Literary Magazine

Category: April


By Michell Goyal

“Excuse me, do you know where Dr. Williams is?” Mrs. Leon asked the man in front of her. He was shuffling through some papers on a desk. He was a young man, and Mrs. Leon was quite sure he was a new trainee at the institution. He had a slight shake to him as he looked through the contents of the desk, as if he was trying to find something rather quickly. As Mrs. Leon spoke, his eyes snapped over with a sharp intake of breath.

“Oh, no, I’m sorry. I just got here. Meaning, I just recently started working here a few weeks ago.” The young man’s eyes darted around nervously, seeming to want to escape his conversation with Mrs. Leon. But the woman simply looked at the man with sad eyes and small smile.

“Oh, that’s quite alright. I’m sure he should be around soon.” She exchanged another glance with the intern and then turned her attention back to the multitude of monitors on the wall in front of her. She furrowed her eyebrows as she read the information.

“Negative”, Mrs. Leon muttered. She sighed and drummed her fingers on the table at her side, as she often did when nervous or frightened. Mrs. Leon was becoming impatient.

“Ah, Dr. Leon. How are the trials going?” Mrs. Leon turned as an older man with graying hair made his way towards her. As he reached the wall of monitors, he took out a pair of clear-framed glasses from his shirt pocket and placed them on the bridge of his nose.

“All negative, I’m afraid”, Mrs. Leon replied. She took a deep breath and flattened her hand against the desk. Her eyes flickered over to an employee

typing away on their desktop. Her thumb twitched as the employee’s finger jammed on a key rather harshly.

Dr. Williams’ hands found each other. He rubbed them tensely.

“Shall we go see?”

Mrs. Leon nodded numbly, her eyes on the monitors. Dr. Williams gestured for the young man to follow, and the three silently made their way across the large room into a hallway, Dr. Williams leading the way. The sound of footsteps filled her ears as Mrs. Leon’s heart seemed to thump out of her chest. She swallowed and took one last breath as she approached a door. As she held up her hand to swipe her pass card, Mrs. Leon’s hand contained a slight tremor. She cleared her throat, swiped her card, and quickly turned the handle. The three walked in and gazed upon the young boy laying in a bed, unconscious. Mrs. Leon began to inspect the smaller monitors on the wall behind the boy.

The intern looked at Dr. Williams, confusion etched into his face. “This is getting worse by the hour,” the doctor muttered. “Now this information stays with you, understand? While it might be becoming more topical among civilians, we work very hard to keep most of it out of the public eye.” Dr. Williams said quietly to the intern beside him. After a few moments, the young man’s confused expression eased. “Of course, Doctor. I completely understand.”

Mrs. Leon seemed to be busying herself with small tasks. She changed the boy’s IV bag and adjusted the various tubes and wires. The monitors seemed

to beep in tune with her pulse, both loud enough to fill her ears. She became deaf to almost all else. Almost.

“She seems to care an awful lot about the boy”, the young man said. “But he doesn’t look like he is in the beginning stages of the disease anymore, as I have heard. And I have to ask, Doctor.” Mrs. Leon had now stopped her toiling. She stood over the bed and gazed woefully at the boy. She stroked the boy’s cheek with the back of her fingers, still shaking. The young man looked back at the older with a questioning look.

“Oh, yes, the boy happens to be the progeny of Dr. Leon,” Dr. Williams explained.


The two men looked over at the women facing the monitors who had spoken for the first time since entering the room.

Progeny?” Mrs. Leon yelled sharply. She was fully turned towards them now, anger burning in her eyes and her body shaking slightly.

“He is my son.” Her voice boomed against the walls of the room. “He is not some experiment of yours, Doctor.” She said the last word as if it was some kind of insult, but coming from her it might as well have been. Dr. Williams looked down at his shoes with newfound interest, seemingly embarrassed at his choice of words. “I apologize, Dr. Leon,” he said quietly.


The three adults turned their heads towards the small, still voice behind Mrs. Leon. The young boy’s eyes flickered open to look at the people standing in

his room. Usually there were only two, but now there were three. A loud sound had woken him up.

“Hey, sweetie. How are you feeling?” Mrs. Leon abandoned her conversion with Dr. Williams to sit at her son’s bedside. She looked into his deep brown eyes that were so similar to another’s she had known. The little boy grabbed his mother’s hand and squinted his eyes at the light in the room.

“It still hurts like last time,” he said quietly.

“I know, sweetie, I know. But It’s okay, it’ll be okay. Dr. Williams and I are going to make it better, okay? It won’t hurt again after this.” Mrs. Leon’s voice quivered as she spoke. She put on a small smile and squeezed his hand.

The boy looked up at his mom worriedly. “Promise it won’t hurt again?”

The mother let out a shaky breath. She cupped her other hand around his cheek. Her eyes grew watery but not a single tear was shed. She needed to stay strong for her scared little boy. Brown on brown, like it had been for so many years. Yet this time, it contained a stronger love, an unbreakable bond, a connection that would last until the end of time.

“I promise, sweetie. It won’t ever hurt again.”

Relief flooded the boy’s face, as if his mom’s words held the ultimate truth. He squeezed his mother’s hand back and a big smile stretched across his face.

Mrs. Leon let go of her son’s cheek to rub her nose.

“Okay, well, it’s time to go back to sleep now, okay? Dr. Williams and I are going to run a few more tests and give you some more medicine, okay? I’ll

see you in the morning, my love.” She whispered the last part, unable to trust her voice to stand firm with her words.

The boy sported a goofy smile with sparkling, tired eyes, reflecting his mother’s image back to her. “Okay, Mommy, see you in the morning.”

A nurse appeared beside the bed, injected a clear liquid into a tube that ran into the boy’s small arm, and disappeared just as quickly as he came. Mrs. Leon ruffled her son’s sandy brown hair and placed one last kiss on his forehead. She stayed in that position until she could no longer feel slow rise and fall of his tiny chest. She stayed with her forehead against his, both of their cheeks wet now. She wrapped her arms around her sweet little soldier and openly sobbed into the pillow behind him.

Dr. Williams and the intern stood at the doorway a few ways behind her. The former looked solemnly at the ground, mourning at the loss of another patient, so young and small. The young man had tears running down his own cheeks, horrified at what he had just witnessed. He hastily wiped the water from his eyes. “Why?” he whispered.

“Another few hours and he would have been feeling excruciating pain. Another day and he would have passed out from it. Two days, and we would be in the same place we are now.” replied Dr. Williams.

“That’s right.” The women in front of them stood up on shaky legs, but her voice was once again firm. “And that means there are thousands of children as well as adults and seniors who are suffering just the same.”

Mrs. Leon smoothed her coat down for a second before looking Dr. Williams in the eyes with her own swollen and red ones. With hands clenched at her

sides and her heart aching with loss, she said, “come, Dr. Williams, we have work to do.”

To Be Determined

By Adamari Rodriguez

Nothing else can really describe it, not for me. It’s a self portrait, but one from my heart, confused and wretched and constantly squirming away from reality. The abstract nature I tried to achieve represents my shifting self opinion and emotions. It is a typical teenage struggle, I suppose, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to visualize it until now. The figure is contained but shifting and writhing within itself. It is a being of denial and insecurity, unsure of its own self. The self is being determined.


By Halle Mar

I dictate the highs and lows of my life with the amount I’m writing
I haven’t written in months
I walk home with your taste in my mouth, waiting for it to fade
I’m supposed to savor that taste
Relief floods my veins as water washes over my tongue, taking away any trace of you
When you hold my hand I don’t feel anything
A blank piece of paper
A freshly made bed
The song I’ve been listening to for the past days, until the words mean nothing to me
My heart like the steady sound of my footsteps climbing the stairs to my first period classroom,
Monotonous beating against linoleum, against concrete, my head against the bathroom floor
I tell you I care for you the same way I say I’m not hungry
Yes I’m sure, please don’t ask me again, I promise, please believe me
How much have you eaten?

This poem is called “enough.” It’s about feeling empty, not feeling what you think you should. It comes from a place of feeling blank and unexpressed, getting set into a routine of vacancy in head and heart. This piece means to me letting out unspoken truths, such as not loving someone, or not eating enough. These are things you don’t tend to tell people, so they slip to the back of your mind and become part of the routine. Poetry is a very significant part of my life, and quite honestly, a savior of it. Poetry allows you to bleed without the demand for blood.

‘Bloodmoon,’ ‘Don’t Fall,’ and ‘Changes’

By Sophie Chapman

My main school focus is Chemistry, but I love to photograph my friends. I can tell that a successful shoot boosts their confidence tremendously. A picture is worth a thousand words after all…


By Mariana Rivera

We carry our sins on our chests,
and I’m transformed into some kind of saint
when friends confess to me on
the nights that made us feel at ease
or the days that pushed on their weight
making it too much too carry,
or when the drugs kick in.
One homeboy sits beside me every few weeks
with a new story resting on his tongue.
He fiddles with the bandanna that lives within his back pocket
as he tells me what tasks his carnal has given him now,
and what trouble he has found,
like when his fists stared into the face of another boy’s pocket knife.
Or, how since then those fists have become friends with tire irons, waiting to meet a less fortunate man’s shins.
This is when I notice the seemingly permanent glare on his face
that wasn’t there two years ago.
When I ask him why he has strayed so far,
he tightens his jaw before muttering,
“That’s life for a South Side Kid.”
In my newfound sainthood,
friends find redemption in my understanding
and they appease with every
day, week, month, year, old tear they allow to fall in front of me.
The men in my life cry the biggest, and heaviest tears
because learning to be vulnerable is difficult
but all we can do is open up
once the bottle between our ribs gets full,
so I take on the form of a priest.
I listen, and I tell them
that redemption is not unattainable,
that a better life is not unattainable,
our dreams are not unattainable!
And to have faith
in themselves, in their strength
and in each other when we take one another as makeshift angels
when we have no one else to guide us.
Two days before Christmas, another friend and I drove up the A,
with tears in our eyes and warmth in our hearts.
We stared at the city lights and wondered why it’s gotten so hard to be sober
yet still filled the car with clouds of our troubles.
He told me he missed his father,
his brother,
his life.
Everything he needed to say to them
evaporated with the smoke, but still rings in my ears.
We poured out our souls
and wished that the future came with headlights,
so we might have been able to avoid all of our wrong turns.
But I am always here,
and you will always be there
everytime we get lost.
I didn’t know that I could find a compass in the hand of a close friend
until I watched the boy who became my brother, take in everyone who believed we were destined for nowhere.
Within the lighthouse that was the small space between his four bedroom walls,
this brother of mine told us all his stories
and taught us all how good it felt to connect.
I left his lighthouse each day carrying the gospel he spread by accident;
that our salvation lives inside of us,
Closer and closer to heart.
See, I don’t remember the last time I went to church,
but I have never felt more holy than on long nights
and early mornings with the homies
when we discovered we were our own gods.
Our lives and our mistakes will never leave our fingers,
because there’s a great burden that comes with our freedom
when the line between right and wrong sometimes fades.
So, we write our own scriptures and try to walk within the light
but we’re still trying to figure out
where to go in the night.

I wrote ‘Sins’ as a reflection of the importance of vulnerability and having close relationships throughout hard times, especially for youth from marginalized backgrounds. When your identity is criminalized it’s easy to slip through the cracks, and a lot of people don’t understand that, but it takes a real toll on our spirit at times. It’s about trying to be good but being weighed down by the world you’re apart of and finding others that help you cope with this.


By Matt Galvan

In this piece I wanted to visualize the feeling and mental state of shared emotional pain (sorrow) through an over exaggerated, nightmarish representation. It is done with India ink, copic markers, and gold acrylic paint on Bristol paper.

I do photography and mixed media drawing, usually with ink and paint. My artwork is usually abstract or surreal and covers themes like pain, death,  loneliness, isolation, spirituality, mental health, and philosophy (fun stuff).

My gift to you

By Bryn Baker

to fathers with daughters:

you teach us that you are love
you gift to me lessons of short kindness
you give me life and now i must
with a framed mirror
only waiting to be broken

and when i cannot see you
i will find you in another
and another
and another
until the lines between anger and love
are lines no longer but instead
the thing i squint my eyes till i can find
what exactly it is that i am looking for
and dad,
i guess it’s you.

from: daughters with fathers

Cactus Moon

By Marco Villa Jr.

I was seeing the beautiful sunset at A mountain and I saw the moon under the big green. I had to take it.

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