little less
speed than before, all too aware
of the lack of railing.
About halfway down he
finally noticed a growing low
rumble from the ground be-
neath him. Not wanting to look
away from where he was placing
his feet his eyes darted up for
just a moment. Was that ... a
waterfall? He paused and looked
again. Off to the right a stream
of water about two feet wide fell
from shadowed heights down
to the start of a small stream.
Why was all of this under their
The knob was starting to really
get away from him so Bertrand
started running down the stairs
again. Besides, he was proba-
bly close enough to the ground
that a fall wouldn't hurt
too bad,
When he finally reached
the bottom he stumbled and
fell to his knees as his feet kept
moving expecting another step
down. He scrambled forward
on all fours as quickly as he
could, but already knew that it
was too late. Before his eyes
the knob rolled over the bank of
the little stream into the rush-
ing waters and sunk, quicker
than it should have?
He reached
the knob back, but his arm was
pulled back against his will, as
something had grabbed his
sleeve and pulled it back!
Bertrand's head whipped
around and his eyes grew to the
size of saucers. He was
face with a massive white wolj1
His legs moved to get back up
as he twisted and tried to shove
off the ground with his hands
only to flail through the air and
fall back down. He was just
about to fall all the way into the
stream as the wolf lunged for-
ward and grabbed the front of
his shirt with its muzzle to yank
him back onto shore.
Even still, one of his

fingers grazed the surface of the
water and it burned! Bertrand
collapsed on the shore, curling
up and cradling his blistered fin-
He stiffened as he felt the
wolf brush his back, but instead
of attacking it curled up around
He whimpered as a
canine face appeared, looming
over his own. The back of his
throat burned and his entire
body was shaking uncontrolla-
bly. The wolf just leaned in and
started licking the tears from
Bertrand's cheeks.
Slowly, the tears stopped
flowing, his nose cleared up,
and his hiccupy breath evened
out. Before Bertrand even knew
what was happening, he fell
When he woke up the
walls of the cavern had gotten
white and fuzzy. He shifted off
of a rock digging into his side
and the walls shifted around
him. An enormous wolf face
appeared over his and yawned.
He scrambled away as
his memories returned of what
had happened before he fell
asleep. The wolf jumped to its
feet, instantly alert, and started
looking around for the source of
Bertrand's concerns.
Eyes clouding with tears,
Bertrand almost fell to the
ground again, but there was the
wolf leaning against him, keep-
ing him propped up. He tried
to wipe his eyes with the back
of his left hand while his right
gripped a fistful of the wolf's
fur. The wolf started slowly
walking and Bertrand followed,
still rubbing tears from his eyes.
With a final sniffle and
fit of blinks Bertrand cleared his
eyes enough to look where the
wolf was leading him. A long
tunnel opened before them, and
though it was dark he could see
a faint glow at the far end.
He clutched to the wolf's
back with both hands as the
light faded before them, and
whimpered when he could no
longer see his feet. The light
ahead was steady, though, and
every so often the wolf's gleam-
ing eyes would lock with his
own, assuring Bertrand that
everything was alright and he
was safe.
Something was squirm-
ing beneath the growing light
from ahead, though. A goliath
shadow tossed back and forth,

letting out a high pitched whim-
per every time it moved.
trand didn't know better, he'd
have said it sounded like quiet
The figure bolted up-
right in an instant and Bertrand
pulled the wolf to a stop. An
enormous, gaunt rat sat before
them, tears streaming down its
It thrashed in a filthy,
yellowed scrap of cloth that
looked like it had once been an
apron. Despite the fact that he
could see the rat's ribs through
its fur bits of moldy potato and
carrot were strew about it, as
though it had recently gorged
The rat flopped over on
its side and resumed whimper-
ing. The wolf pulled Bertrand
on, inching ever closer
monstrous rodent. The rat
rolled over so that's mournful
face lay at his feet. It opened its
eyes and Bertrand almost burst
out crying right alongside it.
Despite his fears, he knelt down
beside the rat and gave his best
effort at hugging its head.
It nestled closer to him
and its whimpers quieted until
they slowly faded altogether.
The wolf watched as the rat's
emaciated form started to fill.
With every breath the gaps
between its ribs lessened, and
its useless muscles knit back
together stronger than ever. A
final pulse emanated from the
gentle kiss Bertrand planted on
top of its head.
Easing itself from Ber-
trand's grip, the rat sat up and
considered the small, strange
creature before it. As Bertrand
sat up it snuffled his face, elic-
iting a small giggle. It turned,
ruffled through its ragged nest,
grabbed something between its
jaws and quickly started back
down the tunnel. The wolf gen-
tly urged Bertrand forward with
its head, so he grabbed onto its
back once again and did so.
When they reemerged
into the main cavern the rat was
sitting on its haunches before
the acidic stream. Bertrand
squatted by its side and the wolf
sat beside him. The rat leaned
over and set before him the
thing it had carried there in its
mouth. A simple wooden net
rested between his form and the
bank of the stream.
Bertrand picked up the
net and looked
the rat for
further guidance. It reached

into the stream with its stub-
by paws and started feeling
around. At first he was scared;
his burnt finger still ached from
just brushing the surface. But
the rat seemed fine, and when it
pulled a soggy bit of paper from
the waters its paws were un-
Reassured, Bertrand
dipped his new net beneath the
filthy waters and started draw-
ing it along, searching for the
lost door knob. A pile of soggy
papers, soaked clothes, and bits
of trash quickly grew behind
them. Some papers had angry
red messages of "Final Notice,"
others were dissolving old ads
for the store his father had once
owned but which he now said
was "kaput," Bertrand even
found a pair of glasses in his net
which looked suspiciously like
his father's.
As they worked, clearing
the stream of its litter and detri-
tus the waters steadily cleared.
A splash of water sprayed across
all three of them as a beautiful
fish turned back for deeper wa-
ter. Bertrand cried out, but the
water no longer burned. In fact,
it felt kind of nice.
At last a final sweep of the net
brought a shiny brass knob with
it. Warm light reflected from
its gleaming surface revealing
Bertrand's dirty face and tangled
hair. It looked far too nice and
new to be the same rotted rusty
knob which had originally fallen
from the door, but it did have
the same shape.
The rat and wolf quiet-
ly slipped from his sides. He
turned to look and saw them
sitting on opposite sides of the
foot of the towering staircase.
Bertrand clutched the knob to
his chest and started up the
stairs. The wolf followed along
his side, but the rat stayed
sitting on the ground. After
the first dozen or so stairs he
stopped and waved good-bye to
the rat. It waved a scrawny paw
He had to stop a few
times to catch his breath, this
staircase was really tall! But,
he made steady progress and
the knob remained firmly in his
hand. When he finally reached
the point where the stairs en
tered the ceiling forming dirt
walls he noticed he no longer
saw the wolf's bobbing form to
his left. He looked back, but
didn't see it anywhere. Not

on the steps, not back on the
ground with the rat, nowhere!
But, then, why did he feel
like it was still with him?
Bertrand drew in a deep
breath and started up the last
few steps. The door looked a lot
better than he remembered, too.
It was still scratched up, but the
paint was no longer peeling and
there were no signs of the bite
marks he'd thought he'd seen.
The knob slipped easily back
into its slot.
He glanced back a final
time, and the cavern was
The steps ended not far below
him on a smooth, cobbled floor
and wooden shelves crammed
with boxes lined the walls of a
small, somewhat dank room.
"Bertrand!" he heard
from the otherside. His moth-
er sounded frantic, her voice
"Bertrand!" came again,
closer to the door. His father's
voice was scratchy and worried,
too. He twisted the knob and
the door swung wide open. His
father dashed from the kitchen
into the hallway where his face
lit up with relief as he dashed
to his son who he immediately
scooped into a tight hug.
"Mary! He's in here!"
His father's cheeks were
scratchy with stubble as they
rubbed against Bertrand's own.
His mother dashed down the
stairs and hugged him, too.
"How' d you even get
there?" his father whispered as
they cradles him. Soft morn
ing light drifted in through the
living room windows.
"Nevermind," his mother
responded. "He's safe, and here
with us."

Alyssa Casamento
Your worst self
Is what happens
When you believe
You've reached your best self
Curiosity didn't kill the cat
Complacency did
Because without growth
What do we have?
An intellectual stand still
Landlocked in ignorance
You owe your mind
A constant expansion
To places it's never been
And didn't know existed
Freed from an invisible binding
You didn't know you wrapped
So tightly
There's a whole lot out there
Just to stay
Where the water's warm
Your worst self
Is what happens
When you believe
You can no longer


I Brought You Flowers
Elizabeth Gannon
First Place, Prose
There was a knock at the
door. Iggy dropped the paint
roller she had been wrestling
with into its tray and smoothed
back her hair. She frowned at
the phone buzzing on the count-
er, shutting it off as she passed.
She opened the door and found
herself face-to face with a huge
bouquet of flowers. It shifted
slightly and a pair of brown eyes
appeared between some hydran-
"Hey, babe."
Iggy squealed. "Beck!" She
wrapped her arms around him,
which was quite difficult con-
sidering that there was a flower
arrangement between them. A
strange smell filled her nose,
but she ignored it.
The Hermans
are probably trying to figure out mac
and cheese again,
she thought.
"Can I come in?" Beck
grunted. "These flowers are
Iggy let go and went
back into the house. Her house.
God, that felt good. She leaned
against the counter and watched
her boyfriend set the bouquet
down. She smiled. "What's the
big occasion?"
He brushed his hands off
on his sweater and smiled back.
"Nothing. I just thought you'd
like something to brighten up
the place. What're you up to?"
"That's so sweet! I'm
painting the living room." She
put her hand up to her chin and
looked at it thoughtfully. "It was
supposed to be lavender mist,
but I think I ended up with elec-
tric magenta." She smirked. "My
brother did LSD in college, and
that's probably one of the colors
he saw."
Beck put his arm around
her and contemplated her paint
job. "I like it. It's like you:.
bright and loud and beautiful.
The perfect living room for
Iggy gave him a kiss.
"Thanks, babe. But really, it's
the perfect living room for
When are you going to move
He sighed. "Soon, babe,
soon. I've just got a few more
things to deal with at my place
and then I'm all yours."
She giggled. ''All mine, huh?"
She ran her fingers across his
chest and leaned in.

Buzz buzz!
Beck pulled away from
her and looked at his phone. His
forehead creased with worry as
he read the screen. "I gotta go."
"Why, what's wrong?"
Iggy had never seen her boy-
friend this way before. It was
almost as if he had stepped out-
side himself and left a strange,
new Beck behind. It frightened
her. "Babe?"
He snapped out of it. His
face relaxed and he half-smiled,
half-grimaced. "Bugs. The re-
altor thinks that I might have
termites. I have to go check
out, see if it's a big problem."
He kissed her goodbye
and rushed out the door, leaving
her with her house, her crazy
living room, and her flowers.
She exhaled. Termites. It
was a perfectly good reason for
him to get upset.
If it was really
the issue that the realtor said it
was, the sale might fall through.
He had to go so that he could
get it fixed, and he could move
in, and they could begin their
new life together. In this house,
in this living room, with these ...
Iggy buried her face in
the bouquet and took a big
whiff. They were some of the
most exquisite, vibrant flowers
she had ever seen, shimmering
shades of pink, white and yel-
low. There was a daffodil, and
hydrangeas, and carnations and
several others that she couldn't
even name. She had never been
good with plants, that was her
friend Terese's thing.
I'm too
hotheaded, too impatient.
She inhaled again and
stopped short. There was that
weird smell again. It was famil-
iar, somehow, but she couldn't
quite place it. She sorted
through the flowers. Was there
a bad one in there? In the mid-
dle of the bouquet was a clump
of little pink blossoms, slight-
ly shriveled and graying. She
sniffed them and immediately
wanted to puke. Her stomach
churned and there was a bad
taste at the back of her throat.
"What are these?" She choked.
Had the florist put in some
rotten, poisonous flower by mis-
Iggy's phone buzzed
again and she groaned. She hat-
ed that thing. Every few min-
utes it buzzed, its green light
blinking for attention. It was
worse than a baby. Usually it

was an update message about an
app she never used. The screen
lit up. She had several unread
texts from Terese. Iggy had nev-
er been good about answering
texts, mainly because she kept
getting distracted. She reached
for the phone, but then she re-
Wait, didn't Terese give
me a book about flowers last month?
She shut off the phone and ran
to get it.
Terese was obsessed with
plants. She kept several flower
gardens that were meticulously
tended, no small feat for some-
one living in a place with an av-
erage of four hours of sunlight a
day. Iggy remembered one poor
man who had made the mis-
take of carving his name into a
tree in front of Terese. She had
screamed at him until she was
hoarse and reported him to the
park ranger. "Trees and flowers
are our friends," she said by way
of explanation. "They feel and
hurt just like we do. I should
know." Horticulture had never
grown on Iggy, but it wasn't for
lack of trying on Terese's part.
Iggy read the inscription
Therese had written on the
don't understand, so I will translate
for you. There are many interpreta-
tions, but these are mine and mine
alone. Be sure to always listen to
what they are trying to tell you.
Iggy had always chalked
these words to Terese's standard
hippie-dippiness, but for some
reason, they now seemed ... ur-
She flipped through the pages.
The first one she landed on was
snapdragon. She smiled
self as she looked at the picture
that matched one of the yellow
blossoms in her bouquet. That's
what they were called.
Curious, she glanced at
the meaning that Therese had
penciled in.
Yellow snapdragon,
Iggy frowned. That was
pretty dark for such a cheerful
flower. She shook her head.
Weird. It wasn't Beck's fault;
he didn't know the meanings
of flowers, especially the crazy
ones that Therese had cooked
up. She searched the book for
a picture of the little white
flowers in the vase. Anemones,
that's what they were called.
Like the sea creature.
book's inside cover.
Every flower
White anemones, hopeless-
has something to say. I know you

Iggy laughed nervously.
to be a coincidence, a creepy
coincidence, right?
daffodils, she thought, rifling the
book's pages frantically.
can't be anything scary about daffo-
Daffodils, the book said.
Iggy breathed a sigh of
See, Iggy, nothing to be afraid
Another notation caught
her eye.
Single daffodil, Misfor-
Slowly, her stomach
filling with dread, she looked
up at the bouquet. Among all of
the flowers, there was only one
"No! No no no ... "
White hydrangeas, Heart-
Pink carnations, Fear.
Her fingers trembled as
she flipped to the page after
carnations. A cluster of little
pink flowers wound delicately
around a tree branch. Those
awful smelling flowers! Iggy was
almost too afraid to look.
Peach blossoms, I am your
Iggy shook. "Oh God
oh God oh God." She glanced
fearfully at the bouquet on her
counter. The flowers that had
been so beautiful moments ago
now seemed grotesque. What
kind of freaky florist did Beck
get these flowers from?
She stood up. She had to
throw them away. Even if Beck
had given them to her, she was
not going to be able to sleep
with them in the house.
Iggy grabbed the flowers
by the stems and lifted them
out of the vase, using her free
hand to open the compost bin
that Therese had convinced her
to create. She cursed. The stems
had one of those stupid burlap
bags rubber banded around the
bottom. She worked the bag
off and dropped it on the floor.
The room filled with a horrible
smell. A brown liquid dripped
out of the tips of the stems. Iggy
Disgusting, rotten flowers.
She dumped the flowers
into the bin.
I don't care if it isn't
garbage day, Iggy thought, this
thing is going outside. She gripped
the sides of the can and froze.
One flower hadn't made it into
the trash can. It was lying on
the floor, still clinging to the
burlap sack. It was that stupid
peach blossom.

Iggy pinched the twig between
two fingers. Despite its wilt, rot
and disturbing meaning, it was
still a lovely plant. She ran her
fingers over the delicate petals
and her fingernails snagged.
Something was wound around
the woody stem. She pulled out
a lock of chocolate brown hair
soaked in the nasty stem liquid.
Her stomach dropped. Hair?
She looked closer, and saw that
the liquid wasn't really brown at
all, but red.
Buzz! Buzz!
The phone screen glowed
again with unread messages.
Terese's profile picture beamed
out, honeysuckle and lilac blos-
soms sticking out of her dark
brown hair. The home screen
listed a few of her latest texts.
10:54 pm: Could you come get me?
11 :07 pm: Im at the park pls get me
11: 10 pm:
gd hlp hes
ollwng n
11: 13 pm pls anser
As the phone continued
to buzz and tears rolled down
her cheeks, Iggy finally realized
exactly what the peach blos-
soms smelled like.

First Place, Art

Matthew Hanright
Second Place, Prose
The clock ticked.
A second passed.
Next to me is Tommy, my brother, second in the row.
He's on the rowing team, they came in second at the last race.
I was in a race once in school, third in the row, and my friend
Jimmy won second.
We often race to Jimmy's house which is second on the row
of our street, which the school lays at the end of, with the
waving out front.
I wave
Mr. Moriarty, the second youngest in his family from
the proud Irish race, whose three younger brother lie in a row
in the cemetery after falling in the war, and who is the first
his family to graduate from high school.
I see war on the television, foreign schools leveled to dust in
wave of bombs and people racing away from the fighting, now
slipping into its second decade, people say the countries are in
bit of a row

Grandmother tells me not
watch the news, she doesn't like the
war, she would rather I weed the corn out back, the second row
is looking particularly forlorn even waving in the breeze, and she
says gardening is a useful skill they don't teach in school, but to
take your time because it isn't a race.
Grandfather loves to tell corny jokes, about his time in the war,
or his first wife, grandmother is his second, especially after we
rowed his boat across the waves of the lake where the flag of the
school can still be seen over the trees, where he says we're finally
free of technology, as all members of the human race should be.
Of course, none of us are free from the ticking seconds of the clock,
though we might race from the sight or war with ourselves over
the thought, or drown our thoughts in the television, or school
ourselves because there must be a cure or a stop, it still comes as
a wave, and no amount of weeding the corn rows can stop that.
The clock ticks.
A second passed.

Literary Arts Society Executive Board
Katherine Maradiaga
Emily Hollenbach
Brian Spiess
Julia Franco
Elizabeth Gannon
Matthew Hanright
Brenden Davis
Faculty Advisor
Dr. Lea Graham
& design by Brenden Davis
cover photo by Julia Franco

to the gods who created these worlds,
to the adventurers who journey therein,
thank you.


Is Format Of