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100 Plus True Stories

100 Plus True Stories

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This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.100plusts.com. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world, who were eager to share their experiences.
The best stories were selected for this book. These firsthand accounts, written as memoirs, anecdotes, or confessions, illustrate life’s many, varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine; Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch; Deborah survived cancer in her 20s; Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt; Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh, cry, reflect, and remember.
These are true stories told by people like you. What’s your story?
This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.100plusts.com. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world, who were eager to share their experiences.
The best stories were selected for this book. These firsthand accounts, written as memoirs, anecdotes, or confessions, illustrate life’s many, varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine; Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch; Deborah survived cancer in her 20s; Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt; Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh, cry, reflect, and remember.
These are true stories told by people like you. What’s your story?

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Sections

  • Homeless at Nine
  • From Chaos to College
  • A Prison Poet
  • Seeing the Light
  • Buddhism Behind Bars
  • Proud To Be a Chindian
  • There Is No Santa
  • The Man Scribbles of Big G
  • Pictures Don’t Lie
  • Species of a Lesser God
  • Stripped of My Masculinity
  • Staying Sane
  • Nobody’s Fault
  • Hopelessness for the Homeless
  • My Rapist Walks Free
  • Lifer
  • One Bad Decision
  • Talk About a Bad Week
  • I Am a Murderer
  • A Step in the Right Direction
  • Freedom From Addiction
  • This Too Shall Pass
  • Hope In the Written Word
  • Poetical Muralism
  • Escape from Maximum-Security
  • I Thought I Could Fix Him
  • A Three-Strikes Sojourn
  • There Are Consequences
  • Withdrawal
  • My Regret
  • First-Time Fizzle
  • Do It For You
  • A Special Bond
  • A Man Can Always Dream
  • But a Glance Away
  • Sexual Fantasy
  • Small Miracles
  • When the Cell Door Closes
  • Visited by Angels
  • Someone Saved My Life
  • The Day I Died
  • We Are Not Alone
  • Everything Happens for a Reason
  • A Taste of Honey
  • Smoking Saved His Life
  • Someone Knew My Pain
  • A Change In Outlook
  • Being Stabbed Saved Me
  • Matters of the Heart
  • My First at 41
  • Nowhere to Go
  • An Undeniable Connection
  • I Just Want to Forget
  • An Older Man
  • The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit
  • Four A.M
  • Love Advice from a Magazine
  • Love Is
  • The Prince Who Turned into a Frog
  • In Love with Another Woman
  • Aphrodite Gone Wrong
  • Living Separate Lives
  • I Fantasize about My Teacher
  • My Mississippi Man
  • Cake in Acapulco
  • Farewell
  • A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred
  • When “Going Green” Gets Painful
  • Falling Out of Love
  • The Divorce That Never Was
  • Despite Diagnosis
  • Fighting the Ninja
  • A Tumor at 18
  • You Never Know
  • The Scar of Life
  • Fear
  • She Gave Me Hope
  • “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life
  • The Slow and Silent Killer
  • Stopping the Spread of STDs
  • LIVE from Texas Death Row!
  • To Die or Not To Live
  • Check Out Day
  • When I Ceased to Exist
  • Deconstructing Nonna
  • The Final Countdown
  • A Requiem for Freddy
  • I Lost My Baby Boy
  • I Miss You, Dad
  • Accepting He’s Gone
  • A Parting Gift
  • Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
  • Making Amends
  • Slash
  • Death Mask
  • Admitting I Am a Rapist
  • I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted
  • My Most Embarrassing Moment
  • Two Sides to Every Coin
  • My Struggles
  • The Truth
  • Better Off Not Knowing
  • Keeping the Demons at Bay
  • For Love or Religion
  • Words Speak Louder
  • After a Decade
  • Eerie Encounters
  • Who Wants to Be Alone?
  • Drowning
  • Dreams Reflect Reality
  • The Warnings
  • The Monster in My Dreams
  • I’ve Been Here Before
  • No Grim Reaper
  • Between Time and Space
  • I Saw It Happen
  • Back to My Body
  • A Different Level
  • The Mournful Guitar
  • I See Spirits
  • UFO Hunt
  • Creating Our Own Melting Pot
  • Do It the Legal Way
  • Patience is a Virtue
  • In Limbo
  • You’re Not Peruvian
  • My Nibble Out of The Big Apple
  • What I Learned from the British
  • Return to Paradise
  • The Other Emerald “Isle”
  • Taking It All In
  • The Toughest Job in the World
  • The Best Laid Plans
  • Through the Eyes of a Child
  • I Thought I Had Failed
  • Afraid to Be a Mom
  • The Hunt
  • Moments Frozen in Time
  • Shame
  • The Glove Compartment
  • Standing Up for Me and Ma
  • No More with the Neighbors

“I want to share a secret I’ve kept hidden for years.

” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”

“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”

“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.

“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”

“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”

100 Plus True Stories
Anthology

Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511

First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

100 Plus True Stories
Anthology

Acknowledgements
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org

C

Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51

There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55

Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63

Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80

Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88

Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102

Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116

The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123

Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136

Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151

Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158

No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166

At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183

The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200

The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206

Paradise Lost & Found

100+

T R U E S T O R I ES

Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
15

I

100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX

From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
16

W

T R U E S T O R I ES

with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA

A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
17

I

100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
18

My father was a career serviceman in the Army. By the 8th grade. Nevada in 1968. can be revealed to the world. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. desires. images. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Due to anger. Dennis Forrest. On March 3. AZ I 19 . bitterness. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. and drug addiction. By 18. my mother passed away from cancer. living on many different bases. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. 2007. so I grew up as an Army brat. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. 51 Rosharon.

such as putting up books in the library. tomorrow. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I rejoice in the art I produce. in a week.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. When I do little jobs. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. freedom to expand my horizons. Today. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. listening. to search spiritually. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. I know I am finally awake to life. I am aware of the way their covers feel. to develop boundaries. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. For quite a while now. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. and acting. and I can look at them neutrally. and their condition. their heaviness. day out. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. Listening now requires my full attention. 20 N . Yet.

and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. In closing. I know I will. love. teachers. once I am given the chance. be they physical. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. find true freedom. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. Yeshe. mental. But for now. or strangers away. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. I can easily mix with just about anyone. or spiritual. and compassion and when they do.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. and Thich Nhat Hanh. my learning continues. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. As a matter of fact. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. Lamas Rinpoche. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed.

but didn’t join in the conversation. She broke the news to me as best as she could. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I took in what the kids were saying. yet being able to live in peace and harmony.” That same day. MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. Kuala Lumpur. Prashant Devan Kumar. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony. She had 22 M . 18 Cheras. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I thought to myself. As I listened to my mom.

I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. and wonder. I remember sitting in the car. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. their world becomes a mental one.). only thinking about those fucking stickers. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. reflect. That day. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. Every time I am taken out of my cell. TYC. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. You have to have 23 I . Food is brought to me. I grew up in boys’ homes. confined to a one-man cell. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. imagine. Seg. 24 Queens. feel. dream. with life to go. That’s all we do in these cells: think. juvie halls. not caring that there was no Santa.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. ponder. 23 hours a day. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes.

I was alone. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. In the end. staking out the store from across the street. run. It is something that I truly am sorry for. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. and I got life in prison. and everything went to shit from there. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I’d done it a dozen times. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. It was a robbery gone bad. I think now how naïve I was. The next day. I saw his point and I left things as they were. watching the clerk close up shop. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. and no one gets hurt. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. Trust me.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. But to 24 . There were three.

Yeah. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. not benign crap.S. Watch the crap. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today. all observant and such. I’m thinking. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Watch the crap. right. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Holes everywhere.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. o. in which the author served as part of the U. Crap is strewn everywhere. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. if you’re lucky. I’m looking at this car. Big holes. It’s a mess. I’m keeping my pieces. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. Look at the car. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. No way. I mean. it’s not going anywhere. I’m not moving. I think about that shit.

cars now. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. I’m sick of this crap. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. this “Desert Storm. I’m angry. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. grenades. How many days have I been awake? Damn. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. or tunnel vision.. RPG rounds. Good night. 26 . with holes in them all. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. I’ve been so careful all of these months.I. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car.P. K. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. and mines scatter everywhere. I figured I’d hang on to something. I curse myself for being so stupid.” or whatever you call it. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it.I. with maybe a little inscription saying. hold privates. I didn’t even see this stuff. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. Now. hundreds of them. but I don’t care. right on the crap. well.A. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. I’m holding my privates. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. from messing my mind up further. Whoever’s firing those damn things. I’m waiting for the lights to go out.—R.

I don’t want to look. unless they shortened the fuses. No stench. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. maybe. too. Damn.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. I do. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. but like some sick voyeur. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. The glazed eyes give it away. It was fun for a minute. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. It’s hard to tell. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I know I’m not dead. again. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I don’t like the burned ones. His ID card falls out. right? The ones I see are fresh. Is 27 . Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. vehicles are everywhere. They look like statues. I don’t want to end up like him. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. The pictures don’t lie. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out.

He’ll think of his son every day and cry. They’ll never know what happened to him. his son—maybe even himself. the Americans. I want no part of it. We’ll have that in common. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. They’ll never know me. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. If that’s heroism. Probably not. The hero died with a scream on his lips. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. “Yes. No. we stepped 28 I . that damn war. Mark D. from that war. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. hoping his son will return from down South. One by one waist-chained. McKenna Columbus. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. handcuffed. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. and shackled. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. we will celebrate. pictures don’t lie.

apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. indeed. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me. The restless. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. mountains. In retrospect. 29 . As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life.

I found that I was not alone in this realization. boredom. but no one dared speak of them. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness.100+ Looking around me. the lunacy of a previous occupant. in some cases. for most. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. This is 30 M . refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. It’s a world of its own where. a vacuum of uncertainty. While I was in there. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. and. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. sealed off from everything and everyone. Hector Gallegos Otisville.

and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. MA 31 . But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend.. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed.. Will Ferrara. She has a son now. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. 24 Lawrence. but I had no luck. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.

and began robbing banks. They never really understood that there was something wrong. After 15 years there. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. I always felt lonely. I escaped. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. flew to Florida. stole an airplane. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . I was always sad. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. but that made me feel worse. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. Three years later.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. where I am today. I grew up spoiled rotten.

Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. Cars speed by. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. It’s going to be hard to get better. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. Momo. and was put on progressively stronger medication.T R U E S T O R I ES me. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. and then my house caught on fire. but I was already highly unstable by then. When I started middle school. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. so I always tried to help them. 33 I . I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. I started therapy. Now. It wasn’t her fault. and I am doing a lot more for myself. Lights come on. but there was something missing. but only for a little while. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. 16 Richmond. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. This year. This made me feel good. or mine. I had friends and a boyfriend.

Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.. I am still alive. God has been looking out for me. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. You have nowhere to go. you’re hungry. It’s cold. I have been fortunate. nowhere to sleep. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . many homeless people end up in jail. This is why. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. for one reason or another.100+ homeward bound. under the three strikes law. You think to yourself. it’s only a matter of time before a person seeks food or shelter on his own terms… I am serving 39 to life under California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law.T. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. no one to call.. I have met a variety of people in prison. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. nothing to eat. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. G. your feet hurt. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide.

My husband. So Joe walks free. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. Without warning. I brought it upon myself. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. his brother. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. my case was thrown out of court. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. We all had a few too many. My husband and I filed a police report right away. I thought it was my husband. They say most 35 .” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I must have asked to be raped. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. Nonetheless. I immediately told my husband and we left. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. and the rest of the family awoke. My husband and Joe came to blows again. In their eyes. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. During the car ride home.

100+ rapists get a few years in prison. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. and I made it without becoming one of them. but I am always in a good mood. and for the past 10 years. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. while the victims get a life sentence. I love to write books and short stories. for all the good it’s doing me. I keep getting turned down for parole. When I got locked up. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. trying to survive among savage men. Men ask me. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. you almost have to be a bank robber. No one was hurt or kidnapped. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. or crooked politician. We had six kids—with so many kids. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. drug dealer. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. Zephyr Chicago. I just took the money and ran. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I’ve been a model inmate.

I share love. flavors that today I’d die for—well. like taste good food. the car. That summer. 1982. sadness. George Hughes. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. but I put the truth out there for all to read. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. When I’m writing. Mom got a new apartment. anger. but all’s well in the end. I love writing. they are good people with good hearts. my parents became legally separated. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. Writing is like having an affair. And it all transpired in 37 O . and my innermost thoughts and desires. and us three kids. I turned fourteen. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. 63 Burkeville. compassion. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. laughter. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. tears. At fourteen. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. not die.

running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. I was in State Prison. and me. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. On the very last day of summer. and inexplicably. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . And by the age of eighteen. I wasn’t too concerned. sprinting as fast as possible. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. picked out a pair. My friends would have surely made fun of me. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. So I decided to steal. Like an NFL running back. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. Then I put on all three new shirts. sister. In 1982. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. By fifteen. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. I took off like a bat out of hell. at fourteen. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. Once outside. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. Once inside. I burst through the front door. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. not enough to panic. looking down at my new wet shoes.100+ less than an hour. “Mom. I went over to the shoe department. and put them on. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. but here it was.

I asked why I was being arrested. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. OH 39 I . Obviously shocked. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. When I was finished with him. Six days later. they said. To my complete surprise. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. 18 Mowrystown.

how he cared for her. mind.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. It was good to see them together. the others are there to pick him up. and soul. During my trial. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. I was ready to be judged and convicted. 40 N . The judge gave me life without parole. hitting and abusing her. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. though he never loved her. Before. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. I felt that what I did was wrong. my mom and dad came to visit me. with a common goal. I deserved to do some time and make amends. At nineteen. In the depths of my heart and soul. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. From then on. My mom’s eyes held a million words. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. and mean words. ignorance. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. and when one falls. fights. in the same room. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. but the fact is I did. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. and lack of feelings. I killed someone.

Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. but I take no initiative to start the process. but now everything seems tight. I have no friends in this new city. and violent unrest. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. Besides. smiles. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. Spoon Jackson. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. but they all have lives. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. 50 Represa. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I need to budget. I came from the desert. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. fleeting hope. Money never used to be an issue.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. I was naïve. but I see only the negative things. I’m getting older. but my will to survive took over.

I’ve still been able to grow as a person. a dead father. I’m not stuck in one place. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. go into a small. mixed with big dreams of happiness. my pen is capturing everything.100+ before I go to bed. I see that in spite of my depression. 42 I . My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. In the few months that I’ve been writing. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. All of those negative ideas. For someone like me. Idris Samuel. inconspicuous notebook. but moving slowly in the right direction. I even see things in a more positive light now. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. the only escape that I found was with a knife. 27 Toronto. brought up in me. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. Ontario. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another.

I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. light-headedness. a need for the chemicals in the formula. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. new problems arose. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . While on probation in 1995. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. it merely put them on hold. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. While incarcerated. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. While in prison. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. It had become a habit. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. never directly addressed. But then. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. As I look back on the role that the drug played. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea.

it’s too short and too precious. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. Anonymous.100+ stable. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. J. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. but my reaction to them is not the same. the present is much. Wantz Salem. I am a different person. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. And the present is where I have to live. 13 44 I . much clearer. I’ve always had low self-esteem. Think about who really loves you.E. Never waste life. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. but I never thought it would result in depression. and once it does. Now the reality I face is my own life. you will be twice as strong. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass.

Now I try. alcohol. The son of a research chemist. I have turned my attention back to God. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. 1958 in Elgin. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. and pornography. 51 Corcoran. Thomas Michael Fox. After getting sober in 2001. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I ended up in prison for life. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. community centers. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. cultural arts centers. Illinois. writing helped. 45 G . I began to start to feel differently about myself.

It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age.100+ youth programs. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. vatos locos. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . and indigenous themes. my school sponsored an art contest. This history. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. Mexican revolutionaries. prison scenes. The second and third place runners-up were announced. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. On the day the winner was to be announced. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors.and 12-year-olds. at the age of 17. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. When I was in second grade. migrant workers. my name was called. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. Then. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio.

Today. I had to get in the same cage. Securing the tools. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. José Boner Boscobel. and obtaining the other articles took time. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. manufacturing the rope. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. metaphors. The guard was two feet in front of me. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. I consider myself first a poet. Siquierod with Cisneros. and ultimately smuggle street clothes.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. there was no turning back. camouflage the cut marks. And yet. a hacksaw blade. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. a new tradition: poetical muralism. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. cash. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. and crazy juxtapositions. watching every move during a strip search. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. Octavio with Orozco. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . I fuse images using words. a freehand artist second.

100+ primitive. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I could see everything. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. There was no time for hesitation. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. I was balls-to-the-wall. I was through and bent back the bars. I was going. every muscle was taut. and I was sweating a puddle. doubt. or nerves. but the meshing distorted clear vision. already packed with the gear. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. The cage was shaking and rattling. my arms were screaming. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. but they could see every move I made. It was going according to plan 48 . The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. In a few minutes. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. I slung the rope over my shoulder. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. D-day.

T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. CA 49 . from regret and anxiety. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. but now I would to fall to my death. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. I should have made gloves. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. I was lying on the rooftop. It was too thin. But that feeling of open air on my skin. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. cages. The rope burned through my fingers. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. needed more knots… whatever the problem. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. but couldn’t move. outside the confines of the jail. I attempted to crawl away. I know I’ve never been freer. I’d escaped. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I know from consequential. it was too late for solutions. from doubt. Yet. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. Babb Corcoran. guards. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. free from fear. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. through what I’ve gained and learned since. D.

I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. and by the time I did. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. not losing his license.s. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. He attempted to shut off the ignition. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. which never came. but the key was jammed.U. I thought I loved him. no matter what. nothing. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . One time. it was too late. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. There was no wake-up call. he just kept hitting rock bottom. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D.I.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. Alcohol would always come first. not getting pancreatitis. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.

T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. free dope. drugs were simply a hustle. that was for sure. In my 33 years. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. who in the present. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I had lived an interesting life. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. Crimes were what thieves. I had seen and done a lot. simply liked the quick. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. To me. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Adela Tedesco. not a crime. thugs. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . 23 Hollywood. victimless cash. a man with a past. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. and sexual predators committed. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Unfortunately.

things are different. While I’m no angel. for all practical purposes. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. It helps those unable to defend themselves. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. this time. I’m surely not the devil. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. CA 52 . who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. it protects the innocent. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. I participated in the discourse. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. Then there are those of us. Now. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. I understand the necessity for law and order. the entire world of academia. at stake: my entire life.” There are the pro-drug war. not the solution. as an activist. I’m arguing against it one more time. at this fateful juncture of my life. at the university. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. Yet. our families. and with whoever. I argued it at every level: in the media. either.

So many people believe that they are invincible. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. However. there are new users every day. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. Lance Corson. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. that nothing will ever happen to them. my stomach and chest. coming up my legs.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. until it took over my whole being. I felt it starting at my feet. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. and nothing good ever comes of them. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. They destroy lives. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. One of the guards supplied it. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. 24 Little Compton. There are always consequences. riding through space in 53 O . even though they know that there are great risks.

falling. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. My body was curled. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. across my stomach. my back to the wall. There were monsters with long tails down there. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. dying for a fix. bad. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. gritting their teeth. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. I needed a fix. my heart pounded violently. I stood in the corner. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I walked around with my arms in front of me. only inches left to stand on.100+ the dead of darkness. My stomach was cramping. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. I was terrified! I found myself falling. holding on to my elbows. I began to shake all over. and I could feel the cramps coming. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. I was freezing all over. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. My muscles 54 . The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. falling. Then I nodded off. The floor closed up as I hit it.

including their own souls. jumped out. Mother. “No more. steal. 2002. playing too loudly. to get a fix. My mother passed away on October 2nd. lie. God and I both love you. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. But I wasn’t. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. wetting the bed. You want to be a tough guy then make it on your own and get out!” So from 9 to 19½ I lived on the streets. and 10. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat.” Now 55 . “Get out of my house. not scrubbing the floors right.T R U E S T O R I ES exploded with cramps and I fell from the cross as convulsions wore me to a thin frazzle. George Hughes. If I were on the street. She opened the back door and said. not cleaning the dishes right. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. 66 Burkeville. One day. and sell anything and everything. I kicked at her. petty reasons. got down on the floor and beat me with it. There was no fix at hand. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. not shoveling the sidewalk right. Mom grabbed a frying pan.000 other small.

I don’t hate my mom. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. 67 Amarillo. TX 56 . I don’t hold hard feelings toward her.100+ I can never say it to her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t dislike her.

Sex & Seduction .

100+ .

I 59 M . This is what occurs at 18. an orgasm. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. Québec.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. But for the young woman. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. and fulfillment after the first time. it will occur over time. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. 45 Montreal. Terri Giosia. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well.

we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives.100+ beg to differ. who are ready to lose their virginity. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. people would assume we were twins. When we were little. we had sex. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. not because he wants to. Now. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. At the beginning of high school. I did it for me. that even though it’s your first time. 16 Richmond. I always tell my friends. I will spare 60 I . despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. Momo. Do it because you want to. Don’t be scared. We decided we were ready. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. If you know your body. We have known each other since before we can remember. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. it won’t be your last.

squealing. anyway. AK. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. interesting story to tell. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. and crying ensued. he wields 61 I . at a “well-supervised” party. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. we said. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. that is not what is important. I grabbed her. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. Almost at the same time. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. Obviously laughter. Later in the evening. and we locked ourselves in. I ran into my best friend.

100+ considerable power by yelling. NSW. rubbing his feet and back. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. turning him over. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. or backstabbing us to our bosses. Christie. but girly mags are his main source of info. and showering and grooming him. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. 54 Sydney. if the woman is appealing enough. tempt. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . however. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. He basks in their attention. it’s like having a little harem. feeding him like a baby. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. being sarcastic. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. changing his urine bag. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. However. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty.

a look. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. It is not real. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. body language. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. beyond a shadow of a doubt. His hand rested on my forearm. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. smile. the golden rule for seduction. a smile. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. it’s possible to seduce anyone. It is stating the obvious. Once that is accomplished. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. That is. 45 Montreal. his complete awareness of 63 I . However. Québec. With a glance. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. Without confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. this type of seduction is an illusion. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. as upon sobering up. one cannot seduce.

which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. but my pretensions made no difference to them. Windoftheclyde. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . My ways were haphazard. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. Never had a burden been more welcome. I felt his back tensing against my hands. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. 27 Santiago. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. I pleaded with them not to show up. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. but my anticipation was no longer tender. On the brink of a thrust. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. he breathed my name. True to their word. In a shadowy whisper. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. his lips fell on my hips. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. for they would make me look like a weakling. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. Always the seeker. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine.

Small Miracles .

100+ .

T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. and often after a long day. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I even welcome the closing of the door. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. but once inside my cell. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. Late at night.” Out there. As a person. I should hate the cell. I’m on guard seven days a week. At times. amongst the prison population. I’m locked in. With a twist of a key. rather familiar. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I do my deepest thinking there. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. It becomes routine. I know that no one can get in without the key. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. in the darkness. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. I know I have to be locked in. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I am human. 67 T .

It never is truly quiet here. the cell is a paradox because in reality. while here in prison. The cell is my castle until I reach home. and I write my loved ones there. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . Ironically. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. yet. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. When the cell door shuts. The cell door is now closed. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes.100+ I pray in the cell. I’m alone. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. I have not experienced silence in years. To be honest. The cell is a hellhole. The walls seem to hum. and loneliness. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. but I’m in good company. despair. or write a letter to my family or a friend. a melody of pleasant proportions. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. these sounds are tranquil. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. read a book. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. listen to the radio. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. To the outside observer. I don’t hear anyone talking.

I’m human: I feel. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. showing another dimension. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. and have the power to choose. in it were four angels. think. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. “Let us show you the way. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I also laugh. love. we have been there before. and I was filled with awe. I was lying in the dark. Michael McLean Beacon. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. They looked invincible. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. bleed. In a small. 69 I . cry. though their faces were human-looking. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly.m. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said.

I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. guarded from dark forces. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. but time operates differently there. knowing order reigned in the next world. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. 70 I . “Oh no. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I saw a van coming straight towards me. 54 North Shore City. waiting to make a left turn. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. there really wasn’t any time to react. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom.100+ white. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. This was a kingdom on a large sun. Auckland. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. Misty. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. I thought to myself. circular spaceship. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. At that instant.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus.

I chose Mount Sanitos. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. Hey. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. a brand new box of pills.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. It is important to find the right place for an ending. I considered the importance of what I was doing. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. Where we die should be no less important. and in the hand-warmer pocket. I sat there thinking to myself. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. In the breast pocket of my jacket. It was a very surreal experience. Ever since that day. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. including me. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. “Wow. 38 Methuen. “Sorry about that. there was a pint of blackberry brandy.

passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. thinking it could be the police. The guardians were gone. but they sensed me there. On the far side of my fall. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. dropping off my recycling. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. Blood was caked on my forehead. There was a flash of light. I finally reached the top. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. then a shift. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. I cowered. closing my bank accounts. I panicked.100+ someone else got hurt. like someone hit the reset on my brain. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. things were… strange.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. For a moment. my hand slipped and I fell. I must have blacked out. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. There were shapes of people around. Necessary and common. Four pills left. “He’s here. When the east finally began to warm. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. It was still night. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. no one was looking for me.

as I did. Everything after that has been pure profit. it got so bad that I became depressed. hitting me on the left ankle. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I was living alone.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. Then a second piece of bread fell. I think of myself as having happily died that night. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. I was making sandwiches. I realized it was just a stone. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. That was my break-even point. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I’ve been to zero. I also know that I’m never alone. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I had never done that before. but I had never been depressed before either. so I continued making the sandwiches. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . Three days later. When I got up in front of the cabin. and then dragged myself towards it. At one point. and it’s doable. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor.

Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. I was very puzzled. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. whether we see Him or not. the day before Valentine’s Day. Our little (well 74 I . I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. we got pregnant again. but there was only one piece on the floor. Three months later. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. He is still there. so we should not be depressed. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Needless to say. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. “I am the bread of life.” He had come to me just as I had asked Him to three days before! I interpreted this phenomenon as follows: when the bread cannot be seen. When I returned to the kitchen.” Two years ago. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.100+ of bread. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. Jesus is always with us.

But this event puts it into a whole different light.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. 30 Martinsburg. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. we will always think about the baby that we lost. WV A Taste of Honey honey. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. but left the bees plenty for the winter. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. Kelly. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. I did not waste it on the bland mush. Don’t get me wrong. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. It was a good partnership. And he is our own personal little miracle. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted .

I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. UT 76 . and also. I thought. and the wildflowers. The other half I saved for later. For a moment there. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I had smelled the spruce. James Burns Gunnison. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. the mountain laurel. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. But man cannot live on honey alone. I thanked God for a taste of honey. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. I had been free. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. but it seemed to last an eternity.

These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. Ironically. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. a pack of cigarettes. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. but it ultimately killed him. There was a spark in her eyes. I 77 I . her actions were terrible and painful. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. he got shot in the left side of his chest. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. He may have survived the Vietnam War. During a skirmish. Despite this miracle.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. Gavai Kona. He had a lighter. smoking saved his life. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.S. After years of alcohol abuse. Army during the Vietnam War. it’s what I call the “spark of hate.

we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. my mother called me. I heard him whisper. NY 78 . and I did. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. I walked to my closet. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. With powdered soap and water. “Good night. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat.” I said through my tears. While he was hugging me. Miriam. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. when my brother Bardo and I got home. but she ignored me. “You’re not the only one. 41 Bedford Hills. Bardo. I turned to go to my room. as I put the dress on the hanger. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. and hung up my dress. reached for an empty hanger.” He also told me that when I finished eating. That is when I saw the stain. and said. With tears in my eyes. One day.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. “Good night. he looked at me. the dress ended up on my face. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Bardo came out.” he said. Miriam McKenzie. The next thing I knew. I tightly hugged him back. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper.

a stereo. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. I could wear my own clothes. the “buffaloes” roamed. When money arrived. I had conjugal visits. no track or ball field. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. No gym. incoming calls only. An aisle ran the length of each building. Everything from 79 M . my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. There was no yard to speak of.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. bought a TV. We installed a swamp cooler. no weight pile. cook what I wanted. a pipe with running water for a shower. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. built wooden bunks. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. But in Mexico. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up.

I arrived at the school cafeteria.C. filthy. A man could buy food.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. J. clothing.S. booze. in my head. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. the world would reflect that change. art supplies. and dangerous. the ontological slap in the face. but it was an identity that was poisonous. I wanted out. and even prostitutes. for the right price. if I changed. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . True. drugs. appliances. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. much like my thinking. I was allowed to keep my identity. Amberchele Canon City. lumber. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. I reasoned that. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. for anything else. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. and it has.

a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. As we spoke. As I turned to look. the judge dismissed the case. His father attended the hearing. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. I yelled for help. encouraging him during the fight. That made all the difference in the world. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. FL 81 . Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. After the trial. After that incident. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. the atmosphere was tense. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. Fernandez Miami. When I saw my assailant in court. But when others got involved. When I did not press charges. his father embraced me in the hallway. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. I had been stabbed. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. In my mind. It had been an ironic twist of fate. my membership in the gang became obsolete.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. With time. I stood by my friend. my assailant approached me and apologized. I flirted with the idea of getting even. however. a free-for-all ensued. it stopped bothering me. Enrique M.

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Matters of the Heart .

100+ .

Boy. I will accept all of him. and I am in love. One would think that because I have experienced life. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I never get tired of listening to him. He is honest. I have known my first love for more than a year. I could not 85 T . I would have been in love before. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I am 41 years old. 41 Dallas. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. He is smart.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. my first true love. This is it! This is my first true love. He’s my first Jan Richards. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. He is strong. no matter what answers you receive. the good and bad. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. I want to know everything he knows. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions.

I hope we will get married one day. it’s been like heaven. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. I will never forget her. We both respect and value each other very much. I feel so alone. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. Mansour. he came back to me. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. and that the connection will endure. and the connection that we share.100+ eat. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). my first love. Although we are divorced. 59 Dayton. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I was browsing . she kissed me for the first time. I decided to visit her. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. The morning after I arrived. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. Without her. Suzy. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. too. 27 Tehran. but now I want to leave him.

brown-haired young man. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. I would never have gone out with him. Shurley. slender. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. There was something fascinating about this “older man. and he was in fifth grade.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . I worry all the time. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. Then within six months. At first.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. everything was great. and I am so jealous. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. If it were up to me. and now all I have are insecurities. He played with my head. He stripped down my confidence. His name was Travis. He was a tall.

I have no doubt that he was my first crush. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . wanting him to protect me. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. Often.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. or inn in the continental United States. anal sex. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. My reflections of Travis developed years later. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. all in retrospect. threesomes. She has little education. Kitty Mayo. 29 Hilo. hotel. and gangbangs—it all occurs. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. I just remember wanting to be near him. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.

rules. housing. who want to keep her hair and nails done. religion. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. send her shopping. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. take care of her kids. The laughs come fast and free. Hours seem like minutes. The attraction is mutual. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. TX 89 . It comes like a thief in the night. The conversations flow smoothly.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. She needs no coercion or con. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. finances. The female is as rebellious as the offender. It’s an amazing thing. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. or risks. pay her rent. I can name a few females on this very unit who have been terminated for improprieties and braved embarrassment and dirty looks to return to visit their “friends. regulations. Only the restraints of the environment and the consequences keep it subdued like a lid on the pot until want turns to need and a window of opportunity opens for the lid to be lifted. Love. Sometimes personalities just click.

which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. I’m not sure she’s my other half. but I know I don’t want her to leave.. Skidmore College. three floors down. I wonder when. on a tour of Oxford. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. and I told her she was strange. One month later. She’s packing her last suitcase. And three months and two weeks later. Two months later.. We are in her attic bedroom. Massachusetts. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. Boston College. Outside her window.” I have no idea what he means. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. and yes. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . destined for Minneapolis. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. my tears will come. I told her I loved her. and mine. the distance between her school. and if. she told me the same thing.M. we went out for coffee. Three months later. the tears pouring down her cheeks. suitcase is a difficult feat.100+ Four A.

22 Amherst. I had written the poem already. and I had a crush on . and place it on the hood of his car. I walk her to the bus station.. and I have to walk her to a bus station.. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old.. needless to say. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates. At four a. still two bottles of wine later. write a love poem.m.m. “I’ll miss you. At three a. after another bottle of wine. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. Theoharides.m. comes. At two a.m. she falls asleep. so I decided to go the subversive route. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. until four a. And tears stream down my face. Alexander J. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates.” she says. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. after a bottle of wine. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening.

100+ I sped away. and well-being. Unfortunately. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. desires. NH Love Is for yourself. I never had the guts to go up to him and tell him how I felt so nothing ever became of my “love” from afar. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . I was 21 years old. not despite of their shortcomings. needs. Galilea. 24 Lincoln. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. Scarlet Rose. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. but because of them. 28 Albuquerque. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way.

T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. As you can imagine. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. I imagined something romantic. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. making our relationship grow stronger. no? Saturday came. We are the yin and yang for each other. But a girl can dream. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It can be between two men and between two women. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. 30 Arecibo. PC.

but he wasn’t in love with me. I tried to be perfect. so many mistakes. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. I chose my hell. and I tried to fight for my dreams. 36 Lennon.” I told myself. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. so I left everything behind: my career. but he was mine. my family. the woman that he had been dreaming of. Our relationship is 15 years strong. Mare. maybe he was strange. and my life. I regret it. and I live there now. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I love you. I regret so many things. Michelle. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. Maybe he was too old for me. Life is not supposed to be this way.100+ lifetime. and so many tears. A baby was on the way. and I thought I was immortal. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. and we are raising a daughter as well. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. “I did it for love. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and you have always been the one.

but I can’t control it.T R U E S T O R I ES life. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but we’ll be living separate lives. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. I don’t know. If I were to start my life all over again. 95 I . we fell in love. We now have a beautiful baby girl. My ex and I are currently in high school. 18 Olmito. but we’re not together anymore. Kikis_fairytale. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. though. Lately. Yeyo. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. and it lasted about a year and a half. We are going to graduate soon. 27 Athens. It’s a bad habit. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. but as for love.

it keeps growing. Although I didn’t know it at the time. looks. He was a southern gentleman with manners. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. but things had been slowly going downhill. I shake. I imagine the two of us together all the time. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. “I may have a guy at home. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. yet doesn’t make me want to die. but as much as I try to stop. I thought to myself. and a smile that could melt a heart. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. Aila Balic. 18 Brooklyn. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. 96 M . It is a scary feeling. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. I gasp for air. In the summer of 2009. I don’t want to. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. We spent my final day together. We started talking and before long we just clicked. but it just happens. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. and I have no control over my actions. talent. Every time I see him.

26 Acapulco. I couldn’t believe it was over. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. There weren’t any wedding planners. Thanks. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. and no hassle: just us. We wanted . yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Ethan. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I explored my options on the ride home. no guests. family and friends can witness our marital union. but now it was time to make a big decision. and it took all I had not to cry. In life. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Why not have our cake and eat it. Guerrero. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. too? Hayley. for showing me the truth about love. I went to say my goodbyes.

I had not felt that way in years. but life is not fair.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. She was . but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. was a devoted wife. at age fifty-two. 1997. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. Some letters were erotic. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. 2006. I will go home one day. On May 15. I guess. This story has the makings for a great ending. On March 27th. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. and made me happy in so many ways. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. Clearly magic was happening between us. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. For Louise. as well as me.

but for our family members. Please save 99 M . She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. Farewell. DON’T. 63 Burkeville. but we had our wedding 7 months later. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. in August. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. We had a nice ceremony. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. If we had to do it again. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. George Hughes.T R U E S T O R I ES life and made me a better man by helping me see the light when I lived in darkness. beautiful flower arrangements. And in the end.000 on our wedding. I will miss you. However. Louise. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. VA A Joining of Two. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding.

When the time came to walk down the aisle. forest green dress. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. the wedding doesn’t matter. “Are you two getting married. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. “NO!” I yelled at him. too?” he asked. my voice echoing through the church. Priscilla. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. clad in a miniature tuxedo. When we finally reached the priest.100+ your money because in the end. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. the rings were handed over. Even at 3. In the fall of 1987. 29 Lowell. 100 A . I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. On the day of the wedding.

until amorous love became filial affection. I was blinded by lights. at some point. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. On the long list of things I hate. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. Finally. but before I knew it.” When the doors opened. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. I had gotten used to him and he to me. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. three of them will always be: priests. and forest green. and I started to ignore 101 I .T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. and I had no idea where to go. slowly and gradually. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. not right away. all I remember being told was. Adelle Brown. The emails became short and purposeful. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. 23 Somerville. not right before my eyes. camera flashes. my cousin. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin.

but that memory is now alien to me. or lack thereof. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. I keep trying to push him away. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. 102 I . This mundane. For now. He was no longer my top priority.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. I am content to just exist. torturous waste of time. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I stopped caring about spending time together. I remember why I fell in love with him. January Paris. I am not that unhappy. and started avoiding him. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. for him. I am not that person anymore. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. and let him do the same. nor is he. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce.

They are still together. and I’m glad they are. I would have done so. Alas. and if I were allowed to live with my father. which never came. I thought that if they divorced. St. Johnsbury. Donna J. VT 103 . he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. it would have been more difficult. my parents did not divorce. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Even if he hadn’t allowed it.

.

Despite Diagnosis .

100+ .

and when you get to the other side. to survive it.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. Prison is a sewer. cartwheeling. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . and dry yourself. go in with your homeboys. you can cast off your filthy clothes. sometimes it’s neck-deep. vermin. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. you must wade carefully through the sewage. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. Wait till the “others” get out. not because of knives but for their germs.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. bide your time. leaving you there to bleed out. not let it get inside you. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. Some don’t. clean. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. wash. and sometimes it’s over your head. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. and filth swimming and floating along with you. In prison. Take showers in shifts. You are immersed in it. skidding. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. alone. then slips away unseen.

A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. they inhale deeply. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. Charles P. The problem was not eradicated. I started having eye trouble.100+ of the prison sewer. And they die. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. As the years passed. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. I was told I had a brain tumor. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. 59 Daytona Beach. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. so I went to an optometrist. take it all in. Norman. wondering if I will ever go home. I regained some of my physical strength. Months later. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. As for me. When I awoke. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. become a part of it. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. a cracked skull. meningitis.

My cerebral fluid was not draining. Pete. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. and all came out negative. so in spite of having protected sex. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. traveling all the way down to my elbows. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. Tasmania. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. just to be sure. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. After 4 or so weeks. Fueled by the media. 21 Devonport. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I .

I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. Throughout my childhood. so my body was dying. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. For instance. Every time a nurse would come in the room. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. I was constantly in the hospital. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. so he donated his blood. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. so she took me to the doctor. but even that wasn’t enough. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. My father was the only one with the same blood type. The day I turned five. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. Jolene. We all had sad faces. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). 28 Portland. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful.100+ as well. One time.

Today I am 19. Five days later.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. Maybe it’s not really me. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. in college. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. 19 Pembroke Pines. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. I am back at Estrella Jail. This never happened outside. and they both cried tears of joy. and 100% cured. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. nearly bald. Maybe it’s a nightmare. There is no kindness. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. hoping to get rid of me to save money. the check-in nurse says. and very pale. the jail has delayed it. “Well. the judge can expedite all he wants. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. fightingsurvivor19. Three months later. At Perryville.” When my chemo starts. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. I’m 15 pounds thinner. I vomit constantly.

Despite the rigid schedule. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. there is complete indifference. I have three more chemo sessions. I start the laborious grievance process. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. and nine months later. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. But this protocol is not followed. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. He answers my questions. I know I’m an inmate. I am sent back to my room alone. the doctor comes in. then every six months for two years. My life is literally in their hands. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. Eventually. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. When my treatment is over. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting.100+ that my nausea be minimal. In here. begging for what I’m missing. No more nausea. An hour later. I vomit until there is nothing left. and then annually. He recommends a tumor 112 . when I’m supposed to be healing. burning instead. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head.

uncaring power. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. and I am helpless against its inadequate. That’s really hard in here. my life is in the hands of the State. AZ 113 . All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. This is about the State.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. always look for a reason to be glad. no positive imagery can change my situation. That is why I am afraid. As a result. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. I can deal with that. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. Six months later. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. incompetent. Their stories touch me on so many levels. mismanaged. it still hasn’t happened. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. she was looking ahead. CA A 114 . That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. he began to distance himself. but when he found out that treatment could last years. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Despite all this. Two months after I started chemotherapy. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. without even knowing it. 33 Santa Barbara. making plans for the future. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. A year into my treatment. Dinorah Torres. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. Later. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. and I felt helpless all the time. My boyfriend was very supportive at first.

One year she was cancer-free. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. Hayden. for an addict’s.” What kind of doctor says something like that to a patient? That’s like telling an intravenous drug-user that his/her veins and liver are in good shape. She was longdivorced. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. 18 Tacoma. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. It just 115 I . The exposure to carcinogens is still there. and had lived alone for decades. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. for a smoker’s lungs. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. How sad. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. never had any kids. The following year. shape. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape.

My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. on the part of Texas officials. Cornwall. Penzance.G. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. not even decades after giving up smoking. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. F. and now he could lose his own life because of them. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes.A. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Whatever the percentage.

Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 2. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. sentence length. You can see how dangerous it is. and typecrime. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . and house them accordingly. 7. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. Classify prisoners by age. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 5. 6. 9. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 8. whether here or abroad. 4. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. 3. be as humane as possible. A few suggestions: 1. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request.

Harris. Daniel H.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. TX 118 . This could be a start.

The Transience of Permanence .

100+ .

some acceptance. If I give him that. maybe an estate. I feel the dread on my flesh. which has its effects on me as well as on him. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. plans. In the penitentiary. then the whole world has done the same.T R U E S T O R I ES LIVE from Texas Death Row! ’m a Texas prisoner and I work on death row. Some days. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. Christopher Best Livingston. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. For “free-world” folks. death out there now looks relatively easy. Each morning when I arrive at work. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. a last will and testament. especially on death row. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. discussions. even inside me. or SSI. TX I 121 . so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. In plain talk. All is forgiven. He desperately seeks some understanding. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. From what I’ve seen in here. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. death is merely a passage or rite. I’m a state-approved janitor. He understands that my time with him is short. I swear.

I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour.” or “moving on to the next phase. yet relieved that I took action.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. Very suspicious. Fuck God. It isn’t working. Suspicious. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. today. 122 T . Shit. It’s called “checking out.T. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I am feeling very ugly inside. I’ll try again later.” And I’m not talking about parole. Fuck them. G. and it can be done right now. I choose not to spend another day in this place. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” “taking it to the vent. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. Light-headed. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. Shit.

He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Mike Rothwell Ione.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. After that. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. not in the clinical sense. but a symbolic one. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers.

diamonds. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. the son he failed to be. the lover he wishes to be. gold.With his incarceration. pearls. the father he cannot be. In this sense.100+ love of his family. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. Hector Gallegos Otisville. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. but life—even at 103—seems too short. In the world beyond prison walls. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. in essence. and the person he never grew to become. my big fat Italian grandmomma. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. he may as well be dead. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. killed that greater part of himself. matriarch of the family. 124 N . NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. sterling silver. He has. year after year.

pre-WWII. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. necklaces.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. and handcrafted dolls. all the clothing in my nonna’s wardrobe is folded into garbage bags and given away except for a gorgeous full-length Persian lamb coat that is given to my sister-in-law who wears it so well. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. blankets. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. as if no one else is 125 D . she never wore it. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. Mary Higgins Reading. The first thing one notices is the quiet. albums. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. The following day. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. key chains. except for a fundamental difference. Mother airs out the house to get rid of Nonna’s scent! I’d have always thought one would cherish the smell of one’s dear momma. Who would believe that a swastika. dating from the roaring twenties.

It doesn’t bother them that a human being is sitting in the cell thinking of events or people from the past that made him happy. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. survivors of the victim’s family. making it ominously quieter. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. It is like God’s “time-out” room. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. In remembering. the officials are stoic and judgmental. there are only four or five people. Hathorn Livingston. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. media representatives. he realizes that all hope is gone.100+ there. such as his first pet. Gene W. but the mind rebels. TX 126 . although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. At other times. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. the fights he had in grade school. An ache settles in his belly.

” and “lost” test results. no one. Sleep came with great difficulty. Once muscular. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy.” “partial. He was a genuine character. trying to get someone to do something. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. really took it seriously. if at all. Over a period of a year. and his memory showed signs of failure. Time was of the essence. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. and his head was shaved clean. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. and they all tell you something different. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Since he always complained. a combination drug therapy. I saw no real reason for worry. he had become thin as a rail.” I forget why. after a slew of “unreadable. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. including Freddy.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. 127 E . he was barely over five feet tall. his body was covered in tattoos. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin.” Freddy complained to me one day. In October 2004.

By October. “By the time they did something. but no treatment was administered. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. Freddy was my friend. only resignation. “If they got at me 18 months ago. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . We named him William Kenrick.” There was no anger in his voice. He vomited blood one morning. They tried giving him formula. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect.100+ Months passed. but he threw it up. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. 2005. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. looking through the glass at our little one. they probably could have saved me. and he was afraid. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. and now he’s dead. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. it was too late. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours.” he told me. They killed me. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.

m. when I visited him. the smell… His sweet. Jenelleish. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. fight for it. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. Someday. At 1:30 a. my first child. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. He will always be my first baby. 32 Las Piñas City. Then I start crying again and eventually. which was declared a success. milky scent is still there.. “Baby. But if not. The next day. just let go. my first son. And I knew though he was gone. And oh. NCR. But I swear. At 3 days old. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. But I knew something wasn’t right. a smile formed on his lips. I love him more and more each day. And for that. Despite the pain. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. if you can still make it. and whispered. he went. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. his heart rate slowed. PHILIPPINES 129 . I turn numb. he had to undergo an operation.” And as soon as everybody was there. only he was already lifeless. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. as soon as I held him. I still think of him. only to realize that he’ll never come back.

Dad une 15.100+ I Miss You. But after 5 years of marriage. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. But as a father. he was really fantastic. I didn’t shed one tear. from denial to 130 I . we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. I dreamed about him every single night. My dad liked to sing and dance.. I was close to my father. and listening to music. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. But I didn’t cry. fishing. Facing the cell door. roller-skating. he died suddenly and tragically. in a better mood than usual.m. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. enjoying the early morning light. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I miss him deeply. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. yet his passing was significant to me. After my dad’s death. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. I went through many phases.

a Christmas card. had no meaning. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. After a long period of time. Terri Giosia. I sent my aunt. Québec. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. hate to indifference. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. I realized that what happened was out of my control. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. the final and hardest phase arrived. Life lost its luster. her youngest 131 I . I am now 45. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. However. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. I drank to escape and forget. As a last minute thought. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. 45 Montreal. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. happily single.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. with great parents and friends. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. How sad that now sounds. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy.

” is one of the worst ways to wake up. especially when you are only seven years old. Not only did she call him. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. 51 Rosharon. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. Soon after. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my mom had been taken to the hospital. my poem may mean nothing.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Dennis Forrest. But after all the miserable hospital visits. The doctor gave her three months to live. To the academic world. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. he said. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. The night before. For two years. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment.

My life was changed forever. but to help them through things the best you can. My father continued hacking. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. where it was warm.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. and us. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. He took care of my mom. It went on and on. and even worked from home so he could be there. 16 Rexburg. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. This experience has made me stronger. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. the house. Aubrie. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. “Daddy. My dad softly called me over. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. too weak to walk to her bedroom.

exhaled. the reason I’m saying this. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. collect. when I first met your family several years ago. Don’t ever smoke them. but emphysema got him first. from a prison payphone in the dark. and he was gone. and that was a good thing. I admire what you did. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. I said things I’ve always regretted. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. so I recognized it in both of you. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father.100+ asked.” 134 . He said things. closed his eyes. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I knew he wanted to say something. Even when he was here last time. but he died before I got the chance. not speaking. healing wounds. I wanted to make it up to him. but the last time inexorably approached. I could see that you loved your father. like you did. real sick. who knew my family well. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. so I stood there. There were hard feelings between us. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. waiting him out: “Charlie. I had unfinished business with my father. I begged him to quit for years. You see. son. We feared lung cancer. as did my mother. with complications from lupus. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. and he loved you. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings.” He was just twenty-four at the time. too. You settled your differences. Over the past few years. I could tell. He looked at my brothers. A prisoner friend.

I decided to slash my wrist. His tears soaked into my suit coat. FL Slash nstead of going to court. 135 I . and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. It was the least I could do.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. Charles P. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. 59 Daytona Beach. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. My cellie threw up. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. leaned his head on my shoulder. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. While there. Norman.

and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. His eyes were half open. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.” “What are you facing?” I asked him.” G. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. “Six months. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. I don’t anymore.100+ “Well. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . Evidently. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck.T.

For the first time since I was there. CA 137 . slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. He had everyone’s complete attention. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. perhaps. But not at this moment.T R U E S T O R I ES was. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. hung it back up on the wall. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. Was he going to say a few kind words about the recently deceased? Maybe warn us about the dangers of unchecked depression? A short lecture. With a bit of a dramatic flair. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. Even the crazy guys had shut up. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. there was only solemn silence. It was so still. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. Then. stood there for several seconds. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater.

.

Hidden & Forbidden .

100+ .

I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. a football player. I want to be with a girl. Because she was white. forcing myself in. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I’m thinking. my fraternity brothers. but it’s not my girlfriend. I want some sex. I only saw what I wanted to see. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. I was black. and a ladies’ man. sentenced to six years in prison. It opens. I knock on the door. “I came to see my girl. barging into her apartment. she was white.” I say. I’ve had fun. it’s her roommate. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. if no one else is here. 141 I . I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. I was convicted. we can have sex. I say. she’s home alone. not only to have fun. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. it’s a habit of ours. a member of a fraternity. the white system. When it’s time to leave the club. angrily. that it was a setup. but I haven’t picked up a girl.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. and I’m in college. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. and it was my word against hers.” I step towards her.” As I say this. in front of a white jury. 1982. “Your girl is not here. but also to pick up girls. For twenty years. popular on campus. racism at its best.

“I’m gay” was the iceberg that. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. a wife. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. The fantasy of grandchildren. So I tried. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. especially with men. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. for them. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. if I were to have a place in this world. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. pure houseboat.100+ Today. I had known that I was a disappointment. faithfully. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. forced attractions to women. For sixteen years. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence.

T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. all too well in fact. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. One day. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. that my parents felt the same. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. boring corduroy-wearers. with whom I constantly fought and argued. When I arrived. I wrote a script. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. I am finally happy. my sadness never faltered. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. So I confessed my truths. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. At seventeen. 19 Hooksett.. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. And I knew. only for who I pretended to be. Daryl F.

He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. one male and one female. This brought about a case of stage fright. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. and sinker. His self-confidence saved the day. I was literally paralyzed. He dated one girl 144 I . being a noble and resourceful man. it was swallowed hook. The audience was riveted by his magnetic personality and his cultured accent even when he said the Sun makes a revolution around the Earth every 25. line. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. Knowing very little about astrology. especially for clothes. Kent. Nicholas. but I always suspected that he was gay.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. carried on like a trooper. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. 30 Maidstone. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. Philippa. We didn’t date.

but I never really suspected she was gay. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. especially since I had always suspected it. she was always a tomboy. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. I didn’t really think anything of it. As for my female friend. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. When he told me he was gay. My friends just did . Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. Jayne L. Waterville. However.

We are not giving it to her. who is from Peru.” so we had to go back to court. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. gays and lesbians are persecuted. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. too. They even sent me to a shrink.100+ me. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. but I am a woman and therefore. If I were a man. I fear losing my partner. After three years worth of evidence gathering. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. “Never mind.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. not me. Right now. knowing that if she 146 . I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. We feel the judge was very homophobic. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. As if things couldn’t get any worse.” I did. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said.” Within 10 days. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru.

the only thing that really matters to me is truth. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. but we did not lose ourselves. We lost everything. These days. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. If anything. Aileen Diaz. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. 35 Tampa. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. no different than any other heterosexual couple. TX 147 I .T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. she would be detained upon walking off the plane for speaking out against the homophobic Peruvian government and their police brutality! We are going through some tough times right now. the most effective teacher. the Ultimate Truth. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. has taught me compassion.

I still love and respect him. But on the other hand. Now. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. On the one hand. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. 30 Detroit. better not to tempt fate. and I would never throw it in his face. I feel like an idiot. Eloise Lebreton. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. You have to always be 148 C . I probably would have been better off not knowing.

T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. 149 A . I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. No matter how upbeat you may feel. It’s always going to be there. Mike Rothwell Ione. Louisiana. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I was allowed to play with a friend. One way is to keep doing those pushups. I have told few people of an incident that has caused me to despise myself for being a coward as well as Christianity and all its hypocrisy. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable.” then there’s not much they can do about it. They help. After church. so you better learn to keep it at bay. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. But if someone’s determined to “check out. I lived in Shreveport.

and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. lit the gas stove. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. another ultrafundamentalist sect. I have been an atheist ever since. NC 150 . She barged into the room screaming. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. was too much to handle. My friend’s mother yelled. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. Yurshta. and abuse. molestation. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. He screamed in agony. Christian Missionary Alliance. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. especially my mother.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. 47 Old Fort. her face contorted in rage. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. “You think this hurts motherf’er. at my tender age.

whether physical or emotional. I swear. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. demeaning. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. Any kind of abuse. I did not get angry with him. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. should not be tolerated. Gaby Hermann. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I had nine miscarriages.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . I have never been physically beaten. 26 Essen. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged.

What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. Delhi. INDIA 152 .100+ with me. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. Sonia. I was forced to call the cops. 36 New Delhi. Then one day. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce.

Eerie Encounters .

100+ .

T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. I keep swimming. We cannot be alone. 28 Salem. Aquatic Park. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a.m. In my nightmare. swishing sound. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t need to see to believe. I listen for a moment to a strange. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. but I’m getting tired. even Ghirardelli’s. I can see the people. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. Why would we want to be? Clarette. just a quarter of a mile farther. slight. although I’ve never seen one. They are looking beyond me. my 155 I .

I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. out beyond the breakers. beginning to feel numb. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. to the deep water. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. 24 Lawrence. I awake. The walls murmur. The waves crash. I hear something in the distance calling me. Am I going crazy? Frank E. I am silently alone. summoning me. MA 156 T . I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. And then. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. And about a week after that. 45 Delano. I’m only treading water. Foster. Will Ferrara. When I was 18.100+ arms are getting heavy. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. About 5 years later. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter.

showing us that we were right. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. a strange heat enveloped my body. too. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. In the following days. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. Shocked. On our way to the hospital. I dreamt that I was in Italy. at my uncle’s funeral. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. While alive. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. In October. I felt sick and went to sleep. Almost twenty days later. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I immediately called home. while still aboard. One night. From that moment on. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. Not long after. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. my mouth stopped bleeding. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. Ravenna. and we had no choice but to drink it. In the dreams. 56 Alfonsine. ITALY 157 I .

It was then that I woke up.. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. its feet dragging along the ground. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. but they continued moving and stretched me out. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. It was pitch black. I was squinting. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I stood up and looked at its face. It was my dad! At that moment. as whatever I was looking at was far away. I remember shaking like a leaf. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. but late for work! Paddy J. I landed at the feet of the creature. 19 Monaghan. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. staring straight ahead. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean.

FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. it had disappeared.” someone who knew the area told me. I was in the bathroom. Fernandez Miami. thinking about nothing. thin man. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. echoes from long ago. One evening. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. my mind completely blank. As I placed my canteen in the water. That left me speechless. When I turned to look. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. the vision of a tall. 159 W . I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. As nighttime fell. Enrique M. Hiking along the trail. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. When I returned home. “That place is haunted. “I’ve been here before.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. It was at this moment that I saw.” I thought. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar.

And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. when I entered the King’s Chamber. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. I have no idea what the vision meant. and the vision was gone. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. I remembered being there before. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. His face was shrouded in darkness. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. grey cloak that covered his entire body. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. However. Then. still completely covered by the hood. He walked towards me. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. standing in that same spot. hooded. Devon. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. I have not had any such vision since. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I .100+ He was wearing a long.

This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken.” Now. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. and don’t believe time is always linear. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. During this moment of déjà vu. Misty. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. AK. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. Then my former self stood in my body. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. I came back to my present “reality. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. 54 Auckland. transferred his intelligence into my brain. and activated it. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school.

They knew what was about to happen. 59 West Roxbury.B. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen. Lonn. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. a little more settled. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. but I didn’t. drifting like seaweed. In my dream. and a little less afraid. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. facing myself. I woke up taking short gulps of air. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. a little more aware. 162 I .100+ broad daylight seemed real. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I’m 59 now. D. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I’m willing to see where it takes me.

The driver lost control of the vehicle. Waterville. when I moved 163 G . It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. completely powerless to stop it. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. Jayne L. and then was finally able to label my experience. and quickly drifting away. I started to read a lot of books. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. as I had in Spain. “I need to get back.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. Later. I learned the term years later. I survived the accident with no major injuries. which struck a barrier. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. After that. and we started to spin really quickly. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. I watched shows on television. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. Since I was only 4 years old. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain.

There is only going to a different level. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. But for me. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . 37 Madrid. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week.100+ to Massachusetts. just one year before meeting Gabriele. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. a few steps from the altar. I got slowly closer. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. but with no success. it’s one of my many pastimes. One night. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I knelt down on a pew. facing him. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. he said. A year later. Smiling kindly. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro.

and I tried to help him. To be sure. 56 Alfonsine. Through telepathy. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. I told him not to joke. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. striking me like a storm. but he had terrible secrets. so I left. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. While I stared at him. He vowed to marry me. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. Ravenna. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. I felt all his fear and pain. in January 1991. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. Then one night. Through telepathy. ITALY 165 . we became involved. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. struck by his suffering.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep.

I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. On some nights. NH. During the five trips I made out there. I developed . Then all of a sudden. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. He tipped his hat and smiled. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Soon after. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly.100+ I See Spirits spirit. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them.

strobe for 30 seconds. We saw the usual lights in the sky. and meet. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. First. As I returned to where Betty was parked. a state psychologist friend of mine. On one of my last visits. who was also an amateur photographer. then they turned off. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. and then disappear. up a tree. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. accompanied me. fly to some central point. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. but then. Later. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. about 50 yards down the tracks. On one occasion. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. MA 167 . Other times. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. she suddenly pointed and yelled. 70 Waltham. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. and into the sky.

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At Home & Abroad .

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and completely broken by life. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. Colombian. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. as proof of dignity. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. where all were welcome and. but eventually we divorced.” My father used to talk of Hungary. and great America. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. or Puerto Rican dialect. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. We married and had a daughter. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. not financial statements. Lately. with a 3-year-old son. German perfume. Russian caviar. had to show the INS hard-working hands. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. but life had a different destination in mind for me. I once had plans to live in London.

We don’t feel less American because of that. the Dolphins. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. on the contrary. We all suffer when this happens.S.100+ Greece.. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. while others are trying to cheat the system. Nidia F. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U. Morales. 36 Lennon. we love Bach. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . 54 Leominster. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. Mare. it reminds us that this country is great.

and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. My father is Mexican. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. it would have been too dangerous. Then during the fall and winter months.S. 27 Washington. Many times. illegally because. apart from being unconscionable. We lived in tents. cars. while my 173 Every year from June until September. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico.C.S. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. we stayed in Livingston. I had family there. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. D. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. my . so I decided to move to his. and migrant camps. Later in the summer. harvesting crops.

Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. Spanish. Because of school. This is where I went to school. this was not a quick or easy transition. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. However. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Early on.” or “spic. I was embarrassed by my first language. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. our bathroom was an outhouse.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me.” “wet. mostly beans and tortillas. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. In high school. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. they had the opposite effect. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. and write in English. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” “greaser. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. In fact. Not only were the white students 174 . we took our baths in a big washtub. I struggled to learn to speak. However. read. I was held back in kindergarten. In grammar school. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I realized that I was out of place in school. halfway through my junior year.100+ father worked for a local farmer. they didn’t work. School was a struggle from the beginning.

Raul Ybarra. a five sol coin and two half sol coins.S. My private class is in La Rinconada. but on the inside I acted like a white person. To white students. and I had lost most of my Spanish.” I remind myself. you know. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. I was born and raised in the U. not even two dollars.. to the Mexican students. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. the usual. “One hundred soles tonight. in theory. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. a gringo wearing a tie. I didn’t seem to fit in. 50 Boston. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. Although I was of Mexican descent. “Now don’t run away on me. an enclave 175 I . tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. I wasn’t Mexican. They will pay. I wasn’t white.

dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. Remember. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. I sit at the kitchen table.” “I know she’s not here. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option.” “That’s okay. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. It’s ají amarillo. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. Matt. are washing dishes in the sink. I eye the tamal on the counter. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. with chicken bulging from its sides. I am cheered by the recognition. never mind 176 . No way. “She’s not here. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. If these families don’t find happiness here. you are not Peruvian. They don’t speak to me or to each other. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. even your own paycheck. I have classes with her kids. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.” I say. she told me to come inside and wait. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. Two maids. as big as a sandwich.” “The señora is not here.

T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. They looked at each other to see who would answer. 40 Amesbury. Matt Wirzburger. I was told to come. Wipe any sign of need from your face. I hear three honks. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. That is the hard part: hiding the need. MA My Nibble Out of The Big Apple I was wearing an almost-designer-brand business suit I arrived at Penn Station with admirable resolve.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. and springs out the door to the entrance. and I came. “That’s what we all hope. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. The room grew eerily silent. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. It was the end of the month. Mrs. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. Some received their checks. No way am I going home empty-handed. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. and we were all waiting for our first check. An hour later. 177 . others were given a song and dance. Chin up. payday.

” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. It was then. I felt that I had “made it there. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. the whole city was there. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. The streets were numbered. Karen Manhattan. and only then. yet spaced widely apart. NY 178 . As dusk turned to darkness. I wasn’t alone. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. With briefcase in hand. the city awoke and came to life. I was in the city “on business. It was well worth it. After the much-anticipated grilling session. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams.

(“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. and stout.” “Pop Idol. 12) It’s not the “U. Scottish. it’s “America. French. dry. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. Irish. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 7) Humour is subtle. etc.S. sarcastic. real ale. 10) The English. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.” or “U. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. and sophisticated. Welsh.A.”. and you must learn the difference between lager. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. they helped a great deal. 4) Beer drinking is an art.T R U E S T O R I ES What I Learned from the British 1) Petrol stations are found at supermarkets and adverts before films. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i.e.” or “Yankland”. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic.” “The States.S. bitter. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. The 179 .. we don’t.

or any other English-speaking foreigner. Pink Floyd). 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. and body weight is stated in stones.m. they’ll take the non-Yank. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). apologise profusely for it.m. FL 180 .100+ Beatles. 23 Jacksonville. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). South African. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). not pounds. If caught being rude. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. Rolling Stones. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies.. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. Gavin S. Canadian.

I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. Pearl Harbor. We discovered Diamond Head. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. crimson berries. Although decades have passed. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. and Waikiki Beach. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday.” which spans in black swirls over the island. my parents and I arrived at . We took off from the claustrophobic. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet. Native and unique to Hawaii.

orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . B. Gutierrez. 29 Tultitlán. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.” Despite my pitiful German. ovular. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich.100+ large. I remember wanting to return… H. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. Estado de México.

I experienced an unexpected. eerie feeling. however unfounded that emotion may be. To them. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. For the first time since the early eighties. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. checked 183 In late October 1998. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. I even felt a bit guilty. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. crying. but never forgotten. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. I knew it was war. green hills and plains. I imagined civilians screaming. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. and running in all directions. I packed up my leased . I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. Along the road. Schleswig-Holstein. However. Standing in St. we were the enemy. Gisela. destruction everywhere. that it was them or us.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. 21 Lübeck.

and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. TN 184 . the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. delightful little restaurants. There is always a scent of sage in the air. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. and visited various museums.100+ into small motels. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. I spent days at the Pueblo. Brigitte Pauli Memphis.

The Toughest Job in the World .

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so on the 20th.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. after being able to share this special bond. I planned a Caesarean. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. we did not make it to the hospital. We were told that I could be induced at this point.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. My due date of June 19th came and went. I knew what to expect. So. For child number two. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. he did just that. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. I was awakened abruptly by contractions.m.. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. which is about 45 minutes away. For our first child. Needless to say. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. At 3:30 a. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. Krista.

bacon. the smells of biscuits. The Texarkana Gazette. spread them open on the wood floor. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. and my mother would call us for breakfast. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. It was just the three of us. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. Dan and Tom). my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. but fairly frequently. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. He’d slowly read the comics to me. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. lie down. grocery bills. Daddy would get out.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. My . car payments. Alley Oop. All was good in the world. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. By then. and two more on the way (my brothers. The car would stop. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. Friday evenings were always a thrill. I had no concept of rent. Not every week. Joe Palooka. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. prop himself up on his elbows. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. and Tarzan of the Apes. and read each one aloud. take out the Sunday comics. He’d take off the rubber band. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. not working as he was the rest of the week. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time.

Not with .220 grams. a frown on her face. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. (On Friday evenings.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. 59 Daytona Beach. Sebastian. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. I felt desperate. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. 189 The first time I saw my son. They said he was beautiful. Norman. I went to a place filled with noise. and lights. tubes. Times were hard. but I never realized it. Finally. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. Charles P. or at least pretend to. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. but because I thought I had failed.T R U E S T O R I ES him. I cried. and his weight. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. 1. begging him for a ride in the new car. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car.

I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. leaving my baby behind. After a week. besieged by guilt. Over time. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. I talked to him. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. fear. Each week. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. patience. He was so fragile and exposed. I cried. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. I was discharged. I sang to him. I began to sob. I became determined to care for him. wanting to 190 I . I gained knowledge. I’m too afraid of screwing up. and hope flooded me. 36 North Andover. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. Outside. Lisa. and mourning.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. and I prayed. and confidence. I ached to still be pregnant. Relief. pride. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. At long last.

or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. and I was twelve years old. At about 3 a. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. we weren’t there to look at. pet. Suzanne. and I 191 I . I don’t have any desire to find out. Though I was only twelve. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. my father and I were in his truck. or gangs. or getting into drinking.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine.m. But tonight. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. drugs. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. driving to our new “hunting spot. or having trouble with the police. I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. or feed the deer..” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. Right now.

Steven Small. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. . You can take a picture and freeze time.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. 43 Jessup. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. a second of your life. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. checked for traffic. We drank beer on the way home. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. they were already there. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. with the click of a camera. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. I snuck up to the fence line. By the time he got there. I didn’t even have to call the deer. I took my spot and waited. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours.

she was so excited that she leapt for joy. Kelly. but something was unleashed in me. I didn’t expect much. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. New moments are constantly being created. sipping a chocolate shake. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. I 193 M .T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. without a care in the world. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. I cherish every moment captured. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. moments are forgotten. but those moments stay behind. Life goes on. 30 Martinsburg. Part of me wanted to pull her away. and sadly. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. Sitting on a stool at the counter.

Everyday.” she said with tears 194 . It was in seventh grade. “Those aren’t for spending. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Some streetwise kids set me straight. “I did my best. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. Dorothy. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. One day. and well fitting. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. collectables. He had promised to take care of us.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Someday they’ll put you through college. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. I rushed home with some questions for Mama.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. I do my best. I couldn’t take it anymore. She quit school to marry him. John. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. I was proud to be her son. Her green eyes sparkled. “Your Mama works for tips. without any explanation.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. my first year in middle school. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Mama was beautiful. crisp. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Those are old coins. he left.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education.” One day. the afternoon waitress.

I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks.. Mama was gone. One day. Mama asked if I needed anything. Mama wrote every day. shame for being poor. I wrote back. Oh sure. All my love turned into shame. Mama sent cookies. My middle-school friends had seen to that. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. But something was missing from my letters. I wouldn’t need it. a letter came from Dorothy. Respect. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. that’s what it was. She’d died of breast cancer. They let me go home for the funeral. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money.. TX 195 . There was just nothing I could respect about her. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Before she died. Something with angels on it. I didn’t go to college after high school. I handed the money back to Dorothy. shame for having no Daddy. After it was over. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. not love. Mama’s friend at the café. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family.

When outside. “Last case for today. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. and wait to be called into another room. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . but her face wore the same void expression.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. no television. I opened the glove compartment.S. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. When I did. “Mom. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. a lady came out and said. and devoured them one by one. “Mom. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. no books. She would fill out some papers. I pulled out all the papers. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. In the front. a man or woman would call out a number. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. put them in my lap. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. Finally. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. but there were no magazines. she answered. She must have known that I would see it.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. map. Occasionally. I looked at the gas gauge and said. sit back down. “An abortion. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. we got into the boiling car.

you’re just like Auntie Doll. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. It wasn’t the welfare office. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . or the bills. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. when I was ten. When she turned to look at me. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. I was sitting outside on the front steps. lack of food. No. but someone else. Yvette Louisell. everybody in the world. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. sat down beside me and said “Hello. for me. 37 Mitchellville. she yelled.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection.

both became angry. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. After twenty minutes. “No. Ma smiled and hugged me. I got home empty-handed. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. “Down the block. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She said love makes you do crazy things. Big John wanted to go down there. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. got a damp washcloth. Needless to say. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. what had happened. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted.100+ girl in the world. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. “Green house. but Ma said she would handle it herself. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. I took Ma’s hand. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. The next thing I knew. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. Big John.” she said. Then. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She 198 . That little girl was no fool. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love.

are you all right?” He nodded. screaming. “My God. VA 199 . returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. His wife. Meanwhile. Then he walked over to the counter. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Ma ran to him. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. stood by the refrigerator. who had been putting away groceries. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. snatched the bag. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. “Take it! It’s all there. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. we got the jewelry back. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. 66 Burkeville. George Hughes. we got a smile. and left.T R U E S T O R I ES looked at me through tear-stained eyes and pulled me into her arms and held me for quite a while. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. warning him not to touch us again.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. but we laughed and laughed like never before.

screaming. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. you little sissy. and look. more surprised than hurt. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. you made him cry. he leaned over me. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth.” the man screamed at me. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. “Don’t look to your folks for help. but my dad sat her back down. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. you scared the poor boy. look what you did. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. With the fork in one hand. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. I hit the ground again. “Now run on home. saying. saying.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. one of Michael’s many siblings. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. “Oh it’s all right.” 200 O . I looked over. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. My mother had gotten to her feet.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day.

Very calmly. and a warm. I looked at her then at my father. Peck was yelling at me.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. I said. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. More mad than sad. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. I can’t be there to save you. Grandma Berg was inside. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. I ran to my room. “My little wunderkind. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. One of these days. and offered me cookies.” I’ll ever forget what he said. “No more with the neighbors. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food.” she said as she dried my tears. my little lipschkin.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk.” I answered. I think. Later. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. trying not to look at me. Hours later. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. “Thinking. just thinking. clothes to wear. new shoes every fall. dry house to live in. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. She almost whispered. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. help Grandma eat this.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. at the dinner table. but sternly. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. 201 .

songs. In casual and cruel black and white print. and intelligence. Too much thinking for one so young. CA The Sand Dollar by time. In the classroom. no more you thinking. but Grandma knows things. chores to doing. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. Dream the dreams boys dream. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. unchanged . They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. I received a devastating student update. as the elementary students they were. Your father. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Sun coming soon. a name leapt at me. He also loved conflict. Quiet now. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. He was full of jokes. He got to me like no other student that year. They remain frozen in my subconscious. Thomas Michael Fox. Grandma is old woman. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. 51 Corcoran.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. You must be sleeping now. As I scanned the newspaper. tomorrow is better day.

just a headstone. So much wasted. and dance away. 36 Wakefield. He could always make people smile. Reading the article through blurred eyes. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. no one got to me like him. I hadn’t found one for years. I knew his story now. Then the ocean placed a perfect. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. but he was the star.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I saw I hadn’t. Now one found me. But even now. He would nod. I always wondered if I got through to him. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. Stacey Curran Conway. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. cursing him. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. He wasn’t my first lost boy. so much lost. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. MA If Not Me. I was mad. an 11-year-old in leather. smile broadly. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . I stormed down the beach. I smashed my heels in the sand. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks.

and administrators with agendas.” Back then.100+ of what my students can become. Surprisingly. students with social problems. I think. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. pooh-poohed. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. RIF’d. I’ve been insulted. Finally. and kept students in line. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I sit 204 . and rehired. however. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). living wages. I have come to the end of myself. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. sworn at. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. who trusted what would later come to fruition. In some pretty tough school districts. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. I have stood in line.

for a new vision. more wary. Unruly students aside. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. 34 Framingham.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. not a real course. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. and 8th graders. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Zora. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. I would be mortified. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Spanish was seen as an elective. 7th. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. at the school where I taught. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. Unfortunately. much less trusting. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid .

the vicious three-headed hellhound. silence. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. His eyes were constantly glazed over. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. Sitting. I hope that someday. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. I could survive the duration of this profession. Attempting to gain control. remnants of a continuous high. Julia Perez. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. If I could survive this class.100+ those who do. 29 Norwich. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . Most were sensible enough to sit. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. At the start of a usual class. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. Ted continued to wander about.

Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. “Take your best shot. but how was his bite? Move he did. I had stunned the high right out of him. Enjoy guarding hell.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. I have to call the principal to come get you. “Okay Ted. Wait.” the child said confidently. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. His bark was mighty.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. I decided on the only rational thing. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. As the class waited for my reaction. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. MO 207 .

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Malachi.. D. 79 Anonymous . Aila. J. 202 Daryl F. James. 172 Allen. 135 Christie. Aileen. 53 Curran Conway.. 44 Anonymous.T. 70 Best. Stacey. 32 Brown.. Tom “Wolf ”. Cynthia. 60 Aleman. 142 Dey. 61 Clarette. 111 Amberchele. 37. Lance. 127 Diaz.. 22 Aubrie. Robert Hal. Eugene Alexander. 130 . Matthew.Author Index AK. 121 Boner. 155 Corson. 102 Elliott. Sue Ellen. Fernanda.C. José. 96 Anonymous. 95 Barchard. 166 Ephraim. G. 19. 45 Brame. 33. 166 Antzes. Adelle. 100 Burns. 47 Balic.. Christopher. 145 Donna J. 122. 75 Carrillo. 51. 132 Babb.

45. 98.A. 179 Giosia. 131 Foster. 97 Hermann. 162 Jenelleish. 124 Hughes. 92 Gallegos. 94 . 53. Thomas Michael. 28. 155 Fox. Mary.. 77 Gavin S. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 36. 157.. Frank E. 17. 115 Fernandez. 109 Karen. Daniel H. 177 Kelley. Terri. Pilar. 62... Elisabetta. 164 F. 30. 144. 158 Ferrara.. 197 Jackson.B...G.Errani Emaldi. 110 Forrest. George. 128 Jolene. 115 Hayley. 181 Harris. Dennis. 192 Kikis_fairytale.. 116 Hathorn. 59. William Steed. Enrique M. 40 January. 125 Hayden. 147 Kelly. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 163 Gutierrez. 200 Galilea. 123 Gavai. Hector. Gaby. 151 Higgins. H. 74. 80. Will. Gene W. 101 Jayne L. Spoon. 130 Gisela.

Kitty. Nidia F. Eloise. 172 Mayo. 59 Morales. 143 Priscilla. 85 Rose. Brigitte. 122. 108 Philippa. 187 Kumar. 69. 25 McKenzie. 71 Richards. Gary. 92 Perez. Julia. 86 Mare. 196 Mansour. Jan. Prashant Devan. 133. 93. Norton.. 73 Lebreton. Mike.B. 88 Norman.. Charles P. 136. 141 Redfearne. 32. 188 Paddy J. 148 Salinas. 20. 91 Rothwell. 148 Lisa. 99 Quarles. 183 PC.Krista. 160 Momo. Byron. Mark D.. Miriam. 87 McKenna. 171 Murff. Ricky. Yvette. 161 Loomer. 205 Pete. 21 LeBeau. Scarlet. Zachary. Santonio. 107.. Michael. 158 Pauli. D. 77 McLean. 189 Lonn. 67 Misty.. 23 . 206 Louisell.

15. Dinorah. 90 Torres. Matt. 85 Tedesco. Adela. 114 Vogt. 42 Windoftheclyde. 87 Small. Agatha.. 173 Yeyo. 16 Shurley. John. 55 von Fuller.. Raul. 193 Ybarra. Steven. 34 Zora. 149 Zephyr. 191 Sonia.E. 159 Wantz. Melvin William Joseph. Alexander J. 50 Theoharides. 151 Suzanne. 63 Wirzburger. 39 Yurshta. Idris. 203 . 95 Yochum. J. Bronwyn. 175 Yarbrough.Samuel. 190 Suzy. 41 Shelly. Kurt.

U.100 Plus True Stories. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse.A. 60 Island Street Lawrence. Inc. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. Massachusetts. MA 01840 . Inc.S. 2009.

in all languages. has created the imprint CBH Books to support excellence in literature. Publish your book with CBH Books.CBHBooks.The publishing house Cambridge BrickHouse.com . We publish all genres. www. Inc.

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Many people are telling their true stories. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. anecdotes. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. or confessions.com. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard.99 9 781598 351095 ..100plusts.. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www.. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. Upon being published.com. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. The best stories were selected for this book. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. but with a different outlook on life–and death. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch.. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. These are true stories told by people like you. written as memoirs. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.com $19.100plusts.” “..I will never be able to look at him the same way again. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. These firsthand accounts. floating in the air. Now you are invited to do the same.” “A week before my 26th birthday.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. facing myself. reflect. who were eager to share their experiences. illustrate life’s many.. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. and remember. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. cry.100plusts. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.

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