I didn’t want to smile. Especially at my mom, and at her clunky purple polaroid camera. It had been a bad day, okay? I wasn’t exactly in the rainbow, sunshine, and unicorns kind of mood. My mom wanted to give my grandma pictures of me to hang up in her depressing navy blue bedroom that had the constant aroma of goldfish, her favorite “after dinner snack,” but that didn’t change the fact that I was NOT feeling it.
My stupid little heart had just been broken. By a stupid boy. A boy who didn’t see a future with us, who ended things yesterday. And I didn’t want to tell my mom, because I knew she would just tear him apart, and honestly, I didn’t want to hear any negative words spoken of him because I still thought he was a great person. He just didn’t want to be with me anymore. And that was devastating, but true, and I needed to accept it. I didn’t want to hear anything mean about him, because I didn’t want to put him down in order to bring myself up. Too many of my friends had that habit, and I didn’t judge their process, but I also knew that saying, “he’s so boring and gross and weird and such an idiot,” wouldn’t do anything, because I didn’t believe it.
But nevertheless, my mom persisted. “Smile, Becky! Come on, show those beautiful dimples! Nana will love these! One more! Oh, so cute! Okay, one more!”
I gave her what she wanted; I smiled and took the fakest photos ever. The worst part is that my grandma won’t even care about the photos. She just watches “Sex and The City” all day and drinks sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon. She won’t care about a stupid photo of her granddaughter. I guess the polaroids were more for my mom that her though. At least she appreciated my fake smile.
Story by Natasha Arnowitz
I remember Audrey ripped that rusty old Polaroid camera away from me. She was annoyed with me incessant photo king, so she did it right back at me. I understood her at that moment. I don’t really like it when people take pictures of me either. I kinda like this one, though. I was happy that summer, blissfully unaware of all the shit that was gonna hit the fan that school year.
His name was Drew, and I was in love with him. I remember he used to tease me a lot in class and I’d tease him right back. We started going out shortly after. He was like two years older and an incredibly bad influence, but I don’t care what anyone said. He was my precious Drew. Sure, he cheated on me, repeatedly, and he stole cash from my wallet, from time to time, but I just couldn’t bring myself to end it with him. Something about being around him made me feel special, feel alive.
It was in Jenny’s basement when I lost it. Jenny yelled at me, “Ana wake up!” I remember her face hovering over mine in slow motion with a tunnelled effect in her voice. I couldn’t understand why everything felt so urgent. I wish I could have moved in that moment, but I couldn’t. It was as if my head wanted to spring up and run away, but my body wouldn’t let it. I woke up in the hospital three hours later. Drew was in jail.
I look so innocent here, though. I wish I had that again.
Story by Susana Obando
Three seats back and one to the left. When we had the class last period the sun would shine in and reflect off her curls, making them a richer gold.
Sometimes on the way home I’d see her out my rearview mirror, walking on the sidewalk and smoking a cigarette. I wanted to ask if she needed a ride, but I guess I just never did. Even in the winter, there she’d be, walking home and smoking a cigarette.
I can’t tell you why I was so intrigued by this girl. I can’t tell you why I never talked to her. I can tell you it wasn’t simply because I was male and she was female. There was something about her mannerisms. Something about the way her ears stuck out from behind those curls.
We had this creative writing project once where the teacher took all of our pictures. She mixed them all up and we had to pick out one and write about positive features of the person in the picture. It was a bit of a writing assignment and a bit of a confidence workshop. I had to write about a boy Carl and his lovely red hair. We had to keep the pictures of ourselves to remember our self worth.
A couple days later I saw something on the ground outside the school. I hardly believed it when I saw her squinty eyes looking back at me, and those ears sticking out from behind those curls. I took the picture home with me, deciding I’d return it to her the next day. Of course I couldn’t and I didn’t.
A month went by and I heard the news. It led to school assemblies and public speakers, informing us of the signs and statistics we already knew.
On my drive home I couldn’t get myself to glance back. When I got home I took the picture from my drawer and hung it in my rearview mirror. It was nice to see her face. I had only ever seen her from three seats back and one to the left.
Story by Jamie Groele