Literary Magazine

Tag: Short Story

The Court Hearing

By Isa Gamez

A non-U.S. citizen sits in a courtroom. He’s only five years old and only speaks Spanish. He feels anxious and confused sitting there while the judge asks him questions such as “do you have a lawyer?” and “do you know what a lawyer is?” The boy feels sad as he answers “no” to each question. How could it be right to deport this five year old back to Mexico, when the U.S. is all he’s known? This hearing is not fair. A little boy wakes up pleading to his parents for food but they don’t have any. When does the suffering stop? When can these tired and broken people feel the warmth of sunshine on their bodies? When will they be able to walk down the block saying, “I’m free?”

I wrote this because recently, in our backyard, people are trying to cross the border to give their families a fighting chance in life, but instead are being violently attacked, gassed, and murdered.This is the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing. We need to be helping and loving each other.

The Life I Love

By Joseph Uchi

Privileges have been abundant in my favor since the day i was born. A caring mother and father. Sweethearts full of love for each other and me. Family that laughed and cried together. Family that drifted further and further while staying close as if they never left each other’s arms. Two sides of my life. Indescribable feelings that i was unaware of. I never had problems to speak of even if i were to point out some things they were just very minor. People around me had problems and struggles. I never struggled much. I enjoyed my backyard and toys while the people around me wanted to play but helped with other things. I was spoiled. They weren’t. God bless their souls. I never knew how hard their life was until I put myself in their shoes. How different my life was. I was a stranger to my family yet i loved them. I thought I could relate. Childish thinking yes. My parents grew up with little. I grew up worrying about my next present. My “friends” never related or cared much for me. I was just there, not apart of the group. My mother tired of my talking and father tired of me all around. I love them. I was just a job for them. My cousins connected while i tried so hard to be one of them. They were better in experience and in general. My uncles and aunts were the same. My grandparents the same. I love them but they differ. I’m alone yet surrounded by people who don’t really care about me but some people would kill for what i have. I don’t care much because i feel loved at the same time i don’t. My god loves me as i was told. Am i loved though? My country loves me as i was told. No i don’t think so. My brother, my dear brother looks up to someone else as a brother and not me. I love him, he loves others. I hug him. He stands there. I cry at night knowing I’m alone with myself to depend on though my body doesn’t care either. Who am I then? Do i exist? I pretend I’m sick to see if my mother would care for me. Drink some medicine. She sleeps. My whole life she slept. I play instruments and sports to see if my dad notices. Shh. He goes to the room and watches videos. My whole life he’s been in that room. I learn how to play games good to see if my cousins want to play. They talk with others. Everyone’s the same. My acquaintances are foreign. I learn how to draw and design to see if i can impress myself. Too bad i give up. I pray on my knees to see if god answers. He doesn’t. He’s been quiet my whole life.
Years and years go by as that feeling goes numb.
I fight myself literally to see i can feel it. I feel good because i know i can do something right. My grades slam that feeling away. My future points the gun at my head. My loneliness pulls the trigger. Too bad its metaphorical. I love life though, my privilege tells me. I’ll keep living. They’re people who would kill for the life i have. I’m grateful yet resentful for my privileges. Some people are grateful for the little they have. I’m here FEELING. There are kids who make their family happy and accomplishing many things while I disappoint and regress my state of being. I waste money on things i want but it kid my mom inside. She would prefer to have another son who is actually a somebody. My father would prefer a SON. My brother would prefer a BROTHER. Too bad I cannot meet their expectations. I cannot meet any. Some people would kill for a life like mine. I’d rather help them than switch places because they’d feel nothing. My teeth rotting and my skin drying. My eyes sinking and body inflates. God laughs at me. The devil beckons me. I lie to myself that people care but they care if I’m doing something. Some people would kill for my privileges. Goodnight.

This is my life story. My thoughts. Some of it exaggerated but necessary. I’m not good at literature and i wrote this in 5 minutes. These are my thoughts. I love you to whomever reads my stuff because I love my life and the people who take part in the world I live in.

Time Travel

By Grace Waldrip

Once in therapy I had a conversation with my seven year old self.

Not actually of course, but it was a close as humans can get without a technological marvel. Due to the lack of technology to make it truly real, what happened was that I picked out an object to represent young me. I chose a flower from my therapist’s vase. I put it across from me in a chair and attempted a conversation with myself.

I thought it was silly at first, just some more therapy bullshit that’s supposed to fix everything, but I was tired. Putting up a fight takes a lot of energy and I was not able to exert that much. I tried to speak to the flower a little, but it still felt off, so I closed my eyes. I waited a little while, took few breaths, then opened my eyes, and there she was. She was small (I’ve always been tiny), with tan skin from loving the outdoors (now I’m vitamin D deficient), with wild curls (mine are now red from angry, emotional dye jobs), and she was smiling freely (pre-braces) in that way that lights up an entire face and room (I can barely even give 1/6 of that smile on a good day now). She turned to me, and waited for me to speak.

When I eventually got the courage to speak to her, I spoke with so much sadness and guilt. She had so much, a loving family, a bright future, and the drive and joy to change the world. She did not spend days barely being able to get up due to the immense sadness she feels. She was not the one that wished and attempted to starve herself into oblivion. I was the one that made terrible choices, the one that ruined our mental health, our relationship with out body, and our connections with the people that love us.

The flower did not respond, and I did not really expect it to. Yet, I still felt that seven year old me was there and had her arms around me, comforting me. It may have been wishful thinking, but I felt she was absolving me of my guilt, and taking a portion of the blame as well. Her small arms surrounded me, and I felt her presence even after I left the room to go home.
I had never once cried during or after therapy, and yet, right after I got back home, I did. I cannot explain why, but maybe it was letting go of my guilt. Often, we judge ourselves too harshly. I too am guilty of that and carry my judgement with me everywhere I go. Sometimes it is suffocating, and I feel I’m drowning in myself.

I was allowed to take the flower home with me. I kept it in a jar of water in my room until its very last moment of life. It was all withered, dead, but it was still the most beautiful thing to me. Now I keep flowers in my room. I also always look out to the flowers in the garden that I try to help maintain. I’m even planning out what to plant in my family’s garden. I always try to surround myself with life now. During the day, I keep track of all the flowers I see. It may seem small and a little stupid, but it makes me feel a little bit better. And just for a moment, a weight is lifted off of me.

To me, and many others, growing up I was always called special, gifted, etc. and I always took advantage of my youth and the ignorance and inexperience that came with it. I often feel guilt about what I’ve down since I’ve grown up and feel I’ve let my ambitious younger self down. This is about letting go of that guilt and just trying to take each day as it comes.

That Little Bakery

By Katelyn Parker

The smell was her favorite part. She loved breathing in the scent of freshly baked bread and pastries. It calmed her down, made her feel relaxed, made her feel at home. It was the place she spent most of her time, the place that gave her the impression that everything was right with the world.

That little bakery down the street.

She doesn’t remember how she found it. Maybe she went walking one day and stumbled across it. Maybe she was hungry and that was the place nearest to her with food she could afford.

Maybe she just wanted to get away.

Though, it surprised her, really, when she came across that little bakery down the street. However she came across it didn’t matter more than the fact that it seemed as though it was cut off from the rest of the world. Valiant in it’s own way. Blocking out the pain and suffering and evil that the outside world emitted.

When she stepped through the threshold of that small bakery, she felt refreshed. Like all her worries were washed away and replaced with chocolate chip cookies and rye bread. It was prodigious in her eyes, never having seen something so peaceful and remarkably calming in her life.

The bakery wasn’t large in size, just a small building tucked away in a corner of the loud, bustling city. The aura was warm and homey compared to the cold, metallic place around it. Laughter resonated from the inside, the old couple and their son that ran the shop playing a game of cards while waiting for customers. They welcomed her in with smiles adorning their faces, genuinely happy. It was so foreign to her, getting treated so well by random strangers.

They asked her what they could help her with, what she would like.

“Anything,” she responded. The old woman behind the counter held up a finger, asking her to wait before disappearing into the back. When she returned, she held out a large bag of warm cookies and bread, much more than the money she was paying with was worth.

“Growing girls like you need food to keep them strong,” the woman croaked out, with an infectious smile that the girl couldn’t keep from copying. She left the quaint shop feeling content and happy, feelings she hadn’t felt in a long while.

She returned the next day, and the next, and the next, and as many days as she could. Everytime she was welcomed with warm smiles and warm people, saying warm words while feeding her warm bread. That was where she was happiest, where she felt most like herself. Each visit only augmenting her love for that place, that family.

That little bakery down the street.

I wrote this piece for a reason that really isn’t impactful at all; just a vocabulary project for my English class freshman year. But still, something about it makes me happy, and it’s a work I’m quite proud of.

30 Minutes in Downtown Tucson

By Serena Huaraque

No one thought of Tucson as a great city. There was nothing awful about it, it just wasn’t great. The hot air, gentrification, and large senior population was off-putting to most people. I love Tucson. Sure, it isn’t comparable to New York City, San Francisco, or Paris for God’s sake, but I sure do think that there’s something special about it. There is one afternoon in particular that I like to think of to describe my time in the Greatest City of the Southwest. (Despite the fact it isn’t all that great.)

I can remember the weather that day well. The weather in Tucson was never anything to gawk over, it was always too hot―other than the month of winter that came once a year, of course. However, the weather that day could only be described with the word flawless. I was comfortable in the hoodie I wore, but it wasn’t cold to the point that there was any need for a sweater.

That day, I rode the bus from my high school in central Tucson to the Ronstadt Downtown Transit Center. The transit center was one of the most unique places in the city. Tucson wasn’t a great city and it didn’t have great public transportation. No one who took the bus had pride in their eco-friendly choice. But then again, most people who took the bus didn’t do so by choice. I was one of the few who did. My mother fought my independent decision of riding public transit for months. That is, until she realized how sensible of a decision it was.

I got off the bus and walked alongside my friend, Nina, and her friend, who’s name I can never seem to remember, for about a block or so. They were on their way to grab a slice of pizza. The two of them talked on and on about their adventures at coffee trips and lunch dates. They were the type of friends who would go get coffee just for the hell of it. It could have been the middle of the night and I bet that if they had called each other up to go get coffee, they would do it!

At the intersection of Congress street and 6th ave., we parted. Although the weather was nice, I swear it must have been the driest day of the year. So, I decided to go buy myself a sweet cup of tea at the Scented Leaf. I had walked from that street corner to the tea shop countless times before. Knowing my way along these streets gave me the opportunity to enjoy myself to enjoy myself and observe the world around me. Congress street was my absolute favorite. My route began with a smoke shop with dark windows. Then, I passed by an older couple who was window shopping at this small boutique who’s name always cracked me up. The tan shop had a blue sign hanging overhead that read, “Got All Your Marbles” I suppose they ought to sell some sort of marble jewelry. As the store fronts began to change from worn and old to rustic and vintage, I knew I was approaching my destination. The tea store seemed so nostalgic, as if I had not paid it a visit in ages, although, I’m sure only a month or two had passed.

I entered the scented leaf. The walls were all white. This didn’t bother me, that’s how all the new shops were these days. All four walls are painted white as you make your way to the white counter to order your drink and then pay on the white touch screen tablet. The whole room makes you feel as if you’re in a goddamn insane asylum.

I ordered my regular, the “Fruity Thai”, and a cup of water. I’m not kidding when I say it must’ve been the driest day of the year. I knew that I had to get out of the store or else I may really go mad. So, I stepped out onto their patio. I situated myself at a table facing the Congress Hotel. That Hotel was at least a century-old at the time.

The Congress Hotel was home to some of my best memories.  There were Saturday morning brunches with my parents and Gene, my lovely white maltese-poodle. Every time, I would order the Cast-Iron Baked Eggs with a side of fruit for myself and side of bacon for Gene. We would eat breakfast as my parents spoke of politics and the live jazz trio played in the courtyard.

I checked the time and noticed that I had around 15 minutes before I had to meet my father. He worked just shy of three blocks away from my bus stop. His job at the city courts was one of the most convenient things that had ever happened. The fact that he worked near and clocked out at 4:30 every day allowed me to roam free for half an hour or so after school. (That is, depending on whether the bus had arrived late or not. Tucson wasn’t a great city and did not have great public transportation.)

Some days, I would go study, read, or just browse at the Main Library. Other days, I would treat myself to a caesar salad or a tuna sandwich at Maynard’s Kitchen. They had the best potato chips in town. Today, I was enjoying a cold sweet milky iced tea.

As I read a few pages from one of Salinger’s short stories, my stomach rudely interrupted to remind me that I had foolishly skipped both lunch and breakfast that day. I gathered my things and headed back down the historic Congress street towards Johnny Gibson’s grocery. I passed the trendy cafés and stores. I passed a yoga studio. I passed the transit center. I passed the marble store. I passed the smoke shop. Finally, I arrived at Gibson’s. I walked up and down the aisles waiting for something to catch my eye. The aisles were narrow and the shelves were filled with everything from toilet paper to protein bars. I left empty-handed, having not found anything to satisfy my hunger. I began to stroll over to the city courts.

I wasn’t in a rush, but, out of curiosity, I opened my phone to check the time. I had received a text message from my dad, Jason. “Meet me at your sister’s house.” My sister, a computer and electrical engineering undergrad at the University of Arizona, lived in the cutest little studio apartment. Her building was on the same block as my bus stop. Her balcony overlooked an empty lot filled with gravel. Along with the lot, she could see the train station, Maynard’s Kitchen, a local hair salon, and the northern half of Hotel Congress. If you ask me, the gravel-filled lot was the most underrated. I appreciated it’s simplicity. There was a single concrete bench and an elevator entrance to an underground garage.

By the time I arrived at my sister’s apartment building, I checked the time again. My dad still had five minutes until he could clock out. I walked over to the concrete bench.

I opened my book to the dog-ear fold that I had left and attempted to read, but the thing is, I couldn’t just sit there and read. My surroundings were too entertaining to not distract me. A man walked from behind one building to behind another. Later, I saw him return. This time, he was pushing a cobalt blue shopping cart. You couldn’t help but wonder where he had come from or where he had gone. Next, I looked over at the building on the side of the lot that was opposite to my sister’s apartment. I had never noticed how appealing this building was to look at. But then again, most of the downtown buildings shared that same charm. There were four palm trees of varying heights. The walls were all painted a light peach color. The window trims were coral-colored. However, the most intriguing part was the shadows that were cast upon the side of the building. The shadows of a lamppost and three balconies had never looked so perfect before. I couldn’t pull my eyes away.

My view then focused on a girl. She leaned against the building, posed for a photographer while her mother apathetically stood nearby. I’m sure the photo shoot was for nothing more than a post on her blog. The thought of that depressed me, so, I moved my attention back to the shadows. In that moment, I noticed my father’s figure walk in my direction. I gathered my bookbag, lunchbox, book, and Fruity Thai. We walked into the elevator side-by-side and as we made our way into the parking garage, I began to tell him about my extraordinary ordinary day in Tucson.

Downtown Tucson is one of the places where I feel the most comfortable. I spend my afternoons there observing every person, every building, and every event that occurs. I wrote this piece to show how interesting such a small amount of time in this diverse and exciting place can be. Until this year, I have not shown a great interest in writing. However, now I am ecstatic to begin my journey in the literary arts.

I AM AN ALIEN

By Jary LaMadrid

I saw an alien on my stop at Circle K in the morning. He was wearing some very worn out jeans with millions of oil, paint and dirt stains and a couple tears here and there. His steel toed work boots looked painful. He was buying himself an energy drink with whatever extra dollar bills he had in his pocket, I’ve never liked energy drinks but I’m sure that’s what gets him through his 18 hour shifts. I saw him again outside in the parking lot, hopping into his old work truck. I wondered where he worked; Was it construction? Painter? Agriculture? I had no idea but I knew it was a job I wouldn’t be caught doing without breaking a nail, getting a spec on my $150 shoes or ruining my hot iron curled extensions.

I saw an alien on my way home from school. I stopped at a red light in my still brand new 2016 Ford. He was sitting on the corner with those little ceramic statues of cartoon characters, some bags of tamales and boxes of fruit being advertised in the bed of his truck with a sign with prices on them. His little corner stand was dry with no customers but for some reason he sat on his lawn chair patient, with a calm smile on his face. It was 110 degrees outside.

I saw an alien in class. She sat next me, a dreamer. She was on her phone the entire lecture which was unlike her, she was a straight A student. I wondered why she was so anxious, it seemed as if she was waiting for a call. My professor let the class go to break and we all walked out of the classroom for a breath of fresh air and some snacks and there she was, she finally received the call she was waiting for. She was crying, I listened closely, I don’t think she knew I know spanish but I also don’t think she cared enough to pay attention. In spanish she said, “Mom, my dreamers rights are being taken away because we are under a new leader, I’m 2 semesters away from graduating but they’re making me go home to you. Please, don’t be mad, I’m sorry.” We walked back into class once break was over. She took out her notebook and she continued taking notes as if her deadline to go home wasn’t there.

I saw an alien’s wife at Walmart. She had a couple bottles of Fanta soda, a Tres Leches cake and ingredients for a carne asada. She stood in line behind me with her two children, one around the age of 15 and the other around the age of 8. They were excited and celebrating tonight, their dad and her husband of 25 years finally received his citizenship papers after 12 years of processing. She explained to them that they wouldn’t have to worry about being torn apart anymore, that even though she still didn’t have papers due to processing they will always have their father to fall back on here, in the U.S., safe, secure and allowed.

I saw an alien at my family gathering. He was my grandfather. He worked in the fields from before the sun came up till after the sun come down. He was kind, genuine and giving. He filed taxes every year, paid bills and loved his family. He and his wife, my grandmother, came to the United States in the 70s for a better life for their children. Mexico is where we come from as latinos but it’s dangerous and doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to making a secured living for families. They moved to Douglas, AZ, a border town. Border Patrols swept every street and every corner every single day. My grandfather would sometimes go weeks without walking outside trying to avoid the border patrol who would park outside their house. After 30+ years of being an American, he passed away in 2007, as an alien. Honored. My grandma received her citizenship in just 2013. Now, because of them my mom and her brothers get to work here in the United States and offer their families everything and more. Because of them I get to be an American, I get to practice my religion of choice in public, I, a young woman, can walk outside without worrying about being harmed and I even just get to go to school.

I come across aliens everyday but instead of them being tall, green, scaled skin creeps they look just like me and you. They have eyes, hair, arms and legs. Just like you and I they have dreams. Just like you and I their choices have a domino effect on their upcoming generations and just like you and I they want their upcoming generations to live on a stable foundation. Just like you and I they want their families to be successful and safe. Just like you and I they want a chance at life.

So, I stopped seeing aliens and started seeing people.

 

Writing has always been a huge part of me, but this specific piece holds a great significance to who I am and what I believe in. My dream has always been to inspire and speak hope into others through my words. I am so proud and humbled to be able to share this piece with you and hopefully the entire city of Tucson.

 

 

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