CANVAS

CANVAS Writers & Books’ teen literary journal

FALL 2013

All articles originally published in CANVAS Teen Literary Journal.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilm, recording, or by any information storage retrieval system, or used in another book, without written permission from the publisher.

Copyright © 2013 by CANVAS Teen Literary Journal Cover art by Cheyenne Zaremba

ABOUT CANVAS
CANVAS is run by and for teens. We publish quarterly and are open to writers 13-18 years old in Rochester, NY and beyond. Visit us online at: http://canvasliteraryjournal.com

Teen Editorial Board
ANA ANAYA, EDITOR DELANEY PALMA, W EBMASTER TAYLOR STEVENS, EDITOR AND ART DIRECTOR JULIA TAYLOR, EDITOR AMELIA W ILLARD, EDITOR TORI W ILSON, EBOOK AND TWITTER ALI W RONA, EDITOR AND TUMBLR PETER W OOD, EDITOR VANESSA ZIMMERMAN, PDF LAYOUT AND FACEBOOK

Managing Editor
NINA ALVAREZ

Writers & Books Staff
KRISTEN ZORY KING SALLY BITTNER BONN

CONTENTS
FOREWORD ..................................................................................................... 5 MOTHER NATURE’S FIRE.................................................................................... MEGAN MURATA........................................................... 6 REFLECTIONS ..................................................................................................... CHEYENNE ZAREMBA ...................................................... 8 QUEEN OF HEARTS ............................................................................................ NELLY GREEN .............................................................. 10 TAKE ME HOME ................................................................................................. PENELOPE MOOGLE ..................................................... 13 SECRETS OF THE NIGHT...................................................................................... NINA STORNELLI .......................................................... 15 GAZES OF THE SKY ............................................................................................. SIMONIA ZARETSKY....................................................... 17 HEARTS AND OTHER BROKEN THINGS .............................................................. ALI MULKEEN .............................................................. 19 THE THEORY OF HORSES .................................................................................... SIMONIA ZARETSKY....................................................... 25 THE BLACK DRESS .............................................................................................. KHULOOD FANIM ......................................................... 27 CHILD’S PLAY ..................................................................................................... NELLY GREEN .............................................................. 32 VAST .................................................................................................................. SIMONIA ZARETSKY....................................................... 34 ABOUT OUR SPONSORS ................................................................................. 35

FOREWORD
AUTUMN IS IN FULL SWING in Rochester, which means many dark days ahead. For our wordsmiths, however, that only means more time to sit down and write. Our fall submissions brought us a variety of creepy, supernatural stories, as well as plenty in a lighter vein. The creativity and range of work we have found in the Rochester area continues to impress us, and we even commented on the improvement we’ve seen from some of our veteran writers. This issue wasn’t just confined to Rochester, either. We’re excited to announce that as of this issue, we have officially gone international! This issue also introduces a few changes to our staff. Taylor Stevens, our art director and creative hand behind our first three magazine covers, is moving to Ithaca, NY. We will miss her dearly, but also look forward to seeing the ideas of Ali Wrona, our new art director, in upcoming issues. Another member of the editorial team, Abby Johnson, has left for college, but has the honor of seeing her play “Biting Words” (published in the Summer 2013 issue) performed at the Geva’s Next Stage Theatre. Last but not least, we are pleased to welcome a newest board member, Vanessa Zimmerman from Wayne Central High School. Our Autumn 2013 issue promises to bring as much that is fresh and new as is familiar!

-DELANEY PALMA, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER AND W EBMASTER

CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

AUTUMN 2013

Mother Nature’s Fire
Megan Murata

Summer starts the match That consumes the trees Just watch. Coloring the World With Flames. Bright Red And Orange Yellow And Brown. These four colors herald the End.

The leaves are consumed Leaving the branches naked Stark Black – dead – against the Steel Grey sky Of clouds.

And the cold winds come Zephyr and His brothers Carrying the snow

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To the ground As a blanket for the World.

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Reflections
Cheyenne Zaremba

IS IT POSSIBLE TO TELL YOU WHAT I AM? Where do I start? How do I say it? Can you ever really know me, or will you know just the shadow that you want to see? I speak in color, but you see in black and white, and the point misses you yet again. Just over your head, and you’ll never know. How can I tell you what I am, if you can’t hear the notes that I play? You only know the sound of classical, and organs, and monotone, and white noise. My symphony is one of loudness, not a lullaby, a scream. No matter how high the volume, you cannot hear, because you don’t know what it sounds like. Where do I find the canvas big enough to explain me? There is no brush that can paint my mind, no pen that can write my figure, no tool which can portray my posture. But that doesn’t mean you won’t try to squeeze me onto a piece of paper. Stamp me, twist me, push me together until I fit, and you’re satisfied that this is me. This is what I look like. But it is not. I am nothing you can ever create, and I am nothing you’ve ever seen. You’ve never heard me, or felt me, or known me. Your eyes may be open, and your ears may be sensitive, but your heart is closed, and you will not see me.

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Whatever you think I am, whatever you believe you know me to be, I have never been, I am not, and I will never be. You cannot see me by looking at a mirror. You have to look through a window.

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Queen of Hearts
Nelly Green

“No, please! Please, I’m too young to die.” Her squeaking voice was immediately silenced as I pressed the glinting blade against her cheek.”You know what I hate?” I asked, as I slowly sliced through her cheek. Katie squeaked as blood beaded up through the slit, ivory skin, and I leaned down until I was mere inches from her face. “I hate when people say that,” I hissed. “It’s just too… generic. You should come up with something more original.” Katie started to cry yet again, and her body shook with the force of her sobs. I rolled my eyes and pressed the knife against her trembling lips, shushing her. “You’re really making this too easy for me,” I said with a sigh, “I might actually feel some degree of remorse if you hadn’t turned into a sniveling, pathetic excuse for a human.” “I’m sorry,” Katie whimpered, “I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry J—” “Don’t!” I snapped, grabbing her by the throat, “Don’t you dare say my name! You brought this on yourself, you little bitch! You were supposed to understand! Why couldn’t you understand?” This girl really was an idiot; the longer she kept me amused, the longer she had to live. Now that I was angry, I was ready to kill. I raised the knife from her face and started to trace it down her bare torso. As I did, I made cuts in the crevices between each of her ribs. Each time I did, Katie would scream and cry, and she fought harder at the duct tape bonds that kept her restrained to the table. “Yell all you want,” I said, licking my lips, “No one can hear you.”

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I don’t think anyone knows how beautiful dark, deep blood looks in sharp contrast to pale skin. It’s art. It’s sexy. It’s complete perfection. Nobody understood my fascination, but that was expected. I’d tried, don’t get me wrong. I tried with all ages and genders, but once I shared my passion with people, they freaked. Then, they ended up like Katie. “Goodbye.” Katie’s eyes widened as I raised the knife in one hand above my head and I winked before bringing it down hard. The blade sunk into her chest with barely a sound, and Katie let out the loudest scream yet. I winced at the decibel she was able to reach, and I swiped my knife across her throat. That silenced her immediately. Blood streamed from both sides of her mouth, staining her porcelain skin. Katie made a gurgling sound as she tried to breathe through the sea of blood clogging her throat. There was no use in trying, but I didn’t feel like telling her that. The way people clung to life as long as they could was fascinating. After a moment, I leaned over Katie’s face once again to see if she was still breathing. To my surprise, she coughed, sending blood splattering against my face. Instinctively, I jammed my knife into her throat. That ended her quickly. I sat back and grabbed a rag from the table where I’d kept my tools. I wiped it across my face for a moment, and then I grinned as the real work began. I took my knife and carved it painstakingly through her chest. There was the occasional bone, but I made quick work of them. I peeled back the thick layer of skin, and there, resting in its home, was Katie’s heart. My new trophy. I severed the heart from the veins it was connected to, and then I grabbed the well-worn piece of leather from my table. Using the knife, I lifted the heart gently from the chest cavity, and I placed it gingerly on the leather cloth. I grabbed the heart carefully and then tied it securely with a piece of velvet ribbon. I tucked it into my toolbox in the hidden bottom, and then I cleaned my tools and loaded them in the box above the heart. I

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pulled out the pay as you go cell phone I’d gotten at Walmart, and I dialed 911. “911, what’s your emergency?” “Please!” I cried, changing my voice to be deeper and less recognizable, “Please, my friend, she’s dead!” “Are you sure?” the dispatcher asked, and I could hear the instant focus in her voice and smirked. People were so easily riled up. “Yes,” I replied, “Yes. Please send someone. We’re at the docks in some storage shed.” Then, before the dispatcher could say another word, I pressed the end button on the phone. I snapped it in half with little effort, and I dropped it on the ground unceremoniously. Why would I call the cops on a murder I committed myself? I wanted people to see my art. I grabbed my toolbox and took one last look at the dead girl lying on the metal table. “In death, your true beauty is revealed,” I whispered, and then I turned and stepped out of the storage shed. In time, I might turn myself in. That would be when I had grown tired of living, and I wanted people to know the name of the brilliant artist who had created such haunting pieces of work. For now, however, anonymous was my name.

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Take Me Home
Penelope Moogle

WINDOWS DON’T HAVE NAMES HERE, or families or friends. Mirrors don’t have faces, and the walls don’t know how to smile. Blankets can’t protect you, and bricks are nothing more than packed and dried mud. In this place stuffed animals don’t have fun when children play with them, and swings don’t send little girls to the stars. And no matter how hard he looks the little boy will never find a dinosaur. I don’t like it here. The worlds that had existed before are broken, carved into feathery shards that cut me when I try to put them back together like the lonely puzzle pieces that glitter like dulled fingertips on my floor. I miss my old home, where I had friends in every room, in every corner, because the bricks could whisper to me the secrets of the house, and the windows could tell me about what they had done with their siblings the other day. I was smaller then, and I like that now I can touch the top of the door and look down on my mom. But I miss feeling safe when I hid under the covers, when I could disappear from the view of everything that wanted to hurt me. But now I’m not safe because everything that wants to hurt me hides under the blanket too. I wasn’t brave when I was a little girl. The crunching and hissing of the sink would send my running out of the kitchen, and I needed the hallway

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light on when I went upstairs. But I’m not brave now either, because all I do is shelter myself behind hair that people make fun of and hands that aren’t mine and arms that haven’t seen the sun in a long time. I’m tired of this world and I want to go back to the one made of dusty fairy tales where I had friends in every corner and I could hide under the covers and the swings could send my flying to the stars.

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Secrets of the Night
Nina Stornelli

QUIETLY, I SLIPPED PAST THE ROW OF MAUSOLEUMS. The Mount Hope Cemetery was eerie and shadowed in the midnight fog. In the hill ahead was the large mausoleum, sealed off by plaster. By the light of the moon, I could see what I had expected; instead of plaster, there was an ornately wrought iron door. I held my breath, slowly scanning for signs of movement. If I was found by him- whoever or whatever he was- I didn’t know what might happen to me. Thankfully, there was no one around. I quickly ran up the steps and, before I could change my mind, stepped through the doorway. The inside of the mausoleum was extremely gloomy. I was grateful for the light of the full moon in addition to my flashlight’s weak beam. My eyes began to adjust, and I could make out the walls. They were covered in mosaics. I stepped back to see better, but tripped over a large object. I hit my head hard on the wall as I fell, and lay sprawled on my side. Weakly, I coughed dust out of my lungs. “So you’re that type, then,” came a voice. It was lilting and musical, but definitely male. “Just too curious for your own good.”

I kept my eyes closed and tried to look as limp as possible. He laughed, and unbearably light and merry sound. “You’re awake, so don’t pretend.” Slowly, I opened my eyes.

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“Ah,” he smiled. Both his smile and his dark green eyes glittered in the dark. He pushed dark hair from his face. “The secrets of the night are not for mortals, not even those with prying eyes. It was foolish to come here. There is far greater magic in this place than you will ever know.” “Even here,” I whispered hoarsely, “In Rochester?” “Oh, yes,” he said. “Magic is everywhere.” He turned to the door, singing quietly. “Curiosity killed the mortal cat, and no satisfaction ever brought it back. Sleep well, little cat.”

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Gazes of the Sky
Simona Zaretsky

When she was happy, the world blossomed.

Color, vivacious and full of brilliant life flourished and grew; it breathed cool majesty into the pores of the earth, and sang melodic tunes of magic, entrancing the clouds and the trees.

All this the young girl could do, all this when she was but a young girl.

It was her gaze. Penetrating and deep, but only if you let her in, if your soul acknowledged hers and granted permission.

And she would know the fates, the unimaginable, swirling cosmic particles of dust

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that circulate from your head to your toes, winding through your fingers and leaving starry traces in your eyes.

This gaze that could read the heavens, was a burdensome gift. It was heavy, so heavy, but she carried the weight with grace, with elegance.

Of course she stumbled, and even tripped at times, but she always remembered to look up; to rejoice in falling and commemorate getting back up.

She always gazed to the heavens, here she could not read her own future and smiled, deeply gratified by the mystery.

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Hearts and Other Broken Things
Ali Mulkeen

CHAPTER ONE

I knew him like back of my hand. It was the little things, really. Like the way his whole face lit up when he ate his mom’s homemade chocolate cake. Or his carefree, charming way of interacting with just about anyone he crossed paths with. The little things about him all strung together to create this one person who saw me in a way no one else ever did. I knew the way he was and that was something solid that I took hold of and carried with me even when I tried to let go of it. He was engraved in me in a way that made me feel like he was always there even when he was so clearly gone for good. He was a part of me. A part that still remained even when time ticked on. I never realized just how much of me he was going to take until after he was already gone. I was angry with myself for letting him do that, take and take until he had every last bit of me. I had never let anyone do that before. I still couldn’t figure out why it had been him who had broken that wall that I had worked so hard to build. Maybe it was because he said he loved me. I wasn’t sure I ever liked the sound of those three words until they had come from his mouth, quick and flustered one late night. “I love you,” he said, looking at me with an intensity that made me feel like he meant it. His eyes were still that same blue even though it was dark outside on my front porch.

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“Brynne?” he said, when I didn’t say anything. “I know,” I answered. And it felt right and real in all the ways I knew it should. “Okay,” he said. He threw his shoulders back and moved away from me a little. “Good,” he said, “I’m glad you know.” He backed up a little more and his head hit against the hanging porch light that was rocking back and forth in the wind. “Careful,” I said. He held his head for a second before he let go and looked me in the eye again in that same intense way. “Damn it, Brynne,” he said. He wasn’t angry. Just confused. I knew what he wanted. He wanted me to say it back. I wasn’t sure I could, wasn’t sure I was capable of feeling that much. I was quiet for a moment longer and I watched him as he kept backing away, slowly at first and then more quickly as the silence grew. Finally, he turned his back. That hurt, for some strange reason, in a way I had never known. “Shane,” I called after him, but he kept on walking. He was moving quickly down the street to where his truck was parked at the corner. “Wait,” I tried again. I hated that he kept moving, further away from me. So I followed him. That night was the first time I had ever gone after him. Most times, he was the one chasing me. I should’ve known after that night how little it took for everything to change. I should’ve known how quickly he could just leave. I finally caught up to him. His pace had quickened and I was in a running motion now. “Stop,” I said, yanking his arm. “Why should I?” he spat at me, turning too quickly on his heels and looking me in the eye again. His eyes were cloudy and I realized, for the first time, that I had hurt him. I had said things to him before in moments of anger that were harsh and cruel, but this was the only time I had ever seen him this way. “Don’t just stand there, Brynne,” he said. The wind had picked up a little and I was getting chilly even though the sun had been out just hours before. His blonde hair flew around his face a little and his eyes focused in on me. “I should just go,” he said, when I had gotten quiet again. “No,” I said. “Please don’t.” He stopped again and I wasn’t sure why he wasn’t gone already. I didn’t think I was worth sticking around for. “Because,” I said, “I love you, too.” He didn’t leave. He moved in closer and I let his arms fold into me. And I was scared of what we had just said, scared of what all of it meant. But he was here. He didn’t leave me. And he loved me. That was all that mattered in that moment.

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But he had lied that night. Because if he loved me, fully and truly, the way he said he did so many times after that, he wouldn’t be gone right now. He wouldn’t have loaded his things into his old, red pickup truck that winter morning. He wouldn’t have driven across the country to a new life that was waiting for him. He wouldn’t have left me behind two months after he had told me he loved me. Just two months before, I had been so sure of him, of everything. I should have known how badly he could break me. I should have been watching out for myself the same way I had always done. Because when he left he didn’t just break my heart, he broke other things too. It was the first day of my senior year at Mountain Creek High School. It was the second time I had seen him. The first time had been three days earlier at Pete’s Grocery Store on a warm August afternoon. I didn’t usually do the grocery shopping, but my dad had roped me into it. “Brynne,” he said. He appeared at the doorway of my room dressed in a navy blue suit and a matching striped tie. “Fancy,” I said to him. He frowned. He had never been one for humor. That had always been my mother’s job. She just wasn’t around to do it anymore. “Can you run down to Pete’s please?” I looked up from the book I had been pretending to read when I heard him come up the stairs. “Now?” I asked. He nodded. “Jack’s out. I have a meeting in less than an hour. I should be on the road already.” There was no point in arguing. So I just nodded and looked back down at the small, black print lying on my lap. I expected him to leave right then, but he didn’t. He hovered there for a second too long and I could feel his presence just like I always could whenever he was around, which wasn’t all that often. “I won’t be back until late,” he said. “Okay,” I answered. He didn’t leave after that either. He just looked down at his cleanly polished shoes. I was able to get a good look at that slight bald spot that had been growing near the back of his head. He was young, too young to be losing hair. I assumed it was the stress of work and the late hours. There were other reasons too, I knew. Some I tried not to think about. “There’s some money on the counter. You can pick up something for dinner for you and your brother.” I just nodded at him and wondered if there was something else he wanted to say, some other reason he wasn’t already on his way to that meeting he claimed to already be running late for. “Was there something else?” I asked. He shook his head. “Don’t forget those groceries.” And with that, he left. I didn’t put

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the book back where it had been collecting dust on my desk until I heard his car pull out of the gravel driveway. Along with the money he left for dinner, my dad also left a handwritten grocery list on the counter. This wasn’t the first time he had done something like this. He was a very particular person. A perfectionist. I stared at his neat cursive handwriting on the piece of folded notebook paper I knew he had taken from a drawer in his office. I had only seen the inside of that room a handful of times. It was just too much organization in one place for my liking. I took the list and the keys and the money for dinner. I arrived at Pete’s Grocery Store five minutes later in the beat up Jeep I shared with my brother. It was warm outside and I could feel the sun radiating through the windows. I had been trying to enjoy the last few days of August sunshine. I knew as soon as September came, the temperature would start dropping in Mountain Creek. It was like clockwork every year. It was relatively warm in July and August and every other month out of the year seemed to be tainted with a chill in the air. I approached the door of the familiar grocery store and wheeled a rusty shopping cart through the main entrance. The store was empty, just like I thought it would be. The weather was too nice for anyone to be grocery shopping. I read my dad’s list carefully, making sure not to miss anything. He would notice, I was sure of that. Aside from being particular about everything, he also had an extremely good memory. I think that was part of the reason he was the way he was. He remembered too much. The hum of the refrigerators in the dairy aisle seemed to be my only company. But around the bend near the registers I could hear voices. “You have any experience?” I knew the voice was Pete’s. He was the older man who had owned the store forever. He was the only thing in Mountain Creek that felt consistent to me. “Nope,” said the second voice. It had a slightly deep, unfamiliar tone. There was a pause in the conversation and I waited in the dairy aisle for it to resume. “You’ll need training,” Pete said. He sounded hesitant, like he was unsure about some important decision he had to make. “I’m a quick learner,” the second voice said. I tried to put a face to it, but I couldn’t. That was, until I reached the end of the dairy aisle and was forced to turn the bend to where they were standing at the registers. Pete was looking down, scratching his balding head. He pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose and took in a long, deep breath.

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Neither of them heard me approaching. But when the wheels of the shopping cart got close enough and were too squeaky to ignore, they both turned around. “Well, hello there Ms. McGovern,” Pete said to me. He had a way of smiling that always made me feel like seeing me actually made him happy. “Hi, Pete,” I said. I loaded my groceries onto the checkout counter. And that’s when I saw him. The mysterious person Pete had been conversing with. He was looking right at me with the bluest eyes I had ever seen. He had light blonde hair that reached past his forehead and fell just above his eyebrows. He was tall and his shoulders were broad, but his arms were thin, kind of like his face. His nose was pointed and dusted with a few light colored freckles. And he was smiling at me with a wide sheepish grin that made me feel like he had a weird, sarcastic humor about him. It confused me and I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or not that he was looking at me in such a strange way. It made me immediately feel defensive. I didn’t smile back. “How’s that twin brother of yours?” Pete asked me. “He’s good,” I answered. “And your father? Holding up okay, is he now?” I just nodded and tried to force a smile that wouldn’t come. “Well,” Pete began, and he turned towards the strange guy. “I guess this will be your first customer.” I glanced over at the guy and his eyes widened and his smile grew bigger. “Really?” he asked. Pete nodded. “Good luck,” he said and patted him on the back. “Hang in there, kiddo,” Pete said to me. He winked and headed to the back of the store carrying large cardboard box. I could feel the guy looking at me. I made it a point to focus on something other than his gaze. The nutrition facts on the gallon of milk I had placed on the counter were suddenly the single most consuming thing in the room. His hand reached over every now and then as he scanned the groceries one by one. He did this pretty quickly for someone who had just claimed to the storeowner that he had no experience. “That comes to thirty-four fifty,” he said, sounding all too sure of himself. He held out his hand as I reached for the cash I had stuffed into my wallet on my way out the door. I handed him two twenty-dollar bills and watched as he stared at the cash register with a look of complete confusion on his face. He clicked a button or two and the machine groaned back with an irritated beeping noise. He looked up at me for a quick second, I guess for some kind of direction or guidance that I clearly did not have.

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“First day,” he said and shrugged. He was smiling again, the same way he was when he had watched me approach the checkout counter. I just looked away. “Ah,” he said after a few more endless seconds. I heard him click a few buttons and watched as his smile grew with satisfaction. The register dinged with life and he inserted the cash I had handed him. “Thanks for waiting,” he said, when he handed me my change. “Sorry it took so long,” he tried again as I collected the bags of groceries. I could almost hear the smile in his voice, if that were even possible. I carried two bags of groceries on each arm and headed towards the door. I could see Pete restocking the shelves in the back. He waved and I waved back. I could still feel the guy’s eyes on me as I inched closer to the door. “See you around,” he said. I pushed through the door without a word and stepped outside into one of the final days of summer.

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The Theory of Horses
Simona Zaretsky
The wind kissed the sky, but the sky resisted. The insistent wind grew restless. Angry and abused, betrayed and broken, wind limped and shuffled through high dusty plains and low silken meadows. Wind sniffled through shadowy, damp forests, but branches and leaves grew impatient. They pushed and shoved, hurling the dejected wind from their rough claws and into the mud, freshly brewed from a cascade of sky’s mocking tears. Panting and selfish the wind mutinously planned. Shaping and stitching

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pinching and pressing The horse came to be. Fast as the wind, ignorant of the sky, and hungry for life, he soared.

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The Black Dress
Khulood Fanim
THE BIG VILLA IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD ACROSS THE STREET IS NEVER DARK. It is also never silent. The residents of the house are always inside entertaining guests, hosting parties, or sitting around lazily all day. This means that no one is ever outside in the glorious flower garden that is grown and tended by the maids. No one walks around them, taking in their sweet scents and beautiful colors. In this garden, these flowers are merely an unnecessary waste of space, so what do I do? I steal them. Stealing flowers is easy. They are plentiful, and no one misses them. Sneaking in through the gates of a villa unseen by security cameras, unnoticed by guard dogs, and out of sight of the people who work there is another story. I don't even know how I manage to do it, but I do. How else am I supposed to get by when I live with my elderly father in what basically is a tiny attic of a crumbling building? How am I supposed to do my share in feeding us? I wake up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning and turn around on my mattress to face my father. He is already awake and is sitting up, muttering a prayer. "Good morning," I say softly. My father looks at me with his gentle, twinkling eyes and smiles. He ends his prayers and opens his arms, gesturing for me to hug him. He kisses my head and whispers what he says to me every day: "I prayed for you this morning." When I was thirteen, right when I started stealing, these words made me feel so guilty I would burst out crying. Now, at sixteen, my heart is as cold as a stone. Lying comes naturally to me now, and there's no going back. I smile up at him as genuinely as I can, then I get up and start getting ready for my day. My father heads to the door and waves. "Have a great day at the restaurant, Mona!" he says and walks out. As far as my father knows, I work at a restaurant serving and making tea and coffee. My shift ends before his at the factory does, which

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explains why I am always home before him. He knows nothing of the girl sitting on the sidewalk somewhere near the metro station, selling beautiful things at prices the people of Cairo can't believe. I sigh as I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. Under my first mattress and inside my slightly hollowed out bottom mattress is where I keep all my stolen goods. Most of the flowers survive, since they're only there for a few hours after they're taken. The hiding place is ideal for everything else I take: jewelry, old toys, old cups and plates, and basically everything that rich people have but don't need, and is accessible to me. The weather is nice today. I hug my bag tightly to my chest and take a deep breath, trying to enjoy the fresh air before the traffic starts and the air is replaced by the smell of petrol. I run to my spot on the sidewalk and begin setting up my things. Soon, the early Sunday crowd begins approaching, and my money jar slowly begins to fill up. Of course, most people at the metro station are in a hurry, but I am grateful for the few who take some time to consider buying from me. After seven hours of work, morning slowly bleeds into afternoon and I pack my things, giving myself a lunch break. Looking suspicious as I walk around doesn't worry me anymore. I definitely would have felt safer if I were working legally at a restaurant, but in the end it doesn't matter. In the crowded areas of Cairo where I like to walk around, everyone has a story, and there's much worse than a teenager who steals things for a living. Which is why today, when I walk into a little shop, I am taken aback when the storeowner approaches me and begins to question me. "Do you plan on buying anything?" she asks, crossing her arms. I narrow my eyes. "I'd like to look around before I decide, if that's okay with you." She shrugs. But when I begin walking around, looking through the clothes, she follows me. I do my best to ignore her and look as though I really am here to buy something, although I don't have the slightest intention to do so. Not until, at the back of the store, I see the prettiest black dress I have ever seen. I rush to it and finger the tiny embroidery on the sleeves. I spread out the skirt, and I am transported to the best day of my life.

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CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

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I was eight years old, and my mother was still alive. We lived in an apartment that had a beautiful view, and my father managed a supermarket. My mother was standing in front of a full-length mirror in her bedroom wearing a dress that looked almost exactly like the one I am standing in front of. It was a gift from my father. He had saved up for months just to buy it for her, insisting that everyone should own something that could make them feel special. Two years later, our building burned down with my mother, her dress, and all of our money inside. My father had taken me with him to the supermarket, and we only found out later that night, five hours after it had happened. When I look up at the mannequin that wears the dress, all I see is my mother's face. I look at the price tag and close my eyes. I could sell things forever and still not have enough to buy the dress. I look back at the store owner behind me and smile. I can see sympathy in her eyes when she smiles back, but I take it as a good sign. It will be easier to steal the dress and get away with it if I look weak and emotional. I rub my eyes and walk out of the store slowly. I don't go back to the metro station that day. Instead, I go back to our rooftop home and lie down on my mattress. I begin having wild daydreams where I use the money I have to buy my father and I plane tickets to another country. I think of how different I'll feel, boarding the plane in my black dress, and how much richer I will feel when I bid the alleys I've lived in here in Egypt farewell. I don't realize that I've fallen asleep until I am woken by the sound of my father letting himself into the room. I sit up and wave at him. "How was your day?" he asks as he sits next to me. "It was okay," I say nodding. My father leans back against the wall and crosses his legs. "I was offered another job today," he says. My eyes widen in surprise. "So you're leaving the factory?" I ask. "No, it's a part time job. I'll be going after my shift at the factory. It's at a supermarket, so it shouldn't be too hard for me," I stand up. "Dad, you get tired easily. You can't come home later than you already do. It'll be too much!"

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CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

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"But it won't go to waste!" He protests. "Think about it, Mona. Think of all the money I'd earn at the supermarket, added to what I already get at the factory and what you get at the restaurant. We could actually afford a decent life," he sighs, gesturing around him. I shake my head. "I don't want all that if it means risking your health." "Mona, isn't there anything you wish you could have?" I think about getting an education and I think about the dress. I nod slowly. "Well, you can have that! We can do anything if we resolve to work hard! When we have the money, I promise I'll get proper medication." Reluctantly, I nod. My father opens a bag of food he brought home with him and we have a small dinner. As I eat, I think of my father's willingness to work as hard as he must to give us a dignified life. I think of how special the dress would be if I could pay for it, have it put in a proper bag, then carry it around with nothing to hide. That night, I decide to sell the last of my stolen goods, buy the dress with all the money I have, then try to get a job at the restaurant I should be working in. It feels good to have ambitions, and it feels really nice not to feel guilty for once in my life. I am still smiling when I fall asleep. Two weeks later, I sell my last flower. I stand up and stare at my empty bag, then look around at the metro station, mentally saying goodbye. I throw the worn-out bag in the garbage bin and walk away. I walk through a street where a bazaar is going on. I don't see anything of interest until I reach a stall that is selling fabrics. I look through the different colors and pick one up to feel it. I must have taken a little too long with it in my hands, because a lady next to me turns around and asks, "Are you going to buy that?" "No," I say, putting it down. She looks at my untidy hair and my dirty clothes. "You were going to steal it," she says. This is the last thing I want to be accused of doing after today. "I wasn't going to steal it," I say calmly. "Don't lie!" She shouts. She slaps me and I gasp. "It's people like you who ruin this country's reputation! Leave my stall before I call the police!" I run away with tears in my eyes and anger boiling inside me. I keep running until I reach the store with the dress. I stop at the door and catch my breath. All the things I talked about with my father suddenly

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don't matter to me. I walk into the store, pick up the dress, and put it on in one of the changing rooms. Then, I stick my head out of the changing room, making sure the storeowner has her back turned, and I rush to the door. I run out into the summer air. As I run, I keep looking back to make sure the storeowner isn't behind me. I keep my ears alert for police car sirens. I avoid looking at the other people, but a girl in a dress running as fast as I am looks suspicious anyway. As far as I can see, though, no one is surprised by me. No one stops to wonder about the girl in the black dress.

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CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

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Child’s Play
Nelly Green
Long forgotten toys rise, Sending towering shadows to dance, Dance across the dark turquoise ceiling. Piles of dirty clothes morph, Transforming into the shape of horrifying monsters, Teeth snapping in hunger. I pull my blanket up to my trembling chin, And squeeze shut my watering eyes. I hear them moving, Crawling, Staggering toward my bed. They jeer at me, calling me names. Cry baby, Chicken, Coward. I can’t take it anymore. I let out a piercing scream, Sweat mixed with hot tears streaming down my face. I am frightened in my own world.

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CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

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And, I can’t get out.

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CANVAS TEEN LITERARY JOURNAL

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Vast
Simona Zaretsky
ADMITTEDLY, IT WAS A FAIRLY BAD IDEA, but since we all came to the same conclusion it seemed reasonable. Half of a round moon hung in the sky, looking like a pale quarter, neatly bitten in half. Stars dazzled our eyes and gave us the impression that with so much tinsel shimmering in the air this was a celebration of magical proportions. We dropped our towels letting a warm breeze tickle our arms and legs, wreaking havoc with bathing suit strings. Our toes lined up on the edge of the light, steel dock as it bobbed gently on the surface of the inky depths. The air was permeated with the smell of damp mud and infused with the occasional whiff of mystery. The looming trees stretched their arms up to caress stars, their thick, rough bodies melding to create a barrier, a divide between this moment and the rest of eternity. We lost ourselves in the jump; plunging into bone tingling cold waters, deep only in the sense that all we could see in the depths was the darkness of a world we did not know. A quick brush of scratchy seaweed seemed to be a kiss from the Loch Ness Monster and an accidental kick to the calve from a friend became the slimy hand of Grendel’s Mother, dragging us down down down. It was terrifically terrifying; we screamed in absolute delight, as the moon winked down on us and the stars smiled serenely. The trees, our protection from reality, sighed with envy and a touch of melancholy as the yellow dock light nodded approval. Suspended, we waited for release and hoped it would never come.

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