EDITORIAL BOARD

Co-Editors-in-Chief Layout Editors Poetry Editors Fiction Editors Non-Fiction Editors Visual Arts Editor Public Relations Officers Advisor Michi F. and Chris Kevin O. Mahek T. and Bernice H. Aurna H. and Anthony G. Matt B. and Cindy C. Patrick M. and Kinno N. Zaina A. Kaye K. and Stevii M. Wendy D.

EDITOR’S WORD
W
hen we first conceived the idea of a literary magazine, neither of us thought that our plans would be met with such gracious acceptance and anticipation. Once again, the keen interest and unwitting support that we have received while pursuing the creation of this magazine have proved the great inspirational power of Creative Writing. We pray that the birth of this literary magazine will serve as an outlet for the many creative writers within our midst who know of their talents and wish to share them with others. But most importantly, we hope that it may serve as a form of artistic release for anyone who wishes to indulge in the beauty and freedom of poetry and prose. Without further ado, we are honored to present the first issue of ISM’s first literary magazine – Liham. Michi and Chris Editors-in-Chief

LIHAM

TABLE OF CONTENTS
2 FICTION
The Façade Birdsong Manila Visiting Hours The Private

22 NON-FICTION
Auschwitz A Brush With Death How I Came To Be Garbage

28 POETRY
ABCs Are Misleading Till Death Do Us Part Ode To A Paperclip Two Teens Poverty The Traveller We Are Not Them, This Is Not Us The Learning Process

35

VISUAL ARTS
Hustle Bustle Sunday Morning American Dreams Capulet Cherry Blossoms Egyptian Camel

Beginning to Look Like Christmas Hiding Smoke Away A Village in Swiss Diagon Alley Shadow Cities The House That Ruth Built Food = Love

~1

LIHAM

FICTION

On The Green Side by Krizia

Writers for this section
The Facade Birdsong Manila by Caitlin by Angela by Esther Visiting Hours The Private by Sofia by Toni

FICTION

THE FAÇADE

Aug. 5
oday was my birthday. I wanted to have a party, but my mom said that it wasn’t a good idea. So my mom and I went to the mall so I could buy bigger clothes. She says that I am going to grow soon. But she says that every year so I think she may be lying. When we went home, there was a man standing in front of our house. When he saw my mom, he waved. So I had to climb into the back seat and put a blanket over my head and pretend I was the invisible girl. My mom says I become the invisible girl whenever we meet friends. Mom has lots and lots of friends, so I am invisible very often. When the man went away, my mom let me out of the car. She was laughing and she was holding a big bottle in her hand. I don’t like it when my mom’s holding a bottle. It makes her scary. But she was really happy this time, so I guess it’s okay. So I went up to my room, and there was something on my bed. It was a notebook. My mom said the old notebook that Dad gave me was full already, so I could use this one. I am writing in it now. I really like to write, so I am very, very happy that Mom gave this to me. I love my mom when she does these things for me. Sometimes she’s like my dad, but most of the time she’s not. I miss Dad. One day he went out, and never came back. Mom never told me why he left.

T

Aug. 5
I told myself that I would have to try today. You know, take her outside for once; be a mother. After her bastard of a father left, I’m just left with a mediocre shack of a house and that crap job at the restaurant. Not to mention this hell of a responsibility. So yes, it was her birthday. No, there weren’t any party favors, birthday cakes, or wrapped presents. Luxury does not exist that simply for us. This morning I just wished her a simple happy birthday, and forced these rigid smiles out of me despite the fact that I’m still partially hung over. We spent the day at the mall. I let her pick out the clothes that she liked from the second-hand shop, even though the clerks looked her up and down in that contemptuous sordid manner. I could hear their little whispers, the giggles, the way they contorted their faces in mimicry. But of course, my Eliza could not understand. She could not feel the embarrassment, the shame that wells up in dark pools over time. She was just my lovely Eliza, all smiles, and all innocence. As I rounded the corner to our home, I recognized that scrawny silhouette leaning against our rusting mailbox. That sick bastard; I told him it was Eliza’s birthday today, but no. “Time to turn invisible, love,” I said, my smile a façade. I never knew how this ‘invisible’ game started in the first place. I just didn’t like her being seen by others. I had no idea if it was because I was afraid she might get hurt, or because I was afraid she would humiliate me. But Eliza just managed to cover herself when I stopped the car in front of our house. “What the hell are you doing here,” I hissed as I got out of the car. “I told you to come tomorrow.” “And you honestly think you can manage until tomorrow?” he smirked. God, how I hated those eyes, those tiny slits for eyes. “I damn well know my limitations, now get away from here.” “And I damn well know how you get when you don’t have this,” he said, holding up the bottle. I snatched it from his grasp. “Now just get the hell away,” I spat. He grinned, that spineless grin of his, and sauntered off.

Eliza

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~3

LIHAM
So I stood there, with a bottle of liquor in my hand, and my daughter in the car with a blanket on top of her head. It was such a spectacle, that I began to laugh. I let my daughter out; her eyes round as saucers as I laughed at the idiocy of our lives. Laughed at our stupidity. Laughed at myself. When we went inside, Eliza asked why there was a notebook on her bed. I told her it was her second birthday present, and that she should write all her thoughts and feelings into it. I knew how Eliza loved words; how she cherished them, and how they cherished her. Well, old habits die hard. I’m a wasted single-parent, and I still write. Dammit, it’s the only thing we both have left.

Caroline

Aug. 6
I went to school today. I didn’t want to, but my mom said it was the first day of school so I had to go. I told her I didn’t like to be hit, but she said I had to go. My teacher was really nice. She was always smiling, and happy. But she always looked at me in a funny way, so I’m not sure. But then everyone became scary again. They started to point and make funny faces. Then they started to push me. I was scared. So I became very, very small like a ball, sitting under the table, and tried to become invisible. But sometimes it doesn’t work, and they can still see me. I thought that if I cried, they would stop kicking me. But it didn’t. They only stopped when my teacher came, and when she started to shout like my mom. When I came home, my mom was holding a bottle. I said I didn’t like it when she was like that, but she got angry and slapped me. Then she screamed at me. She said it was my fault. So I went up to my room, and became invisible. I like it when I’m invisible sometimes.

Aug. 6
When I went to tell Eliza that it was time for school, she hid under the pillows. She literally thrashed and screamed when I tried to drag her out of the bed. They won’t hurt you this time, love, they were just being playful before. Ah, the lies. But I expected it. No matter how many years went by, it was always the same. The same damn problems. So I got the phone call at two in the afternoon. “Ms. Westwood?” “If this isn’t about my daughter, I will go and get my hair shaved off.” “I beg your pardon?” “I’m sorry, please continue.” I knew I shouldn’t have chugged it last night. “This is Kilsworth’s High School Principal, Eustace North. I’m calling in regards of your daughter, Eliza.” “So what seems to be the problem, Ms. North? I highly doubt that Eliza would even be able to cause trouble in your school.” “Oh no, Ms. Westwood, it is nothing of that matter. I’m just here to discuss Eliza’s… condition.” She carefully enunciated the last word. “And what of it?” “It seems that you have said nothing about her William’s Syndrome in the application form.” “William’s syndrome mildly impairs the ability to relate with others. They have their characteristic facial appearances like the ones with Down syndrome, and may have this overly friendly and trusting personality, but otherwise their language skills are impeccable. I’ll have you know that Eliza’s writing is positively near perfection – even if the ones afflicted with this syndrome are proficient in writing, hers is astounding.”

Eliza

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~4

FICTION

“No, it is nothing like that Ms. Westwood. I realize her literary skills are astonishing for someone afflicted with a mental disability; I read her entrance paper myself. It is simply that Eliza’s little behavior problems have been…disrupting the class. When some of her peers approached her today, she crawled underneath a desk and curled herself up in a ball. When her teacher tried to coax her out, she started to moan and cover her ears. I’m afraid this behavior is simply unacceptable, Ms. Westwood. ” “Unacceptable? Okay, now let me tell you what the hell is unacceptable. For the past five years since we moved here, we have been to five different schools. And in every one of those five schools, Eliza has been punched, kicked, and bitten, just because of the way she behaves differently from others. The disease that she has even makes her fear loud noises, so you blame her for how she reacts to this treatment?” “I understand how you must feel about this, but this is not entirely the fault of the other students. You see, I have contacted the previous school that Eliza has attended, and they have shared some little tidbits of information. It seems that the past five schools that Eliza has attended were all regular, public schools. Have you ever considered special institutions that exist solely to attend to children like Eliza?” “I’ll give you a simple answer to that. WE HAVE NO GODDAMN MONEY. Well listen here, Eliza and I don’t need your school full of freaks that do nothing but bash defenseless people in just because they are so damn different. God, you and everyone else can just go to hell.” I slammed the phone so hard, the plastic cracked. My nerves were riled. I wanted the conversation to be as civil as possible, and even attempted to be civil at the start of it, but that damn woman was just a piece of work, Lord forbid. So it wasn’t my fault when I took some swigs from the bottle. And maybe a couple more ‘cause the stuff didn’t work quick enough. When Eliza came home, she saw me with the bottle. She told me that she didn’t like it when I drank. So I got angry, for no reason at all. I slapped her, regardless of the fact that she was already covered in bruises. I yelled at her, saying it was her damn fault that I was like this, that we were in this dump, that we didn’t have any money. And she stood there, taking it all in silently. I expected her to cry, but she didn’t. She just walked upstairs, and quietly shut her bedroom door. The thing is, I think I really meant what I said to her. Does that make me the monster?

Caroline

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Aug. 8
I’m sorry I didn’t write. I didn’t have much time. I didn’t go to school yesterday because I didn’t want to be kicked again. My mom was still sleeping anyways, so she didn’t know. She didn’t know when I took some of her money either. So I put as many clothes as I could into my backpack, and left the house. I don’t think I’ll come back. I’m going to find my dad. I don’t know why he left, but I know he loves me. He never shouted at me like my mom does. Or hit me. Or make me become the invisible girl. I know he lives really far away though, so it’ll take a while. There was a nice policeman who told me how to get to my dad’s house. He said it would take a really, really long bus ride. I asked if the money that I had would be enough, and he said yes. So I’m happy that I’m going to where my dad is. I hope they’ll like me better there.

Eliza

----------~5

LIHAM

Aug. 9
Screw this. She left. God dammit, she ran away. It was all my fault; why the hell did I have to drink three bottles and sleep in the whole damn day? I thought she was moping, for God’s sake, when she didn’t open the door. But she had climbed out the window, and took half of the money in my wallet. When in the world did she learn how to do all this crap? So I called the police. They said that it wasn’t twenty-four hours yet for her to be considered a missing person. I called my sister, my cousin, even my old man, and they all said not to worry. “She’s just riled ‘cause you yelled at her. Give her a day or so, she’ll come back.” Oh, how much I wanted to believe that. But I knew, Eliza wasn’t giving me anymore second chances. All these years, she ignored it when I had my two AM parties, and when I locked her in her room and forgot to unlock it. When I’d come home wasted and broke the dishes. When I had a bad day at work and would take it out on her. Eliza took it all. She was my punching bag. And now that bag had finally broken. I called the police again at four PM. Approximately twentyfour hours from the time she ran away. I didn’t know for sure, I was out cold at that time. They asked me if there were any people that she might go to, any relatives, loved ones. I knew then. She was going to Mike: her bastard father. Eliza always loved him more than me. I guess that was my fault too. Mike always sat down with her, explained a single math problem, even if it did take three hours. I’d look at it, and start yelling right off the bat. Mike was the one who taught her how to write, when school and I gave up on the whole concept. It was because of him that Eliza fell in love with words. But he still left. And with that woman. He still left, even though Eliza loved him so much. Dammit, I’m going to call him now. It doesn’t matter that I hate him. Eliza’s not ready for this.

Aug. 13
When people talk to me, they never say nice things to me. They always say I’m stupid or that I’m a freak. Though my dad never said those things to me, I think he was saying it quietly in his head. So I finally arrived at my dad’s house today. He wasn’t inside though, I rang the doorbell many times, but no one answered. The phone inside kept on ringing too; I guess Dad is really popular. So I sat on the steps and waited. Dad’s garden was really organized and pretty. The flowers were in rows, and the grass was very neat. I was bored, so I walked around the garden. Next to the watering hose, there were two bicycles. One was pink and the other was blue. I remember Dad had tried to teach me how to ride a bike, but I couldn’t ride it even though we practiced many times. The bicycles in my dad’s garden were small, like the one I had. But they were way too small for dad, so maybe they were for his friends. I waited for a really long time. I tried counting how many flowers there were in the garden, but it was too hard. I’m bad at counting. I was about to fall asleep, when a car stopped in front of the house. The car door opened, and my dad stepped out. He didn’t see me because he opened the trunk of the car and took out a big suitcase. But I was so happy. I was really very happy. I don’t know why, but I started crying. I didn’t cry when my mom slapped me, but I was crying now. I think I was crying really loudly, because my dad came over and asked what was wrong. He asked in a really kind voice too. I didn’t answer him because it’s really hard to talk when you’re crying, so he gave me a handkerchief to blow my noise and wipe my tears. When I stopped crying, I gave the handkerchief back to him.

Caroline

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~6

FICTION
Then he suddenly stopped moving. When I looked at him, he was staring at me and his mouth was open. Then he said my name. I thought he would say it in a nice way, but he said it like he was scared. Like he was scared that he knew me. So I said yes, my name is Eliza. I then said he was my dad. I don’t know why, but he made a weird croaky sound, then he covered his mouth. I asked what was wrong, but he didn’t answer me. Then someone called my dad’s name. The voice was really pretty and it sounded like wind chimes. Suddenly the woman bent down next to my dad, and asked if everything was okay. She had long golden hair, and her face was so beautiful. She was like a princess. But I didn’t know why she was holding my dad’s hand. I thought only my mom could hold his hand. My dad told her to go inside the house, so she stood up. I didn’t notice it before, but behind the princess was a girl and a boy. They were younger than me, I think, but they were as tall as me. Then I got scared again. Because they were staring at me like the people in school. The boy started to laugh and make faces at me. Then the girl asked the princess why my face was so ugly. The princess didn’t answer but just guided them into the house. I didn’t realize it, but I was crying again. And this time, my dad didn’t give me a handkerchief. He just kept on looking at me in that scared way. Like I was the monster about to eat him and his family. So I stopped crying because I was even more scared. Then he said he was sorry. Over and over again. He just kept saying it, and he didn’t say anything else. He just kept saying I’m sorry. He then stood up, opened the door, then closed it. I heard the lock turn when he was inside. I started to knock on the door and call my dad’s name. But no one answered. When I walked around the house, all the windows were locked and the curtains were drawn. I was really, really scared. I started to scream, but no one came out of the house. I couldn’t scream for a long time because my throat had begun to hurt. So I began to walk. I didn’t know where I was going, but I just kept walking. So I think I understand now. No one wants me. Even though I love my mom and my dad, they don’t love me. Even though I want to make friends, everyone runs away from me. It’s really lonely. I don’t like to be lonely. I never wanted to be lonely. My mom told me once that when we die, we go to a really happy place. She said it is where everyone loves each other and no one hates each other. She also said we can’t go there yet if we’re not ready. It doesn’t matter if I’m not ready. So I think this will probably be the last time I’ll write. I really love to write, but I think I’ll be able to write there too. I don’t want to be sad anymore. Even though I smile a lot, I’m sad deep down.

So I think it’d be nice to be really happy for once. Eliza
By Caitlin, Grade 10

~7

LIHAM

BIRDSONG
solitary bird sings from the branch of the tall barren tree, chirping along valiantly in the crisp spring air. Its musical trills soar ever higher, pervading its surroundings with a colorful patchwork of captivating notes. “Sara, hurry - time to go.” I roll over in my sleeping bag as my father tries to shake me awake. “Sara,” he repeats, “Let’s go.” He moves away and I distinctly hear the sound of dead leaves crunching beneath his boots as he begins to gather our meager belongings and put them in his backpack. Finally roused by my father’s preparations, I unzip my sleeping bag and emerge from my warm and snug cocoon, bracing myself against the chill of the early morning air. As I stretch out my weary muscles and glance around the quickly brightening forest, I catch sight of a white-breasted swallow nesting in the junction between the sturdy black trunk of a tree and a wide leafless branch that seems to go on forever, reaching up to the skies. The bird cocks its bright red head and looks at me with its clever little black eyes, as if it knows exactly what I’m thinking. And suddenly, I feel tears prickling at the edges of my eyes as I am transported back to another time, another place. It was my birthday, and I was back home. I woke up greeted by the most delicious, mouth-watering smell, which I instantly knew was coming from our little kitchen. Already thinking about the special food my mother must be preparing for me, I flung my blankets back, jumped out of bed, and ran down the hall. The first thing I saw was my mother, and as I had guessed, she was standing by the stove, stirring something in a pot. When I entered our bright kitchen, she immediately covered our old rusty pot and with a big smile, wished me a happy birthday. My father, who until this point had been sitting silently at the table, beckoned me over. I immediately skipped over to him. He patted my hand then told me to sit down and close my eyes. After I followed his instructions I heard my father get up and walk out of the room, the echo of his footsteps trailing after him. I eagerly awaited his return, squirming impatiently in my seat. I had just convinced myself that a little peeking wouldn’t do any harm, when I heard a soft snuffling noise. My eyes were open in a flash, and I saw Mallow for the first time. I reached out to her, almost afraid to touch her; afraid I would break her fragilelooking body by so much as breathing on her. I finally gathered my courage and tentatively stroked her smooth, silky fur. As I gazed with wonder on her tiny form I marveled that there could

A

be something as small and soft as this warm little puppy in my hands. That was when Mallow looked up at me with her chocolate-brown eyes, and I felt as if she was looking through me, right down into my very soul, as if at that moment, she knew all my thoughts and feelings, and I knew I had found my best friend. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. I shake my head vigorously, trying to dislodge the torrent of thoughts and emotions flooding my mind; I quickly brush away the tears threatening to overflow, and I stuff my sleeping bag inside my knapsack. When I’m sure I have complete control over myself, I walk over to where my father is covering our little campsite with dry leaves and dead twigs. I help him scatter some more brush in silence, erasing the last traces of our stay. When we’re done, I unwrap the package of dry fruits my father hands to me and I take out a few pieces of apricots and prunes. I eat slowly, savoring every bite, knowing I will have nothing else until nightfall. My father walks ahead; he always does, his gait steady and unfaltering, his face set straight ahead. My mother used to tease him that he was carved from stone, always the same and never changing. Of course, that was when she was well and could still make jokes. Father has a scar on his right hand, a thin long line that cuts across his palm. He is fond of telling us the story of that scar. “Long ago,” he’d always start, “when I was young, I thought our country was rigid and oppressive, and so stuck in the old ways. I was impatient for change, and when it didn’t happen, I thought I should bring about that change. I became a rebel and wanted to fight my country. After all, what is one country against a tough and stubborn young man, such as I, who then believed that the future lies in my hands? The very next day, I walked into our kitchen, imagining the fame and glory that will be mine. Certain that my father would object, but equally certain that I could overcome his wishes, I declared that I was leaving home that very day! I was going to fight for my rights! And you know what my old man said?” At this point in his story, my father would always stop, waiting for our cries of “We don’t know! Tell us! Tell us!” Then he would continue, “Well, he told me to go ahead! Do as you please, he said! Just that. Nothing more. Now, that really shocked me. I wanted an argument; I was ready, confident that my passion for my freedom and my rights would win. I was going to show him! Imagine my confusion when he merely said yes. He didn’t say anything else but returned to his newspaper. I stood in the kitchen a long time, not sure about what to do now that I had been

~8

FICTION
given license to go and do as I pleased. So, I said ‘Fine, I’ll go pack my bags now.’ I marched out of the kitchen and into my room. When I got to my room, I sat down on my bed and started thinking. I thought long and hard about my life and what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I stood up and walked back into the kitchen. My father again looked up from his paper and asked, ‘Well? Where are your bags?’ I mumbled something like, ‘I think I’ll stay one more day,’ and sat down at the kitchen table. My father went back to reading, his face expressionless. The next day when I entered the room he asked me, ‘Well? Where are your bags?’ Again I mumbled,‘ I’m just staying for another day.’ This happened every single day for ten days until finally, having been asked over and over if I was leaving, I gathered the courage to say, ‘Father, I’m sorry. I was being stupid. Now I realize it isn’t the country that needs change; it’s me. I’d like to stay.’ I remember – he marked his page on the newspaper, slowly folded it up, laid it beside him, and picked up his cane that was leaning against the table. He told me to extend my hand; I obeyed immediately, and with his cane he hit me ten times on the palm. A loud whoosh filled my ears as he brought down the cane. A sharp line of pain seared across my palm. I almost cried out in pain, but bit my lip instead. I kept my agony inside and received the next lashing. By the tenth stroke, blood was trickling down my upturned palm, but I held on. ‘I gave you one lash for each time you were disloyal to your country. I hope you’ve learned your lesson,’ he said, turned, and returned his cane to its place beside the table. He unfolded his newspaper and went back to reading.” My father would always shake his head and chuckle after telling us this story of his youth. Not surprisingly, my father joined the army a few years after this turning point in his life, and he became one of the best generals our country ever had. No one else had as much passion and patriotism as my father. I remember how he used to look – the same long crooked nose, easy smile, and unruly hair – but now there is something wrong, something missing. Suddenly a realization pierces through me – it’s in his eyes. His eyes, which used to be so full of passion, with a fire that constantly burned night and day, are now a hard dull black. The eyes I used to know, which had seen much pain, much suffering, and still continued to endure, are now gone, replaced by a tired, almost defeated look, which I had never seen before. This resigned look scares me more than anything we encountered so far on this long, terrifying journey. not say anything; he is immersed in his thoughts, seemingly unaware of his surroundings, maybe even unaware of his daughter. I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything. I wish my mother were here. She would know what to do, what to say to this man. It was her jokes that made us all laugh. I remember the last time I saw her... maybe that’s the last time I’ll ever see her. It was late at night: my father entered my room with a frenzied look which alarmed me, but there was no tremor in his voice as he announced, “Sara, get your things, we’re leaving now. Hurry, take your knapsack and meet me by the front door.” His words, though sudden, were not unexpected, and I immediately picked up my bag, packed a month before, with all my essential belongings, and closed the door to my bedroom. I took a deep breath, walked down the hall, and entered our little living room to take a last look at my beloved mother, lying helpless on the couch We continue walking through the vast, silent forest. Our footsteps echo and disturb the still morning air. Suddenly, we hear a commotion ahead. Immediately alert, my father orders me, “Stay low and hide behind those bushes.” Slowly, he creeps forward and peers through a clump of leaves hanging from the branch of a large beech tree. I follow his order and crouch, out of sight, behind some bushes, shaking with fright. He stands there for what seems like hours that stretch on and on as I imagine all the terrible things they will do to my father, to me, if we are caught. I close my eyes and bury my face in my hands. She was on the couch, face ashen, her hands like a ghost’s, waxy white at her sides. Her eyes were closed; she did not see me. She lay there, breathing slowly, with shallow breaths, each breath measuring out a bit of her life at a time. Her face, once so beautiful and lively, was pale like a rainbow that lost its vibrant hues. Suddenly, her chest contracted as she was seized by a series of racking coughs, each one more dreadful than the last. As she trembled on the couch, I was overcome by a sense of powerlessness, unable to help her. When the coughing finally stopped, I watched her lying motionless, all breath – breathing in and out, in and out. As I stood there and gazed at my strong, beautiful mother, I promised myself I would live up to her memory, live the life she never could, and make her proud, if it takes me the rest of my life. Then my father and I left. No goodbyes. No last hugs. No tears shed except my own, falling fast as I left the only home I’ve ever had, and headed out to face the unknown world. I hear a gunshot far off. It echoes through and

Words are rarely exchanged between us. He does

~9

LIHAM
around the trees, like the final, dying sound of an animal as it takes its last breath. Finally, I hear a door slam and an engine roar. The noise slowly, slowly fades away. It takes me a few minutes to realize that it is safe, that the people who would have harmed my father and me are gone. I take a deep breath, and the tight ball of panic and fear clenched in my stomach slowly uncoils. I try to stand up and realize too late that my muscles have frozen. I fall over, into the bushes. Slowly, I unwind each muscle, each joint, until finally, I feel capable of standing without collapsing. By the time I succeed, my father is beside me. I ask him, in a voice that does not sound like my own, a voice that sounds very far away, “W-what happened?” My father replies shortly, “It was a supply truck. The driver and his companion were having an argument. The companion is dead now.” “Oh,” I reply, not knowing what else to say. “Those supplies were from across the border,” my father finally says, “We must be very near now.” We continue walking, my father setting a faster pace now that we are so close to our goal. We pass by the dead soldier, and I avert my eyes. I feel nothing, nothing but a great big emptiness inside me. It is better to feel this way, better to forget everything. Forget the pain, the fear, the sadness that has been my constant companion for so long. Better to keep moving, keep my eyes looking ahead, keep moving my feet forward, left right, left right, and think of nothing. Maybe then I will not remember. Maybe then I will forget what happened on my fourteenth birthday. I will forget. This was how it all began – my father’s estrangement, my mother’s illness, our leaving home, and our long journey to the border. Knock, knock, knock. And again – knock, knock, knock. Dark thunder struck our door. My father walked out of the kitchen. I heard him open the door and speak briefly to someone. They exchange a few more words. Then suddenly, dumb silence. The door creaked close. My father walked back into the kitchen, he did not speak at first, just looked at my mother. There was a strange emptiness in his eyes. He said two simple words, two simple words, and I felt as if an ocean of sadness was pulling me, dragging me down, down, down, down into a black endless bottom. As I fell, the words echoed in my head, “He’s dead.”

We’ve stopped walking. I think to myself, “We’ve finally made it,” and instead of relief, a creeping panic begins to overcome me as I imagine the solitary journey I must now take. We are standing on a little ridge, overlooking a narrow, dusty road which snakes upward and rises over a crest before dipping back down over the hill and out of sight. In the distance I see a metallic glint, the sun reflecting off a row of towering buildings that look like guards, defending the entrance to a great city. My father finally speaks, “There are still many things you don’t know about the place that you are about to enter. You will see a whole different world over that hill. Everything is very modern, very new; it is a world that is fast and constantly changing. It will be the exact opposite of your sheltered life in our little village. I wish there was more time for me to explain, but that is not the case, and you must learn to find things out and adapt on your own. Know that your future, our whole family’s future, depends on you being strong. Be brave for all of us and forge your own path in that new world. It is too late for me, too late for your mother, too late for your brother. But it is not yet too late for you.” He pauses briefly, and then forges on, “I was wrong. I’ve been so wrong. I scorned the fast moving world and its people, thinking that the only things we would ever need, we could find within the high walls of our country. My belief in the greatness of our homeland blinded me to the world outside and the importance of changes in it. I should have foreseen what was happening. I should have known. I had been right after all, many years ago when I was a foolish young boy.” He gives a bitter laugh and I glance at his scar. “Sara, I should never have let that happen to your brother,” his eyes fill with an ancient and infinite misery that fills my heart with nameless agony to behold, “But my regrets will not bring your brother back and will not do anything for you now. Your future is all that’s important.” He takes a deep breath and continues, “You must leave now to reach the city before nightfall. In your knapsack, there is some money and a slip of paper containing the address of some people who might be able to help.” He looks at me, as if committing my face to memory, cherishing the last few moments we have. I feel love

~10

FICTION
emanate from him and cover me like an invisible blessing. Finally he says, “I love you,” and that is all. My throat is dry. I cannot get the words out. I choke, trying to speak incoherent syllables spilling out of my heart. Finally, I nod and whisper, “I won’t let you down.” I turn and walk down towards the dusty road. The darkness engulfed me. He was dead – my protector, my guardian, my older brother – dead. The riot police killed him. A simple, peaceful demonstration for our freedom, and they took him away. Our country, our damned, beloved homeland that was supposed to protect him, took him away from me. Now I am all that’s left, an empty shell, walking alone in the darkness. I start following the road. Left right, left right. I must continue forward, I must endure. At the top of the hill I turn around for the last time and see my father standing in the same spot where I left him. His face is turned towards me, a single tear glistens down his weary, weathered face. I look at him, my strong, tough father, and a tear rolls down my cheek too. “I will never forget you, any of you,” I whisper. I raise my hand in a final farewell, he raises his, he turns; he is gone. I turn around and face my future, stretching before me like an open book, waiting to be filled with the story of my life. I step into this unknown, strange, and foreign land. “This is for you,” I say aloud, and then I too, am on my way. Deep in the forest, a solitary bird sings from a newly budding tree. Having left its nest, it is momentarily lost and alone, searching to find a new nest and sing its own song. Someday, its heart will teach itself a new melody, and it will find, at last, a home of its own.

By Angela, Grade 10

MANILA
gainst the cloudless sky, where a couple of sparrows soared through the unbearably humid air, the stoplight blazed a bloody red. The minute the light lit up, dark-skinned, grimy looking children dispersed from a corner of the street. Like black ants swarming around biscuit crumbs, these children horded around the lined up cars, each child knocking on the windows, cupping their little, filthy hands, and yelling, “Ma’am, pera, pera, po.” One of them, a little girl, rushed towards my car. The gaze that has lost half the touch of reality melted the glass; the two eyes were two wrinkled, salty olives soaked in ghostly blankness. Indeed, it was a truly terrifying sight as the child puffed mist on the window with her drooping cavern-like mouth. She constantly knocked and begged for a peso or two, until the stoplight turned green once more and the car rushed on, leaving the dirty child behind in the middle of the street, her cupped palms still empty. The bare soles of these impoverished creatures are caked with grey stuff at their folds, as well as their fingernails – each nail has unidentifiable grime stuck under. Often the thin dark fingers would hold strings sewn with white Sampaguita flowers while the other hand would form a small tunnel around their black lips, shouting “fresh flowers.” In return, ignorant Manilenyos are either busily talking on their phones or impatiently tapping their fingers on the wheels for the stoplight to

change its light; the deafening roar of the Fords and the BMWs darting by instantly crushes the faint voices of the children. ----------“Ya-ya, take care of Angel, please. She’s crying,” There was a huge family sitting down on the table next to mine. The mother of the family was one of those proud Filipino women who always have scented makeup plastered thickly on their faces and weigh themselves down with dozens of golden chains wrapped around their slender necks. The smell of her Bvlgari perfume pierced the rim of my nostrils like needles. In a very strong and arrogant Filipino accent she snapped at the two nannies, both wearing white, sitting at the corner of the table. Immediately the two dropped their spoons and forks as one reached for the toddler’s toy while the other picked up the child and cooed at the wailing face. Why is it that well-off mothers, who have an overflowing amount of time on their hands, are never willing to take care of their own young? A scene too familiar in the sophisticated parts of Manila, as mothers are either very busy picking on their salpicao and salad, or observantly looking at shop windows in the Greenbelt Malls while her two children follow her on strollers pushed by at least two invisible figures dressed in white. Around the outdoor malls I have often seen a mother cat licking its kittens and keeping their fur clean. Also, often

A

~11

LIHAM
one is told that the baby of a wealthy family is helped at the showers as soon as their mothers deliver them, all the way until the child is twelve years old. The plates placed in front of the yayas, inadequately filled with limp stir-fried kang kong stalks and cold rice, were barely touched as the talkative family walked out of the restaurant through its arched exits. Soon after they left, a stray tabby cat slowly meandered towards the table, pounced on it, and slowly began licking up the food with its rubbery tongue. In a few minutes it left, disappearing into the night.

----------I was passing through the financial district of the city at its peak time of the day, at around 7 o’clock in the evening. Traffic in Manila is like a herd of a thousand elephants stomping away from ivory hunters. Even with the windows rolled up, the sound of the unbearable honking and engines rumbling seeped through the cracks and crevices like poisoning gas. With deft maneuvering, the wheels the car eventually made its way out of the mayhem, but soon I was stopped by a police officer dressed in blue. He motioned for the windows to be rolled down. “Yes?” He took off his gold-rimmed sunglasses, and while wiping them on his sky-blue shirt, “Ma’am, you have made an illegal right-turn.” At this point my driver interjected in rapid Tagalog, loudly complaining at the policeman. The officer put his glasses back on, swatted a mosquito away from his arm, cleared his throat, and murmured something quietly to my driver. “Sandali lang,” he answered. Then he reached for his back pocket and took out his battered wallet; from it he took a five hundred peso bill and gave it to the officer. The policeman snuck the bill slyly in his pocket, and with a quiet “salamat” he waved his hands towards the roads and sent us off.

By Esther, Grade 9
-Author, Grade

~12

FICTION

VISITING HOURS
xhale. I watched my breath —made visible in the bitingly cold air—swirl around in a cloud of existence. The rain poured down in a curtain surrounding me, dripping off the umbrella which so steadfastly sheltered me from the wet and from the cold. There was no wind to rustle the leaves of the surrounding trees, and the rain fell in no other direction than straight down. The night sky sat on my shoulders and at my feet, dancing puddles created by the rain were polluted with the eerie reflection of the Hospital lights. It was in this way that I waited for my husband to die. I just had to escape that room, where the steady beeping of the machine to which my husband was attached was like a metronome; never stopping, never faltering, never venturing from between my ears. The disgustingly formal floral paintings that hung on the walls grew pasty and greyscale in my eyes. The walls closed in on me. Once all my visitors left, the impostor's face that had been plastered to mine disappeared and suddenly I was suffocating in the sterile air, gasping for breath while my husband breathed freely from an oxygen tank. How selfish. “What you here for?” a rude voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I could barely hear it above the heavy drumming of the rain against the stretched plastic of my umbrella. When I turned my head to find the source of the noise I saw a man standing right in front of the hospital double doors, just under the two-foot awning. His eyes were slits as he attempted to guide his vision past the torrential rain and the glare of the streetlights to find me; the faceless figure that he was addressing. “What?” I asked, but the rain drowned out the sound of my voice. “What?” I repeated again, this time forcing my voice into a shout. “You heard me!” He said, cupping both hands around his mouth in order to project his voice to me. “What you here for?” “Oh—well, I--- I’m here because, uhm, because—“I stuttered, my voice lost volume, and he cocked his head towards the wall of rain separating us in an attempt to discern my voice. I’m here because I can’t stand watching my husband die without the satisfaction of having killed him. “No! I mean—why you out there! In the rain! Jesus Christ, its pouring!” His hands were cupped around his

E

mouth again. “Come inside!” When I didn’t reply, he repeated his re-quest even more loudly. Not knowing what else to do, I heeded his request. I didn’t bother to avoid the puddles of rainwater as I crossed the now-deserted parking lot. Upon reaching the awning at the other end of what must have seemed a battlefield in the man’s eyes, he put an arm behind my shoulders to usher me indoors and grabbed my umbrella with the other hand. I was surprised by the deftness with which he closed and stored my umbrella—single-handedly—and led me through the automatic hospital doors into the blindingly white lobby. I had to blink my eyes repeatedly as they adjusted to the light. The man’s face slowly swam into view. To say that his age was a puzzle would be an understatement. I thought he might have been about ten years my senior, at the most, but a lifetime of hard work and manual labour had aged him indefinitely He wore slouchy blue workman’s overalls that were decorated with stains and smears that reminded me of military camouflage. Near the entrance of the lobby, not too far from us, I saw a janitor’s pushcart with mops and brooms and buckets dangling precariously over the wire frames. I put two and two together, figuring he must be the night janitor. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, remembering my manners. I stuck out my hand, “Antonia Miranda Marchand.” He wiped the palm of his hand on his overalls before taking my extended one and giving it a single firm shake. “John Boyce,” he said. “I figured,” I said, giving a short laugh. When he gave me an inquisitive look, I pointed towards the brass pin hanging from his breast pocket. He looked down at it and shot me an amused smile. “So why were you out there?” he asked me, nodding towards the glass doors. You could see the rain pouring down in sheets behind it, but the concrete walls muffled the sound so the rain seemed somewhat extraterrestrial—it couldn’t be real if it was that quiet. I never thought of questioning his right to an answer from me. “I just wanted some fresh air?” I suggested, with a hopeful lilt. He shook his head. “I call scapegoat! I’m not letting you get away with that answer.” He stuck his hand into one of the many pockets attached to his blue workman’s overalls and withdrew a beaten up box of cheap cigarettes and a temporary plastic lighter.

~13

LIHAM
He lit one of his cigarettes. “You don’t mind do you?” he asked, as he blew cigarette smoke out of his nostrils. Then as if remembering his manners, offered me the box. I shook my head to both the question and the offer, though in truth I did mind the smoke. I wrinkled my nose instinctively. Seeing my expression, he just laughed. “So answer my question then,” he demanded, but his voice was so relaxed it hardly came off as threatening. The impostor inside of me that I had grown so familiar with over the years took over. I walked slowly over to the uncomfortable looking navy couch a few feet away from me that is part of seating arrangements in so any hospitals in the country. I sat down. I sighed for dramatic effect. “It’s my husband.” I looked down. “He’s been diagnosed with lung cancer. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I couldn’t stand it, watching him die like that, watching the life drain out of him like juice from a lemon. I just—I just couldn’t. Can you imagine— sleeping alone, having dinner alone, having glasses of champagne alone, celebrating our anniversary as only half of a couple? It was tearing me open from the inside out. I’ve loved that man for as long as I can remember! I just couldn’t take it anymore.” I let the idea trail off. Another sigh. His face betrayed no expression. He just looked at me, unblinking. I felt like a child stuck in a staring contest. I tried to discern his emotions but it was to no avail. Still looking at me, he brought the cigarette back to his lips and took a drag so long I felt his lungs might explode with the weight of the tar. He turned his head to the side and blew out a smoke cloud so large it could have swallowed me whole. “This must be very hard for you.” He still didn’t look at me. I nodded my head, forgetting that he probably couldn’t see the motion. “It is.” “I can’t imagine what you must be going through.” Drag. Exhale. “I suppose not.” I shook my head, looking down. “You must be positively devastated—” I blinked my eyes with eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “I am,” I replied. “—Overcome with grief,” he continued, “simply heartbroken—” “—What are you insinuating?” “Put it in your mouth,” he told me. I obeyed. A miniscule flame borne from the tiny plastic piece of junk that was his lighter caused my cigarette to roar to life. He told me to inhale as the flame cradled the cigarette’s rear end and caused it to glow a brighter orange. I coughed loudly, choking on the black smoke that tasted of pollution. “My first cigarette, ” I told him, waving it in his face. He laughed, “Wouldn’t have guessed.” He took a long and bountiful breath from his cigarette, which was already burning out almost right down to the butt. He let the smoke go in rings. I tried to copy him, but instead burst into another coughing fit. He just laughed as he put out his own cigarette. -Author, Grade “That’s bullshit,” he said. Still he looked away from me, chose to direct his accusations towards an unmovable, unfazeable, white wall. The shadows cast by our silhouettes on that wall seemed to mock me, shoot me knowing, accusing smirks. I turned my face away from them. “Watch your language!” I said out of habit, feeling as if I was disciplining a young child. When the implication of his words hit home, my voice rose in indignation. “Excuse me?” “Bull. Shit.” He said, his voice breaking the word into two sentences. He turned to look at me, and again our eyes locked. His eyebrows were raised inquisitively, demanding the truth from me. I didn’t speak for about thirty seconds. My mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to find the right words to voice aloud but unable to grasp any. My palms began to sweat and I wiped them on my blouse. This had never happened before—nobody had ever called my bluff. I attempted in vain to gather my composure. I chose not to answer his question when I spoke again: “I’d like that cigarette you offered me now,” I said. He looked surprised at the change of topic and then amused, the smirk disturbing his previously statuesque facial expression. After taking another excruciatingly long drag from his own cigarette and birthing a monster of smoke from his nostrils, he reached back into the pocket in his overalls, pulled out the familiar beaten up white box and lighter, and handed me a cancer stick. I looked at it with an expression burning with curiosity albeit flaked with instinctive disgust. His own cigarette dangled precariously from his teeth.

~14

FICTION
The smoke tasted of poison; encircling my lungs and constricting them so that the breathable air bled out of them and I had no air left to nourish me save for a cloud of black. I noticed that this whole time the man--- John, really, but I can’t say that we were on a first name basis as of yet— was staring at me attentively, trying to discern my emotions from my expression. His head was cocked curiously to one side, ever so slightly, in the same way that my dog did whenever her name was called. “Okay, then,” I said. He looked up at me, startled out of his observation. “You want the truth? I’ll tell you the truth.” I felt rather than saw his eyebrows rise all the way to the top of his forehead; he was obviously surprised that I had answered his inquisition at all. He didn’t dare say anything, lest he say something that might make me change my mind, and instead just leaned the tiniest fraction of a bit closer in reply. I cleared my throat. “Well,” I began, “you know how everyone says that your wedding day is the beginning of a new life for you?" I looked at him. All he did was nod, but I continued anyway. “Well, what they don’t realize is your wedding day must also mean the end of an old life in order to be the beginning of a new one—for me, the end was much more apparent than the beginning.” He interjected, confused. “But if your marriage was so unhappy, why did you agree to it in the first place?” I sighed, arguing with myself. The side of me that simply wanted an unburdening with someone who wouldn’t judge me for my weakness won over, and I replied in the only way I knew how: “I didn’t,” I said. He furrowed his brows, his expression asking for clarification. “I had no choice.” I put the cigarette to my lips, sucking the life out of it. I could tell he was eager for me to explain myself, but he allowed me this pause. I let the smoke out slowly. It took me a while to answer. “I was about eleven years old when my father started gambling, and he never stopped,” I began. “His addiction to the adrenaline, the risk, the potential for big money grew and grew as our bank account shrank. He was bleeding our family dry. He and my mom fought every night.” I swallowed, uncomfortable before looking up at him and waiting for a reaction. He gave me none, uncharacteristically, so instead I just continued with a deep breath. “One night he came home drunker than I’d ever seen him. This was ten years ago; I had barely graduated from high school and I was preparing myself for college. I was so excited to move out “’I’ve done something inexcusable,’ he said slowly, casting his vision towards the floor. ‘And that’s why we have to go now! I’ll just waste time explaining it to you. “’I have to know now,’ demanded my mother. Her arms were still locked firmly across her chest. of the house, away from all the screaming and sleepless nights. But I would never see my new college. “My father burst into my room in a drunken stupor and yelled at me to pack all my things. I was jolted awake by the disturbance but when I saw my father standing in my doorway I just thought he was throwing another one of his pointless, obnoxious, intoxicated fits. So, I lay back down. I felt rather than heard the stomping of his boots as he walked over to my bed, pulled off my sheets and repeated, in a slow voice that chilled me to the bone, ‘Pack all your things.’ If only I had listened to him the first time!” I shook my head, silently reprimanding myself. After another thirty seconds of uncomfortable silence I took another deep breath, choosing to leave my cigarette burning away slowly between my fingers, and continued again. “My mom had heard the commotion and had been woken up herself. I was just getting up when I heard her say, in the shrill demanding tone that is the nightmare of all toddlers, ‘What in the world is going on in here! Do you have any idea what time it is?’ She pointed an accusing finger at her husband, who in response only swayed back and forth. ‘It’s almost three in the morning! What have you—‘ My father silenced her with a finger to his lips. “Pack all your things,’ he said for the third time, this time to my mother. My mother protested, demanded to know what was going on. ‘ Just go and pack!’ my father screamed. He was desperate. ‘Now!’ Spittle flew from his mouth. “’No,’ said my mother, with ironclad calm. She crossed her hands over her chest. Never before had they had a fight directly in front of me and I just sat there quietly, too afraid to say anything. I wanted to scream. ‘ I won’t until you tell me what the hell is going on.’ My father raised his hand as if to slap her. I shut my eyes, but didn’t hear the sound of contact. I opened them slowly to see that my father had lowered his hand.

~15

LIHAM
“My dad sighed but when he answered my mother’s demand it wasn’t to her that he turned his gaze but to me. ‘I lost everything; the house, the car.” He closed his eyes for all of three seconds before continuing. “I lost Antonia,” he said slowly. And then he vomited on my bedroom floor.” I looked up at John Boyce, night janitor. He blinked a couple of times with eyebrows furrowed into a deep V, trying to clear his head and sort through all the information that I had so eagerly unburdened upon him. “He lost you?” he said slowly, trying to grasp the idea. He did so mid-question, and when the implications of those three words dawned upon him he looked up at me with concern etched across his face. “He gambled me away,” I explained slowly. “Simple as that. The minute he told my mother she flew into a state of panic. She was so angry she could have easily killed my father, but her panic won her over. She ran into her bedroom more quickly than I had ever seen her move in my life. My father was still looking at me. ‘Pack your things as quickly as you can and meet me downstairs. Hurry!’ I flew into a state of urgency, dumping my books out of my school backpack and filling it with clothes. I ran down the steps two by two, but when I got there—“ I stopped abruptly. “What happened?” interjected Boyce; the suspense of my story had him on edge. “We were too late,” I said slowly. “The man my father had gambled everything away to was waiting outside to collect his prizes, along with a few thugs to help make sure the deal was carried out. He was just as I had pictured him—fat, balding, decades older than I. He oozed corruption from every pore, and I knew the money with which he bet in order to win my hand was not all rightfully his. Upon seeing me, his moustache twisted into a smirk that would make even the strongest of stomachs turn over.” “This is the man dying upstairs.” A statement, not a question. I nodded. “I had no choice. I had to marry him. I threatened to go to the police, which made him panic. He agreed to give back the house and the car if I came quietly and never uttered a word of our real relationship to any living soul. My parents begged him to take the house and the car instead but he wouldn’t let me go. I had no choice. I tried to run away many times, tried to make people believe my story. But the third time I ran away, he went after my parents. He killed my father. I never disobeyed him again.” I knew the tears wouldn’t come now; I had already spent a lifetime’s worth that I had been sucked dry of them. John swallowed; trying to process all everything I was unburdening onto him. “Why are you telling me all of this?” I took one last final drag out of my dying cigarette before putting it out on the ashtray on top of the coffee table in front of me. I turned my head so that it faced his. “I don’t know.” Upstairs, the steady beeping of the machine hooked up to Marchand, Francesco IV –as the name on his folder read-suddenly flat-lined. The single monotone note resounded on the empty walls, bounced off the pasty floral painting that hung rotting on the walls, echoed off of the visitors’ couch upon which not a single person sat. The nurses and one of the doctors on duty rushed in to perform the routines they tragically and heartbreakingly knew far too well until the doctor was forced to call out, checking the bleak clock on the wall above him: “Time of death: 5:45 AM.” Antonia Miranda and John Boyce, downstairs in the hotel lobby, unaware of what had just happened a few floors above their heads, watched the sun rise through the glass hospital doors. The sun’s rays intruded through the doors and the many glass windows of the building and spilled out across the hospital floors, the light patterns as delicate as lace.

The two individuals sat quietly as they watched the spectacular scene unfolding before them, not daring move an inch lest it disturb the

magic.

By Sofia, Grade 10

~16

FICTION

THE PRIVATE
September 1945
Back and forth, the young man sporting a buzzed haircut mopped up the trail of tiny, muddy footprints on the floor tiles. Rhythm jerkily methodical, his eyes glazed slightly as his concentration wandered to thoughts other than this mindless job. He thought about whether they’d be served lamb or pork for dinner, about Agatha the cook’s assistant and her secretive smiles, and about whether he would have to replace the murky water sloshing around in the bucket. Looking at his wristwatch, he sighed in frustration. Twenty more minutes until his shift is over. It was then that a low alarm whined and the unmistakable sound of a machine whirring to life was heard, reverberating in the deserted corridor. The young man stiffened. Fingers tightly gripping the mop’s handle until his knuckles turned ghost white, his clear, wide eyes were drawn to the foreboding, metallic door at the end of the hallway. Placing the mop into the bucket, he ignored the filthy liquid that overflowed and spilled onto his new boots. Slowly he walked across the narrow corridor, each footstep echo unbearably loud in his ears. Dread rising to insurmountable proportions, he was grateful of the fact that length of the hallway seemed to extend on and on until… Four feet. Three feet. Two. One. A hairsbreadth away. The young man could not at all suppress the tiny tremors that ran through his body, raising the fine hair on his arms and the back of his neck. He felt his insides twist in revulsion, and something in him start to fracture. With a halting swallow, he squared his shoulders and briefly clenched his fists, digging his short nails into the skin of his palm, slightly roughened by his seven-month stay in the army. Eyes clenched and breaths coming out in short, staccato pants, he blindly reached out a pale, unsteady hand. The young man flinched violently as it came into contact with the metal. He opened his eyes warily when nothing as explosive as SS soldiers storming in through the entrance door at the other end of the hall and wielding rifles in a haphazard manner. Burnished to the point that he could actually make out his own reflection, the door was newly made and cool under his palms. It was hard and unwelcoming, but it gave no indication whatsoever of the choking tears and anguished yells that lay beyond it. Two minutes passed before the desperate banging began. Even muffled by the door’s thickness, the young man still heard the cacophony of shrill, terrified screams filtered into the room and felt the vibrations as small fists hammering urgently against the metallic door. Despite this, the young man did not pull away. Private Tobias Faust of the 3rd District Platoon stood there until the last of the stifled pleas for salvation faded away like the smoke from crematoria, until the machine overhead ceased to pump toxic gas into the chamber beyond the door, staying with those he had failed until the very end.

~17

LIHAM
——-

June 1966
A booming crack of thunder snapped angrily, deafeningly, even over the incessant torrential rainfall. The man sitting under the dark shelter of his own porch barely flinched at the noise. He merely puffed his pipe every now and then, gazing blankly at the withered daisy shrubs drowning from the excessive pooling of water. His hand, large and rough and yellowing, moved to rub the tension out of his sore leg through threadbare, cotton pants. Taking the pipe from his mouth, the man pulled an army hip flask, dulled by age, from the inside pocket of his jacket. After nearly twenty-one years, he was accustomed to the alcoholic burn as he savored the deadly warmth coursing through his body. “Dinner!” a churlish voice came from inside the kitchen, breaking the monotonous drone of rain. Following this pronouncement was the scramble of little feet slapping against unpolished floorboards. A beat passed and then two before the man heavily pushed himself up, the weathered rocking chair creaking back and forth. He propped up against the splintered banister as he reached for the wooden stick fashioned as a walking cane. Dragging his right thigh with one hand and leaning on the cane with the other, the man hobbled slowly. With screen door shutting lightly behind him, he entered the small, dimly lit kitchen. The room was rather cramped, and the low incandescent light did not help in that regard. Pushed against the sidewall with a window overlooking the bare yard was a long wooden table with seven chairs neatly pushed in underneath. The fireplace occupied nearly half of one of the walls in the kitchen while a small refrigerator hummed beside the black gas stove where Adele was ladling steaming broth from a sizeable pot into small bowls. His wife, with her white-streaked hair in a neat bun and cold hands, was passing out the bowls along with a roll of bread each to five boys. Backs straight and yellowing shirts tucked in, they formed a straight line in order of age from eldest to youngest. “Thank you, mother,” said each lad, blond hair falling over their azure eyes. Tobias had just seated himself properly at the head of the table when his second son – whose name he could not quite remember –deliberately nudged his shoulder against his older brother who dropped the bowl, shattering the glass and spilling the soup in all directions. There was silence.

“Private Tobias Faust stood there… staying with those he had failed until the very end.”

~18

FICTION
Pursing her lips, Adele was the first one to move. Wordlessly, she lowered down the flame before moving to pick up the fragments off the floor and wipe the mess with a dirty rag. The boys were completely motionless, not even daring enough to blink. It was only when the floor was once again clean that she spoke. “Adolf, leave your food on the table and take your brothers upstairs. Klaus, stay.” Herding off her children, Adele only paused long enough to turn the stove off before exiting the kitchen. “Get the cane.” It was more of a whisper than a shout, but the man saw his son tremble violently as he turned to obey his father’s command. Good. Children were monsters by nature. And without a firm hand to discipline them, they could only grow up to become menaces of society. “Twenty ought to make you remember to behave,” muttered Tobias as he took the wooden stick that was as thick as his wrist and weighed it in his hands. ——November 1946 “Wake up, Tobias!” A hard nudge to his right leg was enough to bring him out of his uneasy slumber. Through bleary eyes, the first thing he saw was Josef Archibald hopping around on one leg as he struggled to slip on both his boots and trousers ate the same time. It took Tobias a few more moments, but the blaring sound of alarm that resonated throughout the camp finally penetrated through his sleep-addled brain. Adrenaline surged through his veins, and he bolted up. Preparing himself more efficiently than his bunkmate, he grabbed his polished rifle from the foot of the bed and rushed outside where the head of the camp, the Lagerälteste, along with a number of SS soldiers were already other Kommandos and SS officials waiting with grim expressions on their faces. Apparently, the commotion was caused by the discovery that fifty inmates had escaped from a block. Such an event was hardly a novel experience in a concentration camp, but never before had runaways attacked and successfully killed three SS officers. Once everyone had arrived, orders were given to search for and immediately incapacitate the escaped prisoners. Permission to shoot to kill was given should they attempt to resist. At this, a flash of panic appeared on Tobias’ Aryan features before he tightened his hold on his rifle. “Faust and Archibald, you check blocks five to seven. Use your whistles to alert us if there are too many of those goddamn dogs for you to handle.” The two privates saluted to their sergeant briefly before pealing away from the group. His heart pounding, Tobias fervently prayed that they wouldn’t encounter anyone. Slowing down so their position would not be given away by their footsteps, Tobias and his bunkmate split up once they had reached their assigned location. Alone, it was as if his senses were doubly heightened. Tobias was aware of every crunch of gravel under him, every flicker of shadow in corners made his muscles tense. The smell of the chilly night air was free of the acrid scent of blood and burning flesh and death. With a finger on his rifle’s trigger, his sensitive palms could distinctly feel the deadliness of

~19

LIHAM
the metal he was holding. Just as his breathing and heartbeat evened out slightly, a noise to his left alerted him of another’s presence. Turning without a thought, he aimed the rifle at the dark niche between the dumpster and the wall, and very nearly dropped his gun at the sight of a boy that appeared to be just a few years his junior, crouched in hiding. Clad in the standard iron grey uniform that was several sizes too big for him, the inmate was little more than skin and bones with his gaunt face and overly thin arms. Blue eyes locked with dark brown. A split second passed. “All clear here! Tobias! Anything there?!” called Josef from a few yards away. A choice. Turning in an inmate could look very well on his record. Their connection snapped as the boy struggled out of his hiding place, probably assuming that SS officers – with more fiber than this one – would soon barrage down on him. “No! All clear here as well!” A decision made. He could sleep in peace tonight. Pausing, on his hands and knees, the boy momentarily looked at him blankly as though he could not at all understand what Tobias had done before scurrying away into the night. Feeling quite light on the inside, Tobias returned to the operation center of the camp while Josef doubled back to look for something or whatnot he had dropped earlier on. The pleasant feeling in his heart did not last very long. A ringing shot rang in the darkness behind him, and fear washed over him. He turned to run as fast as he could in the direction of the gunfire. Coming into a halt, he saw the boy from earlier, but this time with a wild look on his face as he clutched a small piece of bagel on one hand and a small handgun on the other. A body lay slumped before him, the origin of the oozing vermillion liquid that was now spreading over the asphalt. And then Tobias knew. He knew that Josef had gone to back sneak some food from the mess hall. He knew that his bunkmate had seen the boy, probably doing the same thing. He knew that they had gotten into a scuffle, judging from the bruise on the boy’s eye. He knew that sometime during

“With a finger on his rifle’s trigger, his sensitive palms could distinctly feel the deadliness of the metal he was holding. “

~20

FICTION
the fight, the inmate had gained control of the weapon and had used it against a German, whose blood is considerably more pure, more precious than his. But what Tobias didn’t know now was what to do. How to react. “Faust, shoot that bloody Jew down!” screamed a hellish voice from behind him, that Tobias would later find out to be his father. Still he did not move to raise his gun even an inch, but the boy did. Spinning around to face Tobias, he awkwardly trained the handgun on him. There was no recognition in the boy’s eyes. He only knew that there was a threat and nothing else. Time slowed down and somehow, even from at least eight feet away, Tobias saw the thin finger squeezing the trigger. Instinct took over, and once again, two bullets burrowed themselves into a warm body – each – that night. From that point on, everything was a blur. Vaguely, Tobias remembered being brought to the infirmary where he was told that the bullet had broken bones and ligaments in his thigh. That he would not be able to walk properly ever again. Distantly, he felt the congratulatory slaps on shoulder, and understood that with his first kill, he was now one of the real soldiers. His first kill? Not really, he thought. He already had hundreds of notches in his belt before this night, even if he was not actually the one to push the button that released the gas or the one to pull the lever that dropped the wailing children with their non-blue eyes and non-blond hair to burn alive in a fiery ditch. After the nurse cleaned and dressed the wound, he returned to his bunk where he avoided looking at the other bed, the one that belonged to the Josef with light in his eyes, with studied care. Tobias went to the bathroom and promptly punched the small mirror that hung over sink. As he rinsed his bloodied knuckles under the cool spray of water, he was mesmerized by the liquid vermillion flowing freely from his land and swirled down the drain. It was then that Tobias Faust felt that growing fracture in him break completely.

September 1995
As he lay on what he knew to be his deathbed, Tobias Faust could not help but wonder if he had lived a fulfilling enough life. Yes, he supposed he had a good relationship with his parents as a young boy. But then the thigh injury he had sustained back then had resulted in him being discharged from his duty, and his father’s dismay at having a crippled son was strong enough to turn him away. Yes, he had manage to finish university but education credentials meant nothing if there were no available jobs. Yes, he had been able marry a woman classified by society to be respectable as well as father five healthy sons. But for all the years he had spent with them, he had never been able reach out and relate to any of them. He had forgotten how. There was nothing else for him to do now, so, after nearly fifty-seven years from that fateful night, he prayed. He prayed for the redemption of his soul, for his family and for everything that had defined him as a human being.

And, alone in a retirement home, Tobias Faust closed his eyes and breathed his last.
By Toni, Grade 10

——-

~21

LIHAM

NON-FICTION

Rest by Anton

Writers for this section
Auschwitz A Brush With Death by Mariella by Jennifer How I Came to Be Garbage by Nicole by Kevin

~23

NON-FICTION

AUSCHWITZ
their locks of hair, and whose eyes reflected weariness and loss in their dimness. Arriving at the camp, they were separated from their parents, forced to take a path that would never lead back to home. They had unknowingly walked the road to death; death The name itself punches you in the stomach, especially that a sweet SS nurse called “shower”. since it comes with the recollection of the three million peoThere was no other word for it, but inhumane. It was diffiple who died in history’s greatest mass murder. To me, it cult to comprehend how human beings were capable of such brought a rush of history frenzy, recalling heaps and heaps of atrocities, atrocities directed towards innocent lives. How much alarming statistics left in history books that try to encompass hatred could one possibly have to cloud one’s conscience, one’s the gravity of the events. However, never would I truly grasp morality, one’s superego, however you may call it? The immeasthe dreadfulness of these crimes if I had not visited Auschurable direness of this crime was a reflection of the immense burwitz itself. den of faults carried by the SS. The road to Auschwitz was planted with forests of Block 11 assured me that I was correct in believing this. trees and varieties of crops, and the seemingly untouched It was the only block that remained untouched in the camp landscape guided me on a path that had once lead to either in order to give reverence to the memory of the lives that had death or a furnace of work and been lost. It was also the death block, suffering. For the prisoners, it was wherein the only escape was escape a cramped cattle truck transportfrom life itself. ing them to a lifeless hell where So demeaning were the condithe idea of home and family were tions here that the most comfortable placed behind the pages of their room consisted of a small bed attached minds. For me, it was a comfortto a bathroom where women showered able tour bus that only seemed to before they were brutally shot in the replicate the emotions through an red brick wall overseen through the Auschwitz documentary played in glass window. Cells were classified its 12-inch television screen. Howinto starvation chambers, standing cells ever the closer I got to Auschwitz, and suffocation chambers. Perhaps one the more real the events seemed. can liken the conditions to that of liveAnd arriving there, I was stock, with barns and barns of people ready to burst with emotion as I disgustingly treated like animals. stepped on the trodden pebbles Inside were the roaring confineRose by JiWan, Grade 11 that contained the worn out ments of hell itself. Outside was a ashes of painful memories. garden of death, where people were Arbeit Macht Frei. either left to hung or shot repeatedly. Work Makes You Free. As I silently and reflectively stored the thoughts in my The bold words struck me. How ironic that a concenmind, I felt the emotion brought about by the empathy I was now tration camp built with standing cells and suffocation rooms able to slowly grasp. I was dumbfounded by the shock and sadwould even mention the notion of liberty. How was liberty ness I felt, feelings I could not entirely encompass in reading ever attainable in a place where the closest escape was death books. itself? Pure mockery. Now, these events were no longer statistics to me. ImAnd immediately images of walking…marching… planted in my memory was the environment that was once taken running soldiers flowed through my mind, and I saw the in by humans who deserved life as much as any of us do. Their blazing heat of the sun and the poking droplets of rain pour hopelessness and their lack of dreams swept away by the reality through the misty memories of men in striped uniforms comof world’s cruelness were unequivocally disheartening. And what manded by harsh SS men. these monumental grounds did was revive these souls, and give When I thought that the images in my mind were dethem the voice that could not be heard by the rest of the world. spairing, photos of malnourished civilians with sunken eyes For now visitors can show the reverence and understandand bones almost piercing their delicate skins did my head ing that was taken away from them. in. There were images of the different blocks and pictures of piles of men and women lining up to meet their fate. What struck me most, however, were the pale innocent faces of children whose possessions were taken, including

A

uschwitz.

Mariella, Grade 9

~23

LIHAM

A BRUSH WITH DEATH
op. The succulent, purple bubble exploded just beneath my eyes. I slid the gum back in my mouth as I scrupulously investigated the nutrition factors indicated on the back of the wrapper. It could have been an ordinary day. Streaks of twilight rays entered through the window sill as the skyscrapers of Seoul slowly engulfed the mustard sun. Gusts of ruffled breezes brushed against my cheeks as I lay on the brown leather couch after a light meal. The sounds of teeth moving up and down frantically, demanding the last sweet squeeze and constant popping accompanied the silence of the room. When I was about 6 years old, I was the type of kid who chose to and wanted to live by the rules. Of course, I had adventures of my own, but I never let myself fall into the mischievous, intrepid activities other children often engaged themselves in. Even at a young age, I preferred to abide by the law and order of the world and I was satisfied with my lifestyle. For example, I always bicycled down the permitted avenues where safety was ensured and I avoided sodas with a monstrous amount of sugar. Despite these mature aspects, the part of me that resembled the most of a regular youngster was my endless desire for humongous pieces of bubble gum. The daily routine was executed on that day as well. After leading a strenuous excursion around the town in my rollerblades, it was time of rest and peace for “Miss Street Captain”. Released from a refreshing bubble bath, I clutched a brand new pack of gum in my right hand and listened to the odd music my gum made. I thought to myself of blowing a bubble that was massive enough to reach my toes. When I spotted a hilarious photo of a three-nosed boogie monster on a comic magazine, it forced me into hysterical laughter. I had to grab my stomach from falling over. While I suffocated from the endless chuckle, I unconsciously swallowed the massive lump of gum. My smile immediately faded and my limbs stiffened. Although it was only my breathing that was

P

affected by this unexpected gulp, I felt as though my internal organs were twisted upside down. Flashes of gum from the past appeared before my eyes and I glared at the pack of gum in absolute fear and abhorrence. The pack that once seemed so desirable appeared as a big rock that was waiting to tighten my air pathways and murder me. Sitting rigid in a right angle, I counted backwards and swallowed very carefully, hoping the feeble saliva would wash the gum away. It was only after I had screamed for my mom to notify of this shocking incident that I became relieved that I was not going to die. After all, it had been my parents who terrified me, with tragic stories of old classmates that suffered from gobbling down pieces of gum. Fortunately, it turned out that the gum in fact, did not get jammed in the airway, it headed straight for the stomach instead. Although it was not trapped, the terror and panic of possibly dying switched my sensitive gears on. As riotously odd and even humorous as this frightening experience may sound, it was indeed, one of my most anxious moments. I jotted down an important lesson that night on my diary: sometimes, life offers you a big, happy bubble. Sometimes, this bubble can pop without warning. Things can happen when you didn’t plan for them to, but just because your life is occasionally out of order doesn’t mean you will die. Perhaps that’s the way the world is supposed to work, flawed and unanticipated. When I realized that not everything has to be perfect all the time, I became more nonchalant, relaxed and less critical and life seemed slightly more exciting that way. Gradually, I overcame the fear of chewing bubble gum as I grew older. However, I can still recall the chills and cold sweat on my forehead and the whisper to myself in a trembling voice, “Bubble gum? Not so yum!”

Jennifer, Grade 10

~24

NON-FICTION

HOW I CAME TO BE
he doctors told my mother long ago, before she met my dad, that she would never be able to conceive a child because she had endom e t ri o si s, which caused cysts to grow in her womb. Many time, this illness caused her to fall to the ground cringing in pain. One day, when my dad and my mom were already engaged to be married, they strolled in Ateneo de Manila University. When they were near the big famous white statue of the Risen Lord Jesus, to the unexpectedness of my mother, my dad got down on his knees in front of her and placed his hands on her lower abdomen. Then he prayed, “Lord, please open her womb. We promise that our firstborn will be Yours.” After they were married they became missionaries. During this time, I was conceived. That was truly a miracle. They took leave from being missionaries and lived back in my mom's parental home in Cubao. There was a major road repair for several months in front of their house and the air pollution that the road repair caused made my mother very ill. She developed pneumonia, bronchial asthma, and pleurosy, which was a very painful ailment. She was pregnant with me, but she had to take medicines to recover from all t h e s e r e s p i r a t o r y a i l m e n t s . In the hospital, the night before my mother was about to give birth to me, my father was massaging her hand. Then he turned off the main light and went to sleep on the couch. He left only the lamp behind the patient’s bed on. My mom started to doze off. Then in her dream she saw a dark figure. She felt her hand being squeezed tightly. She thought it was my father. Then there was a deep dark voice, “We have this child.” She knew who it was - an evil spirit - and shook herself awake. My mom sat up and saw my

T

dead grandfather’s spirit in his old white undershirt, sitting on the sofa across the room, smiling and waving at her. She knew it wasn’t really him because the dead cannot return to earth. She rubbed her eyes many times to see if she was just imagining the hallogram-like figure of her father, but the spirit was still there; it was not a hallucination. That very night, the placenta that attached me to my mother's womb broke off; this is called "placenta abruptio." I was no longer connected to any food or oxygen supp l y i n s i d e h e r w o m b . The next morning, my mother complained of a slight twitch that she felt at the center of her abdomen the night before. Her attending physician immediately ordered an ultrasound to be done on my mom, and the placenta abruptio was discovered. Immediately, my mother was set up for her very first surgery in her whole life, a cesarean operation to deliver her firstborn, me. This was a hard situation for as she had never had even a scratch or wound as child; and now she was about to be practically s l i c e d i n h a l f . When I was born, I was so small. I weighed only 3 pounds. I could fit right into my parents’ hand with my tiny legs sticking out. Even the smallest diapers were so large for me; they fit around my armpits snugly. I was born one month before normal. The doctors said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. I must make you aware that your daughter, given her conditions, is not going to make it. She will most likely die after a few months. And if she ever gets to love beyond one year old, she would be most likely mentally and physically retarded. She will always behind her peers.” My mother heard the doctors words, but did not listen to them. She didn’t give up on me. Instead, she loved me like she would have loved a perfect child. She cared for me, and continuously breastfed me. Another mother might have just followed the advice of the doctors and left me in the hospital to be given to the government orphanages for unwanted babies. Because of my mother’s love, I became a healthy and intelligent baby. At 2 months old, I was as big and as heavy as my cousin, Kaye, who was born full-term at 9 pounds. If I hadn't been born premature, my cousin and I

~25

LIHAM
might have had the same birthday. At 5 months old, I was swimming with my dad in the Olympic-size pool without any floaters. At 6 months old, I began to sight read and scribble on paper. I could identify written and spoken words and their respective objects as a toddler of 10 months. At 11 months old, I began walking. I have pictures to prove that I did all these as a baby and toddler. When I was 5 months old, my family moved from Cubao in Metro Manila to Cavite in Rizal Province, where my dad's parents owned a house. In our village in the province, almost all the people knew me. As my mom carried me along the street, many people would call me, “Nicole! Nicole!” I was a cute and chubby baby. At 4 years old, I was playing classical violin and piano. In preschool, I was among the top of the class in a topranking Filipino-Chinese school even though I didn’t have a tutor like almost all my other classmates. Each year I graduated with honors and with many merit certificates. In prep, I took ballet and Taekwondo at the same time. I finished Beginner’s Ballet with first honors. I was in three performances in the recital. I wanted join two more recital numbers, but my ballet instructor said I was in too many already. She was right. During the recital I had to change from one ballet costume to the other in a few minutes. It was so difficult to undress and redress behind the curtains of the stage because my dance numbers were one after the other. It was quite a struggle because the costumes were tight and the changing space was really small. But it w a s f u n . As I look back to the life that I have had, I remember the miracles of God. The doctors had said that I would be mentally and physically retarded, yet I have defied their medically-sound predictions on my life. In my early childhood, I have fairly excelled in intellectual and physical activities while they said that I would be behind my peers. A dark spirit told my mother the day before I was born that he would claim my life, yet to this day I am still alive and in good health, shining with the glory of the Lord. God has prevented the enemy’s hand from touching me. Without a doubt, God must have a great purpose for me in this world that the enemy doesn’t want. I truly wish more people could understand who God is. He has been so real in my life that it makes me sad whenever I meet people who firmly believe He doesn’t even exist. I hope one day, everyone’s eyes will be opened.

Nicole, Grade 11

GARBAGE
s I sit comfortably on my cushioned chair, I anxiously wait for the lesson to begin. My teacher tells us that we will be spending the whole of class time to watch a documentary she prepared about the harsh lives of some unfortunate people. The blurry video starts to play, slowly depicting a land made up purely of garbage. The land is a sea trash, consisting of decaying food, used plastics and broken chunks of metal. To my astonishment, this chaotic wasteland turns out to be a home for numerous poverty stricken people. I am simply appalled with such a sickening sight. A short malnourished 7-year-old boy, dressed in nothing but torn black rags, is introduced by the narrator. He is shown carrying a cloth like sack on his fragile shoulders, slowly trudging bare footed through the sea of rubbish, seemingly accustomed to the dangers that he might encounter. The video continues, returning our attention to the massive and unpleasant landscape. A garbage truck now enters the screen, releasing a fresh new serving of trash and with it an endless mass of flies, cockroaches and other dirty pests. When you see such filth, you can’t help but close your eyes and refuse to see anymore. However in the boy’s case, he has no choice but to accept this and get used to it. The clip focuses on the boy’s actions. He eagerly sorts as much useful garbage as he can because this will determine his meager earn at the end of the day. Aluminum cans, plastic bottles and other recycled materials are constantly thrown into his collection pack, gradually filling up most of the space in the sack. He carefully presses down on the collection, trying to make room for more garbage without crushing the rest. The video skips to a focal point in the story, as the boy finally succumbs to exhaustion and

A

~26

NON-FICTION
hunger, deciding to return to a makeshift hut – the place he calls home. The footage carries on displaying a large sack weighing down on the boy’s tiny shoulders. Together with the reporter, the young boy walks about a mile to the booth, where his collection will be exchanged for a small amount of money. Troubled with this, the interviewer asks him, “Don’t you ever get tired? How can you handle such hard labor?” the boy then answers, “I have no choice but to get used to it.” For long hours of strenuous backbreaking labor, he in turn receives a reward of 25 pesos and a stale piece of bread – the only decent meal he’s gotten the whole day. This is a 7-yearold kid doing a grown man’s job. He has been doing this his whole life. The moment I step into the canteen, I begin to feel the chaos and turmoil that is about to erupt. Hundreds of hungry students like swarms of bees hurriedly crowd over food stands, impatiently calling out their orders. They completely take for granted the luxury of having delicious food right in front of them. This arrogant mentality temporarily gets to me, making me forget the importance of having decent meal as well. I become hotheaded and irritated with having to wait for my food, slightly yelling for it, hoping that the cashier would hear me. Eventually I get what I want, immediately taking a huge bite of my juicy and delicious burrito. After a few minutes, people already begin to throw their food away. Students ignorantly fling their trash left and right, not caring whether or not they properly segregate it. Many of us, despite leaving big portions of untouched food, still toss it away as if it were nothing. To make matters even worse, numerous spills and messes are made on tables, floors and chairs, wasting tons of perfectly good food and drinks because of our careless behavior. Evidently, we all lack the urgency to act responsibly. It’s amazing how things of such great importance can instantly be wasted because we choose to ignore it. This is purely unfair. We live our comfortable lives with much ease while others are suffering to this very minute. We regularly eat delectable foods, which we often waste, while others do not even have an honest meal. We throw things away without thinking of their value while others see our “garbage” as a source of living. Our ignorance is a crime that turns poor people’s lives from bad to worse.

If only we cared more, then and only then are we truly able help those who are in desperate need.

Fly by Anton

Kevin, Grade 9

~27

LIHAM

POETRY

Sunset Blues by Zaina

Writers for this section
Poverty The Traveller We are not them, this is not us The Learning Process ABCs are Misleading Stupid by Nicole by Mariella by Rabia by Thomas by Iman by Lynn Till Death Do Us Part Ode to a Paperclip Two Teens Music A Soul Without a Body To Death by Toni by Christine by Timothy by Moonie by Maansi by Jimmy

~29

POETRY

POVERTY
Poverty is a disease That we sometimes fail to recognize Maybe we’re oblivious to it Because we’re too centered on our own lives Easily we can ignore a poor peasant Living dirtily and uselessly on the street But in reality that poor peasant Is no different from you and me Poverty entangles the heart and spirit It attacks the soul and mind Poverty breeds greed and many evils Like idolatry, adultery, corruption, pride, and crime Poverty leads to deafness and blindness The inability to hear or see Poverty eats up people’s happiness It kills freedom, hopes, and dreams Some of us try to picture poverty But our eyes don’t really see The toil and hunger of those condemned To wither slowly in unforgotten misery Poverty is a long and painful story It is not just a lack of money Poverty leaves widows and orphans abandoned With nothing to on which to cleave Little poor children learn to speak And take flight on a simple song But sooner or later their voices will falter And will return to the silence where they belong Poverty is a disaster That we would rather ignore than stop Its gruesome ugliness devours our conscience Weakens our hearts and makes us want to give up Many people in the world today Wish they had been living a fresher life A life that is good, clean, and happy Spared from agony, pain, and strife All over the world there are those who Search everywhere for a better home Yet sadly, their lost and broken hearts know That they have nowhere else to go But what a poor person really needs to find Is just a tiny piece of hope To keep him walking day by day On life’s hard and cruel road

THE TRAVELLER
Sweet wings to my soul I flew high above Beyond the empty mists of broken promises I learned to seek further than the confinements of my land And searched for beauty, for meaning, for life Beyond the torrents and rushes of oceans To where music was silence to the soul Where magic and miracles were daily life And a pot of all sorts became a whole Beneath the steady wings of life I flew through gleaming muted lights Where time was of no essence yet mattered the most And buried beneath ruins lay all our plights Venturing apart from many lost in a cloud Where dusts of long ago transfigured into sparks Among the birds I flew and with them I learned To walk in the light and grasp the dark I saw the shadows of the past in the emptiness of night And found their stories creep gently into me A testimony to who they were and what they knew Letting their tales of long ago flow freely Sweet wings to my soul I flew high above A traveler among many A culture keeper among some

Mariella, Grade 9

Nicole, Grade 11

~29

LIHAM

WE ARE NOT THEM, THIS IS NOT US
Terrorism through the eyes of a Muslim There is a story that is marked on our face, Yet no one believes that those are deceiving lies There stamp of terrorism is marked around the world Yet no one believes that it is us, who crave for peace, There are names that you know us by, There are eyes that you look at us with We are not them, this is not us We are scared so much of the dark, Yet, we are pushed into it Lies and hatred rises around us, Yet we still ask for forgiveness for something we did not commit There are names that you know us by, There are eyes that you look at us with We are not them, this is not us We crave to live together, Yet they separate us with walls that run miles long We are forced to be scared of ourselves, Yet we still believe that it is not something we should be accused of There are names that you know us by, There are eyes that you look at us with We are not them, this is not us Our lies are heard all around the world, But our wounds remain here Our voices are heard world wide, But no one wants to hear our cries There are names that you know us by, There are eyes that you look at us with We are not them, this is not us

THE LEARNING PROCESS
This poem is a metaphor for those who cannot find, an acceptable alliteration or an imperfect rhyme. Creative inspiring diction of the kind you should not mind, merely brings forth irony in this fiction of a kind. I apologise for this dreary tone but I think it’s fair to say, along my controlled assonance I seem to’ve lost my way. The repetition of repetition adds another device to the poem. I’m wondering if the moods changed and if this meter must go on. Alluding to the use of an allusion my rhythm is sure to drop, unless I use Caesura, maybe enjambment, or just end-stop. Juxtaposing my work on this with my distaste of writing, this poem’s many themes seem much less than inviting. A thesis from this free verse will be difficult at best, with its huge lack of hyperbole it presents quite a test. Trying to make devices work like an artful simile, I scrawl lines on yellowed paper to complete this imagery.

Thomas, Grade 11
~30

Rabia, Grade 10

POETRY

ABCs ARE MISLEADING
You shouldn’t listen to a word I say It should be as if my mouth were filled with hay All my pleading comments, discarded My words considered misguided For I shall not be thinking clearly I’ll be standing, or hiding, or cowering fearfully He’ll come around in the crowd And then yell out loud “It’s time! It’s time!” “Oh, this will be just sublime” The sarcastic voice will cut through the room Mirroring the thoughts of every cynic in this tomb I’ll take a deep breath And beads of sweat representing the stress Will come upon my hands I’ll hear late eighties rock bands Lift up the object and stab hard into the text Reading across, flying from one word to the next You shouldn’t listen to a word I say I have a math test today.

Iman, Grade 9

TILL DEATH DO US PART
Church in Prague by JiWan Most powerful man in the empire My husband, my lord, my king Holds power over time, moon, harvest season, Over life and death. The seventh moon imitates his name, As five others did of those dwelling atop cloud And mountain, feasting upon nectar and ambrosia Sole owner of prominence and praise, Conqueror of north, south, east, west, Everything in between and more, His greatness overshadow Friends, family and foe, In a blanket Of laurel victory. He is my husband. Mine.

Before the diminishing life force Of a white ox, I stood closer to him Scoffing at words of barbaric darkness, Of the Crook and Flail that controls Denial, Of the vessel of tainted, royal blood Of an ostensibly innocent serpent, Body firmly raised on its stolen birthright, I did not believe, did not want to believe The most holy servant of the Sun.

Toni, Grade 10

~31

LIHAM

ODE TO A PAPERCLIP
S h e Fastened my pitch-black tresses with a solidified grasp, wiRed a swirled labyrinth into place As I typed endlessly on a trite, dead case While she fingers through the ebony strands, tiRed of a job that I had somehow fallen into. Although she neither frowned or approved, Inaudibly affixed as a stark beholder it behooves Her to take a stand in her corner view, Where she formed a grip to hold my distant façade. I, in my chair, looked back to acknowledge her strict and twisted figure, voluptuous edge, lustrous presence and bent hips as she plodDed towards the consecutive, commotion of keys And my turned back, already too engrossed in The dates. Spurning her touches and the tin Rarity that she possesses when suddenly I reCalled the caterpillar that once clasped to the abrasive limbs Of the sapling outside the slammed window of my room. One rainy day, it unwounded and twisted, bent out of shape it bloomed with versatility and took off - gone to the sound of hymns. So I started to weep as I remembered how she bent upwards, came undone at the breadth of my ungraciousness Flexible, spreading three times her length with excess, Slowly slipping off, leaving an indelible embossment. She is gone and brittle as I write her obituary, cautious With the details, I append the piece against the corner of her image. It slides on with a silver caress, a fitted and secure grip; Clasping, so dear to my heart – a stainless-steel c l i p

TWO TEENS
Dedicated to two good friends of mine in USA. Two teens walk on a road in the night, A pair of friends that could never e separated, Even if a monster appeared in their sight, They hold tight, never letting go. One day, they get into a fight, They both refuse to speak to one another, But their hearts know it all, They need to lean on each other, For it is their intertwining destiny. The boy realizes first, He feels the longing for their friendship, But she turns him away, Her heart seemingly angry at him. Yet the girl feels the same, She yearns for him inside, However she just couldn’t say it, Afraid of what would come after. As they walk down that same road, The boy turns and does something unexpected, He gets down on his knee and pours his emotions, Endlessly flowing in a stream of sorrow. The girl, now realizing how he felt, Feeling his side of the conflict, Lends her hand and helps him up. Standing together once again, They walk down that open road, Holding tighter than ever before.

Christine, Grade 11

Timothy, Grade 10
~32

POETRY

MUSIC
Music is a world of illusions— illusions of a dream that Inspires millions to reach...! It is a gift A gift of emotions not yet discovered, not yet named, Sees things even the wise cannot see A language that communicates with hearts, not lies, A mother that exists as a crying shoulder for the brokenhearted innocent The troubled father and his worries for tomorrow, The lost orphan and his memories of yesterday, The hopeless dreamer, hopes shattered with each teardrop If you let the music swallow you, it will be The newborn baby in the city of Bethlehem, The fairy dust to finally fly. Music fills my heart with memories of freedom and truth, Presents a ride back to the days of sunshine and laughter, A glimpse of a future I once knew, A better world for us to discover. Music is the world of illusions— a world where when the Clock strikes midnight, You’ll have to run home and watch your glass slipper shatter Into a thousand pieces.

Moonie, Grade 9

A SOUL WITHOUT A BODY
To some I may be lifeless, like a hanging little doll To others I am a snake, slithering past the door To one or two I am an angel suffering from a grand fall From heaven onto life on earth, I step onto the dirt floor I am not who others seem, I do not constrict like a boa I am hardly a helpless fragile toy that has no thought No touch, I am in fact a human, a human, not protozoa If you think you can tame me, understand me think naught About my soulless eyes that frighten with every stare To you I am a bird of paradise, an experiment on the lab chair For others I am just a body, a body silent and bare For I am you may ask me, but you should beware I am a soul without a body and completely I’m aware That when I meet a body, complete will be my prayer

Maansi, Grade 11
~33

LIHAM

STUPID
You are so stupid When you cross the street traffic lights spell out The words “stop” and “go” “knowing that You’d get the colors mixed up otherwise You are so stupid Rivers force themselves not to catch your reflection Fearing you might try to shake its hand And fall in. You are so stupid Pencils snap at your touch, fearing The obscene spelling errors that only you are capable of. Street dogs steer clear of you For fear of losing brain cells upon sight of you. You are so stupid Fake pirated goods rejoice when you are near Knowing you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference Between Adidas and Aiddas And because of their confidence in you, they all add Another zero to the end of their price tags You are so stupid Glass doors tint themselves days before you reach them So you won’t walk into them and shatter their glass And the world can relax. Blonde women flock to your favorite café Knowing that an idiot will stop by sometime Knowing that you’ll be able to make them look like super geniuses And they’ve been waiting for you all their lives.

TO DEATH
You are near again, and always have been ever since time began. Pull up a chair. I’d recognize you anywhere, your figure that takes on many forms. We’ll run side by side, neck and neck, like two runners, locked in a race.

I’ve tried too long to see the back of you. Last summer, just when I thought you had moved I could have gone, relocated, but stayed put and let you find me. Again. The fog rolls in; stand nearer, come into view, so I can see your real form. How have you hurt me, let me count the ways: year after year when you show yourself to friends and relatives, children, the poor, or unfamiliar people. Accidents or sickness, war or violence, you are there. That time my grandfather got ill, and kicked the bucket, and you couldn’t help but come knocking and visit for a while. Appearing as an apparition before me, what could we do but wait? Wait for you to leave. How come you’re struck with me? Go see a demon, lean on poverty or the powerful, breathe on the wealthy, touch corruption or conflict, go hang around Al Qaeda, find a terrorist at least to struggle with, to annoy, to persecute. On second thought, stay put. Let me watch your every move, so I can see you coming. I’d rather face you full on than wait for you to sneak up behind at every turn, on every street, in every town. Stay here. I said stay here.

Lynn, Grade 10

Jimmy, Grade 11
~34

VISUAL ARTS

Ghost by Zaina

Artists for this section
Ji Wan Krizia Michi Chris Anton Isabel

LIHAM

Hiding Smoke Away by [Anton, Grade 12] Beginning to look a lot like Christmas by [Chris, Grade 10]

Hustle Bustle by [Anton, Grade 12] Sunday Morning by [Anton, Grade 12]

~36

VISUAL ARTS

VISUAL ARTS

A Village in Swiss by [Ji Wan, Grade 11]

-Author, Grade

Shadow Cities by [Chris, Grade 10]

The House That Ruth Built by [Michi, Grade 11] Diagon Alley by [Anton, Grade 12] -Author, Grade

~37

LIHAM

Food = Love by [Anton, Grade 12]

American Dreams by [Isabel, Grade 11]

Cherry Blossoms by [Chris, Grade 10]

Capulet by [Krizia, Grade 12] Egyptian Camel by [Ji Wan, Grade 11]

~38

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