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FOUR STORIES

ONE

Roxy’s parents were absent through her childhood. Her sister was busy too, talking to middle-aged men on her computer, so Roxy had to entertain herself from a young age. She would hike the canyon near her house, swim in the neighborhood pools, and take part in every other activity that she could get her hands on. Her parents were always working just to keep their family afloat so Roxy never had access to money for the movies or someone who could give her a ride to a friend’s house. Parents of the other girls hated it and they would talk about “that selfish girl” between PTA meetings, but she would always show up to gatherings with scraped knees, old clothes, and the same backpack, meant for a young child, that she always carried.
She was always a floater, bouncing between friends groups just long enough for people to grow attached. She sucked people dry of their resources before they could even notice. But in the end, she was the poster child for “addiction risk factors”. Her dad drank too much on poker night and her mom took too many of her antidepressants sometimes. Because of all of Roxy connections and the general feelings of positivity surrounding her, it didn’t take long for someone to invite her to try drinking and weed. Her life became a hunt for people who had resources for her. Things moved awfully quickly for a seventeen-year-old. It was only a matter of months when she was at the apartment of a twenty-three-year-old, snorting cocaine cut with ecstasy. I met her a few months ago I’d say. She was still sort of a friend-of-a-friend, but she told me a lot about her life. She moved through severity of drugs at the speed of light. I took this picture of her around three hours before she died from complications of an overdose. That’s all I know, Officer.

Story by Elliot Zeman

TWO

Richie whipped out his camera, not much of a photography kind of guy but Bev was quite the looker. Gosh, she was great. She was the best smoke buddy, and one of the only ones in their friend group who laughed at his (inappropriate) jokes rather than groaning and rolling her eyes (like his other 3 friends, Eddie, Stan, and Bill).

Actually, he was kind of an awful Polaroid taker, even if it was simple. Richie just wasn’t simple. Neither was Bev, but she had common sense. Richie was loud and obnoxious and annoying and Eddie resented him for it but that was Richie. So, even if barely had the slightest clue on how to take a decent photo, this one came out pretty okay. Of course, that was all thanks to Bev and her gorgeous curly hair and overall stunning face.

“I have to take your smelly shirt off, it’s giving me a headache,” she had said, furrowing her eyebrows in a way that forced her to scrunch up her nose at the same time. Richie had laughed at that, setting the camera down so he could examine the photo once it was developed. Bev cringed from her looming position over his boney shoulder. “Take another one,” she ordered.

Richie didn’t want to, the photo was perfect in his eyes. But, he followed her commands anyways. She modeled and posed and smiled and frowned, and each photo that came out was beautiful only because of Bev herself, but Richie could only think about the first one they took, his eyes glancing over at it every so often.

Bev had gone home after a while, it being a school night and all. So, with The Smiths blaring in the background, Richie took a thumbtack and stuck the original photo on the wall, grinning softly with gleaming eyes at the girl in front of him.

Story by Jalynn Montoya

THREE

Alexandria wasn’t one who played well with others. Even when she was a little girl, her favorite pastime was tormenting the neighborhood children, demanding all sorts of ridiculous acts to prove their loyalty and friendship. But as she grew older, the poison in her heart began seep into her veins, traveling through her bloodstream, numbing and deadening her very being. It got harder and harder to care for others, and the meaner she became, the more she pushed those around her away. But she couldn’t quite help it.

The only loving relationship she experienced was the one between her mother and father, and oh, it was far from loving. Her mother’s voice snapping out like a whip that lashed at her cowering father often woke her in the middle of the night. She would watch as her mother verbally beat her father, his hunched figure cringing into the kitchen counters as he shakily handed her money he couldn’t afford to give her. And then she would stuff the cash into her skintight jeans and flaunt out the door into the night.

Alexandria was alone. She was nineteen, and the tiny, dingy apartment she paid $300 for every month was shabby, but hers. She no longer had to witness her parent’s brittle relationship deteriorate before her eyes. But she was alone.

Scott was new in the building. Alex watched him through a crack in her door as he moved into the flat across the hall. His blonde hair shone in the sun shining through the dusty window slats. She was almost bored with the idea of introducing herself, but she figured it was something to do. And she was surprised when his genuine smile, the first she had seen in a long time, started to warm her heart.

“Hey, nice to meet you. I know this is strange, but do you mind if I snap a pic of you? You’re quite pretty.” He blushed when he said this. She looks back at that picture every now and then, to remind her that life is so much better to live when you have some life in your eyes.

Story by Helana deRossett

FOUR

These Eyes

These eyes are a blessing and a curse. People on the street will walk by me and say things like: “nice eyes.” Just like that and then they will keep walking.

I get a lot of interest from men because of these eyes. Some will tell me, “nice eyes,” but I’ll be in the dairy section or somewhere where the guy can’t just keep walking. I smile and sometimes I say, “thanks,” and sometimes we keep talking and they ask for my number and I give it to them and they call and they take me out and we have dinner. I’ll wear a business casual blouse or if they seem artsy, a baggy sweater. But they just stare and stare into my eyes and I know they’re doing it. And they always tell me again, and sometimes again that, “nice eyes.”

Sometimes we go out again and maybe once or twice after. They’ll think that cuz my eyes are like so amazing that the rest of me will just be even more amazing. But there is no way I can keep up with the expectation that the rest of me will match my eyes. So when the rest of me is not special and amazing and is just regular…or even if I was above average that wouldn’t be enough.

So it’s a curse, too, really. And I can’t see them unless I look in a mirror, so my eyes give out a lot of pleasure but I don’t get a lot in return. I just have these eyes to live up to and now I don’t even try because I used to and I know that it’s just impossible.

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