The College Question I Never Answered by Lily Roth

In my college application process, I came across a fantastic question that I never had the opportunity to answer. So, I’ll answer it now. “

The Block Plan combines the flexibility to leave campus with intense immersion in a single subject. My new course entitled, “The Outsiders: A Comparison Between Flamenco and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” illustrates how the history of Flamenco music and dance parallels the origin of rock and roll. The first two weeks in Spain will focus on the history and influence of Flamenco music. Flamenco originated in the eighteenth century as a means for expressing the difficulty of poverty and violence through the content and style of its songs. With one week in Seville and one in Madrid (the two regions most well-known for their Flamenco performances), students will experience the culture, language, food, and history of each region while learning about Flamenco to create an immersive study.

The history of Flamenco will be compared to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, which stemmed from blues, the music of the oppressed and poor African American population in the mid-20th century American rural South. Memphis, Tennessee is the birthplace of rock and roll and where the remaining days of the block will be spent exploring the history of rock ‘n’ roll and blues as a lament for change. The days in Memphis will be filled with trips to historical venues such as Graceland (the estate of Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”), Sun Studio (The Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll), and Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which houses more than two thousand musical artifacts. By visiting these historical venues and absorbing the vibrant music scene that defines this city, students will be able to see the history that influences today’s music. From lessons in music history and culture, students will gather historical context and further appreciate the social and political patterns of the era. While the origins of these musical genres are separated by two hundred years and very different circumstances, the soulfulness and celebration that they embody tell a shared story of how deprivation can inspire greatness.

Growing Up by Madi Hart

When I was born, my brothers were 13 (almost 14) and 16 years old. By the time I was 2, my older brother was graduating from high school, and by 5, my other brother left too, leaving me alone in the house with my parents. I grew up with the memories of my brothers’ childhoods being reflected on, not created.

As I get closer to graduation, I’m watching my brothers and their friends adjust to being adults. Their friends, who would come to our house for dinner when they were in high school, are having babies, buying houses, getting married, and settling down for good. It’s weird. I remember watching them make the mistakes that high schoolers make (through the broken pieces of eavesdropped stories I could gather), and I’m understanding those stories now with firsthand experiences. I remember watching them leave the house after dinner, making the air quiet and still, which is something I do now. I remember when our mom would go run errands and they’d babysit me, and now I’m babysitting the children of families down the street. The cycle of life goes on, with iPhones in our hands in place of Walkmans.

My brothers will soon watch me adjust to being an adult, and the children I babysit for will soon reflect on their childhoods (as I am doing now) and wonder how they made it so far.

Report Card by Mariah Jordan

Like failing schools and failing students, failing parents should have a report card.

Parent-teacher conferences, concerts, Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), have one thing in common: white parents are visible supporting theirs kids, but black parents are absent from the crowd. The racial disparity at school events is synonymous to the racial makeup of academic courses. College Preparatory (or as some bigoted students call them, “Colored-Placement”) courses and Advanced Placement (“Asian-Placement”) classes are segregated by ethnicity. I’ve been one of few black faces in my classes for as long as I can remember. Isolation from my black peers forced me to question why I sat alone in AP classes. What differentiated me from my black peers? Parental involvement?

I attended the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) Conference in 2016, which brings students from diverse school districts together to draft initiatives to improve race relations in their community. I drafted the Minority Outreach Initiative (MOI) to combat the insufficient minority parent involvement. Designed to serve as a sub-program of PTO, MOI caters specifically to the educational endeavours of minority students by promoting minority parental engagement. In 2017, again, I attended MSAN and developed a mentorship program for black 7th and 8th grade students to improve their academic transition from middle school to high school.

As my high school career comes to a end, I look to where I have made a mark in my community. The social disparities in Shaker  City Schools taught me the importance of advocating and fighting for the ignored and disadvantaged, showing me where my passions lie. MSAN and other oraganizations like the Minority Achievcement Commitee (MAC)  and NAACP seek to remedy these issues, but more work must me done. I challenge Shaker to hire more black teachers, support student activism equally, and promote culturally sensitive learning environments.



Stick to Your Strengths by Caitlin Cullina

“Anyone can cook as long as they can read and tell time.” My dad told me that was something that my nana would always say, but she forgot to mention that having the ability “to cook” doesn’t mean that a person can cook well. I am living proof that I can do a lot of damage in the kitchen even if I have access to a recipe and a timer. I’ve tried again and again to measure ingredients as precisely as possible and follow directions to the “t”, but every time I manage to mess something up. I just don’t have the instincts or the common sense. Whenever I step up to the stove it’s like the heat is too much and I get frazzled.

The thing is though that my mom is an amazing chef, she even went to cooking school. I swear she could win Chopped if she tried. She can take whatever’s in the fridge, throw it all together and somehow end up with some fantastic and delicious new dish. And if she tries any food at a restaurant that she likes, she can recreate it at home by picking apart the ingredients after just a few bites. Not only that, if she tries something she doesn’t like she’ll know exactly what to add to make it better. She has basically an entire cookbook of recipes she either created or “tweaked” to make her own.

So that definitely doesn’t make me feel better about my skills. And if that wasn’t enough, my brother and sister also inherited the cooking gene. From a young age, they could waltz into the kitchen right beside my mom, towel over their shoulders and spatula in hand. I just sat at the table at the edge of the room and watched the magic unfold. I always felt so left out when my family was all in the kitchen together, each making a different part of a meal. I was only called in when it came time to wash pots and clean counters.

Now that I’m older my mom doesn’t have time to cook as much and both of my siblings are away at college. I’ve tried to expand what I can do in the kitchen so I don’t end up eating frozen foods for every meal. Sometimes I might make pancakes or sauteed vegetables. Granted, it doesn’t always go well, but I’m doing my best. I’m just hoping that when I leave home I can find someone else who’s as good a cook as my mom so that I can stick to my strong suit when it comes to food: eating.

Before the Rooster Crows by Renold Mueller

I have this memory of when I was a kid. I don’t know how old I was, but it was a Sunday in July, and I’d just left Church. I’d ran away from my Ma, down the alley, across the street, past Sokolowski’s, over the fence, and down to the waterfront. The weather that day was extreme—it must have been something like a hundred degrees, and there wasn’t even a suggestion of wind. Now, I’ve spent a ton of days by the river, but that day always stuck around in my head, because when the first breeze in forever came rolling in, it carried this smell that made me tear up, it stunk so bad. I used to love staring out past the stacks, past the old iron bridges, past the abandoned trains, and just take in that heavenly skyline. But that time, the heat must have stirred up something deep beneath the water, because that smell was enough to ruin the whole city right then. It was like the smell of stuff no one was supposed to know about. I’m lost as to what it was, but that was the closest thing to what I was smelling now.

I dragged my watering eyes away from the action and focused on the ring itself. It seemed to stretch all around the room; fifty feet at least. Fifty feet of interlocked wood and steel. Looking closer, I spotted a chunk of scaffolding from some old construction project. It had this mark spray-painted onto it, though it took some time to notice it; the surface was so worn and dirty that the paint was nearly invisible. On both sides were numerous boards, each one held to the next by nails or wire—though, in some places, the nails had been rusted into no more than stains on the wood, and the wires wound so tight they cut into it. Further along, there was this stretch of chain link fence, from an old schoolyard. It was shackled to a mass, made from planks nailed side by side in these oddly neat rows. The white paint looked half recent, though it had begun to chip—a front porch. Whether the house had been foreclosed, demolished, or someone just jacked the porch when no one was looking, it was here, and it wasn’t being stood on. Neighbors weren’t chatting on it. Parents weren’t watching their kids on it. No carpenter built it thinking it would end up being used to make dogs fight. It had been repurposed.

As my eyes came back around, they stopped at another piece, this one being used to prop up a slab of plywood. This structure, two posts attached at the middle in an X shape, was tilted on its side. A face glared out, twisted with pain. Its eyes looked afraid and hopeless. The nose was pinched in disgust. Its gaze was not towards the center of the ring, but upward, as if straining to look for another face in particular. As I looked at the carved body, spread on the posts, I saw the stains of blood. Taking a closer look, I realized that some of the bloodstains were from the rusted wire, and others were old paint meant to look the part.

The floor of the ring was soft dirt, that had been poured onto the concrete. Black and brown were the only two colors on the floor. Aside from the places where paws had dug into the ground for leverage, the entire arena was raked smooth and even. All appeared as it should.

One of the dogs was a lean mutt. He had struck the first blow, and now he was fixing to strike the last. His opponent was a big black beast, whose fur was spotted white. This one had this huge brow that hung real low over his eyes, like a bulldog. It sunk especially lower on the left, so he looked like he was giving everyone the stink-eye. He was a real bruiser—you could just see it in the way he stood; as if the ground was all he had left. The other one, the younger I figured, he was constantly on the attack, snarling and foaming and gnashing and nipping, never easing up.

From the outside, you could almost laugh, watching the dogs rip into each other for no reason. It was only funny if you weren’t paying attention. I was. I could see that for both of them the fight was real, and totally legit. To the mutt, the bruiser was what stood between him and life. And the bruiser was in the same place. To either, the other was just some stranger coming onto their turf talking big, claiming they deserve this and that. Who’s to say that if there wasn’t a ring, this fight wouldn’t still go down?

“That one’s Champ, right?” I asked the man beside me, regarding the big black hound. His name was Mikey.

Mikey puffed one last time on his cigarette, took it out and nodded at me. “Yeah, that’s Champ,” he answered as he changed his mind, put the cigarette back in his mouth and had another puff, leaving it there. “As of now, he’s eleven-and-oh. He’s where you want to place your bets, man. The little guy doesn’t stand a chance.”

“Eleven-and-oh,” I breathed to myself, focusing on Champ, who had fought eleven times before. Looking closer, I realized that the white spots were actually places where the fur had been ripped out, or the skin had scarred. And where his brow sagged low over his left eye, I realized that the eye was gone, torn out in one of eleven previous encounters. I put my hand to the pendant hanging on my neck, as sort of a knee-jerk reaction.

The action had slowed down for the moment. Both were beat up and bleeding; they were well matched, and both had an equal right to their life. Jeers from the crowd rang, taunting them to keep on fighting. However, the younger dog had focused his attention on something that had appeared as the dust settled. Sniffing it, he nervously backed up and began to whine. I peered down to see a canine jawbone, half buried in the earth.

Champ didn’t react. This dog wanted to finish the fight, so he could go back to his cage, and be left to starve again until the next fight. He knew it would be this way until the day he lost. And when that day came, there would be new dogs to fight, to dream of winning as he did—like his opponent does. They will have that dream crushed all the same. There have been fights going on long before him, and they would continue long after. Such is the way of things, and even a dog can come to understand that, after eleven fruitless battles.

The young dog recovered, and began again to froth and jump at Champ, who still stood unflinchingly. They fought. When the younger dog bit Champ, he bit back, and on and on it went, until the younger dog flipped Champ on his back and tore out his throat. The crowd I stood amongst went wild, half with fervent cheer, the other with disappointment. Champ lay unmoving on his back, dark blood running out of his torn neck into the dirt. The younger dog picked anxiously at Champ’s carcass. Money was trading hands all around me. I just stood there and watched.

Champ looked a mess. His feet were splayed out, and his fur was glazed red. The blood that came pouring out of him could have turned the arena into a pool—I finally understood the reason for the dirt. It did a great job of holding liquid. Like a sponge. His guts had loosened upon death, and waste was oozing out along with the blood. Apparently, that happens when animals die. Watching Champ die, I figured out what the smell was.

Mikey was shaking his head in good-natured disappointment. He was $10,000 in the hole, but he could make it back twofold in the next match if he placed his bets right. “Well, good for the little guy, I guess,” he laughed.

The little guy’s owner had come forward and chained him up again, and was in the process of giving him a cheap steak as he ushered him back into his cage. He was a happy dog for a day. He had beaten his enemy. His cause was virtuous. He felt like a winner for once, and he loved his master for it. I pitied the poor ignorant creature—his owner had been one of the people to lose money in the round.

I approached a group of men sitting around laughing. They all were smoking—not cigarettes, but big smelly Cuban cigars—illegal. Someone must have broken out a box in celebration. These were the bosses, who made money off all bets made. There were five of them, all gathered around a table, and made plans for the next series of fights, now that a reigning champion had been defeated. They were the ones who owned this and a number of other sites, employed men to work here, and reached out to handlers, inviting them to bring in their dogs. Regardless of who lost, these five men always won.

They were all roughly the same size, all of them well dressed. Some had hair, others none, some had earrings, others necklaces, some were fatter, others thinner, but all of them had handfuls of rings and dark Italian suits. Without the bling though, they all looked average. Without this operation, they were nothing. My attention was momentarily diverted to the back wall. There were dozens on dozens of cages, each covered in a black towel. I knew that there was a dog in every cage, sitting quietly in darkness. They didn’t know what they were in for. I found myself filled with a terrible rage. I wanted to see these men fill pools with their own blood. I wanted to see every one of those cages opened and see the dogs tear through the den, removing this stain from humanity.

I returned to myself and came to the table. At first, they didn’t stop laughing and talking to acknowledge me.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted—ineffectively. They were even noisier than before. “Excuse me,” I said, matching their volume.

One of them looked up at me and smiled, and the others grew quiet. “Alright, buddy. You have our attention. What’s the deal?”

I froze. I wanted to say so much to them, to ask them how, or why. At this point they were all looking at me, waiting in silence for me to declare my business. Then the one closest to me broke it.

“You wanna know why we get to do this?” he asked, in a way that made it unclear whether he expected a response. He had a necklace peering over his shirt, where it was unbuttoned. A little silver crucifix hung. Christ’s face looked up in agony. I knew exactly who he was looking at this time. I didn’t answer, so he continued. “We’re on the right side of the ring.” And they all broke out into a laughter.

I laughed too. “I guess that’s true. Sorry, I’m a little out of it today. My name’s Simon. I talked to your man Mikey, and he said you were interested in the pits I have.”

The man in the middle leaned forward, “Hey-ey, you’re Simon!” He put down his cigar and stood to shake my hand. We shook hands. His were clean and smooth. “Yeah, yeah, I remember. Mikey told me you have some badass dogs on your hands. Pits, you said?”

“Yeah, they’re out in my van. You want I should get them now?”

The man approved.

On my way to my car, I went past the ring. The dirt was fresh and raked smooth, as if there had never been a fight earlier. It was totally clean. All the crowd had mostly left, except for a few of the handlers, and some of compatriots of the middleman. Coming to the exit, I stepped aside for someone walking out at the same time. He was this huge, balding man, with coarse hair covering his arms, hands, and neck, and likely everywhere but his head. He was wearing a rust-stained apron and had with him a garbage bag, filled and tied. I followed him out into the alley, where we diverged. There was a dumpster to the right, which he opened with one arm, and with the other slung the bag. I had a good guess about what was inside.

“Is that Champ?” I asked him, regarding the bag.

“Oh, no,” he chuckled. “Plain old garbage. We don’t throw away the dogs. Waste not, know what I mean?”

I knew exactly what he meant. That would explain the apron. I couldn’t open my mouth, so I said nothing and turned.

He called, “If you’re coming back, you want me to hold the door?”

I didn’t respond, but he held it anyway.

I opened the back of my van, where the two cages were. I didn’t dare lift the towels as I carried them back inside with me. I didn’t want them to see anything—not each other, not where they were going, not me. They were quiet. Sleeping.


I drove off in my van twenty grand richer. When I made it to the house, it was still dark. Jan was asleep in bed. I stashed the cash under the mattress and fell over onto it. After a second, I jumped up and ran to the bathroom, my stomach heaving. I clutched my cramping guts, and opened my mouth, ready to vomit. But the wretching was dry, and nothing would come up. The back of my throat burned, as if some demon stood behind my tongue, jabbing me with his acidic fork. I suffered there for close to an hour, just wretching endlessly. The whole time I still had the stench of the dogfights on my nose.

After I had picked up the courage to stand again, I did. I leaned over the bathroom sink, rinsing out my mouth directly from the old faucet. I looked at myself in the warped reflection the faucet showed me. My face was blurred, dull, stretched, and round, but I could still recognize myself. In that imperfect mirror, I looked as gray and old as I felt. The man in the faucet looked at me with a look of shock and denial. Hanging down by the drain was my cross. The Lord was looking up at the faucet, with that same look of agony and fear. And disdain.

I ran, putting on my jacket hastily, rushing out onto our front stoop, past the old metal post that had once kept our dogs leashed. Down the lawn I walked, out the metal gate, slamming it quickly. I halted before my van, and turned back, through the gate, up the lawn, and to the door. I’d almost forgotten to lock up. Checking the handle once, then twice, then a third time, I got back to my van, and sat for a while with the key in the ignition. I didn’t know where I could go. I looked in my rear view mirror, staring at the empty space behind me. Then I had an idea. I drove to the alley behind the church. But I stopped again. I couldn’t go to the church. That was where the good go, and therefore I could not. I got out of my car and started towards the waterfront, where I went as a kid. Even out on the waterfront, I felt nothing and smelled the same smell. I looked out onto the water. I started to wade out into the scum, imagining I would just go out there and sink. But I could not, for my legs refused to take me any further. I stood up to my knees in filthy water and sobbed. I had no power even to grant myself the mercy of death. And still, the stink of dogfights clung to everything. Ultimately broken, I turned back and looked out.

I was in the guts of the city, but the skyline still appeared far off and lofty. The tallest towers stood in the distance, cloaked in darkness; an infinite number of glowing windows shone, though the towers themselves matched the shade of the four o’clock sky. They loomed. To all of us, they were symbols of the city—great monuments to the American dream. Anywhere in the city, they were sure to be seen hulking over—the watchers of every happening within. When I looked at them now, however, they laughed at me, and at the dogs I sold, and at the smell that plagued the entire city, as it plagued my nose. It was the scent of every dead dog in the city, as well as that what killed them. We were living in it. And up there, in the dark heavens, they kept on laughing.


Taxidermy by Sofia A-A

I am not great for myself

I keep my heart sick-

Or, my love does-

Spoiled perfectly with that

Rancid formaldehyde solution

The cat knocked over in the attic,

Before its life ran out

And chilled my poor kitty’s heart with poison

Lapped up with a parched tongue-

The poison that preserves my life

To keep me less than living,

A little bit less every day that

My healthy heart


Floats in whatever jelly jars were left over from auntie’s garage sale

Their sugary contents rinsed out and filled full with mine-

Why, they can’t be but a few feet behind my neck

But these clay eyes only look

Pretty from a distance, and

My neck cannot crane to see

What this stuffing has replaced

But What Do I Know? By Mattie Conley

You’re just a kid.

You don’t understand yet.


And they’re right,

But they’re so, so wrong.

Because I don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one,

And I don’t know how it feels to fire a gun.



I know the necessity of regular lockdown drills,

And I know how they are so normalized we don’t always take them seriously.

I know which classroom I’d want to be in if a shooting happened,

And I know which areas would put me at the greatest risk.

I know which windows would be worth jumping from,

And I know I’d take a broken leg over a bullet.


I know what it’s like to be in a true lockdown,

With the uncertainty of the threat.

I know what it’s like hiding under a desk in a dark classroom,

With the SWAT team on the roof.


I am fortunate to know the relief of leaving the building,

With the threat left empty.


I know there is a right to bear arms,

But I know we have a right to live.


I send my thoughts and prayers.

Let’s talk about it.


They send their thoughts,

But thoughts are fleeting,

And not all of them are created equal.

How long do these thoughts last?

A moment?

A day?

A week?

What are they?

Something our leaders feel they are expected to do,

Or an expression of genuine sympathy?

It is hard to tell,

Because with continuous repetition,

A phrase loses meaning.

It loses feeling.

After repeating an action again and again and again,

It becomes procedural

And loses significance.

They have sucked the emotion from sympathy,

And made responding to tragedy feel routine.


We remember the names on the buildings,

But not the names on the graves.

We will never know all their stories,

Their passions,

Their dreams.

They become figures to add to the statistics.

There is no time for more than that,

Because the next shooting will inevitably follow close behind,

And it will be easier to swallow if we don’t make it personal.


But that is horrific,

Because it is personal.


We ask for change,

But we receive robotic words,

And because those words lack the force of action.

They are empty.

There is discussion,

Then silence.

There is outcry,

Then nothing.

There are so many stories and statistics

That are truly sickening,

But after some time has passed,

It seems no one is listening.

The government spins in its same circles,

While children continue to die.


Give it time.

These things can’t change overnight.


And I’m not asking them to.

But Columbine was almost nineteen years ago,

Virginia Tech just about twelve.

Chardon was six,

Sandy Hook just nine months later.

When shots rang out in Columbine,

I had not yet taken my first breath,

And I was too young to understand the gravity of Virginia Tech.

But I remember watching the news of Sandy Hook

And the letters my sixth-grade class wrote to Chardon.

School shootings lurked in the periphery of my childhood,

Not always consciously minded,

But ever-present all the same.


Now Stoneman Douglas,

Only a month ago.

I am eighteen;

I am an adult, and yet

Nothing has been done.


But that changes now.

This generation of kids is growing up,

And we are tired.

So we are standing up,

Walking out,

Speaking up,

And heading for the polls.


The NRA has had its day,

Let it finally face the long night.

Because it would have us believe that the right to an AR-15

Is more important than our lives,

But we know our worth,

And if no one else will fight to protect us,

We will take up the mantle ourselves.

Words- Sophie Browner

According to a study done in 1984 by Gyles Brandreth, the average person speaks about 860.3 million words throughout their life. Imagine if you only had 1 million words. Imagine if you wore a little watch type device that ticked with every word you said. Imagine if once all of your words were used up, that was it. This might sound like a dystopian novel, or like a Black Mirror episode, but imagine how much more thoughtful of a place the world would be.

If you had that 1 million word limit, don’t you think that you would be so much more careful about what you said? We would spend so much less time gossiping, and so much more time listening. I would read the dictionary back and forth to find the perfect words. I definitely wouldn’t complain. Gone would be the days of saying “ugh I’m so tired,” because those would literally be four words I’d never get back. I would really genuinely listen to people, and to how they use their 1 million words, and I would really genuinely think about how I want to use my own. When you think about it, it’s kind of incredible that we get limitless words. And with that I think that we’ve forgotten how much words have meaning. What would you say?

“Who I am, who I’m not”—A poem by Indee Sanders

When people ask me, “who are you?” I tell them this.

I am a girl.

I am a scholar.

I am effervescent, an ebony in a world bursting with ivory.

I tell them, I am the one percent present in courses deemed too taxing

For someone they said ‘should be’ relaxing in core classes.

I am a writer,

A painter,

A creator,

Created by the strong, black women in my life

Who I look up to,

Those who told me true about this Earth we live on.

This earth I live on,

Which seems to be spinning backwards on its axis.

Because the way society’s progressing,

Is sincerely distressing,

Almost as if we’re soaring back in time.

I tell them, I am all things and I am nothing.

I am whatever I wanna be. Whatever I aspire to be.

There is no stopping me.

I am the enemy to most, the hero to some.

This large sum of those who look like me,

Who were told all they’d ever be

Was the Villian.

I am kind, sublime, and oh so fine.

Oh, and this mighty mind, it’s all mine.

So the next time

Someone asks me, “Who are you?”

I’ll them, “All of the above is true.”  

But I’ll also tell them this:

I am not a statistic,

Not ‘ballistic’ because I stand up for what I know I deserve.

I am not your problem to fix,

Not a problem to be fixed.

I am not your token.

Not some badge to be displayed on the front lines,

Holding up your signs

Because you think it’s great for publicity.

I am not your trophy.

I tell them, I am not a subject matter,

Not some topic of conversation,

Some theme meant for analyzation.  

I am not your ad for diversity,

Your proof of inclusion.

Because the only conclusion

that one gathers from your actions,

Is that I’m simply an attraction for your curiosity to ride.

But no longer will my voice hide,

Because, like I said before,

I am an ebony in this world bursting with ivory,

And I…I’m fed up.

Thrown In by Phillip Kalafatis

The falling is the worst part. An endless tumble that wraps my insides around and around themselves. It seems like a pit has opened up inside me as I fall and I fall. A twisted, animalistic scream rips its way from my throat. The twisting in the air, flipping over endlessly as I try to find a way to stop my descent while my back grows hotter and hotter.

My long curly hair wraps around my face, suffocating me when it covers my mouth. I could still see the vague shapes of the people who threw me in here as some sort of “sacrifice” to their twisted leader. The Emperor. In this world of gods and goddesses, I was out of luck.

I flip onto my stomach and the scream is ripped from my mouth as air rushes in. The pool of magma spreads out beneath me. The beating, glowing heart of the volcano. I close my eyes and wait for the inferno to swallow me whole.


Searing hot energy crackles to life in my veins. There is no pain. Only pure energy. My senses immediately heighten, and my eyes fly open. In front of me is a sea of orange and red. My heart is beating 100 miles per hour and I can almost feel my thoughts moving within my brain. I surge upward and break through to the surface of the magma.

I gulp in great big gasps of air. It burns my throat as if the magma itself is being poured down it. In fact, magma had found it’s way into my throat. It burns through me, not in a literal way. It burns through me to my core and it feels as if my every nerve ending is bursting. I slowly begin to rise up, the magma swirling around me.

I look down at my hands and see that they glow a flaming marigold beneath my dark brown skin.

The volcano walls rumble around me.  I sense the magma shift around me before I am rocketed up and out of the volcano.

I become weightless. I am flying up, up, and up.

Until I’m not.

I’m falling down. Terror tears through me and I twist around just in time to see the group of people who threw me in.


The ground compresses all the air out of me but doesn’t crush me.

Relief floods through me as I stagger to my feet. I face a man; the one who personally cast me in.

“You threw me in, but you didn’t think I’d come crawling back out.”

His face remains impassive and he cocks it to the side in amusement.

“Yes we did, now come with us.”